2016 Social Media Marketing Plan For Success

10 Steps To Improve Your 2016 Social Media ROI

Starting line Do you have a 2016 social media marketing plan for success?

In 2016, social media becomes a strategic part of the marketing mix regardless of your business model.

It supports the 4 pillars of digital marketing:

  • Content
  • Communications
  • Commerce
  • Community

To improve your social media ROI, use this 2016 social media marketing plan.

Starting line

2016 Social Media Marketing Plan Step 1:

Plan and document your social media strategy

To support increased corporate budgets, you must show quantified results, generally in the form of ROI.

Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs 2016 Content Marketing research reveals that a documented strategy yields better results. It shows a distinct difference between best-in-class and worst-in-class content marketers. The same applies to social media (although I haven’t seen any research on this topic.)

Comparison of the best and worst in class content B2B marketers - 2015 data

Comparison of the best and worst in class content B2B marketers – 2015 data

Since social media requires integration with the rest of your marketing, your organization and your technology, a documented strategy is even more important.

Document and distribute your social media mission. Determine what you want your business to accomplish on social media. It his has to be bigger than making money. Don’t leave room for employees to interpret your mission.

Develop a social media strategy. Coordinate your social media efforts with your overall marketing and business strategies. Think goals, audience and results.

Get senior executive buy-in. There’s no better way to get employees involved than to have support from the top levels. Given the nature of social media, this support has an impact on your customers, influencers, and beyond.

Look at what your competitors are doing. Don’t limit yourself to just direct competitors. Consider the big players as well. Use your personal accounts to see how these brands communicate and interact with their community. Engage with their brands as individuals.

2016 Social Media Marketing Plan Step 2:

Develop a social media plan

In 2016, social media is more than media platforms to distribute and promote your marketing messages.

Your social media plan needs these 4 elements:

  1. Major social media efforts. Key social media focused activities to arouse interest on 1 or more platforms. (Of course, they should be coordinated with your other marketing plans.)
  2. On-going social media curation. To support your audiences, build your brand and establish thought leadership, distribute your content on a regular schedule. Coordinate this with your content marketing distribution.
  3. Regular social media engagement. Have 1 or more people responsible for representing and interacting on social media. Consider scheduling office hours on various platforms. Include social media monitoring and PR for issues that may arise. Also have sales and customer service support.
  4. Integrate social media activity into your other marketing plans where appropriate. Extend your budget by cross-promoting your activities across your organization. Include a social media component into other programs where relevant such as live events like conferences.

Walk in your audience’s shoes. Focus on topics and information important to your audience. Don’t chase social media traffic. Your content needs to talk to your audience and their needs.

Provide your audience with the information they want and need - Heidi Cohen

Provide your audience with the information they want and need – Heidi Cohen

For example, Content Marketing Institute’s holds weekly Twitter Chats to provide useful information to their audience and build their brand’s thought leadership.

Content Marketing Institute Twitter Chats

Content Marketing Institute Twitter Chats

Empower employees to participate as your representatives on social media using their personal accounts. This requires marketing support and training. You can’t assume your employees will know what to do. Nor can you force them to participate. You get more exposure and your employees will look like great people.

2016 Social Media Marketing Plan Step 3:

Laser focus on each platform’s unique qualities to maximize results

Social media isn’t one size fits all!

Each platform has different nuances and audiences. Understanding this is key to building your following on each separate platform. If you don’t, your message will be like white noise that people filter out.

Data shows that most social media interaction occurs via mobile and in apps. Your message needs to get your audience’s attention. Being targeted and relevant helps achieve this goal.

At a minimum, be active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube. Also keep up with each network’s changes.

2016 Social Media Marketing Plan Step 4:

Use a variety of content formats, especially video

Video remains white hot. (As we predicted in 2015!)

Here it is!  Check out some of the highlights from last week at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego!  -Kim

Posted by Social Media Examiner on Thursday, April 2, 2015

No surprise here. Regardless of age your audience grew up with television, video games and movies.

In addition to being the second largest search engine after Google, YouTube rock stars have amassed audiences that rival many cables television shows.

Periscope and Blab are new platforms pushing video’s limits. Other social media networks continue to enhance their video functionality. (Don’t forget to distribute video via your blog, Pinterest and LinkedIn Slideshare.)

Further, Blab is also blurring the line with podcasting. Blabbers put a face on audio personalities.

Take advantage of social media content creation platforms. Think LinkedIn Publishing and Medium where appropriate.

Minimize social media expense by creating multiple formats at the same time.

2016 Social Media Marketing Plan Step 5:

Optimize your social media content for visibility

Social media has surpassed search in terms of driving traffic. Social Beat Search In Referrals-Chart-2

Of course, not all social media traffic is created equal. It’s not all the same quality or quantity. As Buffer discovered, social media traffic can falloff without notice.

Buffer's Traffic Year Over Year - Chart

While your goal shouldn’t be to chase traffic for numbers’ sake, you can help improve the odds that your social content will receive greater visibility.

  • Format your content based on the platform.
  • Use your core keyword phrases.
  • Optimize your headlines based on the platform.
  • Include relevant hashtags and mentions.
  • Add images and videos to attract attention. Optimize for size and keywords.

2016 Social Media Marketing Plan Step 6:

Budget for social media advertising

Social media entities have reduced organic visibility for brands. Facebook openly discusses this in their quarterly reports.

