The content you post via social media is extremely powerful for two main reasons. First, it has the power to turn your brand into a household name; second, it has the ability to convert followers into fans. This sort of impact only comes from an effective social media content strategy. It simply isn’t enough to have a presence on every social media platform and occasionally update your audience when you have the time. In fact, the total opposite is true.
The way to stand out on social media is three-fold:
- You must identify specific goals in order to develop a social media content strategy
- It is essential to create valuable posts that align with said goals
- You need to distribute your well-crafted content via the right platforms
Only then can you measure your results and fine-tune your strategy over time.
Sadly, there isn’t one boilerplate social media strategy that will guarantee success. In fact, each social media strategy varies depending on your industry and target audience. However, there are certain steps that you should follow if your aim is to develop a plan geared towards longevity and helps your brand and business grow.
Identify and set goals
The first step in developing an effective social media content strategy is to identify and establish your content goals. Having goals in mind helps you start planning out the type of content that you’ll need to create. The process involves diving deep into your brand values and researching your target audience.
You can begin the process by clearly establishing your overall digital marketing goals and how you want your content marketing strategy to serve said goals. Upon establishing clear and specific marketing goals, you’ll then be able to tailor your social media to meet your goals. For instance, let’s say that your marketing goals include converting more sales via social media. In order to achieve this goal, you should incorporate posts that move people to a landing page or another part of your marketing funnel.
Plan your social media content strategy
Once you’ve clearly established your goals, it is time to engage in a social media content audit of the content you’ve created thus far. Take a look at the posts that have performed well. More importantly, make note of the posts that didn’t do so well. Lastly, make sure to analyze the type of content that you posted on each platform. If you’re using a social media management platform such as Buffer, you can look at all of your social media data and analytics in one place.
Even if you’re not using a social media tool, you can still analyze your data by exporting each platform’s analytics into a spreadsheet. The major social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest Business, Instagram Business, and LinkedIn business – all let you export your post and page analytics directly from their platform.
Analyze the data!
The data that you look for in your social media audit should directly align with your content goals. If one of your goals is to increase brand awareness, you should look at your follower count on each platform. From there you should identify which posts resulted in new followers. This provides an idea of what type of content helps expose your brand to potential new followers.
A content audit will also help you identify what is working well with quantitative data. You’ll likely discover a disconnect between posts you think should succeed and the actual top performers. In this case, you need to closely examine the language and tone you’re using with the underperforming content. One explanation for underperforming content is that you may have strayed from your brand’s authentic voice. Another reason could be that your followers may perceive certain posts as inauthentic or irrelevant. This will certainly cause a decrease in engagement. Irrelevant posts are the second largest reason why consumers unfollow brands on social media.
Stay true to your brand and social media content strategies
Certain posts serve to help you meet bigger marketing goals. However, even promotional content should be on brand and remain true to your brand’s voice. It is essential that you remember that your audience began to follow you for a reason. That being said, stick with your unique voice and style as much as humanly possible and create content that authentically markets your brand!
Having a consistent brand voice will also help you develop a better understanding of both your current audience and your target audience. There’s no getting around it, but you can’t create effective social media content without truly knowing your followers. Be sure to conduct some target audience research during this phase. It is then time to develop a target persona of your audience and compare it to your ideal target audience. Make sure to focus on things such as demographics, acquisition channels, and content preferences.
While conducting your research, make sure to take note of which platforms your content is most successful. You might want to target every social platform. However, it is simply unrealistic to expect to perform well on all of them. You will want to dedicate your resources to the platforms that serve your brand and your audience the most.
Build a content calendar
It’s time to construct a content calendar once you know what content performs best and you’ve identified your primary goals. A content calendar allows you to take a high-level approach to social media content planning. It also helps you to visualize and organize your ideas in a way that makes your strategy easier to execute. Your content calendar is essentially the hub for everything that you post.
Don’t be afraid to repurpose content and schedule it across different social media platforms in order to get the most out of it. When deciding where to post your content, make sure to consider what types of content perform well on that platform based on your social media audit. It is important to keep in mind that there are best practices when it comes to the best times to post on each platform.
Your strategy will include the collective knowledge of a lot of different people within your organization. A content calendar makes it simpler to collaborate on social media posts with different people across your company. It’s also helpful to collaborate with different departments to create a more wholesome plan.
Promote and distribute your content
Your social media strategy extends beyond what you post on your social channels. Planning and publishing your content only makes up a small portion of a successful social media strategy. An effective social media content strategy involves finding ways to actively distribute your content so that as many people as possible not only see it but also engage with it. When you establish a content distribution strategy, you’ll set up your posts to be shared more widely.
If you’re an active blogger, make sure to include social sharing buttons on your posts so that your audience can distribute the content to their followers. If you’re not sure as to what I’m talking about, take a look at the end of this post!
You can also urge your audience to engage with your content by asking questions and encouraging them to share their answers via social media or in the comments section of a blog post.
Other people sharing your content is also excellent social proof. Your social media content strategy should include responding to or reposting people who share your content. There are social media tools, such as Buffer, that make content distribution a total breeze.
Optimize your reach
Recognizing when your audience is active and sharing posts at the right time will help you reach more people. If you only post social media the minute it goes live, then you’re missing out on a massive chance to optimize your reach.
Individual social media platforms feature their own ways to help you maximize your reach as well. When using platforms like Twitter and Instagram, make sure to utilize hashtags (#). These are a great way to further distribute your content to non-followers. Hashtags help you reach people who not only follow you but are following a specific trend or interest. On LinkedIn and Facebook, make sure to join groups related to your industry and share content when it relates to the conversation.
Another great distribution strategy involves networking with other bloggers and content creators in your niche. Other brands are likely to share your content with their audience if you have a relationship and will return the favor. Make sure to remember that anything you share with your audience should still be valuable to them and relate to your brand.
The final step to an effective social media content strategy is to measure the results of all your efforts. Accurate tracking is essential to creating a strategy built with longevity in mind. Keeping detailed metrics will help you tweak and optimize your plan over time. Ideally, you should analyze your content every month to keep track of what’s working and where there is room for improvement. When analyzing your date, make sure to take a top-level view of your content over a given period of time. Take a look at how each piece of content performed and what variables it had working with it. Assess how the content contributed to the overall content goals that you identified in step one. A few of the more valuable social media metrics to measure include:
- Awareness – the number of times people saw your content as expressed by impressions and reach
- Engagements – the number of reactions, comments, clicks, and shares your content earned
- ROI – conversions & referrals from external sources
Just as you did with your content audit, connect the analytics to your overall marketing goals. Use your goals as an anchor to help you meaningfully adjust your strategy. By measuring analytics each month, you’ll just have to make minor tweaks to keep optimizing your social media content strategy.
Making sense of the big picture
Effectively creating and maintaining a social media content strategy is an ongoing process. However, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Plan out your process with the ideas above and stick to these essential steps to develop content planning that puts a strategic approach first.