The digital world is transforming, and there is a burgeoning demand for highly specialized professionals, such as story writers, performance marketers, and strategists. Brands understand the importance of communicating with users and are investing in creative projects that require strong SMM strategies. In this article, we will talk about the core competencies budding SMM specialists should focus on to succeed in the industry.
Content is becoming more complex both in terms of messaging and production costs. We are all overloaded with information and avoid content that does not instantly attract our attention. What's more, brands and bloggers get immediate feedback in the form of reactions or text messages. Whether we like it or not, this all happens at a lightning-quick pace.
Key skills for SMM specialists include analyzing the audience, generating an SMM strategy and brand platform, understanding global trends and being able to apply them to a specific product, and communicating politely with subscribers.
What will a SMM Specialist do in 2023?
Top Trends in SMM
It is all about testing the waters. Try new tools, analyze the results, check how they fit in with your strategy, and pursue the mechanics that best help achieve your goals. For example, building a loyal community around a brand is a powerful idea that should be approached with the appropriate due diligence.
Top Trends in 2023
Strong content management. Comment moderation is a separate area of focus: closing a sale, promptly responding to questions, and handling negative comments. Spotify, for example, has a separate Twitter account. SMM specialists need to be knowledgeable about their products, empathetic, cool under pressure, and responsive.
Narrative and storytelling. The focus is on the ability to create a story out of otherwise mundane things and events and transform internal newsworthy events into stories. A compelling narrative holds the reader's attention and elicits a strong emotional response, both positive and negative. For example, your content could be about global warming. The brand engages the reader in a discussion on a controversial topic, and by engaging with these socially important issues, the subscriber can learn more about them and shape their own perspective.
Prioritize quality over quantity. Promote each post as much as possible. This includes seeding on your own platforms, partner projects with brands, collaborations with bloggers, and direct advertising. It is important to learn how to implement an SMM strategy according to a six-month, quarterly, monthly, and weekly plan. This will help you structure your work, making it more effective in the long term.
User-generated content. By talking about a product or service, users show their brand loyalty and provide native advertising for the brand. Promptly track mentions in posts and stories: repost, and offer discounts, bonuses, or surprises as a thank you. UGC is a powerful promotional tool and one of the most cost-effective audience engagement mechanics.
Content shared between people inspires trust ("It's not a blogger or an advertisement that is telling me about the company, it's someone like me"), encourages people to learn about the brand, go to the webpage, sign up for an account and, later on, buy the product or order the service. Social media is a long game, and until the user finds out about the brand and begins to interact with it, they are not going to buy anything.
Employ as many different cross-promo strategies as possible. Collaborate with indirect competitors: do joint posts, carousel ads, reels, and live events. For example, a ‘top-10’ article can be used to create a series of stories, posts, and reels, in which you build on the ideas mentioned in the original article. Share on your page with a link to your partner.
Openness to collaboration. A PR strategy is much more than simply posting an interview or article in the media that mentions the brand. It is about participating in podcasts as a guest or launching your own, sending out weekly newsletters, creating a YouTube channel, and harnessing any other channel of communication through which you can interact with your users.
Instagram as a shopping platform. More than 80% of Instagram users say that social media helps them make their final purchasing decisions. Selling on Instagram is only going to get more popular. In 2022, it is important to make your shop visible on Instagram, as the user buying experience is moving in this direction.
Maximum personalization of content and direct communication. Mass advertising is slowly losing ground. Most users highly value brands that provide prompt responses to personal messages.
Exclusive restricted content. Restricted offers by user segment: discounts, access to restricted information, and subscription clubs, which offer new opportunities for user engagement with the brand.
Product digitalisation. VR masks are used by most brands. Analysts believe that Instagram's next step is an AR platform connected to augmented reality tools. This will expand integration opportunities for brands.
Non-fungible tokens (NFT). Digital art creators are already using NFTs, but they have yet to be adopted en masse. The technology will help address copyright issues.
Junior, Middle, Senior: Who's Who?
Companies are made up of hierarchical structures that are essentially divided into junior, middle, and senior-level specialists.
