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How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy in 9 Easy Steps (Free Template)
Creating your social media marketing strategy doesn’t need to be painful. Create an effective plan for your business in 9 simple steps.
A social media marketing strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve on social media. It guides your actions and lets you know whether you’re succeeding or failing.
The more specific your plan is, the more effective it will be. Keep it concise. Don’t make it so lofty and broad that it’s unattainable or impossible to measure.
In this post, we’ll walk you through a nine-step plan to create a winning social media strategy of your own. We’ve even got expert insights from Amanda Wood, Hootsuite’s Senior Manager of Social Marketing.
Bonus: Get a free social media strategy template to quickly and easily plan your own strategy. Also use it to track results and present the plan to your boss, teammates, and clients.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is the practice of using social media channels to sell or promote a brand, product or service.
Social media marketing helps businesses:
- Increase brand awareness
- Build engaged communities
- Sell products and services
- Measure brand sentiment
- Provide social customer service
- Advertise products and services to target audiences
- Track performance and adjust larger marketing strategies accordingly
What is a social media marketing strategy?
A social media strategy is a document outlining your social media goals, the tactics you will use to achieve them and the metrics you will track to measure your progress.
Your social media marketing strategy should also list all of your existing and planned social media accounts along with goals specific to each platform you’re active on. These goals should align with your business’s larger digital marketing strategy.
Finally, a good social media plan should define the roles and responsibilities within your team and outline your reporting cadence.
Creating your own social media marketing strategy (video guide)
No time to read the whole article? Let Amanda, Hootsuite’s own Senior Manager of Social Media Marketing, guide you through our free social media marketing strategy template in less than 10 minutes:
How to create a social media marketing strategy in 9 steps
Step 1. choose goals that align to business objectives, set s.m.a.r.t. goals.
The first step to creating a winning social media strategy is to establish clear objectives and goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure success and return on investment (ROI) .
Each of your social media marketing goals should be SMART : s pecific, m easurable, a ttainable, r elevant and t ime-bound.
Psst: If you need examples of smart social media goals , we’ve got you covered.
Track meaningful metrics
Vanity metrics like number of followers and likes are easy to track, but it’s hard to prove their real value. Instead, focus on things like engagement, click-through, and conversion rates.
For inspiration, take a look at these 19 essential social media metrics .
You may want to track different goals for different social media networks, or even different uses for each network.
For example, if you use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website, you would measure click-throughs. If Instagram is for brand awareness, you might track the number of Instagram Story views. And if you advertise on Facebook, cost-per-click (CPC) is a common success metric.
Social media goals should align with your overall marketing objectives. This makes it easier to show the value of your work and secure buy-in from your boss.
Start developing a successful social media marketing plan by writing down at least three goals for social media.
“ It’s easy to get overwhelmed by deciding what to post and which metrics to track, but you need to focus on what you want to get out of social media to begin with,” says Amanda Wood, Hootsuite’s Senior Manager of Social Marketing. “Don’t just start posting and tracking everything: match your goals to your business, and your metrics to your goals.”
Create. Schedule. Publish. Engage. Measure. Win.
Step 2. Learn everything you can about your audience
Get to know your fans, followers, and customers as real people with real wants and needs, and you will know how to target and engage them on social media.
When it comes to your ideal customer, you should know things like:
- Average income
- Typical job title or industry
Here’s a simple guide and template for creating audience/buyer personas .
Social media analytics can also provide a ton of valuable information about who your followers are, where they live, and how they interact with your brand on social media. These insights allow you to refine your strategy and better target your audience.
Jugnoo, an Uber-like service for auto-rickshaws in India, used Facebook Analytics to learn that 90% of their users who referred other customers were between 18- and 34-years-old, and 65% of that group was using Android. They used that information to target their ads, resulting in a 40% lower cost per referral.
Check out our guide to using social media analytics and the tools you need to track them .
Step 3. Get to know your competition
Odds are your competitors are already using social media, and that means you can learn from what they’re doing.
Conduct a competitive analysis
A competitive analysis allows you to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set social media targets of your own.
It will also help you spot opportunities.
Maybe one of your competitors is dominant on Facebook, for example, but has put little effort into Twitter or Instagram. You might want to focus on the social media platforms where your audience is underserved, rather than trying to win fans away from a dominant player.
Use social media listening
Social listening is another way to keep an eye on your competitors.
Do searches of the competition’s company name, account handles, and other relevant keywords on social media. Find out what they’re sharing and what other people are saying about them. If they’re using influencer marketing, how much engagement do those campaigns earn them?
Pro tip : Use Hootsuite Streams to monitor relevant keywords, hashtags and accounts in real-time.
Try Hootsuite for free. You can cancel anytime.
As you track, you may notice shifts in how your competitors and industry leaders are using social media. You may come across new, exciting trends. You might even spot specific social content or a campaign that really hits the mark—or totally bombs.
Use this kind of intel to optimize and inform your own social media marketing strategy.
Just don’t go overboard on the spy tactics, Amanda advises. “ Make sure you aren’t ALWAYS comparing yourself to the competition — it can be a distraction. I’d say checking in on a monthly basis is healthy. Otherwise, focus on your own strategy and results.”
Step 4. Do a social media audit
If you’re already using social media, take stock of your efforts so far. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s working, and what’s not?
- Who is engaging with you?
- What are your most valuable partnerships?
- Which networks does your target audience use?
- How does your social media presence compare to the competition?
Once you collect that information, you’ll be ready to start thinking about ways to improve.
We’ve created an easy-to-follow social media audit guide and template to walk you through each step of this process.
Your audit should give you a clear picture of what purpose each of your social accounts serves. If the purpose of an account isn’t clear, think about whether it’s worth keeping.
To help you decide, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my audience here?
- If so, how are they using this platform?
- Can I use this account to help achieve my goals?
Asking these tough questions will keep your social media strategy focused.
Look for impostor accounts
During the audit, you may discover fake accounts using your business name or the names of your products.
These imposters can be harmful to your brand—never mind that they’re capturing followers that should be yours.
You may want to get your accounts verified too to ensure your fans know they are dealing with the real you.
Here’s how to get verified on:
Step 5. Set up accounts and improve profiles
Decide which networks to use.
As you decide which social networks to use, you will also need to define your strategy for each.
Benefit Cosmetics’ social media manager, Angela Purcaro, told eMarketer : “For our makeup tutorials … we’re all about Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Twitter, on the other hand, is designated for customer service.”
Hootsuite’s own social team even designates different purposes for formats within networks. On Instagram, for example, they use the feed to post high-quality educational infographics and product announcements and Stories to cover live events or quick social media updates.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Hootsuite 🦉 (@hootsuite)
Pro tip : Write out a mission statement for each network. A one-sentence declaration to keep you focused on a specific goal.
Example: “We will use Twitter for customer support to keep email and call volumes down.”
Or: “We will use LinkedIn for promoting and sharing our company culture to help with recruitment and employee advocacy.”
One more: “We will use Instagram to highlight new products and repost quality content from influencers.”
If you can’t create a solid mission statement for a particular social media channel, you may want to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
Note : While larger businesses can and do tackle every platform, small businesses may not be able to — and that’s ok! Prioritize social platforms that will have the most impact on your business and make sure your marketing team has the resources to handle content for those networks. If you need help focusing your efforts, check out our 18-minute social media plan .
Set up your profiles
Once you’ve decided which networks to focus on, it’s time to create your profiles. Or improve existing ones so they align with your strategy.
- Make sure you fill out all profile fields
- Include keywords people would use to search for your business
- Use consistent branding (logos, images, etc.) across networks so your profiles are easily recognizable
Pro tip : Use high-quality images that follow the recommended dimensions for each network. Check out our always-up-to-date social media image size cheat sheet for quick reference.
We’ve also got step-by-step guides for each network to walk you through the process:
- Create a Facebook business page
- Create an Instagram business account
- Create a TikTok account
- Create a Twitter business account
- Create a Snapchat account
- Create a LinkedIn Company Page
- Create a Pinterest business account
- Create a YouTube channel
Don’t let this list overwhelm you. Remember, it’s better to use fewer channels well than to stretch yourself thin trying to maintain a presence on every network.
Step 6. Find inspiration
While it’s important that your brand be unique, you can still draw inspiration from other businesses that are great on social.
“ I consider it my job to stay active on social: to know what’s trending, which campaigns are winning, what’s new with the platforms, who’s going above and beyond,” says Amanda. “This might be the most fun step for you, or the hardest one, but it’s just as crucial as the rest of them.”
Social media success stories
You can usually find these on the business section of the social network’s website. ( Here’s Facebook’s , for example.)
Case studies can offer valuable insights that you can apply to your own social media plan.
Award-winning accounts and campaigns
You could also check out the winners of The Facebook Awards or The Shorty Awards for examples of brands that are at the top of their social media game.
For learning and a laugh, check out Fridge-Worthy, Hootsuite’s bi-weekly awards show highlighting brands doing smart and clever things on social media.
Your favorite brands on social media
Who do you enjoy following on social media? What do they do that compels people to engage and share their content?
National Geographic, for example, is one of the best on Instagram, combining stunning visuals with compelling captions.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo)
Then there’s Shopify. The ecommerce brand uses Facebook to sell themselves by showcasing customer stories and case studies.
