How to create a social media proposal in 5 steps

Writing effective social media proposals is a crucial skill for any social media marketer. But that doesn't mean it's easy—which is why we've built a guide to help you get the details right. Here, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know, so you can write a social media proposal that seals the deal. 

What is a social media proposal?

A social media proposal is a tool that freelancers and marketing agencies use to communicate their services to prospective customers. It shows how your offerings and expertise can add value to their business, and it outlines exactly how you’ll meet their unique business goals and objectives. While your clients want you to bring past experiences and expertise to the table, they never want to feel like your approach is one-size-fits-all.

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With that in mind: while you may use a template to organize your offerings, illustrate your value propositions, and speak to some of your previous accomplishments, this should be a jumping-off point rather than a rigid equation. Your proposal should be customized to illustrate a client or prospect’s obstacles, budgets, and goals.

How do you write a social media proposal?

Writing a social media  proposal that inspires clients to give you their business isn’t easy. Here are a few tried-and-true steps that you can follow to nail the process:

Step 1: Establish the business and social media goals of your potential customer

Understanding your prospect’s vision for their social media presence—and how that vision fits in with their business goals—is the keystone of your proposal. It’ll help you develop a strategy that connects social performance metrics to the business’s overall goals. 

The best way to unearth this sort of info is to start at the source. If you can, schedule a discovery meeting or call with your prospect to ask critical questions that will help you customize the proposal. Be sure to prepare in-depth talking points to help you communicate just how thoroughly your services address their needs. Ask questions like:

  • What makes your brand different? What do you offer that your competitors don’t?

  • Who is your ideal customer?

  • What does your social media strategy look like now? What channels or platforms are you using?

  • What tactics (polls, contests, etc.) have you tried? What sort of results did you see?

  • What are your goals and what metrics are you using to measure them? Do you have any OKRs (objectives and key results) or KPIs to share?

  • What sort of relationship do you want with a social media partner? What’s worked well in the past, and what hasn’t?

  • Which brands have a social media presence that you’d like to emulate? Who inspires your team?

You should send these questions ahead of time so the customer has time to pull all of the relevant information before your meeting. If, for whatever reason, you can’t set up a call with the prospect, still aim to have them email back answers to these questions. As a follow-up, you might also ask them to share any relevant documents.

Step 2: Research your prospect’s audience

You’ve successfully identified your potential customer’s goals—next up is nailing down their target audience. Your intended audience will largely dictate which social media channels and platforms are worth investing in. 

While you can collect some helpful audience insights directly from the customer, it’s up to you and your expertise to turn those insights into actions. For example, your prospect might  know that they get a lot of traffic to their website from Facebook. But they may not be aware of recent algorithm changes that could impact their performance.

To get the most out of these conversations, provide your prospect with guidance on what sort of demographic, psychographic, and firmographic breakdowns will inform your strategy (such as geography, gender, age, values, and preferences). Then, head to their social media accounts and see who’s interacting with their brand most often; dig a little deeper into those statistics and demographics.

While you probably won’t have access to your customer’s analytics at this stage, you should still be able to get some signal from public information. For instance, look at posts within the last three to six months and track things like comments, shares, type of post, post time/date, content theme, etc. If you want to look extra buttoned-up, you can start to map out these results using a tool like our Social Media Calendar template (check out the “Results” table).

Step 3: Familiarize yourself with the competition

If you’re going to propose a best-in-class social media strategy, you’ll need to know how to outsmart your customer’s competition. That means looking at which platforms their competitors have a presence on, and how they’re using those channels. Important note: many companies are sensitive about their competition, so one of the easiest ways to start off on the wrong foot is to misidentify their competitors. Make sure you ask them, explicitly, who they consider to be in their competitive set. While you might suggest additions to the list, get their buy-in before you move forward.

This knowledge can provide a range of insights into how you might want to shape your prospect’s strategy. Maybe competitors are pursuing certain platforms and channels that are untapped opportunities for your client. It  can also prove to be a guidepost for developing your strategy, helping you create benchmarks against which you can measure your own performance. 

For instance, if a competitor with a similar audience (and presumably similar goals) gets an average of 15,000 likes per Instagram post, you can use that as a starting point. Plus, demonstrating clear knowledge of what their competitors are doing (and how you can do it better) will help you build trust with the prospect. After all, a huge reason for implementing a social media strategy—and investing in a professional like you—is to edge past the competition. 

Once you’ve got your list of competitors, complete a competitive social media analysis to help you track who you’re looking to beat. You can include this analysis as an addendum, but you’ll want to at least include a basic roundup of the top three to five competitors in the main proposal itself. Outline things like which channels they’re on, how many followers they have, and highlight any potential benchmarks so your prospect has an understanding of what’s possible. 

