Social Media Strategy helps entrepreneurs to get predictable results from SMM investments and makes work with social networks structured and clear. The strategy is a detailed work plan which consists of four big parts: analytics, content, promotion, and management. In this article, I present a more detailed look at every part with real strategy slide examples.
The first part includes trends, competitors, target audience, and social platforms analysis.
There are two types of trends: behavioral trends and content trends. For behavioral trends analysis, we should find industry and audience research in professional journals or on the consulting and research companies' websites such as Deloitte, McKinsey, PwC, EY, Neilsen, etc. For content trends analysis, you should be an active and attentive social media user.
If you want to be inspired, and find fresh ideas and development directions, it is useful to see what other brands do in other social networks and countries. It can also help you avoid repeating others' mistakes.
You should also know the latest news because trends are related to them. Has SpaceX launched a crew to space? Be ready for the space theme and new memes with Elon Musk in the social media content for the next 2 weeks!
Brands compete with each other not only for money but for users' attention. Therefore, we should analyze both direct and communication competitors, which have similar brand values and audiences. Brands are also competing with bloggers, and even with friends and relatives of the audience. But competitors are analyzed not to repeat after them, but to differ from them. To do it, answer the following questions:
- What purpose do competitors use social networks for?
- What is the target audience of competitors' content?
- What promotion tools do the competitors use?
- What tone of voice do the competitors have?
This analysis is not needed if you are starting SMM from scratch. Track the following:
- The number of unsubscribes and the number of account visitors. This way you can calculate the average conversion and the cost of a new follower.
- Which posts get the most engagement and what types of reactions increase the reach rate the most? Try to explain why certain content performed well or poorly.
- Which ad showed the greatest effectiveness?
- What audience is following you?
- What has already been done and what mistakes have been made?
You can sell a product to a wide audience, but for social networks, you need to choose the key segments that you will work with. You can also work with a new segment that has not known your brand yet. When developing a strategy, it is important to know how the audience chooses and buys a product, what is important to them and what content they consume on social networks. These questions are going to help you:
- Who visits the site? Who performs targeted actions?
- What do consumers complain about? What problems do they face?
- Followers profiles. Who do they follow? What do they publish? What are they interested in and how do they live? Look at 100 profiles and try to find common features.
- How is the target audience joking? Do they have jokes which are understood by them only?
- What do customers love and hate? How do they use the product? How is the purchase decision made? Read reviews to find the answers.
- Look at influencers for the target audience. What content do they post? What values are being conveyed?
- Is there any research about your target audience on the web which you can use
- You can also use Instagram Stories or Google Forms to poll your audience.
After that, make conclusions about how you can divide the target audience into segments. There are usually 2-3 segments for which the content will be made. It is necessary to segment the audience to create a “this brand understands me” feeling. Different segments are interested in different content so segmentation allows you to exclude that part of the audience who is not interested.
For each segment, a brand champion should be chosen. A brand champion should perfectly visualize the audience image. Choose real people and describe their social network profiles. How do they live? Who do they follow? What are they interested in? How does the product change their lives? What are their values? Use quotes and photos to visualize their image. This will make it easier to create relevant content.
Select social networks based on the analysis of the audience: use the advertising account or find statistics to learn social media audience sizes. You can publish the same content on different social networks if you work with the same audience. But it is better to adapt it to popular formats: for example, it is better to use more Reels on Instagram. You should create different content on social networks if you work with different segments: for example, you can focus on teenagers on TikTok and adults on Facebook.
This is the main part of the strategy which includes key idea, tone of voice, rubric set, visual design, and moderation rules.
Answer the question: why should the audience follow you? What audience problem do you solve? Find the intersection between what is interesting to the audience and what will be beneficial for the brand.
Tone of Voice
The tone of voice is the rule of brand communication in social networks. The tone of voice should be consistent with brand positioning and values, as well as be understandable to the audience. Choose a famous person as a role model to understand how such a person communicates with others. Include in the strategy:
- Who does the brand want to be like? The essence and main theses of the tone of voice.
- What values do you communicate to the audience?
- What image and what associations do you form? Who do you want to be different from?
- What do you post and what don't you post?
- Examples and non-examples. How should you write posts, and how not?
- What vocabulary should be used and what should not?
- Examples and non-examples. How you should respond to comments, and how not?
The tone of voice can be different for different social networks if you work with different segments.
The rubric set is a key component of the SMM strategy. For Instagram, it’s better to come up with separate rubric sets for posts, Stories, and Reels. Each rubric should fulfill some business purpose, be aimed at one of the segments of the audience, and have topics for at least three months. For every rubric write the following:
- Purpose. What business task does it solve?
- Benefit for the audience. Why does the audience need a rubric?
- The segment of the target audience.
- Rubric description.
- Format. What will be visual? What is the length of the text?
- Topic examples.
- Frequency of publications.
- Why will it work?
For this section of the strategy, the designer should visualize the ideas and prepare a design system for social networks:
- Moodboard and references.
- Concept description: what kind of people, colors, emotions, and elements you are going to show? How does this affect brand awareness?
- Design solutions: fonts, colors, sizes, gradients, animations, photos, text layout.
- Non-examples. What will never be used in profiles?
- An example of post design for each rubric.
- What does an Instagram feed look like?
- Design of Stories and Stories Highlights.
- Facebook and YouTube cover and all external page designs.
- Templates (if needed).
- How to use and integrate UGC and reviews?
Today people communicate on social networks, so feel comfortable when a brand responds to them there. The following should be decided in the SMM strategy:
- Moderation time. What days and hours will the brand be in touch? Remember that 4-5 employees are needed for 24/7 moderation.