And Lush Cosmetics is a great example of superior customer service on Twitter. They use their 280 characters to answer questions and solve problems in an extremely charming and on-brand way.
Hey lovely! 💕 We are sorry to hear how much you are missing Scrub Scrub Scrub. We will make sure our team knows you'd love to see it back on the shelves. In the meantime, check out Magic Crystals for a similar scrubtastic feel 😍💜 — Lush North America (@lushcosmetics) October 15, 2021
Notice that each of these accounts has a consistent voice, tone, and style. That’s key to letting people know what to expect from your feed. That is, why should they follow you? What’s in it for them?
Consistency also helps keep your content on-brand even if you have multiple people on your social media team.
For more on this, read our guide on establishing a compelling brand voice on social media .
Ask your followers
Consumers can also offer social media inspiration.
What are your target customers talking about online? What can you learn about their wants and needs?
If you have existing social channels, you could also ask your followers what they want from you. Just make sure that you follow through and deliver what they ask for.
Step 7. Create a social media content calendar
Sharing great content is essential, of course, but it’s equally important to have a plan in place for when you’ll share content to get the maximum impact.
Your social media content calendar also needs to account for the time you spend interacting with the audience (although you need to allow for some spontaneous engagement as well).
Set your posting schedule
Your social media content calendar lists the dates and times at which you will publish types of content on each channel. It’s the perfect place to plan all of your social media activities—from images, link sharing, and re-shares of user-generated content to blog posts and videos. It includes both your day-to-day posting and content for social media campaigns.
Your calendar also ensures your posts are spaced out appropriately and published at the best times to post .
Pro tip: You can plan your whole content calendar and get recommended best times to post on every network based on your past engagement rate, impressions, or link click data in Hootsuite.
Determine the right content mix
Make sure your content strategy and calendar reflect the mission statement you’ve assigned to each social profile, so that everything you post is working to support your business goals.
(We know, it’s tempting to jump on every meme, but there should always be a strategy behind your social media marketing efforts!)
You might decide that:
- 50% of content will drive traffic back to your website
- 25% of content will be curated from other sources
- 20% of content will support lead-generation goals (newsletter sign-ups, ebook downloads, etc.)
- 5% of content will be about your company culture
Placing these different post types in your content calendar will ensure you maintain the right mix.
If you’re starting from scratch and you’re not sure what types of content to post, try the 80-20 rule :
- 80% of your posts should inform, educate, or entertain your audience
- 20% can directly promote your brand.
You could also try the social media content marketing rule of thirds :
- One-third of your content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
- One-third of your content shares ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
- One-third of your content is personal interactions with your audience
Don’t post too much or too little
If you’re starting a social media marketing strategy from scratch, you may not have figured out how often to post to each network for maximum engagement yet.
Post too frequently and you risk annoying your audience. But, if you post too little, you risk looking like you’re not worth following.
Start with these posting frequency recommendations:
- Instagram (feed): 3-7 times per week
- Facebook: 1-2 times per day
- Twitter: 1-5 times per day
- LinkedIn: 1-5 times per day
Pro tip : Once you have your social media content calendar planned out, use a scheduling tool to prepare messages in advance rather than updating constantly throughout the day.
We might be biased, but we think Hootsuite is the best social media management tool. You can schedule social media posts to every network and the intuitive calendar view gives you a full picture of all your social activity each week.
Here’s a quick video overview of how scheduling works in Hootsuite’s post composing tool.
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Step 8. Create compelling content
Remember those mission statements you created for each channel in Step 5? Well, it’s time to go a bit deeper, a.k.a. provide some examples of the type of content you’ll post to fulfill your mission on each network.
If you’re not sure what to post, here’s a long list of social media content ideas to get you started.
The idea here is to:
- Keep your content aligned with the purpose of each network;
- Show other stakeholders (if applicable) what kind of content they can expect to see on each network.
This last point especially will help you avoid any tension when your colleagues want to know why you haven’t posted their case study/whitepaper/blog post to TikTok yet. It’s not in the strategy, Linda!
Ideally, you will generate content types that are both suited to the network and the purpose you’ve set out for that network.
For example, you wouldn’t want to waste time posting brand awareness tweets if you’ve designated Twitter for primarily customer support. And you wouldn’t want to post super polished corporate video ads to TikTok, as users expect to see short, unpolished videos on that platform.
It might take some testing over time to figure out which type of content works best on which type of network, so prepare to update this section frequently.
We won’t lie: content creation isn’t as easy as everyone not on the social team seems to think. But if you’re struggling, Amanda suggests going back to basics.
The first question to ask is: is there cohesion between your content types? Is your content providing value? Do you have a good mix of entertaining, or educational content? What does it offer that makes a person stop and spend time? Creating a few different content pillars or categories that encompass different aspects of storytelling for your brand, and what you can offer your audience is a good start.
This brings us to Step 9.
Step 9. Track performance and make adjustments
Your social media marketing strategy is a hugely important document for your business, and you can’t assume you’ll get it exactly right on the first try. As you start to implement your plan and track your results, you may find that some strategies don’t work as well as you’d anticipated, while others are working even better than expected.
Look at performance metrics
In addition to the analytics within each social network (see Step 2), you can use UTM parameters to track social visitors as they move through your website, so you can see exactly which social posts drive the most traffic to your website.
Re-evaluate, test, and do it all again
Once this data starts coming in, use it to re-evaluate your strategy regularly. You can also use this information to test different posts, social marketing campaigns, and strategies against one another. Constant testing allows you to understand what works and what doesn’t, so you can refine your social media marketing strategy in real time.
You’ll want to check the performance of all your channels at least once a week and get to know the basics of social media reporting so you can track your growth over time.
Pro tip: If you use Hootsuite, you can review the performance of all your posts on every network in one place. Once you get the hang of checking your analytics, you may even want to customize different reports to show specific metrics over a variety of different time periods.
Surveys can also be a great way to find out how well your social media strategy is working. Ask your followers, email list, and website visitors whether you’re meeting their needs and expectations, and what they’d like to see more of. Then make sure to deliver on what they tell you.
Finalizing your social media strategy
Spoiler alert: nothing is final.
Social media moves fast. New networks emerge, others go through demographic shifts.
Your business will go through periods of change as well.
All of this means that your social media marketing strategy should be a living document that you review and adjust as needed. Refer to it often to stay on track, but don’t be afraid to make changes so that it better reflects new goals, tools, or plans.
When you update your social strategy, make sure to watch our 5-step video on how to updating your social media strategy for 2023:
Social media strategy template
What’s next? When you’re ready to put your plan into action, we’re here to help…
Save time managing your social media marketing strategy with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can easily:
- Plan, create, and schedule posts to every network
- Track relevant keywords, topics, and accounts
- Stay on top of engagement with a universal inbox
- Get easy-to-understand performance reports and improve your strategy as needed
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With files from Shannon Tien .
Do it better with Hootsuite , the all-in-one social media tool. Stay on top of things, grow, and beat the competition.
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Creating a 30-Day Social Media Plan
How to use the 30-day social media plan template.
Your goal is to deliver high-quality, relevant content that will engage your audience, establish brand trust and drive business—but how can you tailor your social content to break through all of the noise, provide value to your audience and ultimately impact your bottom line?
A social media plan is a comprehensive blueprint for your social marketing strategy that will help you do just that. It includes:
- Setting realistic social marketing goals to align with your overall business goals
- Determining how you will measure the success of your social marketing efforts
- Integrating emerging trends and best practices into your strategy and content development
This 30-day social media plan template is designed to help you re-invent your social media management strategy so that what you share aligns with the interests of your community and contributes to overall business value.
You will learn how to:
- Create an effective social strategy that aligns with audience interest
- Diversify your content and build a robust content calendar
- Determine business value driven by social
Use the social media plan template below to track your progress as you work through the plan. By completing just one task each day for the next 30 days, you can fully transform your social marketing strategy.
Establish your goals and define your metrics
Day 1: Establish goals for social
Establishing clear social media goals is the first step toward transforming your strategy . Determine exactly what you want social to achieve. Here are several examples of goals you might consider:
- Drive website traffic
- Raise brand awareness
- Boost brand engagement
- Generate new leads
- Nurture leads
- Build a community around your business
- Establish authority and industry expertise
- Improve customer support
- Shift brand sentiment
The objective here is to give purpose to your social efforts. Once you’ve established your social goals, the content you produce and share should continually support those goals.
There are several methods to help you write out specific social media goals, including the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) method.
The OKR method asks you to set a broad objective statement and list out key results that describe what successfully achieving that objective looks like. Here’s an example of a broad objective statement supported by clear, result metrics that define meeting the objective.
According to this example, if your objective is to boost brand engagement, you must increase the number of likes, shares, mentions and comments by 20% by the end of the fourth quarter.
Day 2: Define your success metrics
How are you going to define the success of your social efforts? Decide which metrics will provide the right data to determine whether or not social is supporting your business goals.
As you identify your success metrics (e.g. organic mentions, share of voice or conversions), set clear standards for your social campaigns so that you know when you achieve success. If you are tracking audience engagement, what exactly do you consider successful engagement rates for your social content?
