Imagine that you are now in charge of managing the content strategy and marketing strategy of social media platforms. How do you manage something new with the structure you have in place?
This topic is a tough one to tackle and this is a location where marketing and communication are slowly merging into one another. I ask myself this question: where do I begin with content strategy for social media?
I understand that I will get criticism for my view that marketing and communication are moving closer together, however why it’s moving faster in this direction is for another discussion (and if you know why, would you like to guest or feature column about it?)
Keep Moving, but Shift Gears
The strategy for social media is a return to content strategy elements that have been established already. The reason for using elements is a matter of efficiency: why reinvent the wheel when we can adjust content strategy and use it for a real-time publishing platform? I ask this additional question: does content strategy make any difference between a live website, social media platform, or one-to-one messaging?
Nope. They can be created and refined for specific channels.
Content strategy in social media is what we have done before for all kinds of content before it, whether content is for the web, documentation, marketing, translation, or print, we work with the framework and adjust due to the type of medium.
Social media is no different.
What I can offer is a quick guide for how to adjust those gears and keep the content creation machine humming along. These tips are not exhaustive nor comprehensive, but a start for how you can guide content strategy in a social media world and how that might fit into the overall content strategy that your organization currently has (or if not, can start small beginning as a pilot project with social media).
Best Practices for Social Media Posts
Social media is a unique space where content needs to be crafted along with the overarching voice and tone set by the content strategy of an organization. Content strategy not only means publishing content but responding to posts and sharing other people’s content.
Content strategy for social media sounds a bit like we are engaging with a responsive audience in real-time, but that shouldn’t discourage you from developing a content strategy for your social media.
But first, take a self-assessment of your overall content strategy efforts.
If you don’t have any content strategy efforts at your organization, that is okay. You can establish a nimble strategy that can morph over time to fill any other gaps of content strategy for your organization. Content strategy should be a flexible and breathing document that can be reviewed and updated as you need.
First, assess the needs and requirements of your content strategy. Second, ask where you can find some opportunities in your content strategy and marketing to branch off where social media can play a supporting role in? You might be able to remove some of the silos and bottlenecks that can help supercharge your content productivity.
Content Plan Your Social Media
Have a plan for your content. Here are the questions I ask when facilitating a team who want to embark on creating social media content. Consider these when creating a content plan.
- Can you show me examples of what you plan to share on social media?
- How often will you dedicate time to creating content?
- Does your content work with the content strategy, voice, and tone?
- Do you have a unified theme or style that you approach with your content?
- Would you be willing to receive constructive criticism?
- Can you start with a pilot creating a weekly publish schedule and then expand?
- Do you have someone monitoring content reaction?
I ask these questions strategically not to discourage people who are geared to jump into a social media strategy, but help them understand the scope and depth of their project and that they are embarking on an effort that requires skill capacity that is much more than posting and leaving it as is. I also want to encourage folks to have good social media marketing habits which is included in the responsibility of content strategy for social media.
Content Publish Calendar for Social Media
Consistency is important for creating a content publish calendar for social media. People like structure and social media algorithms tend to support consistent posting schedule. Also, this helps you wrangle up content that you can publish on a regular schedule.
Look into organizing your content a couple of months ahead if you can. Even put down ideas for content that you want published and that can set up a framework for you or someone on your team to put together.
Schedule Your Content
Once you have content, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have enough or a lot of great content. Consider tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Gain, or another scheduling tool to schedule your posts. Your organization may have an enterprise tool such as Social Studio. You may need a tool such a Trello, BaseCamp, or Asana to draft and build your content calendar if you work with a team. It’s also good habit to organize your ideas in an accessible format that can be easily scaled up. These tools helps you create a fast database where you can return to posted content and reuse when you need to or spur new ideas.
Stick to a schedule. For example, if you want to stretch your content, post once a week or twice a month. The great and forgiving aspect of using a content calendar is you can slot another day of the week or post more each month and adjust when to post.
Ambitious Start and then Reality Sets in…
Time and time again, I cannot stress this enough: please start small.
You might have such a great idea for how you want to publish content on social media and you get off to a great start and then other priorities pull you away from your initial start. I have seen so many businesses on Facebook have a dead profile page because more pressing business needs drag content creators away. Think of social media as a tool where you contribute more activity, the more engagement you’ll receive back. Also don’t be discouraged if your investment isn’t what you expect in return. It takes a lot of testing, analysis, and sometimes outright luck to get things to work right.
My suggestion is to start small and find ways to reuse content or share content that you created. It doesn’t need to be original content and it can be remixed content and content that feels evergreen. Evergreen content might be a great tips list, useful stable content, or content that you’ve created that is still relevant today. Make sure you have the proper permissions beforehand and you can get into the habit of posting consistently. The key is posting consistently first, then you can improve the quality of content and improve the personality of your content.
Analytics for Social Media
Often forgotten or brutally scrutinized are analytics when it comes to social media. In this section, consider the goals for your social media content strategy and the opportunities for growth and learning from analytics results. To be honest, analytics don’t necessarily equate to dollars tied to revenue, author experience, or value of your efforts. Consider analytics as recording the baseline health of a system and set baselines after a few months where you can consider changing strategy, looking for a new social media platform, or expanding your reach.
Analytics are not apples to apples when it comes to different social media platforms. A “like” on Twitter is not the same as a reaction (or “like”) on Facebook. There is some general understanding that not all the platforms provide analytics the same way and you may want to consider facilitating a larger conversation about the health of a channel, content quality, and engagement rate.
Sometimes I’m asked this question: why is one post doing very well on one platform and doing poorly on another?
The answer is simple: different platform, different algorithms, different audience. These and many more factors are in play. For example, there is an theme of posting high-quality photos on Instagram. That might not translate well for audiences and platforms on Facebook or Twitter. Another example is posting a business-related article may do well on LinkedIn, but may not have as high as result on Facebook. Again, different platform, different algorithms, and different audience.
However, don’t be discouraged by the individual post performance. Consider the overall general statistics to help drive your content strategy for social media and measure the health of a channel such as:
- follower growth
- overall engagement (likes, reposts, reactions, comments)
- referral audience measurement
If you see a trend, such as posting human interest stories, keep doing what you are doing right. Maybe if you see a plateauing or downward trend, consider changing gears and shift into a new topic to share on social media. It might mean looking into the mix of what you post and see a trend and test it out. Return to analytics on a regular basis to help you understand the value and worth you are providing. See that analytics will help guide your content calendar and content strategy. In addition, you may see a consistent downward trend that may signal that folks are moving on and then it’s time to consider new online platforms.
While this is in no means the entire content strategy for social media, this is a unbelievably good start to help you understand that there are many wheels and gears in motion. One simple shift may affect how your content strategy works. Hopefully that shift works in your favor.
What I hope you get out of this is a simple structure that helps you craft your own social media content strategy with freely available tools and with some smart planning.