Junior level specialists are newcomers to SMM and work mostly with templates. It is not difficult to get started in SMM: the first stage is to study open-access information and blogs, followed by doing an internship. It is important at this stage to work on cases and gain experience. And at this stage, you can learn about some of the more interesting aspects of SMM, such as texts, graphics, video, and analytics.
Senior-level specialists make the final decisions and act on behalf of the brand in the event of a crisis. They are strategists who work methodically on brand reputation and negotiate emergencies, such as quickly reallocating budgets if advertising campaigns don't work as planned. This is usually the head of the SMM department, who coordinates the team and monitors KPIs.
It is impossible to learn everything there is to know in the industry. New services, strategies, and trends are constantly emerging, and users are becoming ever more sophisticated. The best thing you can do at all levels is to work on a variety of projects.
The next step for an SMM specialist is either to launch their own project, open an agency, or work as a consultant in an existing agency.
Key SMM Specialist Skills
Stay open-minded and aware and you will find yourself at the forefront of new trends. Play around with a popular meme or skillfully harness a news topic to increase the chance of going viral and attract organic coverage.
Trendwatching is no guesswork. For example, thanks to the development of neural networks, brands have begun to use online fitting, which goes hand in hand with eco-consciousness, another fast-moving global trend.
Trends quickly spread from innovators to all walks of life. Look out for new phenomena in fashion, design, art, science, and literature. Choose the top influencers to follow on a regular basis. Analyze the ideas of creators in different fields of knowledge and synthesize interesting findings and approaches in your product.
Create a personalized social media feed and don’t forget to use the ‘Saved’ button. Have fun in the process, and the world is your oyster.
Automate Your Social Media
Almost 90% of all content is prepared in advance. When there is a clear posting schedule, there is more room for the creative process, for preparing situational content, and for working with experts and collaborators.
SMM specialists need to delegate routine tasks in order to maintain their focus on more important tasks and ensure that quality content is produced in line with the marketing strategy. More importantly, they need to connect employees to account management without disclosing their passwords.
This is where social media scheduling tools come into play, such as Onlypult, which makes automating work with social networks easy. It also lets you track subscriber activity and other statistics, analyze the best time to post, and collect data on the most popular hashtags.
SMM specialists must be versatile. They should be able to write texts, create pictures, take photos, and shoot videos. Content is generated by a team, but these skills will come in handy in an emergency. SMM specialists should also understand how to evaluate the performance of each of their team members.
With dedicated tools the whole team can work together on content: the copywriter writes the text, the designer uploads the illustration, the SMM specialist makes changes, accepts the final version, and plans the posting schedule.
Pay Attention to Data Analytics
Personal data is becoming more valuable. The streaming service Netflix collects information about user views and then provides the most personalized recommendations possible.
Targeted advertising is becoming more sophisticated. Users want their personal data to be as private as possible. Keep track of which content is most popular, which strategies to focus on, and what doesn’t generate the interest of your subscribers.
Focus on custdev – test ideas and hypotheses through problem interviews. At the very least, regularly conduct short surveys in your posts. This will help build an understanding of the target audience's portrait and needs. Analytics will help bring out key insights that were not previously known.
Resizing is a solution for SMM. For example, a video podcast with an expert can be split into several posts and posted in stories or reels. Think of each piece of content in this way.
The Washington Post's TikTok account presents breaking news as short comedy skits. This engages a younger audience with news items presented in an appealing way.
When working on resizes, it's important to keep current trends in mind. To put it bluntly, both brands and bloggers are selling a lifestyle and its associated values. And while consumers used to make purchasing decisions based on a relatively small number of factors, now things are changing: customers want to know if a company is eco-friendly and an advocate for environmental issues, and how it reacts to important events in public life.
In addition, each of the social networks is unique in its own way. Subscribe to digital news channels and be the first to react to changes within the social network and adapt your content to new distribution opportunities.
Create Authentic Content
Perfectly crafted feeds are a thing of the past, and nowadays both brands and influencers are expected to be as authentic as possible. To connect with your audience, you need to be as honest as possible – show them how things work behind the scenes, and be open about your failures.
In line with this trend towards authenticity, don’t overcomplicate things; keep your social media simple, as if you were communicating with a friend.
