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27 December 2019

How to Develop a Social Media Marketing Strategy and Plan

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A marketing plan is a kind of roadmap that describes your current position and actions necessary to achieve your marketing goals. There are no single correct rules or standards for writing this document, but there are several well-established models (techniques). In our step-by-step instructions on how to develop a marketing strategy plan, we use the SOSTAC, model that was created by PR Smith in the 1990s.

The SOSTAC model is equally well suited both for developing a general or digital marketing strategy, and for improving its individual elements (for example, SEO or email marketing). Acronym SOSTAC means:

  1. Situation: monitoring the current situation.

  2. Objectives: setting marketing goals.

  3. Strategy: a strategy for achieving marketing goals.

  4. Tactic: setting individual tasks, selecting tools.
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  6. Action: direct actions to implement tasks.

  7. Control: control of the execution of actions.


Stage 1: monitoring the current situation


The first stage of SOSTAC implementation is a detailed analysis of the current situation. You should give a general, but well-developed description of your business in the following key areas:

  1. Identify and describe potential and current customers. Who they are, why they buy (use) your product or service, how they interact with your brand at the marketing level. Make up the “buyer persons”.

  2. Perform a SWOT analysis. Examine the strengths and weaknesses of your business (product or service), its capabilities and threats (existing and probable).

  3. Target market conditions. Size, saturation. It grows or stagnates, on what directions, for how long and why. If this market is IT, use Raymond Kurzweil’s Accelerating Return Act.

  4. Analyze competitors. Identify them and the marketing strategies and channels that they use. Learn how successful your competitors are and why.

  5. Make the map of channels (instruments). List all the digital channels that you used and evaluate the effectiveness of each of them (SEO, SMM banners, email marketing, contextual advertising, etc.)


Let's look at some of these things in more detail.

Customer Analysis, Buyer Person. To understand how to sell your product or service, you need to conduct a detailed analysis of your target audience and, based on the information received, make up a few “buyer persons”. This is a concise description of the desires, needs, motivation, income, and other demographic characteristics of fictional people (client archetypes): ordinary, ideal, potential, etc.


Example of “Buyer person”. Source of the image

Creating a “Customer Identity” will help you understand what your business has, who you want to attract, and how to do it. Thanks to this, you can make informed marketing decisions.

The information necessary to create a “buyer person” is usually extracted from CRM systems or collected through research, surveys, testing and monitoring of customers.

Benefits of using “Buyer Person” in a marketing strategy:

  1. Understanding who your customers are and what their real needs are. And, more importantly, an understanding of how to satisfy these needs with the help of your products and services, as well as how beneficial it is to present to the client.

  2. Ability to create a marketing strategy with a focus on a specific client. For example, to develop personalized offers and messages in email newsletters and other customer communication channels.

  3. A better understanding of customers makes it possible to develop a more focused marketing strategy, which leads to an increase in its effectiveness and lower marketing costs.


Carrying out a SWOT analysis of your business. Another important component of the SOSTAC methodology, which should take into account all the internal departments of your business, and not just the marketing department. Not a single good instruction on how to develop a marketing strategy plan is complete without it.


Google SWOT Analysis. Source of the image

A SWOT analysis will help you understand where your business and its products or services correspond to the market and your unique sales position and where you have problems and how to solve them. The acronym SWOT itself means:

  1. S What are you doing well, which is the best. What are the advantages of your business (product or service) distinguished by customers.

  2. W What are you doing badly. What your competitors are doing better than you. What is holding back your business. What aspects of the business need to be improved to stay competitive.

  3. O What you can use in the interests of your business. What market trends can lead to increased sales.

  4. T What can harm your business in the short, medium and long term. How to avoid it.


Stage 2: setting marketing goals



Criteria of marketing goals according to the SMART method. Source of the image

The second stage of the SOSTAC methodology involves the development of goals that you plan to achieve with your marketing strategy plan. For their formulation, it is recommended to use SMART criteria. This is another acronym meaning:

  1. S The goal should be clearly defined. For example, “I want to lose weight” is not a specific goal, while “I will eat 1200-1500 calories a day for two months” is a clear goal. The same goes for marketing: “I want to increase the number of subscribers” is not specific, while “I want to receive 1000 new subscribers per month” is specific.

  2. M Goals must be measurable. This means that you must have quantitative criteria for measuring the process of fulfilling the plan (achieving goals). Example: increase conversion from 3 to 6% per month or increase incoming traffic to 10,000 unique visits per day.

  3. A Goals must be achievable. Make sure your marketing goals are within reach. For example, “becoming the first in the Chinese market” is almost always the goal of your dreams, while “selling 1000 positions a month in China” is an achievable goal.

  4. R Goals must be realistic. It is possible that some goals will require resources that you do not have. For example, you can set a goal: get 100,000 new followers on Instagram. This is easy to achieve if you have money for quality content and extensive advertising. And it’s not possible if you are a small business with a limited budget.

