Are you now handling social media in-house? Have you just joined a digital agency? You’ll need to get up to speed on the fundamentals of social media management fast.
From planning and budgeting to content creation and collaboration, we’ve got you covered.
Learn the basics of social media management for businesses and agencies in this invaluable guide.
After you read this article, you’ll feel better equipped in managing your social (no matter what the social media platform).
Spontaneity can produce surprising results sometimes, but you need a plan to get the most out of social media (or else you risk wasting time and energy in your marketing efforts).
You need a goal and the plan to get there. (The goal itself is your social media strategy—the big picture. The objectives are your social media tactics, the tools and means to reach that goal.)
To get started with social media planning, follow these five steps.
1. Set SMART goals
Every social media plan should start with at least one goal to work toward. And that goal needs to include objectives that aren’t vague nor unreachable nor open-ended.
To set SMART goals, choose objectives that are …
If your brand is new to the market, your main goal might be something like “make sure more customers know about us.” Convert that general statement to a more precise goal, such as “gain [a certain number] of followers” for your social networks or “generate [a certain number] of brand mentions.”
If you can’t quantify your progress, you’ll never know whether you’ve reached your goal. Think about how you can measure progress by tracking engagement, counting followers on your social platforms, or using other metrics. (Just be sure to avoid those pesky vanity metrics, which just make a social media manager feel good but don’t actually generate more business.)
Sure, you can think big—but setting an impossible goal won’t benefit your team or your brand. Instead of aiming to gain 10 million new followers for a small account, choose a realistic number you can achieve if you execute well.
It isn’t easy to feel inspired to reach an ambitious goal if the objective doesn’t really matter in the long run. Rather than working toward a long list of minor objectives, put your energy and resources into the goals that matter most to your brand’s success.
Every goal needs a deadline … or else you could work on it forever. Give your social media goals target dates, so you can apply resources and measure progress effectively.
2. Establish and monitor KPIs
Once you’ve set SMART social media goals, establishing and tracking the key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to reach is much easier.
For example, if you’ve set a goal to gain 5,000 new followers during the next quarter, make sure you’re steadily growing your audience and each month. Check your follower count by logging in to your brand’s social media profiles directly, or by using social media tools to monitor account growth for every platform at once.
3. Perform audience research
Getting to know your brand’s audience is essential to market effectively. After all, you want your social media posts to help you be engaging with your audience.
To understand your potential customers better, use these tactics:
- Survey your existing customers. To find out what your customers like about your brand or what problems your products solve, ask them directly, whether by email, a poll, a phone call, video conference, or even a face-to-face meeting.
- Review your current followers. Check the audience statistics in your brand’s social media profiles to learn about followers’ age, gender, location, and interests. Look at your different social media accounts and study how your audience interacts with your brand.
- Create buyer personas. Compile your audience research into one or more buyer personas that outlines your brand’s ideal customer.
It’s easy to assume that any successful brand has to be on every social media channel, but that idea isn’t true.
Before you start creating profiles on every possible platform, find out which channels offer the most value for your brand.
First, review general demographics data to see which platform tends to attract your ideal customer. For example, if your ideal buyer is 18 to 24 years old, you may want to focus on Snapchat or Instagram. Maybe they prefer live video, like Periscope.
Next, do some basic competitor research. Find out which platforms your closest competitors have adopted and what channels offer the best results.
Then let your findings inform which social media platforms you adopt for your brand.
5. Develop an editorial calendar
After you research your audience and choose social media platforms, you need to create an editorial calendar. (We have a FREE social media content calendar to download right now.)
Start by mapping out the main campaigns you need to focus on throughout the year, such as new product launches and seasonal specials.
Then pencil in blog posts you want to share and annual events you can tap into. Don’t forget to include events and special days specific to your field. For example, accountants or financial services may be more aware of April 15 and tax-related deadlines than brands in other fields. A beauty brand’s social media content may highlight wedding and prom seasons, and Fashion Week. PR agencies also have special considerations when they produce content that they need to be aware of.
Also, consider the psychology behind your social media content. Why are people sharing it? What will inspire them to share it?