Step 4: Audit the potential customer’s social media accounts

Taking stock of your prospect’s existing social media presence can be a lengthy-but-fruitful process. It’ll help you determine which channels are performing strongly (performance metrics can range from things like engagement via shares and comments, the number of clickthroughs to the prospect’s website, and more) and which ones are not. It’ll help give you a sense of how your customer operates their channels, including posting frequency, ads, engagement, types of posts, and more. 

There will probably be things you glean from an audit that your customer hasn’t realized. For example, maybe they’re trying to get more conversions on Instagram, but haven’t leveraged features that could help drive clicks. Maybe they’re trying to build community, but they’re missing out on relevant conversations happening on Twitter.

Compile an exhaustive list of the pros, cons, and gaps in their current social media management approach. Dig deep by evaluating metrics like click-through rates to gain a firm understanding of which posts have performed well on which channels, which haven’t, and why. If you’re able to access your prospect’s analytics, collecting these metrics should be easy. But if you don’t, develop a proxy (such as likes and/or shares), to help gauge performance. 

Step 5: Write your social media strategy

You’ve had thorough conversations with your potential clients, and you’ve conducted your own research. Now it’s time to put all of your thoughts and insights together, along with a plan of action. Your proposed social media strategy should showcase your knowledge of the customer, their industry, audience, and, of course, how all of these intersect on social media. 

To do this, lay out concrete, actionable, measurable initiatives that target the customer’s pain points. For example, if your client wants to see more engagement on their social channels, perhaps your team will need to do things like develop caption contests, reply to a certain number of comments each day, and post polls. Propose some key metrics to measure performance on these projects—for something like polls, that might look like: “Increase poll participation by 10% month over month.”

You’ll also want to note the kinds of resources you or your team will need to execute on your plan. To respond to comments, for instance, one of your team members might need to spend at least 3 hours a day periodically checking in on all of a customer’s relevant accounts. Make sure you can actually commit those sorts of resources.

Also, be sure to use language that’s approachable, easy to understand, and aimed at the right level. Are you presenting to just the CMO, other C-suite stakeholders, or the marketing team members who will help put this plan into action? Ask whether your proposal will need approval from parties beyond the C-suite, like a board of directors. Frame your proposal in a way that fits the experience level and social savvy of your audience.

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What should a social media proposal include?

Now that we’ve covered the high level goals of your proposal, what exactly do you need to include? Use this section as a checklist for creating a thoroughly-customized proposal that will wow your prospect. You may also find some of Airtable’s templates—such as the social media planning and design template, the social media calendar template, or the social advertising template—useful as you map out details.

Here’s what every social media proposal you develop should include:

1: An introduction and overview

This section should include a high-level overview of you and your company’s business experience, the business needs of your prospect, and how you intend to help them meet their goals. Think of this as an executive summary served on a silver platter. The information here should be easy to digest, highlight key details, and outline broad expectations. 

Although its purpose is really just to introduce the rest of your proposal, the intro and overview should still pack a punch. Focus on presenting your strategy as a series of best-in-class, well-informed, actionable steps that your prospect needs to take in order to get the results they want. Also be sure to include high-level information on budget, necessary resources,  how you’ll measure success, and key contact information for you and your team. 

2: Problems and opportunities

By now, you should be well aware of your prospect’s social media needs. This section should be where that knowledge and understanding of their pain points and objectives really shine. 

As you build out this portion of your proposal, speak directly to both their social media needs and overall business goals. For example, if you know the customer is struggling to increase brand authority, your problem/opportunity might look something like: 

  • Problem: Need to establish our brand as a go-to resource on [insert strategically-aligned topic] 

  • Opportunity: Increase cadence of thought leadership content on Facebook and LinkedIn. Leverage both original content written by C-suite and re-posts of relevant content written by others.

Conducting a SWOT analysis can help you to properly research, plan, and prepare for this step. 

3: Campaign goals

The goal of any social media strategy is, of course, to perform well. But what does “performing well” mean for your prospect? In this section of the proposal, you need to establish clear, measurable goals that have a defined timeline. Plus, each goal you target should both be achievable in roughly the timeframe you’re suggesting and, importantly, should directly tie into the prospect’s business objectives. This sets you up for success and helps the prospect understand your quantitative impact to their business.

For example, maybe one of the prospect’s business goals is to increase purchases. And perhaps you’ve found that your prospect’s personas spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. So an appropriate goal might be to increase the number of leads captured through LinkedIn posts by 15% over one quarter. That kind of goal is clear, measurable, and provides a timeline. 

4: Scope of work

Here’s where the heart of your strategy will live. Your scope of work (SOW) will act as a guide for what you’ll ‘owe’ your prospects, given they decide to work with you. You should outline the whole scope of your social media strategy, including:

  • Social media campaigns: Developing and/or executing campaigns (partnerships, polls, live social streams, etc.)

