It is easy to get overwhelmed when you dive head first into the social media pool. Floundering around with no purpose to your social media promotion is ineffective and time-consuming. What you need is a strategy to increase the effectiveness and engagement of your content.
The purpose of a social media content strategy, aside from maintaining your sanity, is results. Your desired results may vary from brand recognition to community insights to the promotion of your products and services. The point is scalable impact. You do not want to just create extra “noise” online.
Without strategy, content is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff.
So how do you create a winning strategy that will keep you organized and purposeful with your business?
Try these strategies with your brand to get out of the kiddie pool and start swimming like an Olympian:
Assess Your Starting Point
To go anywhere you need a starting point. The first step to a winning social media content strategy is to assess where your current status. This means you need to immerse yourself in your analytics dashboard. What you measure will depend on the purpose you want to achieve with your strategy.
Here are some metrics to consider:
- Unique visitors
- Subscribers and followers
- Comments and mentions
- Post reach
- ROI or monetary value of leads
It is important to remember that there are real people behind the numbers. The numbers are just a starting place. The point of social media is to be social. Use your analytics to figure out how you can better serve your audience, not just push out your message.
Set a Clear Objective
You know where you are beginning so the next step of any journey is to know where you want to end up. In your social media content strategy, this endpoint is your objective or goal. There are a lot of potential objectives to choose from with social media and you can have more than one. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Boost engagement
- Get more followers
- Earn new customers
- Grow brand awareness
It is really up to you what outcomes you want to set. Just remember that objectives are not immovable. When you start a road trip you will likely have a destination in mind, but that does not mean that you cannot stop along the way or change directions.
Good content always has an objective; it is created with intent. It therefore carries triggers to action.
Head of Content, MarketingProfs.
Your social media goals will change as you grow and continue to adjust your content. Above all else, your main goal should be to make useful content.
Have a Creation Process
You have a system in place for measuring your content’s effectiveness. Now you need a way of developing the content itself. There is a method to creating engaging content:
1. Ideal Follower Profile
Different types of social media content will resonant with different followers. This may be a step you are tempted to skip over but it is essential to know your audience, where they hang out and what they want if your content is to be effective.
Use the analytics you gathered earlier to evaluate what your audience likes to see and engage with.
Create your ideal follower profile, and use this information to see if who you want to reach and who you are reaching are one in the same. If not, how can you adjust your content to bring them in line?
2. Your Company Story
One way you may be off in connecting with your ideal follower is by not having a clear story. Stories help connect people with your brand. What is the mission and purpose of your business? What is your “why?” How does your “why” meet your audience’s needs?
— Laura Farrell (@lauraAfarrell) June 30, 2014
3. Tone of Voice
Along with developing your story, create a tone for your content. You set a tone with the way you write and create your social media content. What do you want that tone to express? Is your brand sophisticated and professional or more funky and humorous? Your tone should be apparent not just in your written work but your visual content as well.
This is where a branding guide is helpful. Translate the “language” of your audience and your story into a visually appealing medium of expression.
Take your ideal follower profile, your story and your tone of voice–both written and visual–and create a brand guide. This will make it easier for you and everyone on your team to reference and stay on track with your goals while creating content. Brand consistency is key.
If you need inspiration, browse brand style guides on Pinterest or check out the “get design inspiration” section of Canva.
Your marketing needs to be authentic and true to your brand if you want people to trust you.
4. Swipe File Inspiration
To stay creative in any venture you need constant inspiration. Having a swipe file of social media posts, visuals, questions and feedback from your audience and websites you admire can help you come up with your own content to share. Once you have evaluated what content is resonating with your audience, save it to rework or copy in the future.
Follow others in your field and see what is working for them. Have multiple sources of inspiration available to you so that you always have ideas. User generated content is a fantastic resource too–so make use of it.
You could use Pinterest or Tumblr for your swipe file, create a Google Doc with attachments or a card in Trello. Get creative and make it a fun resource for your team to review.
Knowing your ideal follower, story, tone of voice and having inspiration ready whenever needed, will help you come up with consistently engaging content that is on-brand.
Schedule Posts Regularly
Be active online and show that you are present and engaged. Your followers will come and go throughout the day. In order to make sure your posts are seen, you need to be posting regularly and frequently. Unless your team is superhuman and someone can be online at all times, your social media posting is going to require some automation.
You do not want to always post and leave however. Create a mixture of scheduled posts and set times to check in and engage. This will make sure you are being consistent in your posting, but also showing that there are real humans behind your business.
To accomplish this balance, develop a workable content calendar where your whole team can see what social media posts are scheduled and when they can be online to interact with them. Sprout’s Publishing Dashboard allows you to schedule posts ahead of time and view a complete picture of what posts are hitting on each network on any given day.
You can also use ViralPost to figure out the best times to post, and send content accordingly. This is a great option when you do not have time to figure out what times are working best for your audience.
Make Your Copy Clear
Sometimes we want so much out of a single social media post that we create confusion. You will need a clear call to action with each piece of social media content. What do you want people to do with your post? Do you want them to share it? Do you want them to visit your website or purchase a product?
Evaluate the messages you are putting out based on your goals and objectives. Is your post clear? Is it concise? Could it be represented in a better way? Social media runs fast and if posts are too hard to figure out viewers will often not bother. Part of your social media strategy should be to seek clarity.
Ann Tran does this beautifully in a Tweet. It is clear that she wants viewers to follow her on Instagram.
— Ann Tran (@AnnTran_) August 26, 2016
Hashtags and hooks are also helpful.
Prepare Your Team
Not only does it take a village to raise a child, it can also take one to build and execute a social media strategy. You will want to make sure everyone on your social media team is informed about your branding, tone of voice and style. No matter how big or small your team is, everyone should know what they are responsible for when it comes to implementing your social media content strategy.
Your social media creation and strategy will become much easier when everyone knows their role and is informed about how to execute it. You can outsource your content creation if needed. Make it as easy as you can for your team to collaborate.
Continue Your Education
Social media is an ever-changing field. New networks pop up and algorithms change. New features are added to old networks. Following blogs like this one can keep you in the know. Social media may be something that can never be truly mastered because it is ever changing.
Find out what networks work best for your brand and stick to learning all you can about those before moving on. You do not have to be an expert on or use every social media channel available. Having an effective strategy means you know what works for you and can focus on that.
Part of your continued education will also include checking your social media analytics regularly. You used them as a starting point but will need to review them time and time again to always see what is working and what is not. Listen to the numbers and your audience.
Lori Hil: Lori Hil is a North Carolina native living abroad, capturing content, and sharing brand love. She mostly writes with a chihuahua on her lap and coffee close at hand from her base station in the Andes. She spends more time on Pinterest than anyone would care to admit and believes in the power of social media to change the world.