Depending on the type of content you produce, where you share and the goals you set for your social marketing efforts, the metrics you track will change.
If you’re at a loss for the goals your team should set, use the Social Media Metrics Map to assess options for owned, earned and paid social.
Day 3: List out your challenges
The task is simple: Make a list of the challenges you face when it comes to social media marketing. Think of any barriers that are keeping your social content from making its biggest impact.
As you list out your challenges, write out simple explanations of how these barriers are impacting your marketing efforts or overall business success. Here are a couple of examples to help you get started.
Although we consistently post on social, we are not achieving ideal engagement levels.
We have seen a dramatic drop in our social content’s organic reach.
Not sure what your specific challenges may be? Our recent Sprout Social Index ™ surveyed social marketers and found these five challenges are the most common.
Day 4: Brainstorm solutions
Round up your marketing team and brainstorm possible solutions to the challenges you previously listed.
Be sure to provide evidence to justify effective solutions so that you’re prepared when the time comes to gather resources and advocate for your budget .
Solution to Challenge 1:
We can use creators to engage with our social content and drive conversation.
Justification: In 2022, most marketers (74%) plan to spend at least a quarter of their social media budget on partnering with a content creator. With loyal followings, creators can boost engagement and keep relevant conversations going on social.
Solution to Challenge 2:
We can invest in paid social media advertising to run highly targeted campaigns and reach the right people.
Justification: Almost half of consumers report they “find the perfect products” by seeing targeted ads. By 2025, social shopping is set to become a $1.2 trillion channel .
Day 5: Analyze the competition
If you’re running out of ideas, try running a competitive analysis . Be careful not to mimic your competitors’ content, but use your analysis to determine your brand’s unique positioning instead.
Your brand and its competitors have similar ideal customer personas, so focus on the type of content that is resonating, both within your own social efforts and those of the competition.
Here are a few questions to consider as you analyze your competitor’s social marketing efforts:
- Which marketing channels are my competitors using and are they successful in those channels?
- What are my competitors talking about and are those topics generating high audience engagement?
- Are there areas within our social strategy where we are outperforming our competitors?
Social analytics solutions are an effective way to compare your efforts against your competitors. Using Sprout’s Analytics , you can directly benchmark your efforts against one or more competitors.
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You can pinpoint days when competitors experienced peak engagement and dive deeper into what content was shared on those days to understand what resonates most with target audiences.
Optimize your profiles and brand voice on social media
Day 6: Determine your strengths and weaknesses
Take a deep dive into your social strategy and determine where you are successful and where there is room for growth.
Conduct a survey among your marketing, sales, customer service and product teams to gauge where they see areas of success or room for improvement.
For each criteria regarding your social marketing strategy, determine whether it’s one of your strengths or weaknesses. This will help identify what you should focus on over the next five weeks.
Day 7: Audit your content
Run a social media audit to identify your best-performing content and most popular channels. Take time to understand what’s working and why. Your metrics can help you identify which posts effectively cater to the interests of your audience.
If your posts aren’t engaging and resonating with your followers, your social media content strategy needs to shift. Use your audit to review the content you’ve shared and identify which posts had the biggest impact.
You can use Sprout’s Post Performance Report to parse through your most popular posts across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Day 8: Create a list of relevant keywords
Use social media listening tools to identify the keywords most often associated with your brand. These keywords can help your team throughout the content brainstorm and creation process.
Social listening can help you uncover unique opportunities to tie trending conversations to your business and products.
For example, our team of analysts found that a new TikTok sound titled “Corn but it becomes a song and unites world” spawned over 607,000 videos . South Dakota, home of the Corn Palace, went all-in on this trend by inviting the star, an elementary school student, to visit the attraction, garnering 5.5 million views and over a million likes.
@southdakota He’s got the juice! 🌽 #itscorn #cornkid #recesstherapy ♬ original sound – Doing Things
Day 9: Determine your brand voice and social persona
When it comes to building a social audience, consistency is key. Creating a brand voice and identifying a persona will enable you to remain consistent across all of your social channels.
Take this 3-minute assessment to help you characterize your brand and determine the business goals you’re trying to achieve. Select the responses that best describe your objectives, vision and audience.
After you narrow in on your persona, choose three words that describe your brand then explain what they mean for your brand and create dos and dont’s to guide content creation .
Day 10: Optimize your social profiles
While much of your time is spent planning and creating content, the information included on your profiles is vital to the success of your social marketing efforts.
After you’ve determined your brand’s persona, build out your profiles to align with your voice.
At a quick glance, your profile should speak to your brand with relevant visuals and engaging copy. Here are a few tactics to optimize your social profiles.
1. Use a consistent profile picture
If you own multiple social channels for your business, it’s important that your profile picture is consistent across every channel. Most businesses will use their company logo or variations of their logo that have been designed specifically for their social accounts. Staying consistent across your profiles will increase opportunities for brand recognition.
2. Complete every section of your profile
If there is a field for information, take advantage of the opportunity to tell your brand’s story. In creative and succinct ways, you should be able to describe what your business does, the offerings you can provide and how you add value to the lives of your customers.
3. Add keywords to boost SEO
On Day 8, you compiled a list of keywords relevant to your industry, brand and its offerings. Use these strategic keywords in every section of your profile to boost SEO. They should appear in your bio copy, in photo names, interests and experiences.
Find and listen to your community to better understand your industry
Day 11: Develop your buyer persona
Transforming your social marketing strategy may require you to either revisit your current buyer personas or to create new ones from scratch.
Buyer personas help you better understand current and future customers, so you know exactly who you are marketing to and can create relevant content and offerings. Start by writing down everything you know about your target customer and perform research to fill in any gaps. For a robust buyer persona, try to capture the following information.
- Purchase behaviors
- Goals, challenges, pain points
Day 12: Listen to your audience
Listening to your community can help you gain insight into the minds of your followers, so you can be more strategic in your social marketing efforts.
Using social media listening , you can learn a lot about your community (even when they’re not directly interacting with your brand) to inform a more effective strategy.
Here’s what you should listen for on social media:
- What your audience is talking about and what they share most often
- What your audience is saying about your brand, industry, products, services and competitors
- What your audience is sharing on forum-style platforms like Reddit or Quora
- How your audience engages with creators, trending topics and industry events
Day 13: Research industry trends and topics
To create relevant content and establish your brand as an authority on social, you must stay up to date with what’s happening in your industry.
Join conversations surrounding high-interest topics. Perform ongoing research to make sure the content you produce and share aligns with the current interests of your community. Here are a few resources that will help guide your research.
As social marketers, research is one of our most valuable skills. Instead of browsing aimlessly through content, rummaging through thousands of social profiles or running endless Google searches, an easy way to streamline research is to sign up for a solid mix of newsletters.
Newsletters provide insights into the state of the industry, changes in technology, updates to social networks and emerging trends and best practices.
Here are a few newsletters that social media marketers should add to their resource list:
- Link in Bio features expert interviews from industry-leading social media managers. The newsletter shares actionable advice and relatable experiences to inspire their community.
- Social Media Today focuses on sharing original analyses of what’s happening in social media. Their content is platform-focused, providing social marketers with insights on how to adopt new features and where other brands are finding success.
- Org is a membership organization for leaders in the social media marketing space. Their weekly newsletter, The Shortlist , highlights member stories as they share what they’re working on and what they’re keeping an eye on in the space.
Webinars can have a significant impact on social marketing strategies by generating new leads and prospects, nurturing existing relationships and demonstrating expertise in our industries. During webinars, many businesses will live-Tweet along with their users to answer questions and keep the online conversation going.
Webinars can also provide a way for us to learn, which can spark content ideas during our brainstorming sessions. Social Media Today provides a wide variety of webinars specific to social marketers. You can register for upcoming webinars or watch from their library of on-demand sessions .
Forums give marketers an effective way to identify the topics that spur the most conversation online. Quora is a great resource to discover topics of interest, ask questions and engage in conversations relevant to your brand. As a brainstorming tool, forums can help social marketers build social content plans that address questions people are already asking.
Adweek (and publications like Digiday and Marketing Land ) present the anatomy of the latest, most creative campaigns out there, and also fill you in on the most recent news. The Mission (and Medium generally) is great to turn to for thought leadership and gauging the pulse of our industry and the visionaries in it.
Day 14: Connect with other departments
As you continue researching industry trends and topics as inspiration for your content, connect with other departments within your organization.
Social is no longer limited to marketing, with functions across the business weighing in on strategy. But as a more diverse set of stakeholders gets involved, core social teams will need to adapt. Figuring out who owns what, and which proficiencies are needed across teams, has to be addressed as social strategies become more sophisticated.
For example, try speaking with members of your sales team: they are often the first points of contact for consumers, and they can provide insight into customers’ needs, challenges and successes. This insight can help generate content that addresses these needs or highlights successes.
Your human resources team can also provide insight into ongoing employer brand initiatives. Collaborate with HR to investigate how employees and potential hires are engaging with your brand on social. Their understanding of your workforce can help you identify what content is most effective for this important group of stakeholders.
A social media collaboration tool can help you streamline your efforts and manage cross-functional initiatives.
