While PPC advertising may bring in hot leads, content marketing is king when it comes to brand awareness and customer engagement. Social media is by far the best platform to deliver content to large audiences because so many people use social media daily.
Sure, you can integrate organic SEO traffic with sales more easily, but there's one caveat. For a large website that enters a competitive niche, it may take up to two years to reach profitability with SEO optimization.
Social media advertising is far more welcoming for small businesses, especially during a recession. You don't need to create a database of hundreds of thousands of keywords, optimize each page, and build thousands of links just to catch up to competitors.
All you need to succeed with social media content marketing is to create a solid strategy and follow it. Here's a guide on how to create a social content strategy for your business and get to your business goals faster.
What is content strategy, and why is it important?
The problem many beginner entrepreneurs face is that they treat their social media efforts like a personal blog. They'll post when they feel like it, and abandon the page for a long period of time when they're busy doing other things.
This approach gets you nowhere. You need to craft a content strategy to stay on top of things. Content strategy allows you to see the bigger picture when you're creating content. It puts things in perspective and makes each piece of content you create feel like a step towards a larger goal, not just another post.
Building great content is not enough to succeed at social media in and of itself. You need to guide your choice of content ideas by business factors. You need to know your audience, know what their preferences are, and know how to use the views you get from great content to get more sales.
Without great content, your social media page won't have any views. Without a great content strategy, it won't produce any sales.
Learning about your audience and setting goals
The very first step in your strategy is learning more about your core audience. Every media is targeted towards a certain type of person.
Most brands can't create content that everybody will like. You need to find out and focus on what your target audience will respond to.
Start by determining the basic demographic information about your audience. How old they are, their job status, interests, etc.
You can find out age, gender, and interests through Google Analytics. And for more detailed information you can launch a survey on your website or send it out to email subscribers.
But even the best content strategy leads nowhere if you're not taking business goals into account.
The two easiest goals you can pick are brand awareness and customer engagement. You can also opt for direct business goals like increasing sales and improving customer retention, which are harder to achieve through social media but are more important to your bottom line.
Whatever social media KPIs and goals you choose, make sure they're very specific and measurable. That means instead of wording your business goal as "achieve an increase in sales," set a specific number of leads, conversions, website visits, or sales that come from social media.
Also, make sure you're setting goals that can be achieved within the timeframe you're aiming for. Setting your team up for unrealistic expectations is going to do nothing but help them burn out.
Social media content strategy
One of the most important things when it comes to the success of your business content strategy on social media is how regularly you post. You need to be putting out amazing content fairly regularly to get noticed.
Creating content when you feel like it won't be effective. You need to come up with ideas for awesome content and create a schedule to post it. You need to craft an editorial calendar that contains curated content to post each day.
Let's have a look at what types of content you may need to include for different social media.
Instagram content strategy
If you know your audience pretty well but still can't figure out what you can post to get their attention, take inspiration from your competitors.
Food photography is big on Instagram, but what if food photography isn't the type of content you can post for your business? Fashion is another leading industry on the platform, with luxury brands like Victoria's Secret and Chanel amassing millions of followers.
But you can learn from smaller brands, too, like Everlane, which has built up a large Instagram following by using several different kinds of posts like carousels and regular photos featuring their clothing in a variety of settings.
Since Instagram is used by younger audiences, you can allow yourself to be less formal with your branding.
Browse social media to find inspiration, or better yet, try a content inspiration tool that does the work for you.
Also, according to the latest social media trends report, marketers now post stories more often than regular feed posts. So it's important to have a stories strategy in addition to your regular posts, because stories allow you to keep in contact more often with your audience.
Facebook content strategy
What content should you post on Facebook? The answer to that question depends largely on your brand and on your audience. However, there are a couple of trends that should definitely make it to your editorial calendar.
Facebook audiences are very engaged with video posted on the platform, so if you want to get the most out of your Facebook content marketing efforts, you need to post compelling video content. While it's possible to accomplish this with a phone, brands need to consider investing more in video production.
An example of this, from Gillette, shows snappy content that's tied directly to their broader partnership with the NFL, which they know is popular with their audience.
Always look for your audience's interests and incorporate them into your content. Also, don't forget to engage with your audience, because even small gestures such as liking a positive comment help.
Another content trend popular on Facebook that rarely appears on Instagram is the quiz. Facebook audiences love taking quizzes in their free time, so you follow Zippo's example and create quizzes that appeal to your audience.
LinkedIn content strategy
What if you run a B2B company and recreational content on Facebook and Instagram isn't going to attract your target audience? You can talk to people who may buy from you on LinkedIn.
Apart from sharing your experience on blogs, there's another important thing you should do. Let your readers have a look at what you're doing at the moment and share some inside info.
Another great thing that you can do on LinkedIn is hold virtual events. While your reach may be smaller than on Facebook, it's often the quality that matters, not quantity, and LinkedIn is great for livestreams or webinars.
If you're talking about something important for your audience, LinkedIn offers a great chance to get a lot more qualified leads than other platforms.
Automate, promote, and analyze
Automating your social media content strategy is extremely important, especially if you're on a small budget. Logging into different business accounts and posting manually may take time that can be used for more important things.
Create content beforehand and use a social media scheduler to post it at the right time to get the best engagement. To go further into automation, develop a chatbot to answer basic requests in the DMs and reply to comments under your posts.
For content pieces that perform especially well, boost them with paid advertising. Some marketers tend to boost lower-performing posts with paid to get them all up to the same level, but Socialbakers data shows that this is the wrong strategy.
Working with influencers is one of the most important elements of getting your brand to reach more people. For lesser-known brands, start working with micro-influencers who reach audiences of under 20,000 people to boost your follower count rather cheaply.
The best thing about influencer marketing is that it's more authentic. Jeff Raymond from Essay Tigers points out that consumers these days can spot conventional advertising from a mile away. An endorsement from someone they trust is way more effective in building brand loyalty and increasing sales.
Do you think your industry doesn't have any influencers on Facebook or Instagram? The odds are you're wrong. Even the construction industry has a major influencer.
Throughout the process, it's always important to gather analytics on how your content is performing to see whether your original plan needs to be altered. Look at what content pieces achieved your goals, whether it's engagement, reach, conversions, or other social media metrics that really matter, and assess how to give your audience more of the same.
Monitor your performance, A/B test, and improve constantly. That's how you make your social media content strategy spot on.
While it's important to have different strategies for different platforms, some things are true for all of them. That includes the need to understand your audience and give them what they want, not what you think they want.
That requires plenty of analysis and the willingness to admit when your strategy may have been wrong. And don't forget, it's always OK to be wrong, as long as you're willing to learn from it and use the data to improve your social media content strategy in the future.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.