Why your social media needs a content strategy
There’s something that clearly links all the rock stars of social media. That’s right, everyone from Kim Kardashian and Zoella to Nike and Dove have one very important thing in common: flawless marketing strategies.
Comprehensive strategies are not just the backbone of social media, they are its everything. Without a strategy you are simply the owner of a page, a user rather than an influencer.
The importance of social media strategy shouldn’t be too surprising – it’s what you would expect from any other marketing channel. So why do so many companies struggle to correctly structure and fully utilise the power of social media?
In this article we are going to investigate exactly what social media is and how content marketing strategy defines it.
What exactly is social media?
Social media is a place where people from all over the world go to share and consume information that interests them. Users are not there to work or be advertised to, they are there to enjoy themselves.
As a result, if your brand is not providing something interesting, people will not engage with it – it’s that straightforward.
For businesses, social media is the perfect vehicle for communicating and distributing interesting stories. Doing this successfully can generate brand awareness, enhanced customer service, relationship building and important outcomes like leads and conversions.
However, these stories take effort, careful planning and skillful construction. They are not just dreamed up as people post them. That would be like turning up to an important speech in front of your perfect customer base and simply saying whatever came into your head.
Within marketing social media is best considered as an amplification platform. The most engaging posts consist of content, be that videos, images or articles, which are entertaining and or useful. Social media is merely the channel through which you can get this content to people.
Bottom Line: The key to social media success is a powerful content marketing strategy.
Where does content marketing strategy fit in?
Your content strategy is how you develop the stories intended to engage people on social media. It’s where you ask the big questions about who you want to reach, what you want to tell them and how you are going to get their attention.
That said, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a seperate and robust social media strategy. There will inevitably be things you need to plan which exclusively relate to promoting on these platforms (specifically, when to post). Yet the social strategy should be created after the content marketing strategy, and build from it.
How should you connect the two?
Integrating your social media with content strategy can be more challenging than expected. This is especially the case if you have different teams heading up different activities. So how can you be sure to create a seamlessly integrated experience?
Get the basics in line
There are four elements that should unite your content and social strategies:
- Target audience/buyer persona.
- Editorial plan.
- Objectives and overall goals.
- Product, including the value proposition.
Knowing your audience back to front is the basis of any marketing strategy and it’s no different for content and social media.
The best way to begin this process is to start with broader company buyer personas. Using these as basic templates you will then want to expand them to specifically apply to those who you want to consume your content.
Note that including details such as what social media platforms these people prefer and how often they are online will be very useful for developing your social media strategy.
The editorial plan refers to the creation of a content plan that will guide what you will be creating, as well as when and how you intend to distribute it. This ensures that all of your content channels are regularly producing quality content that coincides with broader brand themes.
A great way to do this is to plan out content themes and topic areas up to a year in advance. You could do this by working out what areas you want to hit on each quarter and brainstorming article titles, videos or infographics that would be relevant.
Remember that your editorial plan should always have a clear link to your overall goals and wider business objectives.
3.Objectives and overall goals
Your content – and correspondingly your social strategy – will have similar overall functions to your marketing strategy. They should also align with the goals of the business at large.
This does mean you will need to translate large (often nonspecific) business goals into specialised, measurable social media aims. This can be done by taking it one step at a time:
- Look at how your business goals translate into marketing objectives.
- Move these into content goals.
- Translate this into the specific social media equivalent.
This may seem like a long process but it ensures that you have consistency throughout your process. It also means that your social media campaign is achieving measurable results which prove their value to the business at large.
Having a seamless value proposition is essential to success across the scope of your content. Without this potential buyers will be presented with conflicting messages which will likely lead to them discount your brand altogether.
For example if some content markets a brand of soap towards young parents because of its soft, baby-friendly feel, this message would be muddied by other content suggesting the soap should be used in sterile industrial environments because of its tough antiseptic properties.
Creating your social media strategy
As you have probably fathomed by now, content marketing strategies are essential, but that doesn’t mean you can avoid making a specialised social media strategy. So how exactly should you go about making one?
Answer the why
Similar to determining your goals, first consider why you want to be on social media. This should take you right down to the nitty gritty of exactly what you want to achieve through this platform.
Note that answers like ‘because all my competitors are on social media’ are not good enough. Hitting up social media sends a clear brand message, so if you are going to do it, do it well. There are few things more embarrassing than having less than 10 followers.
Bottom Line: The why should also directly lead into the how..
Remember your specific target audience
Marketing is all about target audience. Though we have already given you some explanation about target audience, it’s worth reestablishing how important it is to brainstorm this specifically in relation to social media. This should determine almost everything about your strategy, from what you post to when and where.
What will you post?
This means taking your editorial plan and making it specific to social media. You can consider whether you are going to create social media specific content, such as Instagram photos, Facebook quizzes or Tweets. Equally you could consider sharing other business’ content in order to amplify them.
When will you post it?
This hinges almost entirely on the preferences of your target audience. It’s all very well finding the best times to get a mass audience, but unless your target audience is there too, all the eyeballs are a waste of time. For example sports fans are likely to be online around games or events and young travellers may be in odd time zones.
Where will you post it?
Again the basic answer here is: where is your target audience? Sometimes this will be a fairly straightforward decision. For example for B2B firms Linkedin is natural choice. But don’t be afraid to really think outside the box here and do some quality research to make sure you are right. When making this decision you should also be thinking about what type of content you are going to be sharing and where it may be best suited.