A great social media proposal is a key tool for any social media marketer. Whether you’re a freelance social media professional or you work at an agency, you need to understand how to use a proposal to build business.
Maybe you’re responding to an RFP (request for proposal). Or maybe you’re sealing the deal with a lead your sales team has been nurturing. Either way, a social media marketing proposal is the document that takes a new customer from prospect to client.
Follow these steps to collect the information you need for your next proposal. And then use our free social media proposal template to create your own in minutes.
Quickly create your own social media proposal with our free and easy-to-use template.
What is a social media marketing proposal?
A social media marketing proposal is a document in which you propose a set of social media marketing services for a potential client. You’ll start by establishing the client’s goals and work through a series of steps to show how you can help.
In the process, you’ll show exactly how social media marketing can impact the client’s business goals, and establish your expertise in the field. Through research and planning, you’ll demonstrate to the client why you are exactly the right person (or firm) for the job.
Finally, you’ll outline the specifics of the work you propose to do for the client, including a timeline and budget.
With all of these details in place, you’re well positioned to establish a good working relationship with a new client. You understand their goals, and they understand exactly what you’re promising and what it will cost.
How to create a winning social media proposal
Step 1: Determine your prospect’s business and social media goals
Before you can write a winning social media management proposal, you need to invest time in research and discovery.
Consider addressing these questions:
- What are the goals of your prospect’s business?
- What challenges are they currently facing?
- How long have they faced these challenges?
- Have they made any attempts to address these goals or challenges in the past?
- How are they currently using social media?
- What are their social media goals?
- What kind of timeline do they have in mind?
- What’s their budget?
- How have their previous social media initiatives worked out?
How do you learn the answers to these questions? The simplest way is to sit down with your potential client (or get on the phone, or Zoom), and ask them. Focus on asking them about what they’re trying to achieve. It’s your job to figure out how social media (and you) can help.
You could also create a standard intake form for prospects and new clients in which you ask them about their goals.
If you’re responding to an RFP, you may not have the option to speak to anyone at the potential client firm. Instead, read the request document thoroughly and make sure you fully digest all the information it provides.
When thinking about goals for the proposal, use the S.M.A.R.T framework. That is, make sure your stated goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Keep the prospect’s timeline and budget in mind when thinking about timing and attainability.
Be on the alert during this stage for any sign that your potential client’s goals are not a good match for your (or your agency’s) expertise. Recognizing when a prospect is not a good fit can save both you and them a lot of time, energy, and frustration.
If you know another marketer or agency who would be a better fit, don’t be shy to make the connection. Build a solid referral network among your social media marketing peers. This can be a great way to make sure you always connect with the best clients for your skills, while giving clients the best results.
Step 2: Learn about your potential client’s audience
Don’t make assumptions about the potential client’s audience in your proposal. Collect as much data as you can and use it to develop and support your strategy.
Start by asking your prospect to share any data they already have about their audience. If speaking to the prospect is not an option, comb through the RFP. Check out their existing social media accounts and see what information you can gain from social media analytics tools.
Then, compile relevant industry-specific statistics and social media demographics.
Once you’ve gathered as much information as you can, consider creating audience personas. These can help your potential client understand how your proposed work will speak directly to their target market.
At this stage it doesn’t hurt to go back to Step 1 and review the goals. With these audience insights in mind, do the goals still make sense? If not, tweak accordingly. Make the connection between the audience and the goals crystal clear, so your prospect can see that you understand their business.
Step 3: Get to know your prospect’s competition
Who are your prospect’s key competitors?
Aim to identify at least five strong competitors to benchmark against. These may be direct competitors in the same industry niche. But they might also be firms in similar industries that target the same audience.
Your prospect may be able to identify some of their top competitors for you. But it’s a good idea to do your own research to see which competitors stand out on social media. Our guide to competitive analysis on social media walks you through this process.
Use social listening tools like Hootsuite streams to monitor competitors’ activity and audiences.
Step 4: Conduct a social media audit
Unless your potential client has never used social media before, you’re not starting from scratch. A social media management proposal should take into account how the client is currently using social media.
If you can speak to the prospect, you should have some basic knowledge of their current social media use from the discussion you had in step 1. Do some of your investigating to find out which platforms they are strongest on and why.
Consider addressing the following issues in the audit:
- What platforms are they using?
- What’s working?
- What’s not?
- How often do they post?
- Have they run any ads?
- How are their organic and paid posts performing?
For more details on what questions to ask and where to find the answers, check out our guide to conducting a social media audit.
Step 5: Develop a social media strategy
You now have the raw data to get to work on a social media strategy for your potential client. This will form the bulk of your proposal.
Some social media proposal example points to consider are:
- What specific actions will you take?
- How does this work relate to the client goals?
- How does the work align with the client timeline?
- How much will it cost?
Use your prospect as a resource as much as possible. A brand mission statement, style guide, or brand book are important references if your contact can provide them. You should also ask your potential client what brands inspire them.
But this strategic expertise is where you really bring value to the table. Make your strategy thoughtful, targeted, and detailed. Depending on who you’re dealing with at the prospect firm, you might need to do some client education here as well. Use easy-to-understand language and avoid jargon unless you know you’re dealing with an internal social media pro.
Be prepared to explain your proposals to an audience who may not fully understand how social media marketing works. That might mean using detailed examples in an appendix, or doing an in-person presentation.
