Listen with Brian from Imbassy
Looking to fine-tune your Social Media Content Strategy for 2021?
Good! Now’s the perfect time to make it happen and leave 2020 behind for good.
Sure, doing so might seem daunting given how social media is so much more competitive and complex than it used to be.
The reality, though? A succinct strategy will help your brand tackle its goals with a sense of purpose.
That’s why we put together a comprehensive guide to creating a social media marketing plan from scratch.
Whether you’re totally new to social or just want to double-check your priorities in 2021, this guide has you covered.
What is a Social Media Content Strategy?
A social media content strategy is a roadmap of what you plan to do on social media, and the results you expect it to drive. In a way, it’s not all that different from your regular content marketing strategy, as it requires identifying goals and crafting and distributing content in such a way that you can meet those goals.
Of course, social media is a completely different beast than an owned content hub like a blog or newsroom. For starters, the type of content people want to engage with on social media is different from the content they engage with on a blog. According to Social Media Today, short-form content, interactive content, visual content, user-generated content, and highly positive content play best to a social media audience.
Secondly, the tone of voice on social media differs from other communication formats. You’ll typically find brands speaking more casually. That’s because social media is primarily used for entertainment. Users don’t want to be sold—they want to be amused, surprised, comforted, distracted, delighted, or some combination of all of the above.
Therefore, your social media activity should primarily reflect who you are as a brand, not what you do. Remember: People may not recall what you said or did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.
Social media is all about how you make people feel.
If done well, a social media content strategy can increase engagement with your audience and foster brand awareness. By allowing your content to reach a wider audience, it can also help generate backlinks to your website, which is good for SEO. Who knows, your content could even go viral!
But in order to achieve those goals, you need a tailored approach. So let’s find out how to create a social media content marketing strategy for your brand.
How to Craft an Effective Social Media Content Strategy in 8 Steps?
Step 1: Set Goals
Let’s kick things off with a quick question:
“What do you want from social media, anyway?
Social media strategy planning starts with your goals.
Perhaps you want to build a community or a more dedicated following. Maybe you want your social accounts to drive more revenue this year.
Either way, your goals will define your content strategy and how much time and energy you’ll need to dedicate to your campaigns.
Sample Social Media Content Strategy goals for 2021 and beyond
What really matters is that you set realistic social media goals.
Emphasis on “realistic,” by the way. We recommend tackling smaller objectives that allow you to scale your social efforts in a way that’s both reasonable and affordable.
Below are some sample goals that businesses of all shapes and sizes can pursue.
Increase brand awareness. This means getting your name out there. To create authentic and lasting brand awareness, avoid solely publishing promotional messages. Instead, focus on content that emphasizes your personality and values first.
Generate leads and sales. Whether online or in-store, followers aren’t going to make social purchases by accident. For example, are you about alerting customers about new products and promos?
Grow your brand’s audience. Bringing new followers into the fold means finding ways to introduce your brand to folks who haven’t heard of you before.
Growing your audience also means discovering conversations around your business and industry that matter the most. Digging through your social channels is nearly impossible without monitoring or listening to specific keywords, phrases or hashtags. Having a pulse on these conversations helps you reach your core audience much faster.
Boost community engagement. Explore ways to grab the attention of your current followers. This means experimenting with messaging and content. For example, does your brand promote user-generated content and hashtags?
Even something as simple as asking a question can increase your engagement rate. Your customers can be your best cheerleaders, but only if you’re giving them something to do.
Drive traffic to your site. Simple enough. If you’re laser-focused on generating leads or traffic to your website, social media can make it happen. Whether through promotional posts or social ads, keeping an eye on conversions and URL clicks can help you better determine your ROI from social media.
Any combination of these goals is fair game and can help you better understand which networks to tackle, too. When in doubt, keep your social media marketing strategy simple rather than muddling it with too many objectives that might distract you. Pick one or two and stick with ’em.
Step 2: Create Your Budget
Now that you have your goals, you need to figure out how much you’re willing to invest to hit them. This isn’t just about money, but also time.
Are you going to carve out time from your day to share content on social media, or are you going to hire someone to do it for you? If you do decide to take on the task, what other projects will fall by the wayside, and will they have a greater impact on your bottom line?
Furthermore, consider what you’re willing to pay to get your social media content in front of the right people. It may be free to set up a Facebook or Twitter account, but that doesn’t guarantee people will find it. That’s why many brands pay extra in order for their content to reach their target audience. Businesses are charged on a per-click basis for promoted posts, with prices typically ranging from $0.20 per click to up to $10 per click.
For beginners, we recommend setting aside about $1,000 per month to promote your social content and build up a following.
Step 3: Audit Your Content
If your company already has a social media presence, now’s a good time to audit it. What posts get a lot of engagement? What gets ignored? Finding the answers to these questions can help set the foundation for your social media content strategy.
Most social media platforms let you export your data directly to a spreadsheet, which should make this process easier.
During your audit, identify which types of content and social channels roll up into your broader goals. For example, if you post the same content to both LinkedIn and Facebook, and the LinkedIn post gets far more engagement, it’s safe to assume that LinkedIn is a more appropriate channel for reaching your target audience.