To create authentic content, you need to have a keen eye and focus on opinion leaders in the field of visual content, such as contemporary artists, creators, videographers, and directors.
Create Reels and Other Video Formats
The trend is towards live content: live webinars, brief tips, backstage, getting to know the team, tutorials. This is how Incite Design Studio created a quick tutorial for the Apple account on how to shoot Reels on the iPhone 12.
Customers can use the IKEA app to visualize how furniture would look in their space. Video content created by the brand aims to inform customers about such features.
Remember that users do not tend to watch long videos to the end. According to Vidyard research, videos shorter than a minute are more effective, with 68 percent of users willing to watch the entire video.
This problem can be solved by embedding a short video in a series of videos united by a common theme or protagonist.
Reels is the new black – it is almost impossible to imagine a popular Instagram account without reels. It is also an effective and free tool for those who do not have large advertising budgets. Regular reels, which can even be duplicated from TikTok, are a great way to gain coverage and gain new followers.
Regarding technical requirements, do not post low-resolution videos and do not watermark or post videos with a lot of text. It's important not to post videos created by someone else, as this is a direct violation of the site's TOS.
Top tips for making great reels that your customers love:
- Dynamic plot. A pre-written script and effects you will add when editing help you with this. A short video must be both engaging and offer a clear message.
- Intriguing splash screen. Used to attract the attention of the user, so that they click on the video.
- Follow and adapt trends. How do you know what's relevant? Track TikTok trends and adapt them to your content. Educational videos are gaining in popularity, such as recipes, how-to guides, and DIY tips.
- Choose engaging music. Businesses are limited in the music they can use because of copyright. All music available in this catalog may be used free of charge for your reels.
- Include challenges in the content plan. Jump cuts, types of people at a party/playground, lip-synch, and so on – all trends originating from TikTok.
- Post previews in the feed and stories. Be sure to share updates in the stories and general feed in order to increase the chance that the new reels will get noticed.
- Track reactions. Post reels at least 2-3 times a week: like any such tool, consistency is key. Ask your audience to react and comment to gain an understanding of the content they like best.
Optimize Your Work with Influencers
SMM specialists should analyze investments in influencers, and how exactly working with bloggers and opinion leaders translates into revenue.
When working with bloggers, focus on the raw figures. SMM specialists must have a clear understanding of how the advertising campaign budget was allocated and what the coverage was, and how many clicks, purchases, or leads resulted from the campaign.
In addition, SMM specialists also choose advertising platforms themselves. For example, in 2022, TikTok is no longer a platform for hypothesis testing, and is becoming a major expense for companies. According to the marketing platform Traackr, TikTok has seen a 164% increase in sponsored posts.
Perhaps one of the most important SMM qualities in today’s world. Memes are no longer enough to surprise the audiences of even major brands, and it's not often that we see great ironic ad campaigns.
The car manufacturer Škoda created a clever campaign for its Sleeping Package, a handy device for sleeping in the back seat. Under the slogan "Finally, you'll get a good night's sleep!", three advertisements featuring people falling asleep in a variety of poses were posted.
Put Your Strategy into Practice
You do not want your presentation of the SMM strategy for the next year/six months/month to remain just words on a piece of paper, but a working document that drives real change. With this in mind, pay attention to the following:
The SMM strategy responds to the main message of the brand and the most important messages the company wants to convey: for example, a fashion brand wants to draw attention to the idea of excessive consumerism and starts accepting items for recycling – this is one message for SMM.
Each step should be clearly spelled out and illustrated with concrete examples. Let's say an online school would like to test the sale courses on an annual subscription basis. The strategy needs to include promotional posts and activities to test the idea. Create a focus group of loyal customers, and run secret stories for "close friends".
Key SMM Skills in 2023
1. Ability to work with a social media ecosystem – to analyze which social networks are relevant to a particular brand or blogger.
2. Knowledge of which visual, textual, and video content is most relevant and the optimal formats for each job.
3. Understanding of the strategy of content seeding, the approach to site selection, and the ability to plan and create native advertising in collaboration with partners.
4. Ability to create media plans and launch advertising campaigns in each of the social networks in which the brand or influencer is represented.
5. Ability to adapt and be flexible in relation to a rapidly evolving industry.