Social Media & Content Strategy
Social media & content strategy are very popular terms on the Internet now but not everyone who uses them understands the true importance of these things for an online business.
You need social networks to reach out to your target audiences – current and potential. Posting constant links to your product pages along with “hey, buy this stuff” messages will NOT do you any good.
What WILL do you good is offering people something valuable, relevant, entertaining, and (possibly) educational.
Great content brings attention and awareness. Attention and awareness turn into following. Following often turns into dedication. Dedication gradually transforms into trust. This is where your success lies.
At which step exactly does money come flowing in? Sure, you can trick people into buying something by posting a flashy message here and there but real customers become such only after you have earned their trust.
Building a firm relationship with your customers through your website and social media content is never easy as it takes time, effort, and strategic approach. The best place to start would be learning what social media marketing and content strategy are.
What Is Social Media Marketing
The basic concept of social media marketing (SMM) is quite simple – using social networks and related platforms to promote a product or service. The social networks and platforms in question are:
The two main goals of SMM are:
- Get people to know and recognize your brand among the others
- Make them talk about your brand in a positive way and share that information with the largest audience possible
How do we solve the first task – getting people to know you? By reaching out to them with the great content we have mentioned a few paragraphs earlier. You can choose from 2 main strategies: passive approach and active approach.
Passive approach suggests collecting already existing information (comments, reviews, mentions) via specialized SMM tools. It helps us realize the needs and concerns of your customers and clients so that you could adjust the overall business strategy accordingly.
Active approach suggests producing large amounts of content in order to get traction from the potential customers. This often results in planning, preparing, and launching SMM campaigns where you get multiple channels and tools working for you simultaneously to achieve the synergic effect.
There are several common practices observed by most SMM agencies and specialists simply because they always produce great results and have been featured in all successful SMM campaigns.
- Analyzing the current situation (to see where you are currently standing and if your business needs SMM and content strategy at all)
- Setting the goals (to see what could be achieved through SMM)
- Setting the target metrics (so that we would know if we reached your goals)
- Creating the content (this is when the actual work happens)
- Testing the content (split-testing a few content approaches/styles to see which one works best)
- Scheduling the campaign (when to post what)
- Launching the campaign (with grand fanfare, that is:))
- Analyzing the results (to see if the goals have been reached and the content strategy played out)
It turns out that your favorite companies and brands don’t just post some random stuff on their social network pages and websites in hope of getting some extra likes and followers/subscribers. They have a content strategy.
That’s right - behind every successful SMM campaign, there is a thoroughly planned and carefully thought-out content strategy or, rather, content marketing strategy.
The reason why we used the term «content marketing strategy» instead of simply «content strategy» or «content marketing» is because it implies both:
- internal guidelines/rules
- editorial tasks (content creation, scheduling, and curation).
When these two things overlap, we get a very potent combination.
We are all used to admiring beautiful web design when we see one but there hardly any people who would say «that content is awesome. That must’ve been because of their content strategy». Still, content plays a huge role in the overall impression brands make on their customers.
A great piece of content can win you a dedicated client just like an appalling one might ruin any pleasant experience a user might have been having.
What exactly does «great content» mean? Well, most pieces of great content usually share the following features incorporated into the content strategy:
Originality and Uniqueness
It’s not just a friendly piece of advice - Google itself demands you have original content on your website, otherwise there might be penalties. Obviously, that means no copy-pasting whatsoever.
Google aside, the idea of having original and unique content in your content strategy is nothing new - people tend to follow the leaders, not followers. Being true to yourself and not afraid to create something new is a virtue, which all marketers should develop and nurture.
Yes, it’s way harder than stealing someone else’s ideas. Yes, it may take quite a while before you manage to find your own style but the result will always be worth it.
Visually Appealing and Eye-Pleasing Graphics
People like to watch, not read - that is the sad truth of the digital era. There is nothing wrong with it, really. With the attention span of today’s kids, one may wonder why they are still using words instead of communicating via emoticons exclusively.
Getting your website or social media page spiced up with good quality images and nice, informative infographics is a way to go.
Easy to Read, Digest and Get the Main Idea
Brevity is the soul of wit and the spirit of copywriting. Every piece of content is out there to solve certain tasks and evoke particular feelings and emotions in readers.
The ability to convey a strong yet powerful message in just a few words is what justifies the proverb «The pen is mightier than the sword». If adapted to digital marketing, it would be something like «The keyboard is mightier than the ‘Start your free trial’ button».
Potentially Sharable or Viral
When your content is worth sharing, people will gladly do so without you prompting them to.
Great content does not come from out of nowhere - it is conceived and planned in the process of making a content strategy.
Social Media Strategy
Much like content strategy, social media strategy allows you to control and plan all your SMM activities in order to maximize their efficiency.
In today’s world of information, there is only one way to break through all the noise - create quality, original content with the potential to go viral.
All major companies and brands rely on social media strategy and content strategy as if they were a godsend because they allow them to:
- Reach out to their potential audience quicker and with better results than with random posting
- Align their SMM activities with their overall business strategy
- Learn more about their customers and clients in the process interaction
- Enter new markets through viral content
When creating a social media and content strategy, it is important to observe the common logic and procedures. A typical social media and content strategy usually includes the following steps:
1. Setting Social Media Goals
First and the most important thing for your social media strategy - its goals have to be aligned with your overall company goals and values. This provides consistency and creates a seamless user experience.
For instance, if your main focus is improving customer service, then SMM strategy should reflect this as well.
Other examples of social media goals may include:
- Increasing your brand awareness
- Driving more traffic to your website
- Generating more leads
- Increasing revenue or sales
- Boosting customer-brand engagement
- Building a community around your brand/product
- Increasing social mentions on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
2. Breaking Down Your Goals Into Specific Tactics
For every goal of your social media/content strategy, there is a way (or even multiple ways) of reaching it. At this stage, you need to figure out what tactics you are going to employ.
For example, if our goal were your increasing brand, we would most like do the following:
- Create a list of top 50 influencers in the target market segment
- Contact them to see if they would be interested in a partnership
- Creating and scheduling a content plan together
Speaking of goals, it would be wise to mention the famous SMART approach, which dictates that every goal has to be:
3. Prioritizing Your Plan
There are activities that take A LOT of time and effort but produce potentially HUGE results.
There are activities that take LITTLE time and effort and produce MODEST RESULTS.
Our task as marketers is to find the perfect balance - an activity that would take LITTLE time and effort but produce STRONG RESULTS.
4. Assigning Tasks and Set ETAs
Now, this is classic project management - make a person responsible for a particular task and set him/her an ETA.
Avoiding big tasks and splitting them into smaller ones is a common practice.
5. Analyzing and Adapting the Plan as You Go
Once the results start coming in, it is time to analyze them and see if they correspond with the goals we set earlier.
When doing it so, it is important to look beyond what they call «vanity metrics» - likes, retweets, etc. What we should be more interested in are business metrics - such as leads generated, conversion rate, web referrals, and others.
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