Assign team members to write copy and handle the creative for each post, and then schedule content to publish at the optimal time for your audience.
Whether you’re planning a completely organic approach to social media management or you’re considering a few paid campaigns, your team needs a budget.
With a spending plan for your social media management, you’ll know how much you can allocate for everything from social media management tools to partnerships.
Use these five steps to create a social media budget for your brand or client:
Depending on your overall objectives, you might need a social media budget that’s bigger than average.
If you’re aiming for rapid growth propelled by a series of social media advertising campaigns, you’ll need to spend more.
If you’re planning to reach your goals gradually through organic growth and personal relationships, a smaller budget should meet your brand’s needs.
2. Price basic resources
Consider the cost of essential resources first.
Some of the most common must-haves for social media managers include …
3. Research your content needs
From writing copy to arranging photoshoots to producing videos, creating high-quality content requires a budget.
Consider the cost of having a copywriter handle image captions for your social media posts, and calculate how much you’ll need to spend to get the photos and videos you want to publish.
Add up in-house and contract prices, so you can decide whether to assign a team member or find a freelancer.
4. Consider outreach campaigns
To meet your social media goals, you’ll most likely want to work with influencers, publishers, or other brands.
Although it’s free to form relationships, you’ll probably need to pay for promotions and collaborations. Ask publishers and influencers for their rate sheets to assess the costs of these potential partnerships.
5. Calculate the cost of ad campaigns
Finally, add up the cost of any ad campaigns you’re planning to run in your social media marketing.
Depending on your social media mix, you might run ads on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, or all of the above. Don’t forget to consider the cost of related campaigns on platforms like Reddit, Google, and Bing, too.
Social Media Content Creation
As you develop and grow your brand’s social media accounts, you’ll need a constant stream of content to publish.
From targeted campaigns to evergreen posts, effective social media management requires publishing the right type of content at the right time.
To meet your brand’s goals, plan to produce the following types of content …
Posting a single word or writing an entire novel? Almost every social media post needs well-written copy or a caption.
To create copy that resonates with your audience and builds your brand, use a two-pronged approach:
- Reflect on your brand’s identity. Think about how your brand voice sounds and how can you express your brand through text, tone, and style. Compile a style guide to ensure your team uses a consistent brand voice in every social media post.
- Consider your audience’s preferences. Scan your customers’ reviews and the comments on your social media posts to find out how your audience really speaks. Make note of the tones and words that appear repeatedly, and work your audience’s style into your copy as appropriate.
From staged product shots and lifestyle photos to graphics and memes, visual content can say so much about your brand.
To create the right kinds of images for your brand, work with your design team to develop an aesthetic for your brand. The look of your photos and graphics (from color schemes to set styles) should be an extension of your brand.
As you publish content, monitor the images that generate the strongest responses from your followers. Whenever possible, repeat or recreate the visual style that resonates best with your audience.
Also, be sure that whatever content you produce for social media channels meets the image requirements for it. (You don’t want any awkward cropping or strange images on your social channels, after all.)
This handy-dandy infographic from Agency Analytics can help:
source: Agency Analytics
Pretty sure your brand doesn’t need video?
In the past few years, the impact of video has increased significantly, quickly making it an essential component of any content strategy. For example, more than 500 million people watch Facebook videos every day (as of this article’s publication) and videos on social media drive 12 times the shares that text and images do.
Consider incorporating a few of the most common video types into your content plan:
Not every post you publish should focus on your brand.
No matter how loyal your audience might be, your followers are likely to tire of a one-sided social media feed. Add some depth to your editorial calendar and make your brand sound like even more of a boss by curating relevant content for your audience.
To curate the right type of content for your followers, source blog posts, videos, infographics, and other media from other brands or thought leaders in your industry.
When you publish curated content, add your brand’s two cents in the caption to keep the conversation going.
Did you know that you don’t have to create all the content that your brand publishes?
In many cases, you can ask your audience to contribute, too. Sharing user-generated content can save you money and help you show off your brand in a new light, but this tactic can do much more.
User-generated content can also engage your audience and turn your customers into even bigger fans.
