Being active on social media networks has become commonplace for organizations and brands of all sizes. With millions of consumers at their fingertips, many organizations have caught on to the power of social media. However, for the number of brands that are successful implementing social media strategies, there are even more who are missing the mark.
Organizations often fall short on implementing social media strategies because they do not have a strategy at all. Without a well-thought-out and researched social media content strategy, it is too easy to let social media content take a backseat to other projects. Unfortunately, many organizations learn the hard way that social media is not a “set it and forget it” deal. Success with social takes research and planning.
To maximize success, there must be a strategy and plan in place. Here are six tips for crafting a successful social media content strategy:
1. Have goals
Without goals, your social media content strategy doesn’t have much meaning. If you don’t have goals, what is the point of your strategy? Your goals will help to define the rest of the strategy, as all the other parts of the plan will be focused on achieving your goals. Developing goals is the first step in creating any strategy, and a social strategy is no different.
Stay on brand
Many brands have branding guidelines, along with style and tone requirements for written content. These guidelines should extend to social media content, as it is just another extension of your brand. Staying on brand is important, as having conflicting messaging across platforms can be confusing for consumers. If an organization strays from the expected brand style, it risks losing faithful customers and discouraging potential customers at the same time. Staying true to the brand is essential in developing a social media content strategy.
Know your audience inside and out
With any marketing strategy, audience research is key. This definitely holds true for social media strategies too. However, researching audience online and social behavior is imperative to crafting a succinct social media content strategy.
Where does your audience hang out online? What networks do they use most often? Does your audience lurk online more than they contribute? What content media do they respond to? These are all questions you need to ask yourself when researching your audience.
Additionally, be ready to do some keyword research. Be sure your messaging speaks to your audience directly—in their language. See what types of words they use and cater to those subjects. If you use language that your audience is not familiar with, you risk not connecting with your audience on the personal level that makes brands successful with social media.
4. Mix it up with different media
As mentioned previously, find out what types of media your audience reacts to. In many cases, posting a link on Facebook and Twitter with the article title is not going to cut it anymore. Consider telling a story with your social media content. Explore podcasts, videos, images and more.
If you are going to go with text updates, try to connect with your audience by sharing a quote from the piece you are sharing or asking a question about the subject. Furthermore, if you have a global audience, consider using images to tell stories instead of text. The great thing about images is that they can be a powerful way to communicate, without any translation needed.
Keep in mind that when you share any type of content, you need to be ready to respond. Social media are all about the two-way conversation and connecting with your customers. If you don’t respond, why should they? With all push and no pull, no matter how much research you do, your social strategy will fall flat.
Manage your content calendar
If you aren’t using a content calendar of some sort, you should be. Keeping an up-to-date content calendar is crucial for creating a successful social media content strategy. Calendars can be created weekly, biweekly or monthly. Using a spreadsheet is the most common way to create a calendar.
When developing your content calendar, you must consider the frequency of your posts. Will you post on Facebook once a day or three times a day? How many Twitter updates will you send daily? What about your blog—how many posts are you planning on publishing every week? The answers to those questions will guide you to crafting your content calendar.
Having a calendar keeps you on track and allows you to plan messaging in advance. Sometimes thinking of social messaging on the fly works for brands in certain instances. However, having well-thought-out messaging with no spelling or grammatical errors can aid in building your social presence.
Measure your results
Measuring your results cannot be overlooked when developing your social media content strategy. If you don’t measure success, it is impossible to improve. Consider reporting social media metrics monthly. Compare campaigns and messaging month over month to track performance. Which campaigns are driving the most traffic? Which campaigns are driving the most leads? What kinds of messages inspire engagement? All of these metrics can help you improve your future messaging and campaigns.
Crafting a social media content strategy is an essential part of a brand’s overall Internet marketing strategy. As social media become more popular, they are impossible for brands to ignore. With these tips in mind, create a strategy that will allow your brand to flourish on social networks while achieving your business goals.
Arnie Kuenn is the president of Vertical Measures, a search, social and content marketing agency that helps clients get more traffic, more leads, and more business. Arnie has held executive positions in the world of new technologies and marketing for more than 20 years. He is a frequent speaker and author of the award-winning content marketing book Accelerate! Moving Your Business Forward Through the Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing. You can find Arnie on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.