Mike is the owner of The Social Penguin Blog, a popular and well-respected social media blog based in the UK.  During the day, he can be found delivering social media and digital marketing strategies for multi-national brands in his role at The BIG Partnership, one of the UK’s largest communications firms.

“Content is king” is a social media cliché if there ever was one. Cliché aside, the importance of creating engaging, useful and dynamic content should never be overlooked. It’s the lifeblood of your social media program and may well be the reason that a consumer first decides to interact with you.

Many businesses will fall at the first hurdle, but what is the key factor that trips them up? Purely and simply, it’s a lack of content planning.

Pull Together Your Social Media Content Plan

Spreadsheets are a subject of passion for accountants across the globe, but they’re generally pretty dull. When it comes to social media content planning, though, they should be your best friend. Take a look at the next six months (If you can reach to 12 then go for it!) and insert key marketing, sales, product launch and miscellaneous activity times in to your sheet. Before you know it, you will have a basis for your plan.

Work with key departments to define what content would support their activities and appeal to your audience. Always try to make your content relate back to your product or service. Define how one content theme will work across each of your social platforms. For example, your blog may act as the hub, with your outlying platforms (such as Twitter or Pinterest) working as conversation stimulators or entry points for your longer-form content. Agree with your team what you are aiming to achieve with each piece of content, and what will be regarded as success.

Use Proactive and Reactive Content

Planning content around key times for your business ensures a regular flow — this is absolutely vital when it comes to growing awareness, establishing an audience and fostering engagement. If you go quiet you risk losing the attention of the masses.

This planned content can be classed as proactive — you are actively planning and creating content that reaches in to the future. However you must ensure that you have the opportunity to be reactive. Social media gives you the power to very quickly create and publish content, allowing you to be truly flexible. Don’t get obsessed with sticking to the plan; it is there to ensure that momentum and value are guaranteed, but it should not be a ball and chain.

Assess Your Content’s Effectiveness

So, your plan is in place and you are creating and publishing some great content. Feels good, right? But do you know what content is truly resonating with your audience?

You must take the time to crunch the data and work out which content is hitting the spot, and which is falling on deaf ears. This has to be a constant process. Don’t waste time creating and publishing low impact content; focus on the themes that are proving successful and reflect this in your planning. Sprout Social has a number of great reporting features that will aid your content assessment.

Crack Out the Spreadsheet

Don’t put it off any longer. Creating a planned approach to your social media content will go a long way to ensuring your strategy is a worthwhile venture for your business, customers, and prospects. Good luck!

[Image credit: Fayjo, toffehoff]