Creating a clear SMM strategy for your business: 5 steps

9 March 2021

The social media marketing strategy should change as it grows. This is not a multi-page Google document classified as top secret. And here is why.

When a brand starts making the first posts on social media, there is usually very little information about the tools that work best. It is problematic to formulate a clear step-by-step plan in advance.

The companies that use social media as a sales channel often follow the same pattern. The old audience starts enjoying the content less, the new one becomes more difficult to attract. Inevitably, it’s time for a change.

In both cases, it is worth updating the SMM strategy every six months or once a year. How to do this so that your profile does not look like a set of stamps or cliché posts? We will discuss it in this article.


1. Collect as much data as possible

During preparation, it is important to ask the right questions. Do not limit yourself to forums, competitor analysis, and the current overview. All these factors are useful, but you cannot avoid interviewing company employees.

General questions
  1. Market features
  2. Competitors of the company
  3. Products/services
About the company
  1. Mission, values, tone of voice
  2. Where are the ads placed?
  3. Brand book / corporate identity
Audience
  1. Audience presentation
  2. Regular customer portrait
  3. Sales channels
Research
  1. What research has been done?
  2. What conclusions have been drawn?
  3. What have you implemented?
  4. What are the results?
Setting goals
  1. Why do we need social networks?
  2. What are the tasks for the first six months?
  3. How will you evaluate the performance?
  4. What resources do you have? (advertising budget, blogger collaboration ideas; the experts who are ready to provide information, etc.)
Table with sample interview questions


Why should you ask all these questions? You can simply Google it, right? The answer is: no one knows the market as deeply as the company’s employees. Going through interviews, you can get the insights to be used in the future. But Google is also helpful!

To immerse yourself in this area faster, ask all company employees to provide as much information as possible. This will greatly facilitate facing future challenges.


2. Understand the target audience

Knowing the target audience is one of the most important stages in developing the SMM strategy. It is like an immersion into their minds.

Indeed, to understand the pain of a client, it is necessary to deeply study their needs, behavior model, and content consumption. Then you can create a clear request.

Where to get information?

  1. Review sites, forums.
  2. Surveys: a questionnaire to identify the main objections.
  3. Social networks with real user accounts.
  4. Shares and comments from the existing followers: who are these people?
  5. Metrics: UTM-tags, customer behavior on the website.
  6. Interviews with customers. This is the most difficult option. Consider offering bonuses and/or discounts to motivate the audience to talk.

When dividing the audience into specific segments to work with, it is worth considering not only the age and income level but also their aspirations, lifestyle, interest in the brand.

Each of these segments has its barriers to purchase. The challenge in developing the SMM strategy is to understand what properties of a product or service will help to tackle these attitudes.

Example. An educational platform for the experts who want to launch their information product.

The audience Their needs Solutions
Tutors “I am constantly teaching, but my income is lower than I want.” → Sell the very idea of creating an online course to scale the methodology and earn more.
Experts “There is too much information on how to put together a course for it to be useful and work.” → Offer additional assistance, suggesting a methodologist who will build an educational trajectory.
Course Producers “I want to quickly upload a ready-made course on a turnkey website and promote it.” → Give step-by-step instructions on what to click and where to create a course. Show the tools to implement the expert’s idea.
Highlighting the audience’s needs: sample table



3. Choose suitable sites

When choosing social networks, it is worth considering the specifics of a product and audience, which were analyzed in the first two stages of working on the SMM strategy.

The first way is the quantitative method. When creating an advertising campaign for a selected audience, you can see the potential reach for the intended audience.

The second way is to choose a social network that solves the assigned tasks pointwise.

For example, if a product belongs to the beauty segment, where an important factor in the decision-making process is the result after the treatment, the audience can be contacted on Instagram.

Most likely, Instagram is also relevant for an interior design company that can post photos of completed projects. It’s also worth connecting to Pinterest, where the users are looking for inspiration references.

4. Develop a content plan

Content planning is a skill. The more you do, the faster you develop a thematic plan and build a content grid.

