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Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan for Educational Institutions

Any promotional activity ought to be guided by a larger marketing strategy and social media usage is no exception to this rule.  A marketing plan is like a book of accounts that helps in tracking campaign performance as against the investments made. However, many educational institutions are still struggling to integrate a comprehensive strategy for developing an effective marketing plan for social media promotion.

Through this blog post, academic institutions can learn what a social media marketing plan is all about and how to create one of your own.

What is a social media marketing plan?

A social media marketing plan is like a vision and mission document of what you plan to achieve through your social media efforts. It broadly contains goals and objectives to be achieved in a given admission cycle through efforts made on social networks. This could be for lead generation, final admission conversions or simply brand building. A typical social media marketing plan would include itemized listing of your social media activities along with the desired campaign objective for each activity and the budget allocated for the same. It allows you to integrate all your social media scheduling and monitoring from one strategic document.

This plan should start with an assessment of your current status on social platforms; its strengths and weaknesses. Next, identify goals and objectives to be achieved in the near future and the platforms / tools you want to leverage for reaching there. Your campaign goals and objectives should be specific, realistic and more importantly, easily measurable. Avoid being vague at any stage. The plan will guide your actions.

Now let us understand these steps in detail to write a social media marketing plan.

Step 1: Setting social media marketing objectives and goals

Integrating clearly defined goals and objectives with your overall marketing strategy allows you to set measurable targets to achieve through social media campaigns. Without setting goals and objectives, you can never track your social media return on investment (ROI).

Make sure that your social media marketing strategy is aligned to support institutional goals. By doing so it becomes easy to get top management on board with your efforts.

In order to make your social media marketing plan effective you will need some metrics to measure its success. For this you will have to focus on key components such as leads generated, web referrals, conversion rate, and increase in follower base. These will further have to be mapped with cost of procuring leads and final conversions. Do not forget your audience while writing the marketing plan. Maintain deadlines for campaign follow-ups.

Step 2: Choose the network that best suits your requirement

For maintaining your regular online presence it is not important to be present everywhere. Choose social networks that best meet the interest of your target audience. If you still do not have a profile on these platforms, create one. Our ASMA report surveys of previous years categorically reveal that Facebook has been the most preferred social network when it comes to students. In case you already have created social media profiles on each network, then focus on enhancing their outreach and impact to meet your goals.

Do a health checkup of your online properties and optimize them for generating maximum SEO (search engine optimization) impact so that the web assets that you create are easily discoverable by your target audience. For increasing outreach do cross-promotion of your social accounts.

Each social network has a unique audience and therefore should be treated differently.

Step 3: Build a social media content calendar

Having great content is essential key to succeed at social media. Your social media marketing plan should include a content planner, comprising of identified themes for promotion with timelines for posting them.

Your content calendar should be based on the following objectives:

  • Types of themes you intend to use for promotion on social media.
  • Your target audience for each platform.
  • What will be the frequency of content postings?
  • How will you generate content?
  • Who will be responsible for compiling inputs for content development?
  • Platform-wise scheduling of content promotion.

Your social media content plan is a perfect tool to organize and monitor all your social media postings from one point.

Step 4: How to evaluate your social media marketing plan 

Whether your social media marketing plan is producing the desired campaign results or not and the adjustments that need to be made to your social media marketing strategy accordingly, periodical evaluation of your social media marketing plan is necessary. Here are a few simple ways of doing it.

  • Track the number of clicks your links get on a particular platform using URL shorteners and UTM codes.
  • Use insights available on different social media platforms to track the success and reach of your social campaigns.
  • Monitor traffic on your website by social media through Google Analytics.
  • Analyze what is working and what is not and then make corrective adjustments in your social media marketing plan. This is important to measure return on social media investment.
  • Compile reports for future reference.
  • Rewrite your social media strategy to reflect latest insights.
  • Make sure all your team members are on board with new changes.

Step 5: Do you have a social media policy

Finally, before drafting a social media marketing plan, ensure that your institution has established a social media policy so that your social media efforts are in line with your institute’s overall branding. A strong social media policy provides guidelines for social media usage by different stakeholders such as faculty, staff and students. Your marketing team for social media should refer to policy decisions in this regard before coming up with a plan.