  • Social media monitoring: Monitoring and responding to comments

  • Content promotion: Developing social-optimized posts to promote the prospect’s content

  • Social media engagement: Monitoring and responding to comments, other posts, and @ mentions

  • Social ad selling: Managing and executing the creation and purchase of ads on different platforms

These tasks should directly map to your objectives, and do so in a way that’s clear to your prospect. If a key goal is to boost Twitter engagement by x%, be sure to specify what you’ll do to get there in your SOW. 

This is also the place to determine who will be responsible for what. Will you be physically logging into the customer’s social media accounts to execute your strategy, or will you provide them with a list of strategic tasks that they’ll complete internally? It can also be helpful to mention what’s not included in your statement of work. So if, for instance, you’re capable of crafting posts to promote content, but your team can’t write the content itself, be clear about that. Laying the groundwork for these expectations will ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. 

5: Strategy timeline and milestones

Next, you’ll need to establish a clear timeline of when you’ll complete each task within your SOW. Depending on the prospect, this may be a high-level overview of your schedule or an in-depth agenda that defines each stage of your strategy. Be sure to ask how they best visualize timelines ahead of time, or—if that’s not an option—go the extra mile to develop both a general timeline and one that’s more comprehensive. 

After you’ve double-checked that your proposed timeline aligns with the schedule you’ve proposed for your campaign goals, identify milestones that will help both you and your prospect know you’re on track. A milestone might be something like “reach 500,000 Instagram followers” and should clearly correspond to your broader timeline and overall goals. 

6: Proof of work—case studies and previous results

Thus far, you’ve used your proposal to demonstrate your deep understanding of the prospect, their objectives, and how you’ll help them to achieve their specific goals. Now it’s time to back up your plan and show that you're right for the job.

This could mean gathering recommendations from previous customers, using pull quotes from a crowd-sourced review of your business, or writing a case study that outlines an impressive strategy you pulled off for a similar customer.

Regardless of how you choose to share your experience, always substantiate your claims with data. It’s not enough to simply state that you or your agency helped customer X significantly increase conversions through their social media platforms. You’ll need to back up your assertions with an overview of your timeline, key metrics, how you measured them, and what they mean.

7: Payments and terms

In this section, you’ll need to clearly propose several things: 

  1. How much you charge for your services

  2. How you’d like to receive payments

  3. Precise steps for both parties in the case either of you would like to terminate your agreement. 

Outlining this kind of information can feel a bit sticky, especially since you’re still trying to secure your prospect’s business. But these details will protect both you and your potential customer moving forward, and will ensure that you’re properly compensated for your services.

You can base the payment terms on your typical fees, your prospect’s budget, or a combination of the two. It may also help to provide a few different payment options that the prospect can choose from, depending on both the scope of your project and how you prefer to be paid (i.e. hourly vs. monthly vs. per project). 

If the number you propose is wildly off from your prospect's budget, it may indicate that you have differing views of the project's scope. If you'd consider a smaller scope for a smaller budget, walk the prospect through the potential tradeoffs.

8: Next steps

Finally, you’ll want to give your prospect some clear next steps to take once they’ve reviewed your proposal, discussed it with other stakeholders, and made a decision. 

It’s sometimes helpful to include a short checklist here to make it easy for the potential customer to sign off on your proposal and move forward.. Consider including the following:

  • Identify and discuss necessary adjustments to the agreement 

  • Accept the original or modified proposal

  • Request and sign a contract

  • Submit the first payment

Be sure to give your prospect enough time to thoughtfully consider your services, but don’t be afraid to add a reasonable expiration date to your proposal. This will help you avoid any awkward conversations if your company no longer has the available resources to take on the prospect once they’re finally ready to sign. 

When should you send a social media proposal?

There are two schools of thought on the best time to send a social media proposal. Some send proposals after the first meeting; others only send it when they're confident they've landed the gig.

There’s a case to be made for both. (Some say you should only send proposals to highly qualified prospects, like those who’ve got the budget and are confident they need your services; others play it more like a numbers game.) But regardless of your approach, there is some evidence to support the fact that if you send your proposal within 24 hours of a meeting (compared to three to four days), you increase your likelihood of winning the customer by 14%

Delivering a successful social media strategy

Once you’ve converted that prospect into a customer, your next step is to focus on actually managing and executing the social media strategy you’ve promised. And the way to ensure that you can deliver on your proposed success is by using the right tools for support. 

Airtable’s completely customizable, easy-to-use platform makes managing your social media strategy a breeze. With tools to keep you organized and on track, flexible views that highlight your customer’s unique priorities, and seamless integration with your existing platforms, you’ll be totally free to focus on your most important tasks. 

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About the author

Chris Kimis Director of Social Media at Airtable. He has 15+ years of experience in digital marketing and content strategy.

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