A social media plan is a strategy document but also a selling document that usually takes the form of a written report and a presentation. One of the most effective forms of written and oral communication is story. Before a social media plan can help a brand sell, it has to be sold.
Below is an outline of the main parts of a social media strategy placed on a dramatic arc to ensure you are telling a compelling story to your client or boss. Take them on a journey of discovery of how your solution will help them overcome a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. Make their brand the hero against competitors to meet real business objectives. Show them the path from where they are to where they want to be.
Act 1 Introduction/Exposition: This is where you introduce the background of the brand, their history and mission. The client or your boss obviously knows this, but you are letting them know you know and making sure you are all starting from the same setting such as, “Open on a hundred year old company founded on the values of …”
Additional context comes in explaining the industry including latest trends and main competitors. Identifying the main competitor establishes the antagonist. Most businesses have someone they are trying to catch up to or keep from catching them.
Complete the exposition of the story by describing who the brand is trying to reach. A well-defined target audience is a key to success. Even the biggest brands with the largest budgets don’t have the budget to reach everyone and messages to everyone motivates no one. Understanding the perspective and motivations of the target is important as most clients are not themselves in the target market.
Act 2 Rising Action/Conflict: This is where you spell out the conflict of the story. There is usually an inciting situation – the reason they need a new strategy. Often the incitement is something getting in the way of business objectives or something that can help the brand reach those objectives.
Clearly identifying the problem or opportunity ensures that you and the client are working towards the same end goal. Making this a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound business objective ensures from the beginning that your plan will be able to be measured for success against what the client cares about most. Don’t confuse this with strategies or tactics. Goals are long term changes you’d like to see, objectives turn goals into measurable metrics on a specific smaller time frame, strategy is the way you will meet the objectives, tactics are what you will use to implement the strategy.
Reporting the results of a social media audit adds additional context but also adds complications. The results of the social audit often reveals unexpected insights that conflict with current beliefs and/or strategies. The truth of these complications can raise tensions and anxieties as anticipation builds for a solution.
Act 3 Climax/Turning Point: This is where the climax or turning point of the plan happens. The high point of the plan and your presentation should be the reveal of the big idea that is going to solve the problem or seize the opportunity against the competitor.
Don’t just reveal it – sell it. Explain how the idea is more than creative. Point out how it is also a strategic solution. Describe how the research insights from everything before this part of the plan led to the big idea as the solution. This is the turning point, because the solution has been revealed and everything after this is result of that solution.
Act 4 Falling Action/Results: This is where the results of the research and insights and the big idea play out in specific social media actions. Recommend how the brand’s social media presence should change. Which social media platforms are ideal for the big idea, message and target audience? Which social media platforms need to be left behind? How does paid social media play a role?
Also explain how the social media idea integrates with current marketing efforts and other forms of traditional marketing promotion such as advertising and public relations. Show the full potential of the solution by explaining how social media can integrate with other areas of the business such as operations, R&D, human resources, customer service or sales.
The last action of the big idea should be examples. Paint a picture of what the strategy will really look like. Show the client sample content posts in each of the selected social media channels. Prove the solution works with a multi-channel social media strategy.
Act 5 Resolution/Denouement: The conflict is resolved. The client can now see the victory over the competitor. The final resolution is given and any remaining tension of not knowing how to solve the problem is released with a tying up of loose ends.
The final outcome includes a content calendar that shows when, where and how the plan will take place across the various social media platforms. A sample social media content calendar can be a great start.
Complete the path to their goal by explaining how success will be measured. This can be demonstrated through a social media metrics table that clearly links social media specific platform metrics to the business objectives established in the beginning of the plan.
The last loose end is cost. Let them know a how much the solution will cost. A social media budget template can help estimate these costs. The solution is made clear as the story ends and you have told the story of their future success.
Note that these five acts of a story shouldn’t appear in the actual plan and presentation as subheadings or defined titled sections. They merely guide what you cover, in what order and why to ensure you tell a story. A book or movie doesn’t stop in the middle of the action to alert the reader or viewer with a subtitles like “Conflict,” “Climax,” and “Resolution.”
What is the unique plot of your plan?