So, you’ve got yourself a nice social media presence, with a good number of connections and conversations, but you’re starting to feel the squeeze a bit….It’s a common problem, but one that we don’t necessarily think of when we launch ourselves off the social media diving board. And that problem is …. Content!
Now we’re all set up, what on earth are we going to put out there on the social platforms?
Well, fear not – by the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll come to realize that what you thought was a problem actually isn’t, as you have access to an infinite resource.
1. What’s your plan?
To make life easy, make sure you’re keeping on track and to be uber-effective, the best thing you can possibly do is to spend some time planning what content you are going to share where and when. Doing this means you’ll never again have that last minute panic, knowing you should add something to your Facebook page, but having no idea what to post!
2. Who is your audience?
Before you can plan what to share, you need to know who your desired audience is – what kinds of people, what age, gender, physical location, what interests, issues and concerns they have, what motivates them and how can you help them? Only when you really get under their skin and can speak to them almost individually in your head, will you be able to truly tell what will resonate with them.
3. What social networks will you use?
Think about what networks you are planning to use, based on where your ideal audience hangs out. The type of content you need will differ depending on environment and strategy. Twitter requires short, catchy headlines, even if accompanied by a link to a longer article. Facebook success is generally down to encouraging engagement (ie. Response) by asking questions to provoke discussion, and posting eye-catching photos/ graphics or videos with that special something. LinkedIn requires the sharing of professional information, crafted differently to suit either a personal status update, Company Page update, or a share in a group discussion. Make sure you have thought through a strategy which specifies the type and format of content to be shared.
You will also need to think about language and tone. To be the most effective you can, try to mirror the tone and language used by your target audience. If you’re selling fashion to teenagers for example, don’t write as if you’re targeting accountants and lawyers and vice-versa. Your tone and language will jar and therefore be excluded from the radar of the very people you’re hoping to connect with if you don’t include this vital step in your preparation of content.
4. What is your approach?
Then think about how you can provide a novel approach on social media around what your business offers and you ideal customers wants, needs and will find interesting, useful or challenging. Start to write a description of what your social media presence will offer – a different facet of the same business on each social media channel would be perfect.
So say, for example, you run a hotel and you are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube the you might share information about how to plan and run the perfect business event on LinkedIn, complemented by tips about where to visit in the area on Twitter, with a focus on wedding s on Facebook and having boards that collate and collect all these different facets on Pinterest. YouTube could host video testimonials, videos from events, film of the local area, of food being prepared in the kitchen and much., much more. What will the equivalent be for your business?
5. What have you got?
You now have the rudiments of a plan AND the brief for the information required. Now it’s time to go out and find it.
Start with what you’ve undoubtedly got, but may not realize.
Run a mini-audit of all the stuff your business has produced over the past 1-2 years- think website copy, brochures, marketing flyers, advertorials, scripts for videos, interviews, and the rest. Most of these can be broken down to provide great material to share on social media. Think short, snappy soundbites though rather than corporate, jargon-filled paragraphs. What will your audience find really useful, given what you know of what challenges you help them withj.
Next, think of all the knowledge and experience you have accumulated over the months and years. How can this be broken down into tips, questions to start discussions and challenge? Personally, I share #socialmediasecrets every lunchtime on Twitter, which are always well-received. Here. consistency is key – people start to look out for quality daily updates that they know will help them with a particular problem or challenge.
6. What are other great sources?
Great content isn’t all about you and your business though – you need to share quality content from other sources too. In fact, at least 80% of the content shared should be information based, rather than about sales and promotions within your business. So make sure you hunt down fantastic stuff that other people have written/ photographed or filmed to share with your audience. In reality, on social media you are both a creator and a curator – ie you create your own content to share and you curate (ie collect) and filter the good content that’s out there that you know your audience will like/ find helpful/ entertaining/ challenging/ solve a problem for them.
You can find sources of great content not only by googling, but also by reviewing what is being shared and listened to most on Twitter and Facebook by people likely to be your audience. Don’t just go for the obvious though – if you find great blogs or sources of fantastic videos for example, check out who else’s work they recommend. Also try researching what’s hot in your sector on Pinterest or industry-specific forums. These will also give you an endless source of frequently-asked questions that you can gear your content – both original and shared- towards answering. Blog posts that are directed at solving your customer’s problems or supporting their aspirations will always be well-received.
7. Is it working?
You’ll be able to tell what hits the spot by the individual responses you get on social media to the content you put out there. Re-tweets on twitter and shares on Facebook and LinkedIn are also a good indicator that you’re sharing the right stuff for your audience.
To really keep tabs on it though, make sure you regularly check the number of clicks you get on links, for example, by using Hootsuite analytics, or the number of shares or responses a post on Facebook gets by checking your Insights. Only if you measure and tweak in a methodical way will you know that you’re really providing what your audience wants and needs.
8. How to pull it all together
So, to summarise – know who you are providing content to, know what your strategy is, know what networks you are going to use, know how you can help your target audience, review what you have to offer, find other great stuff out there, then decide what you will share where and when. Monitor the results of what you do and tweak accordingly. It might sound a lot more effort than randomly finding stuff to tweet and post, but you’ll never run out of content this way, you’ll know you’re always sharing quality information that hits the spot and, most importantly, you’re in control, rather than the social media content gods! I promise you, you’ll be glad you did it.
But don’t just take my word for it – try it and see – and let me know what you think by commenting below.
Today’s Micro Action
Content is the fuel that can drive your social media engine and help you turn your efforts into tangible results. Take some time today to jot down some new content ideas and work out how you will incorporate that into your overall strategy.