Day 15: Choose your content types
Start thinking about the types of content that will benefit your brand the most, while keeping your audience engaged.
Refer back to the buyer personas you created to determine if an image linking to a blog post would perform better than a Twitter chat or an Instagram Live event. Consider the resources available to you to determine if you can create a high quality how-to video, or if you need to scale down your efforts and create an infographic using the same content.
For the best results, diversify your content to keep your audience interested. If you post the same type of content day after day or week after week, your audience will inevitably disengage.
Here’s a list of possible content types you can start incorporating into your social marketing strategies:
- Photo and video
- Live streaming
Before you start searching for content to share on social, figure out what your audience actually likes. One way to do that is to look at past social media posts to see which were most successful.
Pull all of your unique social media analytics with a tool like Sprout Social , Twitter Analytics or Facebook Insights . Below is an example of how to view your published posts with Sprout ( available with a free, 30-day trial ).
Make sure you sort your posts by the metric that is most important to you, whether that’s clicks, responses or total reach. Once you have an idea of what kind of content works best, you can move onto the next step.
Fill out your social content calendar to increase reach and engagement
Day 16: Develop a posting schedule
Your publishing cadence depends on a handful of factors including your company, your audience, the campaign in question and the social networks being used. We cover this more in our guide on how often to post on social media , but here are some recommended cadences for each network:
- TikTok: 1-4 times per day
- Instagram: 1-2 times per day
- Facebook: 4-5 times per day
- LinkedIn: No more than 1 time per day
- Twitter: 3-4 times per day
- Pinterest: No more than 1 time per day
There’s a good chance your post frequency will depend on the size, experience and authority of your social media team, so don’t feel like you have to send out less than stellar content to meet these guidelines.
Your brand’s analytics can help you determine your best posting frequency. You can use a tool like Sprout to see how often you post on each social network, then compare that to how much engagement you received over that same time period.
Look for trends between publishing rate and engagement. The screenshots above are from our Facebook Page Report , but you can do the same for Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn posts as well.
Day 17: Brainstorm content ideas
Now’s the time to gather your inspiration and plan out content you know will resonate with your audience. The key to effective brainstorming is to put yourself in the mindset that inspiration can come from anywhere.
Think of what your business does well and how you can turn that into an engaging content piece. Look through some of your older content and see if you can repurpose or reformat it for a different channel.
Based on the conversations you’ve discovered are popular among your audience, how can you contribute to those conversations with fresh content? Here are some of 2022’s most popular content types.
About 66% of consumers cite short-form video as the overall most engaging social content, while 37% prefer live video and 24% prefer long-form video. Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a videographer, don’t rule this medium out. Tools like Canva and Biteable have democratized the creation process. Anyone on your team can make professional, on-brand videos, even while working remote .
Images and text-based posts
In the era of video, images and text-based posts still pack a punch with today’s social users. In fact, 61% of consumers find images to be the most engaging social content. From Instagram carousels to Twitter threads, these posts are key pieces of leading content strategies.
Marketers have been able to amplify user-generated content to increase brand awareness, promote products and services and use the digital word-of-mouth concept to build brand trust and increase sales. In fact, 39% of consumers like to see brands share customer testimonials or real customer demos.
Day 18: Gather resources
Once you’ve determined the types of content best suited for your business and have decided on a publishing cadence, start gathering your resources.
Think back to the types of content you decided to incorporate into your social strategy and what resources you need to bring them to life. Here are several questions for you to consider as you start collecting your resources.
- Have you decided on the type of creative assets you’ll use and how you’ll store them?
- Who within the company needs to be involved in order to create this specific content piece?
- Do you need any sort of creative support for visual elements?
- Do you already own content (guides, e-books, blog posts) that can easily be repurposed for social?
Day 19: Draft your social media plan calendar and create your content
It’s time to get to work. Start the content creation process and set reasonable timelines for project completion.
Be sure to build social content that speaks to your customer personas, stays true to your brand voice and can easily fit within the posting schedule you’ve established.
Day 20: Optimize your content
During the creation process, it’s essential for you to optimize your content so that your efforts don’t go unnoticed in consumers’ crowded social feeds. Every net new content piece you create should be able to be repurposed for another use down the line.
Consider your video strategy . A video can be broken down into short clips, quote graphics, still images and more. Think through your options while creating content so you can fill out your calendar with less effort going forward.
Here are a few additional tactics to optimize your social content to maximize reach and increase engagement:
- Include hashtags
- Shorten links
- Include images
- Adapt content for various social channels
Supplement and boost your social media content calendar for the best results
Day 21: Create a call to action
Not all of the content you share on social needs to encourage customers to take action. You may even find that some of your most popular posts are those that simply showcase your brand personality or provide a good laugh for your audience.
Take The Sill , for example. Their TikTok videos provide their community with tips for caring for plants with a twist of humor that feels authentic to their brand. They go beyond standard product content, showcasing their brand in fun and creative ways that align with platform trends.
@thesill Yes it’s true, complimenting & showing love to your plant will stimulate new growth #thesill #plantsoftiktok #plantsmakepeoplehappy #compliment #throwingroses ♬ Throwing roses – Rickie
If the primary goal of your social marketing is to generate new leads and guide people into your sales funnel, you need to give your audience a clear next step. Include direct CTAs (call to action) on the posts you are using to drive action.
For copy inspiration, check out this article on effective social CTA phrases .
Day 22: Connect to more resources
By connecting your audience to more resources (especially owned resources) you are establishing your brand as an authority on your space while inviting them to engage further. The more they learn about you and stay engaged with your brand, the more likely they are to convert.
At Sprout, we often share links to some of our favorite blog posts for our audience to learn more about social networks, best marketing practices and trending topics.
Consumers are more aware than ever and they know how brands are marketing to them. What could this mean for your strategy? Get the inside scoop: https://t.co/BlowGcykxx — Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) September 15, 2022
Day 23: Amplify your efforts
Once you’ve started promoting your content on social, think of ways you can amplify your messages to reach a larger audience.
Here is a short list of methods to consider in order to extend the reach of your content:
- Leverage your employees by using Sprout Social’s Employee Advocacy platform to amplify your content
- Give incentives for customers to share on their social channels
- Use creators to extend the reach of your content
Day 24: Invest in your best content
As you promote and amplify your content, you may quickly notice that some types of content perform better than others in terms of engagement and conversion.
Extend the reach of these high-performing pieces through paid ads. You can target a highly specific audience, attract qualified traffic and leads and grow your customer base.
The algorithms for social networks like Facebook and Instagram are now starting to favor paid content over organic content, making it increasingly important to invest in paid to give your content a fighting chance for discovery.
Which social media network you choose will depend on three important factors:
- Where your target customers are most concentrated
- Where your target customers are most accessible
- Where your target customers most actively engage with ads
Day 25: Engage with your audience
About 80% of consumers expect brands and companies that have a social media presence to interact with their customers in meaningful ways.
It’s important to engage with and respond to your audience. Engaging with your audience in a two-way dialogue builds brand trust and adds authenticity. As you monitor your audience’s reaction to your content, you can also gain valuable insight into its effectiveness.
Read through comments on your social posts and respond to questions and insightful comments. The comments section is a great tool for social marketers looking for feedback and can even inspire ideas for future content.
Report on your social media results and celebrate your success
Day 26: Track your content
Content tracking is an effective way to gauge engagement and track the movement of your content across social channels.
You can track all of your content with the Sprout Social Post Performance Report. Use the Post Performance reports to analyze published content down to the individual post and understand its performance with your audience.
Here’s an example of how to view your cross-channel post performance with Sprout ( available with a free trial ).
Day 27: Compare results to goals
Think back to the objectives you set at the beginning of these 30 days.
For example, if your objective was to boost brand engagement, you needed to increase the number of likes, shares, mentions and comments by 20% by the end of the fourth quarter.
Using a social media analytics tool, you can compare month-over-month engagement for all of your social profiles to determine if you are on track to meet your social marketing goals.
Day 28: Report out
Share the results of your social marketing efforts with your marketing team and leadership. If you’re new to reporting or need to brush up on best practices, here’s a suite of resources that can help you create a routine reporting system.
This is your opportunity to showcase the goals you’ve established and your progress toward them. You should use hard evidence, like the data you’ve gathered through listening and analytics, to report on the success of your social marketing efforts.
Depending on your goals, you may want to build a custom report that zeroes in on what matters to your team. With Sprout’s Report Builder , you can customize performance reports to meet your exact business needs. Once you’re happy with your report, you can customize your branding and export it as a .PDF or a .CSV file for easy sharing.
Day 29: Revisit and readjust your strategy
The most savvy marketers know that marketing strategies are in constant flux. Revisit your strategy , revise your marketing goals and adapt your strategies based on the data you’ve collected.
Day 30: Celebrate your transformation
Congratulations, you’ve successfully made it through the 30-day social marketing transformation program.
Celebrate your new strategy and the effort you’ve made to enhance your social marketing.
Plan with Sprout Social
Create your social media marketing plan with Sprout Social
This social media plan was created to help social marketers refine their strategies. Our goal is to provide you with actionable steps to transform your social marketing strategies to help you create content that is purposeful, engaging and, ultimately, delivers real business results.
