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how to develop an smm strategy: a step-by-step guide and practical tools

Strategies, planning, forecasting — it's all complicated for those who lack imagination to come up with something original. Such an opinion is quite common. But there is no more logic in this statement than in the statement that "knowledge of anatomical laws is only needed by surgeons devoid of creativity." There is also an additional complexity: different companies understand strategy in their own way or develop only selective stages of it. This reduces the brand's chances of success.

No one can guarantee success for your business, but having a plan significantly increases your chances. So, an SMM strategy is a document that outlines strategic and tactical decisions about what the brand should do on social media to achieve its goals. But it is also part of the company's overall marketing strategy, and therefore works to achieve business goals: sales, subscriptions, website traffic, consumer engagement, and the creation of a community of loyal customers.

SMM is not just systematic posting of text and beautiful pictures. It is a carefully thought-out work for months ahead, constantly adjusted depending on intermediate results, as a result of which the company will get sales and engagement of its audience. Together with Anastasia Petrova, Head of SMM at our agency, we will figure out how an SMM strategy is developed and works.

Stages of developing an SMM strategy

Stage 1. Immersion

1. Formulate goals for promoting the brand on social media.

The goal answers the question "why are we doing this?". Ideally, it should correspond to the SMART model: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

What will this give? During promotion, we match actions with the goal and determine if they help to achieve it.

2. Study the current brand concept: visual and creative.

What will this give? A clear understanding of how the brand or product is positioned.

3. Analyze the account management.

You need to study how the account was managed up to this point, what promotion methods were used, and what results they led to. You can use a SWOT analysis: identifying strengths and weaknesses, defining opportunities and threats.

What will this give? We will avoid "rakes" and see the most promising paths of development and growth points.

Step 2. Competitors

1. Analyze quantitative indicators of competitors on social media: engagement, likes, comments, number of subscribers, volume of content produced.

What will this give? Understanding the average indicators for a specific niche and the figures to strive for.

2. Conduct a content and promotion tool audit of competitors: mechanics, visual representation, ToV, strengths and weaknesses, advertising creatives, integrations.

What will this give? We note the best practices: what works and what doesn't, look at trends in the category and on the international market. This will help develop proposals and choose the optimal tools.

3. Create an archetype map: defining the archetypes of competitors and distributing them on the map, choosing the brand archetype on social media.

What will this give? Archetypes help to understand the target audience at a deeper level. They make the brand look like a person, not a soulless corporation.

Step 3. Audience

1. Study the audience: analyze general audience data as well as content consumption statistics in the field.

What will this give? Knowing the average numbers will help set the most realistic KPI - key performance indicators.

2. Segment the audience: form basic audience segments based on quantitative indicators, describe each segment used, identify sub-segments and their characteristics.

Many entrepreneurs answer the question of who their target audience is with "everyone." In fact, this means "no one." Just like the phrase "women over 30." There are women over 30 - housewives and mothers, and they need one thing, and there are women over 30 - building their business, and they have completely different pains.

Just as police create a composite sketch, we will have to put together a complete picture from scattered pieces in order to have a clear understanding of who our client is in a particular segment.

What will this accomplish? Targeted advertising campaigns, using audience pain points in materials, and, as a result, the ability to quickly find and reach the people we need.

3. Describe the brand champion: a detailed characterization of the most prominent representative of the segment, an exploration of audience motivations and content perception.

One of the best ways to penetrate the minds of potential clients is to put yourself in the client's shoes and create a brand champion, also known as an avatar of the most vibrant representative of the audience. You can come up with a story about the potential client's life. This is the marketing equivalent of creating a theatrical character according to Stanislavsky, which will pave the way for potential clients' thoughts.

What will this accomplish? It will allow us to adapt our offer to the characteristics of the target audience.

4. Prepare the brand's response - important criteria to emphasize when interacting with each audience segment.

Of course, goods and services can say everything for us, but a clear and compelling brand message will be the best way to attract customers. For example, phrases like "...for everything else, there's Mastercard" and "Just do it" reflect the entire concept and values of the brand, which can be used in any communication and tied to any agenda.

What will this accomplish? The formation of an effective communication with the audience.