  5. Time-related. Goals should be tied to time. For example, increase sales by 20% by the beginning of 2020 or enter the top 5 in Google’s natural delivery in six months.


Stage 3: developing a marketing strategy



An example marketing strategy diagram. Source of the image

Strategy is the path that you will follow until you reach your goals. In marketing, this is the set of channels that you plan to use. What is included in this set depends on the target audience. For example, you should not use advertising in print newspapers if your target audience is young people, because they practically do not read newspapers.

Now are used the following channels:

  1. Advertising in print media and magazines.

  2. Outdoor advertising (signs, banners, posters).

  3. Radio and television.

  4. Digital marketing.


The choice of specific channels for promotion should be done on the basis of “Customer Identity” and marketing research. It is better not to trust personal preferences and experience here, since you can become a victim of a systematic error of the survivor.

Even at this stage, you need to make a budget for the marketing strategy (how much and what you will spend money on) and establish the “rules of the game” - the basic principles (criteria for selecting sites, forbidden techniques and topics, etc.) that you will be guided by when developing tactics and choosing marketing tools.

Stage 4: setting marketing objectives


Tactics cover the specific tools that you plan to use to achieve your goals. In terms of marketing, you need to describe not only these tools, but also why you use them. For example, in digital marketing such tools are usually used:

  1. SEO promotion. Determine which words (search queries) are most often used by your customers on Google and their site filler.

  2. Search engine optimization. Development and customization of the site so that it is more visible in the search engines. This is facilitated by the high speed of the site, the correct structure, internal linking, tag optimization, adaptation for mobile devices and more.

  3. Affiliate programs. Collaboration with affiliates (platforms, bloggers, organizations, etc.) that redirect their traffic to your site in exchange for a portion of the profit or a specific cash payment.

  4. Advertising on the Internet. Promotion of goods and services on the network using contextual advertising, banners, advertising on TV shows and on certain sites that your target audience visits.

  5. Email marketing. Sending emails to attract traffic or advertising a brand, product or service.

  6. Social Networking / Marketing Impact. Active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as using popular accounts to promote ideas, brand, products and services.

  7. Advertising in mobile applications. It is placed in free or shareware applications and games of advertisements (usually with a temporary timer, before the expiration of which the advertisement cannot be turned off).


The choice of channels should be done on the basis of the “buyer person” and the target market. For example, if you plan to advertise something in India, then you do not need to make a major bet on social networks, since their penetration in this country is at the level of 30%. While in Malaysia 99% of residents have a page in at least one of the popular social networks.


The penetration of social networks by country. Source of the image

The situation is similar with other digital marketing tools: somewhere, people use e-mail, and somewhere they consider it an anachronism; Some messengers are popular somewhere, while others are popular somewhere.

In addition, it is also worth considering the specifics of the tool itself, for example, advertising on investments in cryptocurrencies is prohibited on Facebook and YouTube, while in Telegram or VKontakte there are no problems.

Stage 5: direct execution


Next, you need to decide what, when and how you will do it. These should be clear instructions without double interpretations and with deadlines. Here are some examples for digital marketing:

  1. Next month, write 5 positive reviews on Amazon and eBay, publish 3 articles with keywords on the blog and post 20 photos with the goods on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

  2. At 10 am every Saturday, do an email newsletter with a list and concise description of articles published on the blog over the past week.

  3. Post 20 blog articles every month and 2 posts on social networks per day with a link to articles on the site.


The more clearly and specifically you write down such actions, the higher the likelihood that they will be completed as needed and on time. And it will allow you to more accurately calculate the budget of the marketing campaign.

Stage 6: control of results



Example of metrics tracked in email marketing

Indicators, metrics, or key performance indicators (KPIs) are usually selected based on the goals and type of campaign being launched. Ideally, there should be a clear positive correlation between the selected KPIs and goals, as between the number of goods sold (KPIs) and company revenue.

Here are two examples with stated goals and KPI:

  1. Purpose: to attract customers through content and affiliate co-marketing and their transformation into sales. KPI 1: increase in customers by 30%, up to 200 per month. KPI 2: increase conversion from 5 to 7%.

  2. Purpose: development and implementation of a joint marketing program. KPI 1: Publish at least one quarterly lead-generating content. KPI 2: generate 200 net new leads.


Examples of marketing plans


FedEx Marketing Plan. It was designed to respond to threats identified during a SWOT analysis conducted by FedEx in 2012. The design of the document is made in such a way as to increase brand awareness.



Coca-Cola Marketing Plan. Presented in the form of a video entitled “Coca-Cola Content 2020 Initiative Strategy”, which was created in 2011 to show investors and customers how the company will operate in the next 10 years. This is the case when a marketing plan is one of its elements.



Uber Marketing Plan. The presentation reveals four marketing topics: product, price, place (distribution) and promotion (marketing communications). And presents a monthly action plan, budget and controls.



Lush Marketing Plan. Made in the form of a magazine with illustrations, which describes market analysis and two key factors of the company's image - packaging and retail experience.
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