Keep in mind that transforming your social media strategic planning doesn’t end with these 30 days—continue to identify challenges to your social marketing strategy, analyze your competitors, discover ways to optimize your content and social profiles and remember to always revisit and adjust your strategies as needed.
Want to learn how Sprout Social’s features and solutions can help you create an even better social media plan? Request a demo or start a free, 30-day trial to try Sprout for yourself.
Your custom social media plan template
Use this worksheet to stay on track with the social media strategy template outlined in this guide
Bring this 30-day plan to life by making a copy of this social media planner worksheet you can share with your team.
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Social Media Marketing: The Ultimate Guide
Discover how social media marketing can help you generate leads, boost conversions, and increase brand awareness.
THE SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT CALENDAR TEMPLATE
Manage and plan your social media content with this free template
When it comes to social media, marketers' top goals are advertising their products/services and increasing their brand awareness, according to 2021 HubSpot Blog Research.
However, many brands struggle with creating engaging content and reaching their target audience. With social media playing such an important role at the top of the funnel, let's dive into all things social media marketing – what it is, its benefits, and how to actually build a social media marketing strategy that'll work for your specific business.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy
Social Media Marketing Resources
What is social media marketing.
Social media marketing is the process of creating content for social media platforms to promote your products and/or services, build community with your target audience, and drive traffic to your business. With new features and platforms emerging every day, social media marketing is constantly evolving.
Social media marketing is all about meeting your target audience and customers where they are and as they socially interact with each other and your brand.
While social media marketing as a whole is incredibly valuable and beneficial to your business growth (as you'll see in the following section), your strategy will differ based on which social networks your audience spends their time on.
Before we dig deeper into social media marketing, let's segment the strategy by platform .
Social Media Marketing Platforms
- Users : 1.9 billion daily active users worldwide
- Audience : An even spread of Generation X and Millennials
- Industry impact : B2C
- Best for : Brand awareness; advertising
Facebook is the largest social media platform and the most established. Since its launch in 2004, it has become an invaluable tool for B2C businesses, offering advanced advertising tools as well as organic opportunities.
- Users : 1 billion active monthly global users
- Audience : Primarily Gen Z followed by Millennials
- Industry impact : B2B and B2C
- Best for : Short-form, creative video content; user-generated content; brand awareness
When you think of short-form video , you probably think of TikTok. The platform rose in popularity in 2020 and shows no signs of slowing down. It's one of the best platforms for community building, with marketers ranking it in second place behind YouTube.
- Users : 1 billion monthly active users
- Audience : Primarily Millennials
- Best for : High-quality images and videos; user-generated content; advertising
Although Instagram launched only 12 years ago, the platform has taken the world by storm. When it comes to sharing visually compelling content, Instagram is where brands go. Another thing that sets the platform apart is its advanced ecommerce tools.
Today, users can discover brands, browse their products and/or service, and complete a purchase without ever leaving the app – making Instagram a hard platform to beat.
- Users : 211 million daily active users worldwide
- Best for : Public relations; customer service; community building
While Instagram focuses on visuals, Twitter focuses on words. Since the early days of 140-character Tweets, the platform has now expanded to include an audio tool called Twitter Spaces , a community-building tool called Twitter Communities , and Twitter Moments to share interesting content with your followers.
- User s : 774 million active users worldwide
- Audience : Baby boomers, Generation X, and Millennials
- Industry impact : B2B
- Best for : B2B relationships, business development, and social selling
LinkedIn is Facebook's professional cousin. It's perhaps the only platform where its audience is clearly defined: Working professionals looking to network and seek out new opportunities.
That makes it the ideal platform for B2B companies looking to identify key decision-makers and build an industry-specific community.
- Users : Over 315 million daily active users worldwide
- Audience : Primarily Millennials but has a strong audience across gender and age demographics
- Industry impact : B2C and B2B
- Best for : Brand awareness; long-form entertainment, and how-to videos
According to HootSuite , YouTube is the second most visited website in the world. In addition, marketers name it the best platform to build community.
In addition to being an incredibly popular platform, its users also tend to stay longer on it because it features mostly long-form content – making it an ideal platform to share educational content.
- Users : 306 million daily active users worldwide
- Audience : Primarily Generation Z
When Snapchat came out in 2011, leading the charge in ephemeral content. It introduced content that you could share with your friends and that would expire after 24 hours.
The platform peaked in 2015 and has held strong since then. Many thought the brand would disappear once Instagram introduced Stories, the same feature with a different name. However, Snapchat continues to be popular among young adults.
- Users : 444 million monthly active users worldwide
- Audience : Primarily Millennials with a solid audience in Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomers
- Best for : Visual advertising; inspiration
Think of Pinterest like a visual storyboard that allows users to get inspiration for everything from fashion to home decor.
85% of Pinners say Pinterest is where they go to start a new project. In addition, 80% of weekly Pinners say they've discovered a new brand or product on the platform. So, not only is it a great discovery tool but it's also a way for brands to build their narrative through visual stories.
- Users : 10 million weekly active users worldwide
Clubhouse made a strong impression as soon as it entered the social media world in 2020. The audio-only platform allows people to start interesting conversations with followers as well as strangers and build community.
The platform also gained some buzz for its invitation-only set up when it was in beta testing. Today, the platform is open to everyone globally and on both IOS and Android devices. Another big selling point to this platform is that it works well for both B2B and B2C businesses and leverages audio, which has made a huge comeback in recent years.
Now that we've detailed the fundamentals of each social media network, let's discuss why social media marketing is beneficial for your business.
Free Social Media Planning Template
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To illustrate the benefits of social media marketing, let's take a look at the experience from the user's perspective. Well, my perspective.
As I scroll through my Instagram feed every day (cough, cough...multiple times a day), I consistently notice new posts and stories by The Frye Company . I’ve always been a fan of their boots, clothing, and accessories, but I also love the content they share on their Instagram profile.
All of their photos have the same filter on them to ensure they match — this makes their profile look professional, artistic, and organized when visitors, like myself, browse their page.
Frye’s account also encourages interaction between the company and its followers by providing them with a specific hashtag to use so they can be featured on the page when they post photos with Frye products.
Frye’s Instagram account is a great example of successful social media marketing — it’s attractive, distinctly Frye, engages their ~200K followers, and promotes their products.
But why is social media marketing so important? And how do you actually build a social media marketing strategy that’ll work for your specific type of business?
There are a variety of reasons why your company should use social media marketing. We've created a list of the most beneficial reasons to consider.
Let's dive in.
1. Increase your brand awareness.
Due to the sheer amount of people on social media, you're missing out on the potential to reach thousands, and even millions, if you don't have a presence.
In fact, social media has been proven to boost brand awareness by driving up engagement. Social engagement includes things like comments, likes, shares, and reposts, and saves.
It also helps you increase brand awareness by directing traffic straight to your site. You can do this by including direct links to your website in your profile, bio, and posts.
- How to Build a Brand for Your Company
2. Generate leads and boost conversions.
Promoting and sharing your products on social media is a simple way to improve lead generation, boost conversions, and increase sales because you're advertising to people who have opted to engage with you by following your account.
Here are some examples of ways you can use social media to generate more leads.
- Create contests for your visitors and followers to participate in on your social media profiles.
- Include links to your website and offers in the bio sections of your profiles.
- Host live videos to make announcements about products and provide updates or details about exciting news at your company.
- Implement a social media marketing campaign on one of your channels.
- Sell your products through your social profiles . For example, you can enable Facebook's Shop Section or Instagram's Shopping feature on your profiles. These features allow your visitors and followers to click on products you've shared in posts to view information such as price, material, and size. Then, visitors can easily proceed to checkout through the platform and buy the product directly from you.
3. Foster relationships with your customers.
By connecting and engaging with your social media followers, you'll be able to build lasting relationships between them and your business. You can do this by interacting with them on your posts, responding to their questions and comments, and providing them with any help they may need.
You can also ask your followers questions about your products, their pain points, or create giveaways to help you build trust and show them how much you value their input and support.
4. Learn from your competitors.
Social media is a great way to keep tabs on your competitors — whether that's in reference to their social media tactics, the products they're promoting, the campaigns they're implementing, or their level of interaction with followers.
Social media allows you to get a look at what is and isn't working for your competition, and therefore helps you decide what should or shouldn't change in terms of your company's approach.
Lastly, reviewing the social accounts of your competitors can help you make sure your marketing stands out and is unique to your brand.
Learn how to conduct a competitive analysis to discover how you can beat the competition.
Now, let's talk strategy — there are severa steps to ensure your social media marketing plan is sustainable and positively impacts your business.
How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy
- Research your buyer personas and audience.
- Determine which social platforms you’ll market on.
- Establish your most important metrics and KPIs.
- Get to know your competition.
- Create unique and engaging content.
- Organize a schedule for your posts.
Although social media is constantly evolving, most of the foundational steps you need to succeed stay the same. Essentially, you're following the same steps you would take to create a marketing strategy and narrow it to a specific channel.
Let's cover these steps in more detail so you can begin applying them to your business.
Step 1: Research your buyer personas and audience.
The first step to creating a social media marketing strategy is to determine who your buyer personas and audience are so you can target their needs and interests appropriately.
