What’s your social media content strategy? Is it turning heads? Is it helping your business get results? Is your marketing strategy on these social media channels help you get closer to your business goals?
You understand the importance of having a social media presence today. But simply posting a couple new blogs each week on social networks does little to actually build a following. Retweeting some interesting industry news may give you a bump in impressions. But are you really building a brand or engaging people?
You need a social media marketing strategy and consistent implementation to do that. Let’s explore 11 simple steps you can take now to develop this kind of marketing plan and execute it.
Social media is constantly changing. That piece of content may have worked just a few years ago and could completely flop in the current social media landscape.
New social media trends emerge.
Consumer behavior changes. People grow tired of overused trends. What’s at the core continues to work, for example, video will never go out of style. But how you use it to engage people may change a lot.
Case in point, in 2018 Facebook made a huge change in their news feed. After recent concerns over how social media was used to influence people, founder Zuckerberg promised to put Facebook’s focus back on friends and family.
This meant news and marketing content would be less visible in the feeds of people who follow you. Many businesses have seen their organic social media metrics drop as a result.
This isn’t new. It’s been going on for years. But, for many, 2018 made it even harder for businesses without effective strategies to use Facebook as an effective marketing tool.
In this chart, the line represents the 2018 Facebook reach decline experienced.
While this looks bleak, many have adapted. They’ve developed a social media content strategy similar to the ones we’ll discuss. While those with more passive share strategies have seen their reach shrink, others have seen it increase because they adapted.
We’re not just giving you a social media plan that’s good for today and gone tomorrow. This head-turning social media content strategy is about sustainability. Get results now and long-term.
It all starts with knowing who you want to engage.
2. Get Clear on Your Audience
In professional sports, what’s the difference between a “fair weather” fan and a “die-hard” fan?
Fair weather fans are fans of a team when they’re winning. They’ll be there when that team is being talked about by everyone. They want to be in on the action. If the team has a good underdog story, they may jump on board to say they were right when that team overcomes the odds.
You know the kind.
But the fair-weather fan isn’t there for the in-between times. They may not be engaged during the draft, training camp or off-season. They’re not as connected to the players and their stories.
Fair weather fans may help you fill-up the stadium seats today. But when another team comes along that looks interesting, they’re gone. Those seats are empty.
You need something more lasting to get results with social media. Fill your stadium with your most likely customers. It may take a little bit longer. But as revenues increase year over year, it becomes clear that it’s worth it.
Your target audience isn’t every person who might possibly buy your product or service. They’re your most likely customers. They’re the people that are likely to keep coming back. They keep buying more. They share your brand with others and give you referrals.
How do you know who your target customers are? The answer is data. Whenever possible use real customer data to determine who your target is and create a buyer persona.
Find things out like:
- Basic demographics (gender, age, education level, etc.)
- What are their pain points?
- What are their goals?
- Who/What do they trust as a source of information? (e.g., HubSpot, New York Times, Kylie Jenner or Neil Patel?)
- How do they buy?
- What technologies do they use?
- Where do they spend time on social media?
- How do they speak with their peers?
Gathering this information helps you begin to see the patterns in your client base. They may be invisible to you now if you’re not trying to gather this kind of information.
Write these similarities out into distinct buyer personas. As you create various types of content and build out your profile, every word, visual content, video, and strategy should have this person (or a handful of people) in mind.
3. Post Consistently
Ever had a “sort of” friend who you haven’t heard from in a while? Maybe you spent a lot of time together over the summer when you were younger or during a difficult time. But when you stopped hearing from them, they simply left your mind. It’s like they no longer exist.
Out of sight out of mind.
On social media, it’s about 100 times that. People are constantly encountering media. They experience many competing messages. If they’re not hearing from you, then they forget about you.
Now, this may simply sound like it has to do with frequency. Should you be posting every 17 minutes day and night as some recommend on Twitter?
