If you want to win business as a social media marketer, you don’t just need to be great at actually doing the social-media part: you need to crush the social media proposal game, too.
Whether you’re responding to an RFP (request for proposal) or sealing the deal with a lead your sales team has been nurturing, a social media marketing proposal is the document that takes a new customer from prospect to client. For solo freelance social media managers and marketing agencies alike, social media proposals are an essential tool for growing your business — so you’d better be prepared to knock it out of the park.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered with this step-by-step guide to creating a proposal, and a free social media proposal template to help you craft your own in just a few minutes.
When we say “social media proposal,” we are absolutely not encouraging you to pop the Q to Cardi B. over Twitter. Rather, a social media marketing proposal is a document in which you propose a set of social media marketing services for a potential client.
These services should help them fulfill a social media marketing plan that aligns with their overall business goals. Romantic? No. Practical and helpful? Yes.
To kick things off, you’ll need to figure out what those goals are. Then, you can share a game plan for just how you’ll help and what success will look like.
Throughout the proposal, you’ll also establish your expertise in the field and demonstrate why you’re the right person (or firm) for the job. After all, a social media proposal isn’t just about what a company should do… it’s about who should do it. (You! It’s always been you!) (Okay, maybe this is romantic after all?)
A professional social media proposal should also include the dirty details: we’re talking timeline, deliverables, and budgets.
Like any good relationship (eg: one that doesn’t cumulate in a Twitter proposal), communication is key. Your social media proposal is a chance to outline expectations, promises, and responsibilities right out of the gate so your working relationship with a new client has no unpleasant surprises. You understand their goals, and they understand exactly what you’re promising and what it will cost. If that’s not true love, what is?
Step 1: Determine your prospect’s business and social media goals
The bad news: before you can sit down to start authoring the World’s Greatest Social Media Proposal, you’ve got to do your homework.
The best social media proposals start with a deep dive into the potential client’s business and existing social. Strong research and discovery makes for strong social media strategy, so don’t skimp on the detective work in this stage.
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?
The most direct way to get accurate answers to these questions is to just ask. Sit down with your potential client, or set up a call or Zoom, and address these quandaries head-on. When you’re grilling them, though, focus on what their challenges and goals are… not what solutions they’re looking for. After all, it’s your job to figure out how social media can help. If they really had the answers, they wouldn’t need you, right?
A standard intake form for prospects and new clients can be a helpful tool here, too, to either replace a discovery call or supplement it. The more info, the better.
Of course, this approach only works if you have the opportunity to actually connect with your potential client directly. If you’re responding to an RFP, you may not have the option. If that’s the case, read the request document thoroughly and make sure you fully digest all the information it provides.
This first stage is a good time to be on the watch for any red flags — those little signs that indicate your potential client isn’t a good fit for your expertise. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and headaches if you stick to projects that suit your passions and skill set.
You know what they say about assumptions: don’t make them! You may have an existing perception of your potential client’s audience, but it would be truly humiliating if you got it wrong and spent a whole pitch talking about connecting with rollerskaters instead of rollerbladers. So collect as much data as you can and use it to develop and support your strategy.
In other words: step two in creating a great social media proposal is actually just more research. Sorry! You got pranked!
To discover the hot deets about your prospect’s audience, ask them to share any data they might have already. If chatting with that prospect directly isn’t an option, take a close look at the RFP and their existing social media accounts. (A social media analytics tool may help you here.)
And if you’re really feeling fun and flirty, why not also compile relevant industry-specific statistics and social media demographics?
Okay! Now that you’re just swimming in information, positively dripping in it, you might want to synthesize all your intel to create some audience personas. These are composite characters that can help a client conceptualize their target market.
For instance, instead of saying “rich, lizard-owning women aged 50 and up are very active on Snapchat,” you can create dynamic examples like “Eglantine Vanderby checks Snapchat every morning over waffles with Grizwold.” It’s ‘Show Don’t Tell’ at its finest!
This might sound crazy because we just are at the tail-end of Step 2 here, but this might be a good time to go back to Step 1 and double-check those initial goals. With these audience insights in mind, do the goals still make sense? If not, tweak accordingly.
Overall, you’re going to want to make the connection between the audience and the goals crystal clear, so your prospect can see that you understand their business. At its core, this section is about both the “who” and the “why.”
Step 3: Get to know your prospect’s competition
Some news for you that is probably not surprising at all: step 3 in your social media proposal prep is actually just more research. Get used to it.
This phase is all about figuring out just who your prospects’ competition is.
Aim to identify at least five strong competitors to benchmark against. They could be direct competitors who exist in the same industry, or they may be brands that target the same audience.
Sure, your prospect probably will be able to point out some of their top competish to you — but take the time to investigate on your own, too. Which competitors stand out on social media in particular?
Our guide to competitive analysis on social media walks you through this process. Spoiler alert: social listening tools like Hootsuite streams can help monitor competitors’ activity and audiences. As we like to say, “keep your enemies close, and your social media enemies closer.”
Step 4: Conduct a social media audit
In this day and age, your potential client probably already has some social media experience. The likelihood is, you’re not starting from scratch. (If you are: great! Skip this section and use that found time to go watch a sunset. See you back at Step 5.)