To do this, think about the people you're trying to reach and why, and how you would classify them as a group. For example, if your company sells trendy leggings and joggers, you might classify your target audience as millennials who like to wear stylish athletic apparel regularly — a style known as athleisure .
By considering your buyer personas and audience, you'll then be able to determine what content will attract the type of followers and customers you hope to gain. Plus, learn how to create engaging content to keep your followers interested.
- Buyer Persona Templates
- Make My Persona Tool
Step 2: Determine which social platforms you'll market on.
As a social media marketer, it's crucial you determine which platforms you're going to share your content on.
There's not necessarily a right or wrong answer when it comes to which social channels your business should use — it's more about the needs of your target audience and where they tend to spend their time.
"It's important to be where your audience of potential customers is today, and where they might be tomorrow," said Andrew Delaney, former social media marketing manager at HubSpot. "It's better to be ahead of the curve than behind."
For example, if you are going for that target audience of athleisure-loving millennials, you may want to focus the majority of your social media efforts on Instagram — this is because millennials cover the largest portion of users on the platform.
Stephanie Morgan , founder and CEO of social media agency Social Lock , echoes this sentiment.
"Think about their behaviors and where they hang out online. If that's Pinterest, use that platform for your brand. If that's TikTok, use that platform for your brand," Morgan adds. "Don't waste time on a platform that your ideal client avatar is not very active on."
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Step 3: Establish your most important metrics and KPIs.
No matter your goals or industry, your social media strategy should be data-driven.
That means focusing on the social media metrics that matter . Rather than focus on vanity metrics, dig into data that aligns directly with your goals.
What metrics are we talking about? Check out the breakdown below:
- Reach . Post reach is the number of unique users who saw your post. How much of your content actually reaches users’ feeds?
- Clicks . This is the number of clicks on your content or account. Tracking clicks per campaign is essential to understand what drives curiosity or encourages people to buy.
- Engagement . The total number of social interactions divided by the number of impressions. This sheds light on how well your audience perceives you and their willingness to interact.
- Hashtag performance . What were your most-used hashtags? Which hashtags were most associated with your brand? Having these answers can help shape the focus of your content going forward.
- Organic and paid likes . Beyond a standard “Like” count, these interactions are attributed to paid or organic content. Given how much harder organic engagement is to gain, many brands turn to ads. Knowing these differences can help you budget both your ad spend and the time you invest in different formats.
- Sentiment . This is the measurement of how users react to your content, brand, or hashtag. Did customers find your recent campaign offensive? What type of sentiment do people associate with your campaign hashtag? It’s always better to dig deeper and find out how people talk or feel about your brand.
- Which Social Media Metrics Are Marketers Tracking?
- The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Analytics
Step 4: Get to know your competition.
A competitive analysis allows you to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set social media targets of your own.
It will also help you spot opportunities.
Maybe one of your competitors is dominant on Facebook, for example, but has put little effort into Twitter or Instagram. You might want to focus on the networks where your audience is underserved, rather than trying to win fans away from a dominant player.
- What's a Competitive Analysis & How Do You Conduct One?
- A Marketer's Guide To Competitive Intelligence
- How to Monitor Your Competitors' Every Move in Social Within HubSpot
Step 5: Create unique and engaging content.
With the billions of social media users around the globe, there's no question that at least some of your followers — or the people browsing your profile — have also seen your competitor's content or that of other businesses in your industry.
That's why you must have engaging social media content that stands out and provides viewers with a reason to click that "Follow" button and interact with your brand.
Not sure what's considered engaging? Morgan has a recommendation.
"My number one tip to brands for creating engaging content on social media is to do market research first because what will be engaging depends on the audience," Morgan said. "When you know what your audience likes and needs to know, you can create content that engages those interests."
To help you get creative, consider the content your competitors are sharing and how you can uniquely promote your products. Also, take advantage of the features offered by the platform you're using.
For example, you can create live videos on Facebook to share the latest details about a product launch or conduct a giveaway.
You can also use your current customers and promoters to help you generate content. You can do this by re-posting their content or encouraging them to use a hashtag to share their own experiences and pictures with your products.
Lastly, leverage trends. Social media trends are always coming up, especially on short-form video platforms like TikTok. Don't be afraid to join in but you still have to be intentional about how you do it.
"If the trend started happening three weeks ago, you've probably missed the boat," Morgan said. "Catching the trends early is the best way to capitalize on it without coming across as inauthentic or like you're trying too hard, or worse [as] 'chuegy' – see Gen Z for that one."
- The Social Media Trends Report
Step 6: Organize a schedule for your posts.
One of the easiest ways to ensure your content is shared as planned is to use a social media management solution. These tools allow you to write captions, prepare pictures and videos, and schedule posts in advance. They also automatically share your content on schedule and monitor all post interactions and engagement for you. Social media management solutions save you time and allow you to focus on your other tasks.
There are a number of solution options available — here are a few examples.
HubSpot offers a social media tool — as part of the marketing software — to help you publish and monitor your content and create real connections with your followers. You can schedule and publish your content in advance and compare in-depth reports on your posts’ engagement to understand the performance of various platforms, types of content, and posting times.
Sprout Social is a social media marketing and management solution designed to help your team organize and plan content creation, manage campaigns, understand engagement, and review content reports and analysis.
Hootsuite is a social media management platform for finding, scheduling, managing, and reporting on your content. You can schedule posts in advance on all of your channels at once and measure your ROI with comprehensive content analysis.
How often should you post on social media?
Now, you might be wondering how often you should post content on your social media channels.
As a rule of thumb, you should only post on social when you have quality content to share. Meaning, there's a reason you're posting the content. This is how you'll strike the right balance when it comes to your posting frequency.
Morgan says the top mistake she sees brands make in regards to social media marketing is focusing on quantity of content instead of the quality of content.
"They think they need to post every day, so they force themselves to create posts to fill up the calendar," she said. "Odds are, every single one of those posts isn't going to be very valuable to the ideal customer, I've coined this 'clutter content.'"
Instead, she recommends downsizing in quantity and upping the quality.
"It's better to post two or three times a week with super valuable content, versus posting seven times a week with only one or two valuable posts," said Morgan.
There are plenty of studies and resources available explaining social media post frequency standards by industry and platform for you to follow. Every business is different, so find what works for your audience.
Then, you can begin experimenting with more or fewer posts – as well as other factors such as the time of day you're posting on social – to determine what provides the highest level of engagement.
- Social Media Content Calendar Template
- Social Media Content Calendar Template for Startups
How to Analyze Your Social Media Marketing Impact and Results
One of the most important aspects of social media marketing is ensuring your efforts are successful in helping you meet your goals. To determine this, you'll need to keep track of all of your posts, on every channel. You can do this by reviewing and managing your social media metrics.
Social Media Metrics
Social media metrics are data related to the success of your posts and your impact on your audience and customers on various platforms. These metrics may include data about your level of engagement, likes, follows, shares, and all other interactions on each platform.
Here are 10 of the most important metrics for you to track:
- Engagement: This includes clicks, comments, likes, and replies on your social media posts. There are also platform-specific types of engagement such as " Saved " posts on Instagram and " Pinned " posts on Pinterest.
- Reach: The number of people who have seen any content associated with your page or profile is your reach.
- Followers: This is the number of people you have on your profile who have clicked your "Follow" button and see your content in their feeds regularly.
- Impressions: This is the number of times a post from your profile or page is seen, whether or not your audience members click on it. This is often what happens when someone is scrolling through their newsfeed, but not clicking on anything.
- Video views: On Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or any other social channel with video capabilities, this is the number of views each gets.
- Profile visits: The number of people who have opened your social media page is your number of profile visits.
- Mentions: This is the number of times your profile has been mentioned by audience members in their posts.
- Tags: This is when your audience adds the name of your company's profile or your hashtag to another post.
- Reposts: This is when a member of your audience posts a piece of your content on their profile.
- Shares: These are the posts your followers and audience take from your profile and share with their network.
You can influence all of these metrics, increase your social following, and improve overall engagement on your profile by using the same tactics you would to generate leads and boost conversions.
Morgan adds that the metrics you focus on will depend on which season you're in. Here's her formula:
- If you're new, focus on building an audience and awareness. Key metrics: reach, impressions, audience growth.
- If you're growing, focus on building trust. Key metrics: Likes, saves, comments, DMs.
- If you're established, focus on retaining and nurturing. Key metrics: Likes, saves, comments, DMs.
- If you're launching something, focus on selling. Key metrics: DMs and clickthrough rate
How to Measure Social Media Metrics
You can review social media metrics in a variety of ways, For example, you can use the analytics tools built into the various platforms you use. Here are a few examples:
- Twitter Analytics
- Facebook Analytics
- Instagram Insights
You might also choose to use an analytics and tracking tool such as Google Analytics . This is a great option if you want to track your social media and website metrics. Lastly, many social media scheduling solutions — as we reviewed earlier — have monitoring and tracking features automatically built-in.
All of these metrics tracking tools will give you a better understanding of what your followers and audience respond well to and what you should consider modifying to improve engagement.
Now that we've reviewed the benefits of social media marketing and how to build your strategy, let's talk about the various resources available to help you along the way.
