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The 10 Steps In Developing A Strategic Social Media Plan For Your Business

This post originally appeared on Niall Devitt’s blog, Niall is a regular contributor to Tweak Your Biz. 

Quantifying an ROI from social media is only possible after you’ve developed a strategic plan that will make measurement both clear and easy. When it comes to social media “80% of marketers begin with tactics instead of goals” – eMarketer Report. Here’s how to build a strategic social media plan to ensure that you don’t waste time or money on tactics that might work.

Why do you need to measure social media ROI?

It will never be possible to measure all aspects of social media ROI. However, this is not a good enough reason not to measure social media ROI. Currently, only 20% of marketers actively measure ROI – eMarketer Report

While it’s important to balance ROI with metrics that show more incremental value, if a business is to increase profitability, customers, and to grow, then ROI remains the critical metric and the single best measure of success over the longer term.

Developing a Strategic Social Media Plan for Your Business

Start by listening

Many companies view social media as “build it and they will come”. They create channels on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and start broadcasting their message, expecting a mass of new fans and interaction. It doesn’t happen!

Participation on social media first requires you to do research, observe and listen.  Conversations are already taking place about your products, brand, competitors etc. Using a combination of both social and traditional tools, discover, listen, learn, and engage directly with customers. Allow this intelligence and insight to dictate your engagement strategies.

Develop a strategic social media plan

After you’ve taken time to discover how customers would like you to engage on social media, you now need to develop a social media strategy that will generate meaningful and real returns for the business. The 10 steps in developing a strategic social media are:

  1. Align with the business
  2. Discover opportunities
  3. Define goals
  4. Identify KPIs
  5. Assign values to KPIs
  6. Decide on channels
  7. Determine tactics
  8. Select analytics
  9. Roll out strategy
  10. Measure and refine

# 1. Align with the business

A sensible social media strategy is one where the social media goals align with the business objectives. Social media should become an extension of the business, brand and its values (the company mission statement is often a great place to start).

# 2. Discover opportunities

Social media can be used for a range of business activities including:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer service
  • Research
  • Analysis
  • HR etc.

Within any organisation, different departments will have different goals and their associated KPIs will vary. Speak with and analyse the requirements of each department and work out what level of resource is available for social media.

# 3. Define goals

Analyse any cross-over that exists and identify any opportunities for departments to work together for mutual benefit. A business shouldn’t take on social media for all functions/departments, at least initially! To help prioritize which social media goals to target:

  • Work out the suitability of social media to solve the particular challenge
  • Refer back to the needs of the overall business
  • Investigate the cost of not solving the problem
  • Estimate and compare the potential ROIs
  • Speak to and get buy-in from senior management

Next, start to define a separate strategic plan for each department.

# 4. Identify KPIs (key performance indicators)

With every goal, you will need to also identify an associated metric/s to measure the success of social media at solving that problem. Shopping Cart


Choose a metric that’s indicative of that goal’s progress and is easy to measure. Social media evolves rapidly so your tactics may have to change later. Therefore traditional business metrics such as:

  • Conversions
  • Customers
  • Cost
  • Timings
  • Satisfaction levels

are far more effective at measuring social media ROI and they will be resilient to any tactical changes.

# 5. Assign values to KPIs

Work with each department to analyse and assign a monetary value to improvements across the selected metrics.

  • Some metrics will be easily available, i.e. sales
  • For others, the specific department may have to do some work, i.e. customer satisfaction surveys
  • Seeking improvements in one area of the business will potentially impact positively on another, i.e. an improvement in customer satisfaction will have a positive effect on sales.
  • This is more proof if needed for departments to work more closely together using social media tools to drive improvement across the company, i.e. sales and customer service

# 6. Decide on channels

Investigate the suitability of each social media channel to serve the specific goals. Don’t assume that all social media channels are created equal, they’re not.  Some will be more suitable depending on the particular goal, i.e. Twitter is better at managing customer service goals than Facebook.

# 7. Determine tactics

Once you have decided on the most suitable social media channel/s, you will need to determine those tactics that best serve that goal. You will be looking for examples of tactics that are proven to work.

social media tactics

Start with your own sector and then branch out to include related sectors or specific examples that relate to your goal/s. Search globally for the very best case studies and understand how this information might apply to your organisation and your selected goal/s. Tweak these tactics where necessary so that they will work for your organisation.

Tip: Don’t forget that all tactics will have a cost. You will need to establish and record what these costs are in order to accurately calculate ROI.

# 8. Select analytics

Next identify social analytics that are relevant metrics for each tactic.

  • Prioritize the ones that are most important for the KPI followed by ones that are easiest to track.
  • Capture multiple analytics as some metrics may later become a better KPI after you have had the experience of measuring and analysing the data.

# 9. Roll out strategy

Once you have finalized your strategic plan, document and present it to:

  • Confirm buy-in from individual departments and management
  • Add timelines and assign tasks
  • Identify and provide any required training/tools/supports.
  • Agree and manage roll out

Only sign off after the above has been agreed with management.

Tip: It is important to quickly resolve any teething issues as they appear. Effective time management and ownership of tasks will become critical in ensuring effective implementation.