Stage 4. Content

1. Choose a strategy for using social networks, presence platforms, and promotion tools.

Sometimes, there is no target audience for the brand on some social networks or they are inactive there, so it makes no sense to spend resources on that platform. Conversely, there may be a social network where your TA is definitely present, but there are no competitors yet, so you can confidently enter and promote on this platform.

What will this accomplish? Choosing suitable channels and promotion tools, as well as the proper distribution of resources.

2. Develop a creative concept: an idea, core values, a unified message that conveys the most important characteristics of the brand to the audience.

People buy not only based on the rational advantages of the product, but also guided by emotions. If there are two products that are identical in their properties, and a person is closely aligned with the values of only one of the manufacturers, the choice will be obvious.

What will this give? Audience loyalty, associative connection of the product with the brand and its message.

3. Develop a visual concept: mood board, proposal for visual design of social networks, general principles of material design for social networks.

What will this give? The ability to transmit emotional components not only of the product itself, but also of the entire ecosystem associated with its consumption.

4. Develop a content strategy and rubricator in accordance with the concept.

What will this give? Helps to structure information both in the mind of the SMM specialist and the entire team, as well as in your subscribers, and also plan high-quality interesting materials in advance.

5. Describe the Tone of Voice: general description and intended for community management.

Sometimes companies do not consider it important to develop their tone of voice: they "sound" differently in different situations, cannot give clear instructions to copywriters on how to write, from whose perspective to tell the story, whether to use slang words, and so on.

What will this give? Allows you to find contact with the audience, speaking with them "in the same language".

Stage 5. Promotion

1. We come up with promotion hypotheses: by audience groups, promotion settings for searching audience groups, develop a structure for testing hypotheses in the test period (cost, testing period, testing subject).

Creating and testing hypotheses is about finding a strong idea. Testing hypotheses will help to quickly and inexpensively, without draining the budget on non-working options, identify effective mechanics and tools.

What will this give? Savings in money and time.

2. We come up with setting up targeted advertising: social networks used for targeting, defining formats and basic promotion settings, calculating forecasts.

What will this give? The ability to use marketing budgets rationally and get maximum benefit from advertising campaigns.

3. We suggest other advertising channels.

  • — Working with bloggers, seeding: selecting channels and opinion leaders, proposals for the format of working with them
  • — Reputation management: proposals for formats of use (initiating discussions about the brand, working with negative feedback, etc.), features of working with the tool in the field of brand promotion
  • — Integrations, collaborations with other accounts, special projects, contest mechanics, promoted live broadcasts, and other mechanics

What will this give you? Comprehensive promotion and use of all possible channels and formats suitable for the brand.

4. Create a media plan: procurement volumes, budget distribution by channels.

A media plan is a table for a specific period and contains data on placement channels, budget, and forecasted results of the advertising campaign.

What will this give you? It will help plan promotion actions, allocate budget correctly, and evaluate advertising effectiveness.

5. Propose KPIs: ways to evaluate the effectiveness of using each channel (subscriber growth, increased engagement, coverage, number of applications, etc.).

What will this give you? We will be able to measure the degree of goal achievement.

What is the importance of SMM strategy?

"What to do?" - this hanging question does not apply to those who have a plan. Although it is important to remember that any strategy needs to be reviewed and adjusted over time, based on interim analytics results. Perhaps in the process, it will become clear that your initial KPIs are not achievable in the near future, or you will understand who your real target audience is, on whom you need to shift your focus.

An SMM strategy will provide:

  • – Time savings: pre-planned actions significantly reduce the time spent on thinking and answering the eternal question: "What to post?"
  • – Coordinated teamwork: everyone knows what goal they are moving towards, their responsibilities, and deadlines.
  • – Presence of control stages: you can transparently evaluate effectiveness, make adjustments, and improve the result.

Today, SMM is not just about pretty pictures and text. There's already enough of that on social media. Nobody thinks anymore that a brand with half a million followers is there just to see photos of their office building or a smiling CEO talking about "quality products" and "individual approach."

SMM strategy has become a part of business culture and helps every team member understand the project's goals and desires and contribute to the brand's development. And, of course, building successful communities. A well-thought-out and detailed SMM strategy is already 50% of your company's success on social media.

As promised in the article title, we're sharing a checklist on developing an SMM strategy. Download, save and use it!

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