Probably not. A basic frequency should be maintained, and this varies by platform. But more important than that is when you are posting. When you post at the same times of day, same days of the week, something happens:
- The same people are more likely to see your posts again and again
- People begin to anticipate your posts
- You convey a sense of reliability and regularity
- You seem more organized
- You appear to be acting with purpose
- People know that if they share, their friends will experience the same consistency
People can get behind a brand that has their act together. Now, comes the fun part.
You’ll want to post when you get the most engagement. You may not know when that is in the beginning. You can find studies and opinions about this. These give you a starting point. But then you need to optimize.
Do this by starting out with a greater frequency. Then view your analytics to determine which are the best times to post your content.
Create your editorial calendar for your content creation, set a clear publishing schedule, and don’t wait until the last minute to create the needed content. A great content marketing strategy plans ahead. Then, schedule your posts so they always go out at the right time.
And finally, if you are just starting out, it is best to focus first on two to three social media platforms. Choose from top performing social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. And why should you do that? It’s because managing more than three social media accounts can divide your attention thus making it longer for you to become an authority. As we’ve mentioned earlier, determine your target audience and check which social media platform they use most of the time. Then you can start from there.
Social media can be brutal. Just ask some of the many people who’ve been completely criticized or even fired for saying or sharing the wrong thing. It only takes one click to unfollow someone if content isn’t up to standards.
While consistency is important, quality is essential. The content you create and share represents your brand, and ultimately help you achieve your social media goals.
A poor quality video can quickly become a viral meme that negatively impacts your company. Dark or blurry Instagram photos do not delight people or make them want to follow your brand.
Have a plan- a social media content calendar to be specific. Put the people and systems in place to deliver consistent, quality content. Set goals have quality control and digital marketing analytics to review content performance on the backend.
Lack of consistency and lack of quality are the top two reasons so many social media strategies fail to deliver an ROI. If you don’t have those people and systems in place to deliver content quality, then it’s definitely time to consider hiring a social media management company to do this for you.
Now that we’ve covered the bedrock of a social media content strategy, let’s look at some of the head-turning elements you’ll integrate into it to get results.
5. Use More Video
45% of people now watch at least an hour of social media videos a week. The average Facebook video is 10-30 seconds. That’s a lot of videos!
82% of Twitter-users say that videos are the primary reason they go there. 92% of people share videos with others.
Are these videos from your friend’s vacation? Are these videos of your nephew taking his first steps? Some of them. But the vast majority of the videos a person watches are branded content.
Videos should be part of your social media content strategy. People not only engage with them. Videos can be directly tied to increased revenues for businesses.
51% of professional marketers say that video delivers the highest ROI of any social media content ideas. Marketers who use video as part of their social media content strategy can grow revenues 49% faster than those who don’t. 64% of people buy something from a brand after watching their video.
Video content gets results.
But what strategies should you apply to see this kind of ROI? Impactful videos:
- Tell a story. While many types of stories are impactful, hero stories are particularly so. Create a video of a customer overcoming something as a result of your product. Harvard researchers found that people release endorphins (happy hormones) when we see a “hero story”. This generates good feelings about your brand.
- Get the right equipment. You may be able to take some videos on your iPhone. But to pick up sound, it needs an external mic. You need proper lighting. Editing software gets you to a finished product.
- Align the video with the platform. Different platforms display videos in different ways. If the video will display with black on the sides, you may need to edit it. Or shoot it in landscape or portrait from the start to match the platform.
- Use subtitles. 85% of social media videos are watched with the sound off. People are at work, a restaurant or out where they may not want unexpected audio. If they like what they see, they’ll turn the volume up. You need audio. But for most videos subtitles are very important.
Look at this! Just a few more reasons videos deliver results, courtesy of Visually.
Those in e-commerce will really like that last one.
6. Try Live Video; You’ll Like It
It’s natural to be a little wary of live video. But people love live video. It feels authentic. It makes brands seem more vulnerable and therefore approachable.
You get all of the benefits of video listed above plus the ability to interact with people in real time.