Also consider how language and tone affect engagement on your posts. This will help you hone in on your social media brand voice. Lastly, auditing your content will help you see the types of people who may be interested in your product or service, which brings us to our fourth step…
Step 4: Build a content calendar
Once you know what content performs best and you’ve identified your primary goals, it’s time to build a social media content calendar. A calendar will let you take a big-picture approach to social media content planning. It will help you visualize your ideas and organize them in a way that makes the strategy easier to execute. Your content calendar will be a hub for everything you post.
When planning content, don’t be afraid to repurpose content and schedule it across different social media platforms to get the most out of it. When deciding where to post what content, also consider what types of content perform well on that platform based on your audit. Keep in mind that there are best practices when it comes to the best times to post on each platform. If you want to make finding the right posting times easier, Sprout’s ViralPost feature collects data from your followers and puts together reports that tell you when you post to achieve the most reach.
Your strategy will involve the collective knowledge of a lot of different people within your organization. A content calendar makes it easier to collaborate on social media posts with different people across your company. It’s helpful to collaborate with different departments to create a more well-rounded plan.
Step 5: Identify Your Audience
You now have an understanding of the social media content that works well for your brand, but that won’t help you unless you know why it works. And to find out why it works you need to find out who you’re talking to.
This means creating customer or buyer personas. If you already have them, great! If not, now’s the time to get on top of that. In a word, buyer personas are fictitious representations of your ideal customer.
Having a clear picture of who your customer is will help you better tailor content to satisfy their needs. There are a bunch of different ways to develop buyer personas. You could interview your current customers and ask them about their background, the social media content they consume, and what they need help with.
You could also talk to sales representatives who work directly with customers, send out surveys, or perform general market research. The social media platforms you use should also be able to provide you with some demographic and location-based information.
Step 6: Competitor Research – Social Media Content Strategy
You know who your customers are and the type of social media content they like to consume. Now it’s time to research the competition and find out what you can do differently—or better—with your social media content strategy.
Your competitor analysis should identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses on social media. With this knowledge, you can find ways for your content to stand out. For example, if your competitor shares a lot of their content on Facebook, but none on LinkedIn, creating content for LinkedIn may be a way to win over some of their customers.
A great way to perform competitor research is to engage in social listening. Social listening is the act of monitoring competitor social media channels for intel regarding keywords, topics, and other activity. Note that you should also use social listening to audit your own content as well.
Step 7: Promote and distribute your content
Your social media strategy goes beyond what you post on your social channels. Planning and publishing your content is only a small percentage of a successful social media strategy. A good strategy involves finding ways to actively distribute your content so that as many people as possible see it. When you establish a content distribution strategy, you’ll set up your posts to be shared more widely.
If you actively blog, include share buttons on your posts so your audience can distribute your content to their followers (like the ones you see at the top of this post!).
You can also encourage your audience to engage with your content by asking a question and encouraging them to share their answers, on social media or in the comments section of a blog post.
Other people sharing your content is excellent social proof as well. Your social media content strategy should include responding to or reposting people who share your content.
There are social media tools, like Sprout’s scheduling feature, that make content distribution a no-brainer.
Recognizing when your audience is active and sharing posts at the right time will help you reach more people. If you’re only posting on social media the minute content goes live, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity for optimizing your reach.
Individual social media platforms have their own ways to help you maximize reach as well. On platforms like Twitter and Instagram, utilizing hashtags is a great way to distribute your content further. Hashtags help you reach people who not only follow you but are following a specific trend or interest. On LinkedIn and Facebook, join groups related to your industry and share content when it relates to the conversation.
Another good distribution strategy involves networking with bloggers and content creators in your niche. Other brands are more likely to share your content with their audience if you have a relationship and will return the favor. Just remember that anything you share with your audience should still be valuable to them and relate to your brand.
Step 8: Establish your most important metrics and KPIs
No matter what you’re selling, your social media strategy should be data-driven.
That means focusing on the social media metrics that matter. Rather than focus on vanity metrics, brands are tasked with digging into data that aligns directly with their goals.
What metrics are we talking about, though? Check out the breakdown below:
- Reach. Post reach is the number of unique users who saw your post. How far is your content actually reaching users’ feeds?
- Clicks. This is the number of clicks on your content or account. Tracking clicks per campaign is essential to understand what drives curiosity or encourage people to buy.
- Engagement. The total number of social interactions divided by the number of impressions. This sheds light on how well your audience perceives you and their willingness to interact.
- Hashtag performance. What were your most-used hashtags? Which hashtags were most associated with your brand? Having these answers can help shape the focus of your content going forward.
- Organic and paid likes: Beyond a standard Like count, these interactions are attributed to paid or organic content. Given how organic engagement is much harder to gain traction, which is why many brands turn to ads. Knowing these differences can help you budget both your ad spend and the time you invest in different formats.
- Sentiment. This is the measurement of how users reacted to your content, brand or hashtag. Did customers find your recent campaign offensive? What type of sentiment are people associating with your campaign hashtag? It’s always better to dig deeper and find out how people are talking about your brand.
An effective social media marketing strategy is rooted in numbers. That said, those numbers need to be put into a context that circles back around to your original goals.
Conclusion – Social Media Content Strategy
Effectively planning a social media content strategy is an ongoing cycle, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Plan out your process with the ideas above and stick to these essential steps to develop content planning that puts a strategic approach first.
How do you manage your social media content? Let us know your favorite tips in the comments!