Thursday November 1, 2018

Getting Started with Social Media Content Planning

Social Media Icons

For most businesses today, social media is at least part of their marketing strategy — if not an integral feature. And while managing a successful profile may seem as simple as snapping a photo, adding some copy and posting in some cases, there’s much more that needs to go into effective social media marketing.

First and foremost, you need to make sure you have a strategy that helps you achieve your overall marketing goals. To help get you started, we’ve outlined our must-take steps to setting up your social:

Research Your Audience

You’re probably used to hearing us talk about this by now, but the key starting point for any marketing effort is knowing your audience. For social media in particular, there are a few ways to do this:

Survey Your Customers

One easy way to learn about your audience is to talk to your current customers — after all, they’re the best representation of who you’re targeting. A perfect time to ask is while you’re conducting customer interviews, a great practice to conduct during annual reviews with your clients to make sure you’re delivering on their needs. If you need some help getting started with interviews, we have you covered.

If you don’t have the opportunity to conduct interviews, you can still find out what social channels your audience is on. If you have a great relationship with a customer ask them which platforms they prefer during your next phone call or email thread (just make sure the timing is appropriate), or you can send out a Survey Monkey asking if they’d be willing to share some insights. If you’re not comfortable reaching out to your customers directly you can also do some independent research to learn more about them.

Scope Out the Competition

What social channels are your competitors using? How many followers and what level of engagement do they get on those channels? Do you have more relevant content to share on those platforms?

While you don’t want to copy your competitors, you can learn from them and see where your audience is.

Choose Your Channels 

Once you’ve pulled together your audience research it’s time to determine what channels you’ll be utilizing. While it may be tempting to create an Instagram because it’s so visually appealing, for example, it won’t be effective if your audience isn’t on it. Use your audience research to determine which channels are most popular, then begin creating relevant content specially for those platforms.

In addition, make sure to audit your available content. Before creating a profile on every single social media channel, make sure you’ll have enough content available to post on those pages. If you have great content for one but need some additional content for another, consider creating one or two channels to start and then introducing new ones once you’re ready to actively post.

Not sure where to start with content curation? Free stock photo websites like Pexels.com are simple resources for businesses with a small social media budget. You can also take social media quality photos on your smartphone.

Create Goals and Work Towards Them

Pushing out content for the sake of pushing out content is ineffective. You want to make sure that you’re posting with purpose — this will help you reach your larger marketing goals.

Here are a few examples of social media goals and how you may work to accomplish them:

Brand Awareness

This is a common goal for social media for two reasons:

  • Social media helps you reach large networks of people
  • It’s easy to measure

The key metrics for brand awareness are followers, post reach and engagements (likes, shares, clicks, comments, etc). To encourage these, you want to create content that is valuable to your audience, asks for engagement (posting questions and polls are great ways to do this) and makes use of tagging other companies.

Community Engagement

This might sound a lot like the goal above — because it is. Building community engagement is all about encouraging those likes, comments, shares and interactions on your posts, which, in turn, helps with your brand awareness.

But building community engagement does more than just make people aware of your brand; it offers people a way to communicate with you to help develop trust and drive new leads. The goal of social media is to be social (duh!), so you want to make sure to respond to comments and create meaningful conversations with your audience.

Increase Traffic to Company Website

Getting visitors to your social channels is a huge accomplishment, but you don’t want to stop there. Ultimately, you want your audience to work their way down the buyer’s journey, which includes your website.

By creating posts that lead to your blog, landing pages, content download offers and more, you can help motivate them to move down that path more quickly, converting them into leads and customers.

Become a Trusted Resource for Your Audience

While your social channels don’t need to be overly polished research sites, you do want to develop authority. By positioning yourself as a reliable news outlet in your industry, your audience will seek out your social channels for content that they deem reputable.

Sharing white papers with both original content and from relevant sources, content downloads, industry news (from reputable sources) and how-to videos are great ways to develop authority. One big sign that you’ve become an authority in your industry: a high increase in shares of your content and conversations happening in the comments of your posts.

Utilize Your Brand Tone/Personality on Social

Because social media is a conversational platform, it’s important to make sure that you speak in a way that’s engaging and inspires dialogue. With that being said, there’s nothing worse than going from a humorous, light-hearted social channel to clicking a link and finding a boring corporate website. 

You want to make sure the tone and personality you use on your social channels is reflective of your voice throughout all of your marketing materials — while remaining cognizant of the fact that you’re on social media. Consistency throughout your marketing, whether social, print, digital or your website, is key.

Develop a Content Calendar

So, you’ve learned about your audience, determined what channels you should use, outlined your goals and refined your tone and personality. It’s time to start throwing content on your channels, right? Not quite.

Before you just start posting, take some time to develop a content calendar for your channels.

You want to ensure your posts help you accomplish your goals and match your tone, identify what days/times you’ll be posting and outline any links that need to be included or added to your profile. This allows for approvals ahead of time — meaning less last-minute scrambling to get a post out — and paints a clear picture of what goals are being nurtured and which may need some additional attention.

Need some help with your content calendar? HubSpot offers a great, free tool to help you map out your monthly social media. 

Be Flexible

Even with a content calendar, spontaneity is still a must on social. Since social media allows for real-time posting and conversations, you need to be prepared for last minute updates, news and more.

For example, let’s imagine a noteworthy article gets posted about your industry but you already have today’s post scheduled. Rather than waiting to post a timely article, make sure to adjust your content to post the article that day and move that pre-planned post to a later time.

By staying on top of relevant news, topics and trends, you stay top-of-mind for your audience and remain a trusted news source for them.

Constantly Refine 

This should go without saying, but just because you’ve put together an initial strategy doesn’t mean it has to stay set in stone.

Social media is a great place to take risks, experiment and constantly optimize. By examining your posts and seeing what content draws the most engagements, you can refine future content calendars to include posts that your audience desires. Just because you’ve decided #WishlistWednesday should be a thing your first month, that doesn’t mean that you have to continue to do it four months later if you’ve seen no one engage with the content.

It’s all about finding what’s relevant, drawing in your audience and pinpointing what your potential leads want to see.

Consult Experts if Needed

Far too often we hear that our clients aren’t on social media because they don’t understand the platforms, they don’t have the time to manage their channels or they’re afraid it won’t work for them.

If you’re still not sure where to begin, reach out for help! If social media is a valuable channel for your business, every day you’re not on those platforms is a day your competitors are taking valuable market share. Need help? We’re here for you.

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