Expect other social media networks to follow suit as they develop and enhance their advertising offers.

Translation: Assume you need social media advertising on each platform where your business is active.

Social Media Advertising Chart - Social Media Examiner

Social Media Advertising Chart – Social Media Examiner

Use social media advertising to target your prime audience(s) and tap into the each network’s social media data. Skip broadcast promotions.

Strategically place and test every element of your ad spend including:

  • Audience attributes
  • Ad text and headlines
  • Content format (text, image, video)
  • Timing (day and dayparting)
  • Location (mobile versus desktop)
  • Offers
  • Ad longevity

Tailor social media advertising by platform. Track results to see what works and what doesn’t. Invest in the ads that work. Manage your budget across networks checking for similarities and differences.

Expect shorter ad life. Since social media can yield more impressions in shorter time frames, this may require more ads by network.

Create social media ads at the same time as your related content and major advertising campaigns to minimize costs. Don’t just use the same ad across platforms. The more contextually relevant the better the ad will perform.

2016 Social Media Marketing Plan Step 7:

Use the power of influencers

Influencer marketing allows you to tap into the power of other people’s audiences. It’s a cost effective social media form of PR. Top Rank’s Lee Odden was an early proponent of the use of influencers.

The best influencer marketing is a win-win-win for the influencer, the customer and you. It can’t be an obvious, thinly veiled sell.

To work, the influencer needs a logical relationship with the brand and the audience.

Estimates show that influencer marketing is cost effective. It can be done based on relationships or involve investment. It yields $6 for each $1 spent on influencer marketing.

2 examples of how to use social media influencers

Odden has built a reputation for pre-conference ebooks that get input from speakers. (Here’s the backstory on Odden’s epic content curation.)  Audience Development for Content Marketing eBook #CMWorld-1-1

Marriott’s tapped Jack Harries (who has 4.1 million YouTube followers) to create targeted videos that work for their brand and his audience. (Hat tip to Ardath Albee.) 

Nurture relationships in your niche. Build relationships by following and engaging with influencers on social media and in real life. As Mark Schaefer advised, you should be able to get the influencer to respond to your email or phone call.

2016 Social Media Marketing Plan Step 8:

Improve your post-social media interaction

To show quantifiable social media results you need to lure prospects to sign up for your email list or purchase from your business.

Alternatively you can close the deal on social media. There’s been a lot of social shopping “Buy button” testing. Pinterest enables businesses to update prices on pins seamlessly.

Every person who kicks your social media tires won’t translate to a sale. That’s true of most business, but that’s even more important now when buyers can compare prices before they hit purchase.

Give your social media community a reason to share their email address with you. You want a way to keep interacting with them them. You need a piece of content or a discount to motivate potential audience. Then tailor your email communications based on their initial social media interaction.

Provide quality information that helps them to visualize buying your product. While this can be similar to your welcome series, target it to your social media.

Target your social media landing pages where appropriate. Maintain related product redirect pages for social content with a longer lifespan like Pinterest and YouTube.

2016 Social Media Marketing Plan Step 9:

Determine the right tool for each aspect of social media

Streamline your social media activity with social media tools to maximize employee effectiveness.

Expect social media tools to expand and evolve as well as disappear. As their product life cycle matures, there will be a shake out.

My colleague Ian Cleary of RazorSocial has built his reputation as the “Tools Guy.”

Why You Need Social Media Tools

Why You Need Social Media Tools

The general activities you’ll need social media tools to do are:

  • Monitor social media conversation.
  • Distribute your content.
  • Maximize your audience.
  • Interact with influencers and customers.
  • Measure results.

Integrate your social media tools with the rest of your business technology (where possible). Your social media tools and technology requires budget and integration.

2016 Social Media Marketing Plan Step 10:

Maximize your social media ROI.

With increased pressure to show ROI on your social media investment, you need a process.

From a business perspective, you need metrics that allow you to manage and grow your business. The 3 core ones are:

  1. Email subscriptions. This helps build your list, a business asset. This audience is interested in your content and social media.
  2. Sales you can attribute through ecommerce buttons and landing pages. Social media is rarely the first or last piece of marketing touched.
  3. Marketing expense. Assess your expenses including headcount, ad and content creation and advertising.

Manage your social media budget. This includes your headcount, content and ad creation, advertising and technology.

Determine where you can reduce redundant efforts related to social media across your organization. Get rid of overlap between social media and the rest of your marketing – especially content.

Continue to improve your ability to track your social media results to sales. Tracking may not be direct.

One thing is certain the 2016 social media landscape will be more mature.

To succeed you’ll need a social media strategy that’s integrated with the rest of your business.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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  • Really a successful marketing effort relies on your ability to deliver the content that audiences want, when they want it. In the past few years, the online world has witnessed the growing importance of Social Media as a very important digital marketing tool that can give maximum exposure and greater marketing mileage for any brand, product or service. Thanks Excellent post, i would like to share this article with my marketing team.

  • Better plans make high payout thanks for sharing..

  • I am really thankful to the owner of this site who has shared this great post at
    at this time.

  • no doubt SMM will boost in the upcoming years. so a perfect plan can take the lead for an organization. thanks for useful post.

  • Hi Heidi,

    Really awesome post. When I search in Google about “Social Media Marketing Plan For Success” then discover your useful post. Here you discuss how to create social media marketing which can bring a success for me. Social media objectives is very good point which I like. Over all nice post. Thanks a lot Evan.