Consider these effective pro tips for live videos:
- Set up a live Q&A. Allow people to submit questions via social media. Answer them in real time.
- Turn it into customer support. Live video can be used for 1-1 customer help sessions.
- Make a special announcement. Those watching the video are the first to know. Generate hype around the announcement through short teaser videos or other posts. Get people talking and start a social media storm during the live video. Introduce a new executive. Reveal a new product. Announce a new store opening. Pick an event and go live with it.
- Interview an industry expert or influencer. Network to earn a 10-, 20-, or 30- minute live interview with someone connected to your industry who has some influence. This might be a local business person, online personality, an athlete or artist.
- Live stream events. Do you have a charity concert, auction, customer appreciation day or other notable event going on? Livestream it for those who couldn’t attend in person. It won’t be the same. So the people who can be there will be there.
Tips to successfully integrating live video into your social media content strategy include:
- Start with a plan. Unless you’re a master at improvising. It’s rarely a good idea to just start “rolling”.
- Don’t overproduce it. Live videos are not supposed to look polished and edited. That’s what people like about it. It’s real.
- Be a risk taker. Sometimes things won’t go as planned during live video. Try to roll with the punches and have fun with it. Being too organized or over-prepping your team for a live video will often make things awkward. The audience will feel it.
- Use streaming to start conversations. The goal of live video is to get people talking about it in real time. This gives you momentum. Have one or more people ready to engage with people online to generate buzz and keep the momentum going.
7. Prioritize Customer Engagement
There are two kinds of engagement on social media. There’s the engagement that you get from customers when you share something. Those are the likes, loves, upvotes, shares and comments.
Then there’s the engagement they get from you. That part is often more complicated for businesses. It’s being social part of social media that escapes understanding. But how you interact with people on social media determines how they engage with you.
In order to earn customer engagement,
- Respond to comments. If the comment is very basic (e.g. great article), then a “Thank you. We’re glad you enjoyed it” is the minimum required. If the person took some time to craft a thoughtful comment, a more meaningful and personalized response is in order. Show that you’re listening. You’re engaged. You’ll get more engagement.
- Show don’t tell. Don’t tell people about your products, services and blog articles. Show them through descriptive language that sounds like it’s coming from a peer, not a business. “Check out our latest article” “See our new product line”. No. “Could this be the answer to sore feet in retail?” “This hack makes you 10X more productive.”
- Use stunning visuals. People consume the bulk of content’s message through that first image they see. If using stock images, make sure they say something related to your post. Or create custom images. It’s not that hard with the right software.
- Share others’ work. Be on the lookout for mentions. Share them when it makes sense to do so. If fans are creating content (memes, infographics, tagging, videos, etc.) around your products, share it. If an industry expert non-competitor shares something, share it. This shows that it’s not all about you. You’re here to engage with people.
- Answer questions/complaints promptly. Over 47% of complaints now go through social media messaging. People expect businesses to answer questions and complaints through social media promptly. If you’re not reviewing and responding to messages within at least 24 hours, you’re not engaged. Your customers and followers won’t be engaged either.
Even engagement should be part of your social media content strategy.
Contests are one of the best ways to engage people on social media. A well-designed contest can increase your visibility online 10X or more. It can generate high-quality leads for your company. It can even help you make quick sales if they need to buy a product they don’t already have to participate.
Knowing what your goal for the contest is will help you design a contest to meet that goal. Let’s look at some goals and the type of contest that helps you reach it.
Ask customers or potential ones to create and share content around your brand. Give them:
- A theme
- Basic rules
- Unique hashtag to use
Then let the creativity take over. Offer a prize that your target audience will really appreciate.
Search for that tag. Find your winner. Announce the winner.
Why are contests like this so effective to build brand awareness? Your customer becomes your mouthpiece. They share their experiences with your brand, with their friends and family. Many of these people will also be your target customer.
If you currently have very few followers, use social media ads to target an audience with the contest.