There are a plethora of social media marketing resources you can use to build a social strategy for your company. You're bound to feel more confident about working on your company's social media marketing initiative with the help of the following courses, training, and books.
Social Media Marketing Courses and Training
Here are three ways to earn an education in the field of social media marketing if you feel it's necessary for your specific business situation.
1. Earn a certificate administered by a company.
A certificate is a quick and simple way to gain a deep understanding of social media marketing courses.
HubSpot offers a free social media certification course, which teaches you how to engage with your customers and improve conversions. You'll also get a better understanding of how to develop your strategy, extend your reach, and measure your social media ROI.
LinkedIn Learning is another platform where you can earn a certification and share it on your profile.
2. Leverage YouTube university.
YouTube is a goldmine when it comes to educational content.
With a quick search, you'll find hundreds of long-form videos that offer in-depth courses on social media marketing. Granted, you can't connect with a live educator. However, it's free and can be a great starting point before you dive into a paid course.
Social Media Marketing Books
Reading relevant content about social media marketing is another great way to learn more about the field. Here are a few examples of some highly-regarded books on the topic.
1. Likable Social Media, Third Edition: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on All Social Networks That Matter by Dave Kerpen
This New York Times Bestseller covers the reasons why being likable and engaging with followers on social media is one of the most powerful ways to grow your base of customers and promoters.
The book teaches you how to make impactful content for your followers to interact with and share with their networks. Author Dave Kerpen also describes why you need to ensure you're consistently delighting your followers to avoid losing them at any point in time.
2. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
According to author Gary Vaynerchuk, the key to social media marketing success isn't about pushing out a lot of content — it's about pushing out specific content tailored towards your target audience and using the right platform to do so.
In his book, Vaynerchuk covers how to do this as well as connect with your followers and customers on a deeper level through social media. You'll learn how to create memorable and unique content that stands out in comparison to the competition's content.
3. The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More by Kipp Bodnar
HubSpot's CMO, Kipp Bodnar, writes about the ways B2B businesses can generate more leads and conversions through social media marketing.
There are actionable methods you can take to increase your base of followers and drive leads as well as understand the ROI of various B2B social media marketing strategies.
Emerging Social Media Platforms
Recent HubSpot Blog Research found that marketers are constantly on the lookout for new or emerging platforms, as often as even week.
Though it takes a while for platforms to take off, once they do, you want to have a plan in place for how you're going to tackle it.
For instance, brands like Chipotle were one of the first to try short-form video content on TikTok. As a result, they have a strong presence on the platform while many others are still struggling to find their place.
Emerging platforms can offer a new avenue to reach your target audience in a way that may be more effective than what you're doing now. Clubhouse and Discord are among some of the most popular emerging platforms.
However, others like Flyy and SpaceHey are looking to make their mark.
Want to learn more about what's out there? Check out this article on new social media platforms you should keep your eye on this year.
Start Marketing on Social Media
Considering there are billions of people on social media today, it's easy to see why so many businesses and marketers use the channel to promote their products and engage with customers.
Although determining your company's social media course of action may seem daunting, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by understanding social media marketing trends and using some of the many resources available about the topic. So, start working on your business' social media marketing strategy today to increase your number of followers, improve engagement, and boost conversions.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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Free Social Media Marketing Plan Templates
Choose from the best social media plan templates to streamline your marketing efforts. Below you’ll find free templates for strategic planning, scheduling, and tracking in Excel, PDF, PowerPoint, Google Docs, and Google Sheets.
Templates on this page include a social media marketing strategy plan, a social media content calendar, and a social media audit. You’ll also find details for creating an effective social media strategy and mastering calendar planning.
Social Media Strategy Plan Template
Create a strategic social media marketing action plan. The template features a simple layout to help you organize each stage of planning and implementation; separate sections for research, competitive analysis, objectives, and actions; and space for revising social media goals based on performance. Edit the template to meet the specific marketing needs of your business or organization. Use the social media channel plan template to help execute your strategy.
Download Social Media Strategy Plan Template - Excel
Social Media Marketing Plan Template
This social media campaign marketing plan template includes sections for defining goals, identifying a call to action, scheduling important dates, and planning marketing tools and content. The form is easy to read and edit, thanks to alternate row colors. Create a clear campaign plan that includes social media platforms, related online marketing tools, and metrics for tracking progress.
Download Social Media Marketing Plan Template - Excel
Social Media Planning Calendar Template
Adjust the dates on this template to create a custom daily and weekly social media calendar. Perfect for small businesses and startups, the template has an hourly schedule and sections for multiple social media networks. Plan your posts and keep track of images used, linked content, and customer engagement.
Download Social Media Planning Calendar Template - Excel
Social Media Editorial Plan Template
Designed as an annual social media plan template, this editorial calendar includes multiple spreadsheets. Use the first sheet for an overview of important events occuring during the year, with months and quarters highlighted. Each month also has its own sheet for detailed planning and tracking. For each month, schedule social media projects while tracking target audience, editorial goals, and measurements of success.
Download Social Media Editorial Plan Template - Excel
Social Media Content Plan Template
Create a monthly and yearly content plan for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media outlets. Use this template to build a comprehensive marketing plan for each month while also viewing a yearly outlook on one page. Keep track of the status of each post, whether it’s in progress or on hold or it needs updating.
Download Social Media Content Plan Template - Excel
Social Media Posting Plan Template with Dashboard
This social media plan template includes a sheet with sample data so you can see how the dashboard displays posts per week for each social platform. The schedule covers a four-week time period, so you can create a 30-day social media plan template for all content channels. Create a log of social media posts while tracking content type, topics covered, and posting stats.
Download Social Media Posting Plan with Dashboard Template - Excel
PowerPoint Social Media Marketing Plan Template
Enhance a marketing presentation with this social media PowerPoint template. Include key elements in your marketing plan for each section: target audience, objectives, strategy, and content. Use the bullet points to describe your customers, what makes your company unique, how your business and marketing goals align, and how you plan to meet those goals with social media tools.
Download Social Media Marketing Plan Template - PowerPoint
Social Media Multichannel Plan Template
Organized by month and channel, this template helps you track activities on all your social media outlets. Add or delete sections to create a yearly, six-, or three-month social media plan template. To create a detailed schedule, add rows under each social platform and list upcoming posts and publishing dates. Keep track of assigned owners, calls to action, and the sales funnel stage that matches your marketing goals.
Download Social Media Multichannel Plan Template - Excel
Download Social Media Multichannel Plan Template - Word
Social Media Schedule Template
This basic social media template provides a spreadsheet for scheduling posts. Use it as a calendar, log, and planning tool for social marketing. Columns include publishing date, post status, topics, content description, hashtags, and character count. You’ll also find a checklist with various social media outlets that offers a quick view of where you are posting and when.
Download Social Media Schedule Template - Excel
Social Media Audit Template
Conduct a social media audit to inform your marketing plans. Analyze your activity, customer engagement, audience reach, number of followers, and recent changes. Use this data to refine your social media strategy, as well as create and share more effective content. Customize the template to include all the marketing channels and KPIs you want to measure.
Download Social Media Audit Template - Excel
Creating an Effective Social Media Strategy Plan
For more templates, as well as information on creating a social media strategy and planning a social media content calendar, visit our post “ Free Social Media Templates for Excel .” We also offer a guide to social media calendars , including benefits, best practices, planning tips, and additional calendar tools. For a comprehensive marketing overview, see the “ Definitive Guide to Strategic Marketing Planning .”
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How to Schedule Social Media Content for Next Week, Next Month, and Next Year
When I can find the time to do so, I love to plan ahead.
I’ll write out tomorrow’s to-do list . I’ll add ideas to our content calendar . And I’ll schedule the next day’s social media updates —or even the next week’s, if I’m feeling ambitious. Maybe some day I’ll get to the point of scheduling a month or even a year ahead!
Scheduling part of your social media content in advance is well worth it.
And I’ll be happy to share with you some strategies, tips, and tools that can help you get organized and get ahead with your social media sharing.
5 benefits to mapping out your social media content
Social media content feels quite in-the-moment and real-time when you consider the short lifecycle of updates and the rapid way that information moves across Twitter, Facebook, and others.
A solid social media schedule leaves room for real-time updates .
Planning content on social media still allows for flexibility to the schedule and provides opportunities to slip in real-time engagement.
The Sprout Social blog has a good reminder on the balance here.
For every quick-witted, real-time tweet, there are hundreds more tweets that take hours of planning and a lot of creative power to make, especially when a single tweet can help drive an entire strategy.
The Marketo blog also has some keen insights here as well. They mention five benefits for creating a social media content calendar and planning social content ahead of time.
- It helps you maintain a consistent cadence.
- You can map time-sensitive content ahead of time.
- You’ll take your social marketing out of a silo.
- It serves as a system of record.
- It enforces the “ 411 Rule .”
Here’s a bit more on each of these benefits.
Consistent cadence. There’s a lot to be said for consistency on social media . In terms of publishing frequency, consistency can help your audience learn when to expect new content from you, and keeping a consistent schedule makes sure you maximize engagement without hitting any lulls or stretches without updates.