Collect user-generated content by asking your audience to tag your brand when they post about your products. When you share user-generated content, tag the original creator to give full credit.
Then share those posts with your audience, giving full credit to the original creator.
Collaborating with other brands, publishers, and influencers can be one of the most effective ways to meet your goals in your social media management.
Not only can social media collaborations provide you with a new way to promote your brand, but they can also deliver great results without the cost of advertising.
Successful social media collaborations can offer benefits like:
Improved brand awareness
Collaborations give you a chance to connect with your partners’ social media followers, which can number in the hundreds, thousands, or even millions. It’s easy to make a great first impression when your collaborators give you a warm welcome.
Don’t let your interactions end after that first impression. Instead, use these collaboration opportunities to attract new followers, so you can continue to reach these potential customers again and again.
If you’re launching a new product or revealing a time-sensitive promotion, collaborating with an influencer or a publisher can boost your sales. Use your increased reach to drive more interest and increased sales within your target market.
Also, social media collaborations don’t have to follow a predetermined template. Some of the most effective methods include:
Seek out social media influencers who have audiences that overlap with yours, and build relationships with the person behind the brand.
Then reach out to send them products for review or work together to create unique content.
To get the word out about your brand, work with publishers in your niche. Creating sponsored posts for social media can be a smart way to increase your brand’s exposure and grow your following.
If your brand shares values or audience demographics with another brand in a related space, partner together for a giveaway. When both of you promote the giveaway to your audiences, you can gain new followers and boost brand awareness.
If you work for a digital agency, you can take a few additional steps to make social media even more effective for your team and for your clients.
Use the following tactics to optimize your agency’s social media management services:
Maintain a content library
Whether you manage a few or more than a dozen clients, you most likely struggle sometimes to keep content straight—especially when you work with a team.
To keep your content organized, store links to all internal and external content in a library. Note the date each time you share a link, so you can track how often you’re posting content and avoid overdoing it.
Keep your content library super-simple with a Google Sheet or add more functionality with a database like Airtable or a third-party social media tool.
For agencies, having a full-featured social media scheduling tool is a must. When you invest in the right scheduling tool, you can keep team members and clients on the same page, so everyone knows what you’ll be publishing when.
“Tip: Social media management aside, consider using tools that support your productivity with all work tasks and create a weekly schedule template that’ll help standardize your weekly workflows.”
With a social media scheduling tool, you can also see post previews that look just like they’ll appear when they’re live, and you can view all the posts for a single channel or for every platform at once.
When you select a social media scheduling tool for your team, look for one that has these handy features:
- Bulk publishing abilities so you can save time scheduling posts
- Rescheduling capabilities so you can reshare evergreen content regularly
- Queue functions so you can easily publish content in open time slots
- Hashtag libraries so you can reference campaign or brand hashtags quickly
Create an approval process
Before you create and publish content for clients, you need a social media approval process.
An effective approval process gets clients and colleagues to review and sign off on copy, creatives, and campaigns while it decreases the possibility of publishing incorrect or damaging content.
Rather than using email or chat apps to review social media posts one by one, incorporate the approval process into your social media scheduling tool. Just create a draft of the post, and then assign it to your client, chief marketing officer, or other stakeholders. Once the right person approves the post, the scheduling process automatically completes.
Also, consider using Agorapulse’s shared calendar to make collaboration with your clients about social media content much easier, more visible, and less of a hassle.
No matter how many clients you handle, social media reporting can be messy and time-consuming.
To streamline the process, set the native analytics and rely on a third-party social media tool instead.
Simply choose the profile and time period, and export your social media report in seconds. If you need to incorporate more detailed metrics or extra data like ad budgets, just create a custom page to insert into your report.
With this streamlined reporting strategy, you can save hours every month while continuing to keep teams and clients updated on your progress.
Now that you have the basics of social media management down, it’s time to get to work. Hash out your social media goals, map out a content calendar, create branded content, and start building relationships with potential partners to grow your brand effectively.
Want more helpful, actionable content like this? Subscribe to the Agorapulse newsletter, and get the most recent blog posts and news about the social media channels you use most.