Make a video and attach a lead generation form. Offer a chance to win in exchange for contact information. Once you have a lead, begin nurturing that lead with an email newsletter, email offers, or other highly relevant content.
9. Get Interactive
GlobalWebIndex surveyed 72,000 social media users across age ranges. They wanted to know why people use social media.
They found that the #3 reason people use social media is to fill up spare time. And #8 is to share their opinion. While #6 is to find entertaining content. When you align your social media content strategy with the top reasons people are on social media, that’s when you get real results.
Interactive content aligns with all 3 of these top 10 reasons. Interactive content gives people an opportunity to actively participate with others.
It’s so easy to create quizzes, polls, and surveys. Not only do people love to interact. They love seeing the results and sharing them with others. You can even build blog content and videos around poll findings.
There’s a reason we see so many personality quizzes, IQ tests, and pop culture interactive content. People just keep taking them. And everyone’s a little different. Find ways to incorporate your brand into the content
10. Humanize Your Brand
Sprout Social found something interesting during a social media survey. 70% of people feel that social media creates brand transparency. It makes brands more accountable.
As a business, you can either run from this. Or you can embrace it by:
- Showing people who you are
- Being more relatable
- Sharing how you do things
- Being more transparent
- Be willing to put yourself out there even if you make mistakes sometimes
- Being more human
From a consumer psychology standpoint, it’s hard for people to love a business. But they can love a business that seems more like a person.
Love her or hate her, Flo from Progressive was very humanizing for a brand that before was thought of in an impersonal way. Similarly, you might think of the Geico Gecko.
In the way that brand mascots give a human-like face to a brand, developing a brand personality makes your brand seem more human.
When using a digital marketing strategy, you can humanize your brand by:
- Sharing your vision. Google’s vision is very admirable and relatable “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. What user of Google doesn’t want to see them succeed at that? If you have a vision that customers can relate to, share what that is and build a social media content strategy around it.
- Having a personality. Most consumers can’t relate to brands that seem academic, buttoned-up or even snooty. They relate to brands that approach them like a peer, a knowledgeable big brother or someone like them who’s been through what they have and has overcome it. Find your personality and consistently apply it to humanize your brand.
- Focusing on the employees. Gillette most notably applied this principle. As cheaper mail order razor companies like Dollar Shave Club began to take market share, Gillette switched focus from speaking about its razors to shining the light on the blue collar, U.S. factory workers making the razors – something companies who are getting their blades made overseas can’t do. Employees humanize your brand.
- Focusing on customers. Find every opportunity to share the content of customers who are using your products. Because these are not solicited or commercials, they feel very real. And it encourages more people to share your brand.
Can you build a social media presence without any paid advertising? You can. But it takes a lot more work. And it takes months to years longer to build what you could with a relatively small social media advertising investment.
If you want a head-turning social media presence, you need social proof. When people see that others follow, like and share your brand, they also want to check it out. Advertising helps generate this, especially in the beginning when you don’t have many followers.
It’s hard to gain traction with 500-1,000 followers, especially when they’re not that engaged.
Paid social media advertising helps you get your social media content in front of the right people, your likely customers.
Use advertising to complement your social media marketing and get the most out of your social media content strategy.
- Boost posts. If you have a post that got some good engagement, pay to have other people see it. Earn new fans and drive traffic to your page.
- Run a like campaign. A like campaign is one of the most misunderstood campaign types. No, it’s not to get more likes. A like campaign shows content that has been liked by the friends of the person who liked it. This is more social proof that makes the friends want to check you out.
- Social media ads. You have so many options with social media ads today. Choose carousel style to showcase products or tell a story. Use video ads to get attention and earn engagement. Whatever ad type you choose, remember to target your ideal customer and align the ad with that customer.
It’s time to get to it. Apply these elements to not only turn heads. Increase revenues and maximize profits.
Are you getting the most out of your social media content strategy? We can help you take it to the next level and grow your business. Contact us today to get started.