The world of social media moves fast – this isn’t new information. But in the race to get as much content as possible to the masses as quickly as possible, a lot of marketers fall into the same basic trap again, and again, and again.
Essentially, they're too short-sighted. Each piece of content for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites is created in a vacuum. The content may stand on its own, sure – but it doesn't add up to anything when all is said and done.
Social media content strategy: the bigger picture
When it comes to social media, you can’t afford to laser focus all of your attention on any one particular piece of content. Always have your eyes on the bigger picture playing out in front of you. This, of course, requires you to keep a few key things in mind.
1. Gaining the right perspective
According to a recent study, about 60 percent of all marketers say that they're creating at least one piece of content per day. In order to sustain that level of production, you can't be flying blind. You can't wake up in the morning and say to yourself, "What am I going to post today?" Not only should you already know, but you should have known for weeks now.
A full 86 percent of organizations with highly effective social media content efforts have a content strategy and at least one dedicated person in charge of overseeing it all.
More than that, it's important to look at a social media content strategy for what it really is: a roadmap that connects your brand to all of the most important goals you have laid out in front of you. It helps tell you what to post and why posting that piece of collateral to that social media network at that particular time is so essential.
This helps remove all of the guesswork from the equation, allowing you to devote as much time as possible to the content you’re creating ahead of time. This way, when the time comes to put pen to paper, you're not worried about whether or not you've selected the right topics, wondering if people are going to care, or nervous that you're devoting a lot of time to answering a question that nobody is asking.
2. Defining your audience
By far, the most important thing for you to understand about the work you're doing on your social media content strategy is that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to what you're trying to pull off.
Your social media content strategy itself will be dictated in large part by what it is you're trying to accomplish with your content and who you're going to be speaking to. Different audiences respond to different types of content in their own unique ways, and making sure that this element is aligned with your larger goals it the best chance you have at actually accomplishing them.
With that in mind, it shouldn't be a surprise that the first step to coming up with your social media content strategy involves, once again, researching your audience in as much detail as you can. Look for more than just who they are and what they're interested in. Look you at their social media habits.
Have you noticed in past campaigns that your audience has either A) tended to respond better to long-form content, or B) happens to skew older?
If one, or even both, of these things are true, visual collateral that gives your topics room to breath, like blogs, white papers, or even presentations, are likely in order.
Or maybe your audience is younger and more receptive to bite-sized pieces of information, preferring content like video or infographics?
That's not to say that young people hate long-form content — it just means you'll likely want to break up certain complicated or in-depth points in more visual ways. Concept maps and engaging flowcharts can be great forms of visual content.
Generally speaking, your audience will tell you what kind of content they like (and that you should focus on).
The answers to these questions will always be unique to your audience. Allow them to dictate a lot of the decisions you make moving forward. If your audience falls into the latter camp, but you provide them with huge volumes of content that would better serve the former, you may get your message across — but not as effectively as you could be.
Based on that, making an effort to understand your audience (even if you think you already do) and identifying the most effective types of content that audience actively enjoys are steps one and two to your social media content strategy.
3. Honing your voice
At this point, one of the core pillars of taking the bigger picture approach to social media content distribution involves making an effort to further develop your brand's voice. Sometimes, this can be literal — in terms of the actual words you use and how you use them. Sometimes, it can be figurative — in that all of the pictures you post on a site like Instagram share basic themes and design choices, such a colors or composition.
Many agree that this is one of the most overlooked parts of any social media content strategy. In terms of social media in particular, it's by far among the most important. Every piece of content you create needs to feel like it's coming from the same basic place. In that way, your social media followers should feel like they're interacting less with a major commercial brand and more like they're browsing the feeds of friends.
Again, this voice should be influenced by your customers themselves. Some questions to consider when creating your voice include:
- What sorts of personalities does your audience most relate to?
- Do you need to take a friendly and informal approach to what you put out there, or are you trying to convey a sleek and sophisticated message?
- What sort of language does your audience understand, and what rubs them the wrong way?
All of this will help you not only cultivate a voice, but the right voice that strikes a chord with the largest number of people possible.
4. Moving on to content creation
At that point, the actual content creation process begins in earnest — this requires keeping a few key things in mind.
Think less about individual pieces of content and more about what bigger story you’re telling with them all together. Sure, every piece of content on social media has the potential to be someone's first interaction with your brand. But you're also asking people to go on a journey with you. Every piece should feel like it's building on the one before it, creating something far more compelling and satisfying than any one post could on its own.
None of this is possible if you're not keeping the bigger picture in mind when deciding on topics, creating content, and publishing it to the world.
Think about the story you're trying to tell and break it down into a series of smaller, more manageable pieces. What types of content best serve those elements? This is something that will vary depending on your brand and goals, but it's important to think about all the same.
5. Focusing on consistency
Once you've started to create that content and are ready for distribution, one of the most important keys to your social media content strategy success is, and will always be, consistency.
Post content to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as often as possible, yes — but do so on a schedule that your readers can get used to.
If you post something new to your Facebook feed every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 3 p.m. EST, keep doing that with every new piece of content you create. The same applies for other social networking sites. Not only will this train your readers to expect content at these times, but it will prevent content posted at odd hours from getting lost in the shuffle of feeds that are constantly being updated.
6. The future is born in the analysis of today
The key to the big picture approach ultimately comes down to your ability to analyze your results and your willingness to change. Whether you stop and take a look at how you're doing weekly or monthly doesn't actually matter — just as long as you're doing it.
Yes, you've done a lot of research to get to this point. Yes, you've let your decisions for your content strategy be influenced by all the right factors. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't things you could improve. Analyzing how you’re doing will show you how.
Some things to consider while analyzing results include:
- How do your click rates and views change when you post at different times?
- What types of content responses are you getting?
- What are people saying they would like to see more of?
- What types of content were you sure would be guaranteed hits, but came up short?
- Was there anything that people loved that surprised you?
On a regular basis, take a look at these things and use this knowledge to your advantage. The big picture approach, coupled with this level of measuring your success on an ongoing basis, is how you create the type of relationship with your audience that will serve all parties involved incredibly well for years to come.