- Moderation speed. How often will the moderator check social networks? Does he need to coordinate answers?
- Moderation places. Where exactly are you going to check questions and comments? It can be brand profile posts, private messages, promotional posts, mentions in other accounts, the use of hashtags, etc.
- How to respond to positive comments?
- How to respond to neutral comments?
- How to respond to negative comments?
- FAQ. Create a table with answers to frequently asked questions.
- What should a moderator do if he does not know what to answer? Know in advance who to contact with difficult questions. Create a scheme for this workflow.
- Response examples and non-examples.
One of the common mistakes is to create expensive content and leave little promotion budget. If few people see the content, there is little point in creating it, so you should choose promotion tools.
This is the most scalable and predictable promotion tool. Solve the following questions:
- Which approach will you use: increase leads and sales, increase traffic and reach, or gain followers?
- What are the goals and objectives of the promotional campaign? Prepare the conversion funnel.
- What audience should you target for advertising? You can create an audience mind map.
- What advertisements do we show? Prepare creative options.
- What is the promotion budget? Calculate the media plan.
You can add contests to the strategy as one of the promotion tools. For the contest you have to think over:
- Purpose: follower growth, audience engagement, viral reach, or increase of user-generated content.
- Audience. The richer and older the audience, the more difficult it is to attract it.
- Mechanics. The simpler the mechanics, the more people take part in the contest.
- Prize. The more complex the contest mechanics, the more expensive the prize should be. Choose a prize that is relevant to the audience to cut off non-target participants.
- Rules. Who can take part? How will the winner be chosen? How will the prize be delivered? Describe the prize, participation conditions, time, place, and other details.
- Promotion: advertising by bloggers or targeted advertising. The fewer followers the brand has, the more budget is needed for contest promotion.
User Generated Content
UGC gets more engagement than brand-made content. People can create content for the brand themselves if you create conditions for this. The strategy should include:
- Purpose. Why do you need UGC?
- Tools for UGC amount increase.
- Ask the audience to shoot the product.
- Create a product or package that people want to shoot. If you have a restaurant, provide good lighting and teach the waiters to take beautiful photos of guests.
- Explain how to shoot and show how others do it.
- Motivate. Organize challenges and give discounts to content creators.
- Rules for UGC use. Will you repost it? How often? How will you design reposts? Or will you take the author's permission and publish his content on behalf of the brand?
- Legislative features of UGC use. Consult with lawyers on how to use this type of content without copyright infringement.
When planning to work with bloggers, the strategy should include:
- Purpose. Why should the brand work with influencers? Several options for goals: launch a new product on the market, attract more contest participants, get more followers, build the right positioning or get the content.
- Format of cooperation. It can be an ad in Stories or posts, a TikTok dance, YouTube integration, an ambassadorship, or just content creation.
- Content type in blogger profile. Keep in mind that the narrower the topic of the blog, the more expensive the reach is.
- Audience size. Bloggers with even a small audience are suitable for increasing sales but for brand awareness, it is better to choose very popular bloggers and celebrities.
- Geography of the blogger's audience.
- Payment format. Pay per reach, pay per sales, pay per content unit, or barter.
- Examples of influencers. Pick a few bloggers that fit all the criteria.
SMM strategy includes 1-2 special projects for an additional budget. Special projects are non-standard short-term activities that boost promotion in social networks and attract additional attention. Usually, a special project goes beyond regular SMM. A creative contest, gamification, a landing page, other accounts, chatbots, mailing lists, additional services, or non-standard content can be used. Description of the special project includes the purpose, creative concept and mechanics, promotion tools, budget, and KPIs.
In the last part, all organizational moments should be planned to implement the strategy.
A timeline is a step-by-step plan of how the strategy will be implemented. There are three types of timelines:
- Starter. The blueprint for how the project will be launched.
- Monthly. A plan for how the team will work each month.
- Annual. A plan for how targeted advertising, special projects, blogger advertising, and other activities will be implemented during the year.
Show how the budget will be spent and what tools are being focused on. Show the logic of work and detailed forecasts. Check if the budget is enough to implement all the strategy ideas. The budget for the work of the team is best calculated by the hours. To do this, write down all the tasks, calculate the required time to solve each task, and multiply by the hourly cost of the specialist's work. It is also better to add 10-20% for editing tasks and 20-50% for project management.
KPIs are metrics by which you will evaluate SMM performance. Select KPIs that are directly related to business goals. For example, if the goal is to get more reach, you do not need to have an ERR as a KPI. If the goal is to gain followers, you do not need to have the number of sales as a KPI. To make the right KPI predictions, it is best to look at the statistics of your past projects. You can also use previous reports and colleagues' experience, or run a test ad campaign.
Finally, double-check all strategy slides. All parts of the strategy should be interconnected and there should be no contradictions between them. Try to add more conclusions to the slides. Review the strategy every 2-3 months to compare it with the business route and to make changes if needed.
Social Media Marketing Strategy development is a massive work that takes much time. However, with strategy, your actions on social media are clear and coherent and you spend less money and effort to achieve your business goals. With strategy there is no need to think and doubt what to post and how to promote an account every time – you just realize the plan. However, it is better to review and, if necessary, adjust the strategy every three months. For example, remove poorly performing rubrics from the rubric set and replace them with new ones.
If you have a small local business with very few resources, you don't need to work out a 150-slide SMM strategy or pay money to a famous marketing agency. Just make a simplified version of the strategy by yourself — it's much much better than nothing. If you are an SMM specialist, just make strategies as often as possible and try to constantly improve them - you will become more professional with each new strategy!