One important detail – move away from templates: start with what comes to your mind first. Brainstorming with the entire team that works on a project is useful, as unusual creative ideas can be born.

The main vector is still the same: to rely on the tasks the business faces at a given moment in time. Let’s take a look at some examples.

#1. A beauty salon posts a photo of none of the masters

What task can a brand solve: potential clients see the interior of the salon and the beautician at work, watch Stories. They understand how psychologically comfortable it will be, whether they like the result of the work.

Beauty salon’s account @studiocimmahony


#2. A blogger publishes frames with different cosmetics textures

What task can a brand solve: if a cosmetic brand adopts this format, the users will get acquainted with the products; they will take a closer look at the product line through visuals.

An account with photos of cosmetics textures @ritualofme


#3. A shoe store breaks its shoesь

What task can a brand solve: emphasizes the style of the brand – minimalism, and brevity. It makes it possible to see what this pair of shoes are inside, what they are made of.

The shoe store’s account @feitdirect


#4. An online hat store often features works of famous artists

What task can a brand solve: the brand relies on the aesthetic component and creates a context for the target audience. It is important not just to buy a thing, but to understand and share the company’s values.

Hat brand’s account @maar_hats


#5. A cleaning company gives a recipe for cleaning the shower door

What task can a brand solve: the brand confirms its expertise thanks to the useful content it creates: “You can do everything yourself, but if you don’t want to or you don’t have time, the company is ready to help.”.

Cleaning company’s account @gocleanco


5. Analyze the results

To sum it up, you have collected the maximum data about the company, analyzed the target audience and divided it into segments, painting the customer portrait in detail, selected the social networks to be on, and made a content grid. Now it’s time to draw up the SMM strategy.

The SMM strategy is a specific step-by-step guide for a brand. Based on this Google document or presentation, anyone who works in the company, in particular, a marketing specialist, an SMM specialist, a PR specialist, or a copywriter, should understand what to do, what tools to use, and what results to achieve.

The SMM strategy includes the following sections:

  1. Goals and objectives; why the brand needs a social network.
  2. A brief analysis of the audience and conclusions: who will be the main reference point, which segment.
  3. What content is needed at this stage? What platforms will the brand be represented on, why? What types of posts will cover the clients’ pains? What content will help you achieve your goals?
  4. How will the company promote its product or service?
  5. What KPIs to focus on? How will a company know that social media is successful?

There are no fixed rules and standards for strategy design. Do what is convenient for you or the brand team. The main thing is to understand where the brand is heading and what tasks its social media presence solves.

Let’s summarize:

  1. Copying the strategy of your competitors is a road to nowhere. No one can know for sure what will work and what will not. Everyone has different target audiences and goals for social media: test your hypotheses.
  2. Qualitative audience analysis is more important than quantitative. Understand what a potential client is guided by when choosing a product or service, what prevents him from buying, and only then develop a profitable offer.
  3. Be more visible on social media. No matter your stage of business development, specific social networks should not become the only platform for communication with the audience.
  4. Each post or section of the content plan should cover the “pain” of the audience. Analyze which posts receive the greatest response: direct messages, savings, reposts.
  5. Choose social media for your brand based on your goals. You don’t need to be everywhere: test your hypothesis and select the platform demonstrating the best results.

FAQ

Do all brands need the SMM strategy?

No, it all depends on the tasks. If it's a small regional brand, you don't have to go through all the stages of creating a strategy. You can focus on testing hypotheses in the first few months. Large companies often see social media as a channel of communication with their customers and as a brand image story. This means that they focus on the speed of reaction to questions.

Is there a point in copying your competitors' content plan?

Of course, it is worth analyzing which posts get more reactions from the users. But you can't be 100% sure that your competitors know the best solutions. Most brands test different options and choose the one that works.

What is important for target audience analysis?

The first task is to study the needs, behavior patterns, and content consumption of potential clients in-depth. Then you will be able to clearly formulate the proposal. It is worth stopping at 3-4 narrow segments, portraying them in as much detail as possible.