How to Develop an Effective Social Media Plan

social media campaigns, MLS, Mikhail Bell
Major League Soccer teams are increasingly using social media to reach fans.

I have been thinking about discussing how to write an effective social media plan. After writing about marketing on Facebook, the time had arrived. This blog post explains strategic ways to develop an effective plan.

1)    Look at the big picture

If you have a strategic plan, design milestones and campaigns alongside this. The social media plan, in this case, complements long-term goals. Design campaigns and events that work inside the prescribed timelines and occur comfortably ahead of deadlines. Working ahead of schedule is important as it allows for shifting internal priorities.

I once worked on a FourSquare campaign for a book launch. At the last minute we decided to market the release solely through our website. After researching for several weeks, it seemed like the work was for naught as promoting the book was not in the strategic plan. Instead it focused on expanding our social media presence, finding speaking opportunities for the author and training staff. Several months later, I coordinated the same FourSquare campaign around tips about historical events from the book. In the process, I trained two interns on using FourSquare and the author received speaking requests from regions of the country where our organization did not have a presence.

If you do not have a strategic plan, this presents different challenges. Objectives, deliverables, and measurement can become arbitrary. Defer to SMART criteria when creating your strategic plan. SMART stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This framework categories social media campaign goals. Just make sure your social media plan meets all of these criteria.

2)    SWOT Analyses

Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis deconstructs virtually any situation. SWOT analysis is common in the business world where positioning is key. Here is an example:


As I noted, you can use SWOT analysis for nearly anything.

Example: You are being headhunted for a new job.

Consider the strengths your bring to the position. This may be project management experience or social capital. Admit and guard against weaknesses. This may be lack of expertise or visibility in a given field. Third consider professional development opportunities in your current and proposed position. How do they differ? Are these differences significant? Do these opportunities complement long-term professional goals? Finally be wary of threats. Threats take several forms from disgruntled co-workers to an unsupportive leadership hierarchy. These factors could scupper your move away or make staying an easier decision.

When writing a social media plan, conduct a SWOT analysis before using the SMART criteria. The former establishes context whereas the latter dictates appropriate content.



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