Time-sensitive content. Events, holidays, product launches, contests—many of these time-sensitive events can be planned ahead of time and placed on a calendar.
No more silo. When social media happens in real-time, it gets created and published in moments. Planning ahead allows others to become involved in the process, involving a whole team rather than a narrow silo of one or two social media managers.
System of record. Keeping a calendar gives you something to refer to later. You can track back on the updates you posted, and you can review your posting cadence and rhythm from one period to the next.
The 411 Rule. This rule refers to a ratio of sharing on social media—4 educational and entertaining posts for every 1 “soft promotion” and every 1 “hard promotion.” I’ll get into some additional ratios next.
The elements of a successful social media content plan
1. the best content rules and ratios for sharing on social media.
One of the foundations of a social media content plan is figuring out the ideal ratio for the content that you’ll share . For any given slice of updates—say, your past 10 Facebook posts—what is the balance of content shared from your blog and from the blogs of others? How many product pitches do you make?
Here are some popular ratios that have been tried and tested on social. Feel free to test these and discover a ratio that is right for you, even if it doesn’t follow exactly with these. For instance, with our Buffer shares, we’ve flipped many of these ratios ; our social media updates are 90 percent our own content and 10 percent from others.
Popularized by Andrew Davis of Tippingpoint Labs and Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute, the 4-1-1 looks like this in practice:
- 4 pieces of relevant, original content from others
- 1 retweet for every 1 self-serving update
Marketo, mentioned above, uses a variation of the 411 method on its social channels. Here’s a sample of a Monday-Tuesday schedule of theirs for Facebook.
Introduced by TA McCann from Gist.com , here’s how the 5-3-2 rule breaks down:
- 5 should be content from others
- 3 should be content from you
- 2 should be personal status updates
Via Shai Coggins of Vervely
- 5 updates about you and your content
- 5 updates about others
- 5 responses/replies
- + miscellaneous posts that add value like #FollowFriday or user-generated content
Golden Ratio – 30/60/10
Via Rallyverse :
- 30 percent owned
- 60 percent curated
- 10 percent promotional
Rule of Thirds
Via a Hootsuite blog post by Sam Milbrath :
- 1/3 of your updates are about you and your content
- 1/3 of your updates are for sharing content from others and surfacing ideas
- 1/3 of your updates are based on personal interactions that build your brand
Bonus method: Thinking about the types of updates you post
The above ratios deal with the content itself. But what about the post type? Buffer’s founder Joel came up with a neat balance of the types of updates that he shares to Twitter—links, quotes, retweets, images, and plain text updates.
His system works like this:
- Start with the basic five types of updates we all post: Links, images, quotes, reshares, plain-text updates
- Choose a “staple” update , a single type that will make up the majority of your shares
- Create a 4:1 ratio of sharing : for every four “staple” updates, publish one different type for variety
The ideal frequency to post to social media
Once you have the general framework for the content you’ll plan, the next step is to figure out the ideal frequency for your posts. Your schedule figures to be unique based on your specific audience. That being said, there’s been some neat research on frequency that might give you a place to start.
We collected a number of studies on the best frequency for the top social media sites . Here’s what we found:
- Post to Twitter at least 5x a day. If you can swing up to 20 posts, you might be even better off.
- Post to Facebook up to 2x a day.
- Post to LinkedIn 1x per day.
A helpful post by Constant Contact added the following suggestions for Pinterest and Google+
- Post to Google+ up to 2x per day.
- Post to Pinterest up to 2x per day.
And an ideal Instagram schedule, according to Forbes , looks like this:
- Post to Instagram 1.5x per day
The CoSchedule blog put together a graphic of how their social media frequency might look. They’ve scheduled specific windows of times for some of their updates to publish to their social channels, and they supplement these specific posting times with a handful of Buffer posts that get added to the queue.
Plan ahead for events and launches
What events do you have planned for the coming year?
Which launches might you be aiming for? (You’re likely to add a few to this list, too, as the year goes on.)
What type of tentpole content did well for you last year that you might want to reproduce at a similar time this year?
Anything that you think might be penciled in for a future date in the coming year, this info can go on your social media calendar. Doing so lets you develop the content and strategy for these big moments ahead of time and to get others involved in the process, too.
Here’re just a few calendar events to consider:
- New product releases
- Annual events & meetups
- Major cultural events – the Super Bowl, the Oscars, etc.
- Recurring content – end-of-year lists, mid-year lists, seasonal strategies, etc.
Decide how much you’ll curate
Another element of the calendar could be your curation . If you like to share the best content from others , you’re likely to want to add some space in your calendar for queueing content from others.
Generally speaking, curation happens in the moment. You share content from other blogs and websites that has been posted recently. In these cases, you can leave some schedule slots open to fill in with curated content the day of.
There are some cases and instances where it works to share great stuff from a blog’s archives or new-to-you content that you just came across. In fact, this might help break up the short lifecycle of social media content and help us all revisit the content that’s worth a second read.
7 tools for organizing and implementing a social media calendar
With a good plan in place, the next step is organizing and implementing. Here’s where you get to have fun with some useful online tools.
- Buffer – Simple-to-use, great for scheduling social media posts in advance
- Google spreadsheets – Powerful and scalable way to organize and track content
- Google calendar – Daily, weekly, and monthly views of a content plan (with color-coded organization options)
- Basecamp – Project management tool that can be repurposed for social media
- Trello – Add content to boards and cards, and drag-and-drop to reorder and organize
- Wunderlist – To-do list app
- Todoist – To-do list app
Social media content plans—daily, weekly, monthly, yearly
A daily social media content plan.
Work one day ahead.
- What events and launches are planned for tomorrow?
- How much content do you need to plan and schedule?
- How does your sharing ratio fit with a day’s worth of content?
With a daily social media content plan, you can schedule the bulk of your content the day before, placing promotional posts of your existing content and adding curated content that appeared that day.
If you share six times to Twitter, you can schedule the six posts for tomorrow. If you use the 4-1-1 method for sharing, you make four of your six updates be content from others with a single post each for soft promotion (a blogpost of yours) and hard promotion (a CTA for your product).
A weekly social media content plan
Work one week ahead.
- What events and launches are planned for this week?
- Which new blogposts are scheduled to publish?
- How much new content do you need to find ahead of time?
- Which images could you create in advance?
Choose a day of the week to plan everything out for the following seven days . We shared some fun tips on how to accomplish the scheduling element of this—including some useful tools like bulk uploading to Buffer .
Planning a week ahead, you can fill in many of the slots in your schedule that will hold posts from your archives—the reshared content that you’ve posted before. New content and curated content can join the schedule as the week progresses.
A monthly social media content plan
Look one month ahead.
- What events and launches are planned for this month?
- What are your goals and plans for content this month?
- Which content can you schedule in advance, and what will you need to reserve space for?
- What experiments might you be running?
One month ahead, you may still be able to fill some of your slots with content from your archives. Beyond that, you’ll likely be charting your strategy instead of hand-writing individual updates.
Your monthly calendar can include your sharing ratio and content types. You can plan your social media experiments and tests. You can look ahead to launches and holidays and plan accordingly.
A yearly social media content plan
Look a full year ahead.
- What events and launches are planned for the year?
- What sharing ratio will you start out with?
- What will be your daily frequency to start?
- Which tentpole content do you hope to publish?
Jot down the major events happening over the next 12 months, integrate the social media plan with a blog editorial calendar, and settle on a sharing ratio that feels best to you. You can always come back throughout the year and change and tweak anything you’d like—when planning a year in advance, it’s hard to tell exactly what will be happening three or six or 12 months from now.
Over to you
What methods have you used for planning your social media content in advance?
I hope you can take away some useful tips and strategies here. We’re currently experimenting with some week-ahead planning for our social media content, and we’re learning tons along the way! If you’ve got any tips to share or questions to ask, feel free to leave a comment here!
Image sources: Iconfinder , Blurgrounds , Startup Stock Photos , CoSchedule
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How to create a social media strategy: Step 1. Choose goals that align to business objectives Step 2. Learn everything you can about your audience Step 3. Get to know your competition Step 4. Do a social media audit Step 5. Set up accounts and improve profiles Step 6. Find inspiration Step 7. Create a social media content calendar Step 8.
A social media plan is a comprehensive blueprint for your social marketing strategy that will help you do just that. It includes: Setting realistic social marketing goals to align with your overall business goals Determining how you will measure the success of your social marketing efforts
Social media marketing is the process of creating content for social media platforms to promote your products and/or services, build community with your target audience, and drive traffic to your business. With new features and platforms emerging every day, social media marketing is constantly evolving.
If you need a social media marketing plan, start here. Step 1: Determine which social media sites you will use Social media is as homogenous from network to network as soda pop is from brand to brand. Sure, it’s all social media, but Instagram and Twitter might as well be Mountain Dew and Pepsi.
Social Media Content Plan Template Create a monthly and yearly content plan for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media outlets. Use this template to build a comprehensive marketing plan for each month while also viewing a yearly outlook on one page.
With a daily social media content plan, you can schedule the bulk of your content the day before, placing promotional posts of your existing content and adding curated content that appeared that day. If you share six times to Twitter, you can schedule the six posts for tomorrow.