5 Essential Elements of a Useful Social Media Plan

social media plan

photo credit: mkhmarketing via photopin cc

Living inside the bubble of the social media marketing world, it’s easy to forget that many organizations still don’t know how to reconcile social media into their everyday sales and marketing routine.

I taught the executive team of a very successful organization the basics of social media this past week and it was a great reminder that focusing on tactics without an organized strategy is still the greatest source of frustration for many businesses.

Yes, you eventually must get around to embracing certain tactics and tools specifically related to social media, but the key to determining both still lies in tying your actions to meeting your stated marketing and business objectives.

In order to create the proper context for social media inside this firm’s overall marketing plan I broke social media participation into five core elements and corresponding tools and tactics and mapped each to previously identified marketing objectives.


The first order of business in developing any social media strategy is to understand how to listen and collect useful market artifacts. You have to plug into the rich vein of useful information coming from your customers, prospects, competitors, journalists and other industry influencers before any of this makes much sense.

For this element we set up key alerts, created lists of influential industry players, setup Feedly RSS reader to subscribe to relevant blogs and setup Diigo to bookmark articles and email newsletter content.


The next element I wanted to address was the ability to curate important industry information as a way to inform clients and internal stakeholders. By aggregating and filtering a great deal of the industry content using some routines from the previous step you can become a source of insight for your customers and help them cut through some of the noise.

For this element we turned to RSS reader as well as several content curation tools like Newsle, LinkedIn Pulse and Scoop.it.


One of the core marketing strategies for this firm is to establish a thought leader position for a very specific topic in their industry. They are busy turning a great deal of the industry data their analytics software produces into content objects that will draw a great deal of industry buzz.

For this element we established a sharing routine based on a set of core topics, LinkedIn Publisher program and owned content assets.


In order to develop an expanding network in social media sharing must be a key activity. This does include sharing your own content and ideas but it also includes intentionally networking with and sharing content and ideas from others.

For this we turned to Feedly, Buffer and Hootsuite to establish a habit of sharing a set number of pieces everyday.


Finally, with many of the tools and routines above in place we could turn to the most obvious reason to participate in social media – to engage customers and prospects. With habits of listening, curating and sharing established members of the executive team and sales team will be able to more easily engage individual prospects, influencers, journalists and customer stakeholders by socially surrounding them.

For this step Hootsuite, Salesforce and Salesforce Chatter are the primary tools.

And, of course, where available the mobile apps for many of the tools employed were added.

By breaking social media participation into a specific set of core elements, each driven by strategy, every person in an organization can find the role that makes sense for them.

The focus then becomes less about tools and more about how a specific set of activities might help you better serve your customers.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • http://entrebond.com Blake Schreckhise

    This is great reminder, for anyone using social media. I know when I get down into the little details I lose sight of the overall strategy and my marketing suffers for it.

  • http://forewardsapp.com/ Jason Dea

    It’s amazing how so many people fail to realize how labor intensive social media marketing done right really is. Like, tweets and other vanity metrics get all the buzz, but the key to social is building relationships. by definition that takes a lot of time and effort. Though it should pay big dividends when done right.

  • http://streamline-marketing.com/ Sal Conca

    I was reading another article recently about how social media needs to be a long term commitment. It couldn’t be more true and this is a great article that will shed some light on what it really takes to build a social media marketing strategy and plan. As an agency, potential clients have a hard time seeing the value of such planning and what the process involves. Thanks for the great post….My brain is now swarming with new ideas :)

    • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

      Thanks Sal – all effective marketing takes time and commitment I think a great deal of the frustration comes from people seeing social as just another thing they have to do rather that seeing it as a tool to do what they already are or should be doing better.

      • http://streamline-marketing.com/ Sal Conca

        Agreed, unlike other online marketing channels, social media requires a human touch. Tools and technology can help the process but there is no quick fix and understanding socials role in a brands overall marketing mix is crucial, meaning it will not perform the same as other marketing, nor should it be held to the same metrics and KPIs. There aren’t enough companies looking at the overall customer journey and the interaction between various channels.

  • http://www.tempocreative.com/ charmon stiles

    Great article. This is a holistic social strategy that has a purpose and a specific goal instead of just winging it and seeing what happens because ‘we know we have to do it’.

  • Bill Alpert

    This sounds like “social media for enterprise.” I don’t think I’m the only person who really doesn’t care much about consuming thinly veiled marketing under the guise of social media outreach. Very little authentic or personal, when it takes a team of 5 working day and night to implement such a strategy.
    What about simplicity? What can an individual put in place strategically, but authentically? And without a huge time or money suck.

    • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

      Bill I do this exact thing all by myself everyday and every bit of it is simply, strategic, authentic and effective – oh did I mention it costs me about $50/mo in tools

  • http://www.sscsworld.com/ Akash Agarwal

    media often feeds into the finding of new content such as news stories, and
    discovery is a search activity. Thanks for sharing this useful social media plan.

  • http://himerit.com Hi Merit

    Thanks for sharing! There is always more and more tools out there to assist in making a good social media plan effective.