A social media management proposal should take into account how the client is currently using social media. If you can chat with the prospective client, you can get their perspective on how things are going, but just digging into their previous posts should give you some insight, too.
Do some of your investigating to find out which platforms they are strongest on, and why those are working best.
A thorough social media audit or analysis should answer questions like…
- 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
Congratulations! The research part is over! You made it through! Now the creative juices can start to flow.
All that raw data you’ve squirreled away is going to inform and guide your social media strategy and suggestions. This brilliant plan will make up the bulk of the proposal, as you’ll outline both what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and when.
Some points to include in your social media proposal:
- 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.
This strategic expertise is your chance to really shine. Make your strategy thoughtful, targeted, and detailed. Use easy-to-understand language and avoid jargon unless you know you’re dealing with an internal social media pro.
Depending on who you’re pitching to, you may need to do some client education as well about the overall value of social media in a brand marketing strategy. That might mean using detailed examples in an appendix, or doing an in-person presentation. (Or if that doesn’t work: maybe just really wow them with a funny Instagram Reel?)
Step 6: Put it all on paper
Now you’ve got everything you need to present to the client, it’s time to pull it all together into one professional package.
To make your life easy (that’s right: we care!), 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 examples
As you now know because we’ve said it 600 times already in this article, a strong social media strategy will be based on the client’s social media goals.
Examples of social media proposals might be:
What you propose is going to be unique to the brand, and to your own expertise — and honestly, we can’t wait to see it. Fill out the social media proposal template below with your big ideas and sit back and wait for your potential client to say, “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!”
Social media proposal template
Our social media proposal template is a Google Doc. To use it, 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 private version on Google Docs to edit and share.
Here’s what to include in each section:
This is the first section of your social media proposal, but it’s essentially an overview of the proposal, so we highly recommend writing this part last. It can be easier to understand the most important points to include here after you’ve refined all the other details.
Think of it as the tl;dr for busy executives. Summarize the need(s) for the proposed project in less than a page. Identify the problem, share the anticipated results, and clarify the budget and resource requirements.
And it probably goes without saying, but we’re gonna say it anyways: proofread this like 10 times. Typos are yike-os. (Also you probably shouldn’t include phrases like “typos are yike-os” in the executive summary.)
This document is about your potential client’s problems, but it’s also important to explain just why you’re the right person to help them.
In this section, 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.
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.
Now it’s time to showcase just what you learned from all that research earlier. In this section, you’ll show your 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. Based on your research, 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
Those business objectives on the last page? They set the stage for your social media goals, which you’re going to share starting… now!
State three to five S.M.A.R.T social media goals. Remember, S.M.A.R.T. goals are strategic, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. (More on S.M.A.R.T. social media goals here!)
Each objective should specify the platform(s), the metric(s), and an end date. It needs to be clear when to measure the goal, what the metric is for success, and how it ties into the overall brand goals. (For example: Increase Facebook followers by 25 percent by the end of Q4.)
Scope of work and deliverables
This is it: time to really bring it all home. Here, you’ll bring your strategy into focus, backed by learnings from your audience research and social and competitive audits.
And (sorry to repeat ourselves, but we can’t help it, we worry!) everything you propose should tie back into those social media objectives from the previous section.
Your social media scope of work outline may include:
- Social media promotions and campaigns
- Content creation
- A strategic publishing schedule
- Social media monitoring
- Social media engagement
- Social selling
- Lead generation
Importantly, this is where you’ll outline what specific deliverables you will provide to the client. Are you actually creating and posting TikToks, or just providing recommendations for the client team to execute? Make it very clear who does what, and exactly what the client can expect to receive.
Schedule and budget
You’ve pitched the potential client on what you’re going to do: now it’s time to sketch out just when and how you’re going to do it.
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.
It all depends on how involved the client wants to be, but whether big picture or hyper-focused, make sure your schedule aligns with the timing captured in the goals.
Hot tip to keep everyone happy and informed: include milestones and check-ins on the schedule so that everyone can make sure things are on track.
This section is also the time to talk money, honey. Breakdown how you would spend the client’s total budget amount, in whatever format best suits the client’s preferences. Flat rate? Hourly fee? You do you!
How are you going to tell if your big audacious plan was successful if you don’t all agree on what your key performance indicators (KPIs) will be?
This is the part of the social media proposal where you suggest how this project will be evaluated. What analytics are you going to monitor? What measurements will indicate success? An objective, quantitative way to track your progress is going to make sure wins are properly celebrated and expectations stay at a reasonable level.
Endorsements 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.
Terms and conditions
You might want to include the down-and-dirty details towards the end of your proposal, just so all the bits and pieces are in one place.
We’re talkin’ about things like billing practices (what are your payment terms?), how you prefer to work (are you available to answer questions 24/7?), and what to do if either party decides to terminate the contract (is there a kill fee?).
Basically, tuck all the less-than-glam logistics and fine print in here.
In this section, make it clear what happens next. What action does the client need to take before the proposal can move forward? Signing a contract? Providing further information? The ball is in their court, and this is the section where you explain just how they can, um, hit… it.
You might wish to include an expiry date on the proposal to make sure your proposed tactics, budget, and availability are up-to-date.
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. You want to keep this doc looking sleek and streamlined, after all. Keep the junk in the trunk!
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