Put together a proposal that hits your client’s goals and budget.
Analyze your client’s current social media presence, paying special attention to the channels on which they are active, their current adherence to channel best practices, and brand voice.
This will help you understand current gaps and social media needs. It helps to jot down your notes about gaps, brand voice, current activity level, and other variables, so you can refer to them later in the process. For example, a client with an active organic social media presence on multiple channels but no paid presence may need a more specific focus on supplemental paid campaigns. A client without an active presence on channels typical for their industry or target audience may need more basic help.
Research typical rates for outsourced social media plans in your industry or niche.
You can find some public estimates that range anywhere from $500 to $20,000 per month. Other sources suggest potential hourly rates between $50 and $150 depending on scope, level of involvement, and reputation of the agency. All of these sources can help you better understand how much to charge, and let your clients know what to expect.
Meet with the client to learn about their budget range for outsourcing their social media efforts, business goals, and social media needs.
Ask important questions such as:
- What budget do they have for social media marketing?
- Are they looking to outsource all or part of their social media efforts?
- Do they have a timeline by which your social media plan would need implemented?
- What are their core business, marketing, and social media goals?
Set up an in-person or virtual meeting with your client’s to discuss these questions. You can send a questionnaire ahead of time to prepare for the discussion. Your client might need help answering some of these questions. For example, if they are not sure about their budget, provide a range of potential prices based on typical industry rates as well as scope.
Ask the client to send you all qualitative and quantitative social media data they have available and are comfortable sharing.
This helps you understand past performance and where improvement might be needed. Focus on social media analytics reports, brand guidelines, as well as customer and target audience demographics. Streamline this process by sending templates and tutorials on how to pull this data. For example, rather than asking for their target audience, create a persona template in which your client can fill in audience demographics, preferences, and behaviors.
Conduct an informal competitive analysis on the business’s 3 to 5 top competitors to generate ideas about how you can position the business in your social media plan.
Focus on what competitors are doing well, and where they have weaknesses that a good social media plan could exploit. For example, you might find that none of the competitors effectively curates content your audience finds relevant, which is an opportunity for your clients’ social media presence to stand out. Don’t forget to analyze both paid and organic efforts.
If you need help identifying your client’s top social media competitors, ask them. You can also use competitive analysis tools like Sprout Social or BuzzSumo for a more formal competitive analysis.
Conduct a social media audit using the analytics reports the client provided you, focusing especially on trends in audience growth or loss, content patterns, engagement and conversion rates, and campaign performance.
Focus on a few important variables:
- How often do they currently post on each platform?
- How closely are their current efforts to reaching their goals and KPIs?
- Do they post on consistent days and times?
- How would you evaluate their current content in terms of design, copy, and CTAs?
- How do they engage with their audience in comments?
- How do they currently use paid ads and boosted posts, if at all?
Determine the pricing and scope of your outsourced social media plan based on your findings in the previous steps.
To define the scope, focus especially on:
- Where exactly has your client asked for help?
- Where does your client have gaps or needs for social media improvement?
- Will your plan include only organic, or paid and organic content management?
- How hands-on will you need to be in developing content?
For example, you might only be asked to set up and monitor your client’s posts based on the content you receive, leading to a relatively low-touch and low-cost plan. Estimate the work it will take on your end to accomplish the scope, including strategy, client touches, content creation, daily content and community management, and analytics reporting. Add a mark-up of 20% above your total estimated cost, and adjust slightly up and down based on your industry research for average social media rates.
Develop a social media strategy document that outlines exactly how your client can optimize their presence to reach business and marketing goals.
Form the strategy around how you can improve existing social media channels, adjust methods that aren’t performing, and potentially enter new channels to match audience preferences.
Include a projected timeline for implementation that matches your client’s expectations and scope. If the ideal plan doesn’t match your client’s preferred timeline and scope, include a paired down version that outlines what would be achievable on their budget and the work your client will still need to do to reach their marketing goals.
Create a visual presentation that outlines your evaluation of the client’s current social media efforts, the desired future state of these efforts, as well as the plan, timeline, and budget to get from current to desired state.
Support each of the three sections with industry research, case studies of past clients, and quantitative data to build credibility. Clearly state the timeline and budget of your plan at the end of the presentation to set expectations.
Meet with your client to present the social media plan and quote. Plan for at least an hour, with 30 minutes for the presentation and 30 minutes for discussion and feedback.
Include anyone in the meeting who will manage the plan on your end. Ask to record the meeting, or designate a note taker who can collect the feedback should any adjustments be needed for a future plan. Don’t press your client for an answer or formal contract signature during the meeting. Provide a time window, ideally a full week, to consider the proposal and share it with relevant stakeholders.
After the meeting, send a copy of the strategy document and presentation to all meeting attendees, and offer to set up a follow-up meeting to move forward and start to implement the plan.