How to Develop a Social Media Content Strategy
A lot of our clients come to us with the idea that they want to improve their interaction on their social platforms but they just don’t know how. So we tell them what we tell everyone: interesting content that will help their customers and potential customers in some way.
But this is easier said than done, especially when there are so many types of content out there. It can be a little overwhelming to try and implement content into your social media if you don’t have a plan. So this article will help you to plan and implement a content strategy for your social media campaigns.
Why A Social Media Content Strategy?
I am a big fan of planning, as anyone who knows me can attest to. When it comes to social media, I believe that without some kind of plan you can get sucked into the murky depths of the internet and spend hours and hours of wasted time trying to figure out what you’re doing. Plus, a content strategy will help you to maintain your social media long-term, instead of just fizzling out when the initial enthusiasim wears off.
If you don’t already have one, I would advise you before you even start to get some sort of company blog attached to your website somewhere. This will serve as a platform for you to store your content and become a sort of a ‘resource’ for customers. Plus, it’s a really excellent SEO tool to help Google (and therefore customers!) to find you.
So let’s get started with your strategy!
1. Research and brainstorm
This is always a really important step in any strategy. Before you dive headlong into your planning, do a little bit of research and put some thoughts down on paper. It will help you to identify all the nitty bits and pieces that you will need to map out your actual strategy later on.
Brainstorm from your customer’s perspective
First, brainstorm (and get someone else to help you if you can – it’s nice to bounce ideas around). Think about what kind of content your market would find useful and how your company can become a ‘useful’ resource within your industry. For example, a Popcorn brand might provide fun information about DVDs and popcorn recipes to their customers. A marketing company (like Chocolate Shoebox!) might provide useful articles to help other companies with their marketing endeavours.
Try to think of these ideas from your customers’ perspective; what will help them or entertain them in their day-to-day lives? What will keep them engaged with your brand and keep them coming back for more? Write down your ideas – you will need them later!
Research where your customers are and what social media they use
Find out what formats and platforms are relevant to your industry and to your consumers. This will involve a little research to find out where your customer base is online and how they are using social media. Try to discover what formats of media your target market is using.
For example, if your target market is in the older age bracket, you will probably find they aren’t spending their time on YouTube, so making videos and putting them on YouTube would be a waste! Or maybe you are a Business to Business brand that isn’t really suited to Facebook, but is perfect for LinkedIn.
Research and make a list of important industry and social days
Make a list of special days that are relevant to your industry. Public holidays are important, as well as other relevant social days. Think about what is important to your target market. For example, Valentine’s Day would be important to a chocolate company. A technology company might want to celebrate the birthday of Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein. Think a little outside the box on this one – there are some fun and interesting ideas that can really help you with your content!
Even if you don’t think they are completely relevant, put them down. You might not be able to create reams of content around them, but you can always use them as ‘fillers’ for days when you don’t have specific content planned. Plus, you can always cut them out later if you find you don’t need them.
2. Assess your limitations – be honest!
Assessing your resources and abilities is the next vital step in your planning process. Be honest in this stage of your planning – you don’t want to over commit and find out later that you just don’t have the time, money or resources to fulfil your strategy. If you are in doubt, start out slowly; you can always increase your capacity later!
What kind of content are you ABLE to produce?
We all love the idea of creating massive, award-winning videos, or coming up with agency-rivalling concepts for exciting photo shoots or ads. But the truth of it, most of us don’t have the time or expertise to do it ourselves and we simply can’t afford to hire some big fancy (extremely expensive) agency to do it for us.
This means we have to be realistic about the TYPES of content we are going to be able to produce. In your first step you identified what kind of content your target market is using, so now you need to assess what you are able to actually produce.
If you identified that your customers are watching videos, reading articles and looking at slide shows, be honest about which of those you have the resources to produce. There is nothing wrong with settling for just one to start with. If you find later that your capacity increases, you can always add more in then.
What do you have time for? How often can you produce content?
Again, it’s important to be honest with yourself here. The time required to create content needs to be allocated to a resource, and you need to assess what kind of capacity you have for it. If you are doing the content yourself, you may find that you only have time for one article a week, which is fine! Just be honest and don’t over commit.
Look at what resources you have to help you create and implement your content. If you have inhouse resources, decide when and how often they will be required to create content. If you are looking for external resources, decide on a budget for them and then decide how often you can afford to have them create your content.
Write down when and how often you plan to do your content and assign them to the relevant resources. Plan deadlines so that it becomes a part of the weekly work routine. For example, you have decided to write one article and publish one video per week. One will be published on Tuesday (deadline Monday) and one on Friday (deadline Thursday). This way, everyone knows that it is part of their weekly functions.
3. Plan out your content ideas and topics
Now that you have a better idea of what kinds of content you are going to produce, what kind of topics they will focus on, how many you will create a week (and who will create them) as well as any special days you need to focus on, you can start to hone your topics.
Brainstorm a complete list of topics
If you are doing a 6-month plan and have chosen to do one article a week, you will need to come up with at least 24 article ideas. Planning these upfront ensures that you will never be rushed to try and think of something to write about.
Get out your calendar and write down one topic per week, making sure to make the topics relevant around any important occasions that may be happening in that week. For example, our chocolate company may write an article on how to make chocolate brownies with real chocolate in the first week of February, and then an article on the most romantic chocolate gifts for Valentine’s Day in the Valentine’s week.
By the end of this exercise, you should have as many pieces of content per week as you had planned in your previous steps.
Eg. Jan Week 1 – The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Recipe
Jan Week 1 – Video: How to Make the Best Chocolate Brownies
Jan Week 2 – Special Chocolate Valentines Ideas
Jan Week 2 – Top 5 Most Romantic Valentines Gifts
And so on…
4. Develop Your Calendar
You’ve done all your pre-planning, so get our a calendar (digital or otherwise) and start filling it in!
Put it in the Calendar
Plug your content topics into the days they need to be published and fill in when it needs to be completed. Then make sure the relevant resources know when their deadlines are. Also decide who will be publishing the content and make sure they know that they need to follow up on the content the day before.
Repurpose and supplement content
If you feel that your content calendar is still a little empty or lacking, and you feel you still have a little more time to allocate, you can easily assign a content slot on your calendar for repurposed content.
There is a lot of content that might be relevant to your industry and that your customers might find interesting. This means you can share other people’s content, MAKING SURE YOU CREDIT THEM AND CREATE A LINK BACK TO THE ORIGINAL. I write this last bit in caps to stress its absolute importance – you don’t want to accidentally pass off other people’s work as your own and infringe on any copyrights!
By now you should have a pretty comprehensive content plan that is ready to be implemented. All that is left to do is to get started!
Ok, maybe not quite the last thing. Throughout the course of your strategy, you will want to monitor what is working, what isn’t, and how effective your resource allocation has been. You can then adjust your strategy accordingly!