# 10. Measure and refine

Expect to start seeing ROI after about 6 months with a 12 month period giving an accurate picture. There are two ways to measure the ROI of your social media tactics:

  1. Direct results:  Impacts of your social media tactics directly on your KPIs. Your website has a conversion value of $50 and you convert 2% of traffic. Every 100 visits equates to $100 in sales. You double your content output on Twitter and increase your traffic from Twitter from 500 to 1000 visits. The ROI is $500 less the cost of that tactic.
  2. Impact of social analytics on KPIs: These are more fluid and difficult to measure. Taking the above example, but this time we also implement the tactic of increasing our engagement levels with followers on Twitter by 200%. This results in 1500 visits and an increase of 1% in the conversion of this traffic. Now every 100 visits (from Twitter) equates to $150 in sales. The overall ROI is $1750 less the cost of the tactics. So the ROI of engagement increase is $1250 less the cost of that tactic.

Thanks for reading our 10 steps in developing a strategic social media plan for business. How would you go about developing a social media strategy? What would you add?

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Images:  ”Hand writing social media to

Digital expert, top 10% influencer with over 10 years’ senior management experience - including managing projects and teams, and growing companies in the Irish, international and online marketplaces. Co-founded one of the largest B2B blogs in the world, helped grow a B2B social media to over 1,000,000 members, created the strategy for one of the most effective SME Facebook pages in the world and have grown 3 business websites (, & to in excess of a 100,000 unique visitors per month. Have consulted and worked with both corporate and SME clients on leveraging digital to drive business KPIs. Speaker at industry events, have authored several industry reports on the Digital Economy and appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Insider and other leading online and offline business publications. Specialities include: Entrepreneurship Business Development, Start-ups, Business Planning, Management, Training, Leadership, Sales Management, Sales, Sales Process, Coaching, Online Advertising, Blogging, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Strategist, Digital Strategy, Social Media ROI, User Generated Content, Social Customer Care.

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  • Elish Bul

    Great to see a concise overview Like this one. I have 2 questions.

    Would you normally:
    1. try to measure digital presence and initiate social media monitoring at the start of the process too not just at the end to establish current footprint?
    2. Also would you be also taking into account the key customer profiles , redefining them along digital terms when aligning with the business?

  • Thanks Elish, 1. Yes, the reality is that most companies have already set up social channels by the time they hire me (or the Ahain Group) so we would typically analyse from the start. The example above is ideal world. 2. Again, the answer is yes, customer profiling will have two implications: 1) Which channels to use and 2) Which content types will be the most effective (how you package your message) This is particularly true of B2B. For example, the Ahain Group’s typical decision maker is less lightly to be a blog reader, so we use reports instead to drive our business development.

  • It’s obvious that Jill and her team go the extra mile to make MyKidsTime a success. It’s also clear that each business stream is well-though out and executed. Despite not having children, I follow all the MyKidsTime campaigns, updates and activities. I’ve also advertised my clients on the website. Great work Jill and an excellent interview as usual Niall.

  • Hi Jill, seems like an age ago when we were plotting Facebook domination and now it seems like it’s coming to pass. Pound for pound – Mykidstime have to be the most effective Irish SME on Facebook!

  • Thanks Christina, I’ve always loved working with Jill because she really gets social and is not interested in short-cuts or silver bullets. She and the team were prepared to do it right from the start and they’re now reaping the rewards.

  • Thanks for the head up, Ian – can you suggest a contact?

  • Sorry Niall, don’t know anyone in the Dublin office!

  • Ok, cool – thanks for suggestion anyway!

  • Joan Hamilton Reilly

    Hi Niall, I am offically professionally jealous of MyKidsTime now! Great to hear an Irish success story, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so will do my best…

  • Hi Joan & thanks for comment. We’d love to see another Irish SME achieve on Facebook so by all means 🙂

  • Elish Bul-Godley

    Amazing Reach internationally from what I can see – what a great success story! Can’t believe its not in the social media news more often

  • Thanks Elish, and seeing as you’re a valued member of the Mykidstime community, it’s double-ly great to get your input!

  • Elish Bul-Godley

    So whats the secret behind the Cross Atlantic traffic?

  • As regards the post you are referring to. Anything that goes truly viral will always include an international input, or else it wouldn’t have gone viral in the first place. The key was in creating the opportunity for a post(s) to go viral and that was a combination of already having an such an engaged page – a Launchpad and then adding the fuel – in this case the promotions & images.

  • By the way, Google is a different matter!

  • Andylewis09

    Very informative content and virtual trail rooms and mirrors it’s a very good idea , this is an innovative idea.

  • Thanks for this info Ashesh. I love the idea of virtual trial rooms as I do a lot of online shopping and that would be perfect for me. I must watch out for it. I look forward to your next post for us

  • Thanks Andy

  • Thank you very much Sian

  • Thanks Sian , i’m glad to hear that you like this one and sure will come with new interesting post in near period…

  • Thanks Andy…

  • Great points you raised really e-commerce website development is becoming challenging nowadays.But if site owners focus on these points then they will run a successful business easily.

  • Chandramouli

    Interesting read. Curious to know about some of the innovative ideas that companies are adopting to offer personalized website designs. E-Commerce Consultant (

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