Learn to strategically produce and distribute content that converts social media channels from a time suck to a revenue stream. In this book you’ll learn to plan and manage your time wisely, leverage paid platforms as well as free ones to get the most value for your investment, attract customers for your brand and business, engage with customers and prospects, monetize social media with e-commerce, video and ads, and much more.
Whether you work for a small business, an agency, or a non-profit, your organization should have a content strategy. Content is a necessary evil for businesses online; it isn’t glamorous, but it can lead to amazing growth and success.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is the practice of using social media channels to sell or promote a brand, product or service.
Social media marketing helps businesses:
- Increase brand awareness
- Build engaged communities
- Sell products and services
- Measure how people feel about your business
- Provide customer service on social media platforms
- Advertise their products and services to target audiences
- Track your performance and adjust your strategy accordingly
What is a social media strategy?
A social media strategy is a document outlining your social media goals, the tactics you will use to achieve them and the metrics you will track to measure your progress.
Your social media marketing strategy should also list all of your existing and planned social media accounts along with goals specific to each platform you’re active on. These goals should align with your business’s larger digital marketing strategy.
Finally, a good social media plan should define the roles and responsibilities within your team and outline your reporting cadence.
Identify and set goals
The first step towards a long-term social media strategy is to set your content goals. Having goals in mind will help you start planning out the type of content to create.
This process involves digging deep into your brand values as well as researching your audience.
Start by getting clear on your overall marketing goals and how you want your content marketing strategy to serve those goals. The more specific your marketing goals are, the better you will be able to tailor your social media content to meet those goals. For example, let’s say that your marketing goals are to convert more sales from social media. Then your strategy should incorporate posts that move people to a landing page or another part of your marketing funnel.
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Plan your social content
Once you’re clear on your goals, it’s time to conduct a social media content audit on the content you’ve created so far. Look at which posts performed well, which ones didn’t and what you posted on each platform. If you’re using a social media management platform like Sprout Social, you can look at all of your social media data and analytics in one place. You can use Sprout’s Report Builder for a holistic view of how all of your social media content is performing.
Even without a social media tool, you can analyze your data by exporting each platform’s analytics into a spreadsheet.
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest Business and LinkedIn Business accounts let you easily export your post and page analytics directly from the platform.
What you look for in the audit should align directly with your content goals. For example, if one of your goals is to improve brand awareness, then look at your follower count on each platform and identify which posts resulted in new followers. Now you have an idea of what types of content help expose your brand to new people who want to follow you.
A content audit will help you substantiate what you think is working well with quantitative data that shows you how each post performs.
You might notice a disconnect between posts you think should do well and the actual top performers. In this case, look closely at the language and tone you’re using on the underperforming content. You may have strayed away from your brand’s authentic voice. Your followers may interpret those posts as inauthentic or irrelevant, causing a decrease in engagement. Irrelevant posts are the second largest reason consumers unfollow brands on social media.
Some posts serve to help you meet bigger marketing goals. But even promotional content should be on brand and true to your voice. Remember that your audience began following you for a reason.
Stick with your unique voice and style as much as possible and create content that authentically markets your brand.
Having a consistent brand voice will also help you have a better understanding of who your audience is. You can’t create good social content without knowing who your followers are. During this phase, do some target audience research. Build a target persona of your audience and can compare it to who you think your target audience should be. Include things like basic demographics, acquisition channels and content preferences.
While you’re doing research, also take note of which platforms your content succeeds most on. You might want to target every social platform but it’s unrealistic to expect to perform well on all of them. You want to allocate your resources to the platforms that serve your brand and your audience the most.
Choose the Right Social Platform(s)
You don’t have to use every available social platform.
Let’s repeat that — you don’t have to use every available social platform.
In most instances, it makes sense to focus your efforts on the platforms where your audience is active and likely to engage with your business, rather than spreading your time and content too thinly across every available platform.
You will no doubt already have a good idea, by this stage, as to the platforms where your audience is the most active, but we recommend choosing a couple of these and executing a really solid strategy.
Trust us when we say that you will see far better results doing this than trying to be present everywhere.
As a general rule of thumb:
Facebook is effective for both B2B and B2C businesses, with support for a whole load of different content formats, ad targeting options, and users. There are very few businesses that should not include Facebook as one of their core channels.
Twitter isn’t for every business, due to the platform’s fast-moving nature and the fact that it is still very much based around a simple Tweet format. However, it is the perfect customer service platform for businesses that deal with high volumes of support and service queries.
LinkedIn is perfect for B2B service businesses and is the perfect place to position individuals and companies as experts through a content strategy based on thought leadership and a strong focus on editorial content.
Pinterest is a favorite amongst eCommerce retailers and owners of businesses that are easily promoted visually.
YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine, and pretty much all sectors can benefit from the platform. However, you need to be prepared to consistently publish engaging video content, something that not all businesses are set up to do.
Plan Social Content and Choose Formats
Once you have chosen the main social platforms that you are going to focus your efforts upon, you need to plan out your content and the formats that you are going to create.
And our guide on 15 Social Media Content Types (with examples for ideas and inspiration) is a great starting point to inspire you to create awesome content that resonates with your audience.
A great starting point is to map out the key messages that you want to share with your audience (ideally mixing sales-focused product or service posts with educational, information, or inspirational content), alongside the formats that you can create content around.
You need to balance different formats to ensure you are getting your key message across effectively, and some of the more popular ones that we recommend include:
- User-generated content
- Live streams
- Contests & competitions
- Case studies
- Influencer marketing collaborations
Don’t rely on a single content format if you truly want to drive engagement from your audience, but be sure to balance the time needed to produce each different piece with the importance of maintaining a consistent publishing schedule.
Create a Content Calendar
Once you have started planning out your content, you need to set up a content calendar that your team can use for organizational purposes. And this is important for a simple reason; it keeps you accountable.
Once you have set a publishing schedule and mapped it out on a content calendar, you have made a commitment. And this is often what is needed to keep your efforts focused and on track. It also helps you work with other teams to complete goals.
For example, if you know in 2 weeks, you are launching a new campaign and need graphics, your content team and graphics teams can both view the calendar and ensure tasks are done on time.
And creating a content calendar couldn’t be easier; you can use the SEMrush marketing calendar to assign your social content with your wider digital marketing campaign:
Just make sure to keep your calendar updated so your whole team can use it as a reference point.
Get into the habit of adding in your planned social content and sticking to it; this is often the motivation that most marketers need to keep on track.
And let’s not forget that committing to regular social publishing is one of the main drivers of success. It is hard to stick to, and very few do. But this means that those who keep on track are typically the ones who gain a competitive advantage.
In terms of how frequently you should be posting on each platform, we recommend a baseline schedule that looks like this (depending on the platforms you are using):
- Facebook: 5 to 7 posts per week
- Twitter: 3 to 5 Tweets per day
- LinkedIn: 1 post per day
- Instagram: 1 post or story per day
- Pinterest: Focus on creating interesting boards and sharing relevant images rather than a set posting schedule
- TikTok: At least once per day
A successful social media campaign needs to be much more than just a series of advertisements. It requires planning and strategy, as well as a good understanding of the audience. Ultimately it is only through the use of many different elements, combined together in a creative way, that we can really achieve our goals.