Step 6: Put it all on paper
Now you’ve got everything you need to present to the client—you just need to put it into a final document.
We’ve created a free social media proposal template you can use to develop a professional, polished proposal quickly and easily. Here’s how to present your proposal in the best light.
Social media proposal template
To use the template, simply click the File tab in the top left corner of your browser, then select Make a copy from the drop-down menu. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have your own version to edit and share.
Here’s what to include in each section.
This is the first section of your social media proposal, but you may find it easier to write this part last. It can be easier to understand the most important points to include here after you pull all of the other details together.
This section is essentially an overview of the proposal. Think of it as the tl;dr for busy executives. Summarize the need(s) for the proposed project. Include the anticipated results, as well as budget and resource requirements.
This page may be the most important of the whole proposal because it needs to convince the potential client to keep reading.
Spend a good amount of time to polish your language and make sure all your points are clear. Walk away from this page for a while and come back to read it again with fresh eyes. Or, better yet, get a colleague to look it over to let you know if anything is unclear or if they spot any proofreading mistakes.
You could also use online writing tools to help to tighten up your executive summary. You want it to set up the rest of your proposal effectively and present you as the pro you are.
It’s important for your potential client to know who they will be choosing to work with if they accept your social media proposal.
Provide a brief overview of your company. Include your mission statement and relevant experience, and the team members who will be involved in the current project. If it’s a large team, then focus on the client-facing employees, or the key team members.
Don’t forget the basics. Make sure to include your contact information, and indicate that you’re available to answer any questions that may arise.
Client’s needs and objectives
This section provides an opportunity to show the potential client that you understand the needs and goals of their business.
Keep it simple and be as specific as possible so that you leave little room for discrepancy or ambiguity.
Use your research to clearly identify the organization’s needs, challenges and objectives. Be sure to specify the objectives of the specific project as well as the organization’s overall needs.
If you’re responding to an RFP, use language here that echoes the way the organization has defined what they’re looking for.
Social media goals
State approximately three to five S.M.A.R.T social media goals. Each objective should specify the platform(s), the metric(s), and an end date. It needs to be clear when to measure the goal and what the metric is for success.
For example: Increase Facebook followers by 25 percent by the end of Q4.
Remember, these goals should help achieve the client’s overall business objectives. Tie each of these goals back to the objectives mentioned in the previous section.
Don’t overpromise. Clients like ambition. But overselling will either weaken your proposal or damage your relationship down the line. Remember: S.M.A.R.T. goals are realistic.
Scope of work and deliverables
This may be the most important section of your social media proposal. Here you’ll bring your strategy into focus, backed by learnings from your audience research and social and competitive audits.
That may sound daunting, but remember to keep things simple. Start by providing a scope of work. This may include:
- Social media promotions and campaigns
- Content creation
- Social media monitoring
- Social media engagement
- Social selling
- Lead generation
These tactics should align neatly with your social media objectives. Say one of your objectives is “to increase Facebook followers by 25 percent by the end of Q4.” It should be clear to anyone reading the proposal what tactics you will use to accomplish that goal.
Also outline what specific deliverables you will provide to the client. Will you be guiding the Facebook posting strategy, or actually creating and posting content yourself? Make it very clear who does what, and exactly what the client can expect to receive.
Schedule and budget
This section hinges on the T component of S.M.A.R.T. goals: Timely. Make sure your schedule aligns with the timing captured in the goals.
Depending on how involved the client wants to be, this could be a very detailed schedule of development, analysis, and testing work. Or, it could simply be a timeline of when you will produce each deliverable.
Be sure to include some milestones so there are clear points where everyone can check in to make sure the schedule is on track.
If you’re responding to an RFP, that document should outline what kind of schedule the potential client expects to see. If you have a chance to meet with the prospect, it’s a good idea to simply ask.
The budget should provide a breakdown of how the client’s total budget amount will be spent. How you structure this may vary depending on the volume of work and the client’s needs. It could be based on an hourly rate, or simply flat mounts for each deliverable. Use a structure that works well for you and for the client.
KPIs and evaluation
In this section, you’ll propose how your social media plan will be evaluated. Will you be providing regular updates? What analytics will you monitor? Which measurements will be the clear indicators of success?
Testimonials, endorsements, and/or case studies
Throughout the proposal, you’ve shown the potential client that you understand their business and have put in the work to create a custom plan to help them succeed with social media.
But to really sell yourself as the right person or agency for the job, it’s a good idea to showcase some of your past results. This could be something as simple as a few key pull quotes from your LinkedIn recommendations. Or, if you’ve done similar work for another client in the past, you could write a short case study highlighting the work you did and the results.
The key is to show that you have the expertise to do this work, backed up by recommendations and results from others you’ve worked with before.
You’ve handed over the proposal. Now what? In this section, make it clear what happens next. What action does the client need to take before the proposal can move forward? You might wish to include an expiry date on the proposal to make sure your proposed tactics, budget, and availability are up-to-date.
Sometimes you might want to include a lot of nitty-gritty details in your proposal.
Rather than bulking up the main body of the proposal (which can make it difficult to read), add an appendix.
In the appendix, you can include your comprehensive research findings or provide a more detailed budget breakdown. It’s a good place for anything that needs additional support or elaboration.
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