How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy for Social Media

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Neal Schaffer Headshot

Content is the currency of social media.

As a business, you are at a distinct disadvantage when trying to communicate with people because you aren’t a person.

On the other hand, social media represents the convergence of communication and information. What this means is that social networks that were originally created for personal communication are now becoming a source of information for many. That means that businesses need both communication and content to engage on social media. Fortunately, businesses are rich in content by the nature of providing products and services and helping people and companies. This intellectual property that every business has now needs to be mapped with their social media strategy to create a content marketing strategy that will align with one’s social media operations.

When curating content, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What problems are users searching for to find answers to online and how could you educate them?
  • What are top of mind issues in your industry that you could create research or receive commentary from thought leaders and experts?
  • What tools and insight do you offer to help businesses do their job better and can you use product marketing in a compelling well on social media?

It sounds complex, but it doesn’t have to be. You need to strategically create content as an integral part of your social media marketing strategy.

4 STEPS TO BUILD A CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY

#1 Determine Goals and Objectives

The goals of your content marketing strategy should align with your business goals.

Based on the clients I have worked with, I have seen companies engage in social with a wide variety of objectives:

Increased Income

  • Lead Generation
  • Building Brand Awareness
  • Customer Retention
  • Web Traffic Generation
  • Event Promotion
  • Grow Your Email List
  • Engage Influencers

Decreased Expenses

  • Social Recruiting
  • Shift from Traditional Marketing
  • Customer Support

Intangible Benefits

  • Finding Business Partners
  • Reputation Management
  • Gather Business Intelligence
  • Empower Advocates
  • Community Education
  • Political Influence
  • Improve Customer Satisfaction

Most companies will have multiple objectives for a social media presence. For each one, it is critical that you define what its measure of success is. Each objective should have accompanying KPIs (key performance indicators) or metrics that will allow you to measure the success of your investment. In order to do so, use the principles of SMART:

  • S – Specific
  • M - Measurable
  • A - Attainable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Time-bounded

#2 Create Buyer Personas

Any social media or content marketing strategy is only as effective as knowing who your audience is and what content interests them. The best way to achieve this is to create buyer personas and identify their needs for which your content will satisfy. The buyer persona is a generalized representation of your ideal or target customer. Define both the topic and style of your content for each persona. Use social media and search engines, customer conversations, and feedback from your customer-facing employees to help create the personas.

Try to create “content buckets” for each of your personas. If you can categorize and map the personas to your library of content, you will be able to measure the ROI of your content marketing in social media on a persona by persona basis. To learn more about this topic, my book Maximize Your Social, contains content to help you efficiently and consistently engage in social media.

#3 Inventory Your Content

It’s now time to look at the content that your company already has by taking inventory of your assets.

A content inventory is both a process and the end result of cataloging all of your websites, as well as any other content your company has that can be repurposed for social media. The content inventory typically includes the text, images, videos, and documentation that you are currently or have previously used.

Now align your content buckets and objectives with the content you have. Can your current inventory help you achieve your goals? Do you have to create content that is more timely and has higher relevance to your audience and to your goals? Do you have enough content that can help you cover each target persona at each stage of the sales funnel?

Finally, you need to ascertain how much of your current content can be repurposed in social media according to your goals and client needs. Take note of gaps where you will need to create new content.

#4 Understand the Different Content Mediums

There are many different types of content that can be used in social networks, but each social network will have limitations on which types of content you can post. Keep this in mind as you look at your content inventory as well as the needs of different social networks so you can find both the sweet spot for repurposing your current content as well as the gaps in content mediums for which you will need to create new content:

Thinking holistically, the following types of content mediums exist in social media:

  • Status Update
  • Link
  • Blog
  • Infographic
  • Meme / Quote
  • Presentation
  • Discussion
  • Photo
  • Video
  • Livestream
  • Slideshow Story
  • User-Generated Content
  • Curated Content

Content in social media has become more and more visual as represented by the “newest” social networks of Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest. For this reason, many companies need to create but often struggle to create what I call a “Visual Voice” to help them share content in visual formats.

EXECUTE

You now need to create a tactical execution plan aligned with your strategy which should be a step-by-step play book. The plan should include:

  • Social networks to post on
  • Frequency of publishing content by content bucket, medium, and social network
  • Content creation schedule

The above will ideally be tied into a Social Media Editorial Calendar to control the successful implementation of your plan.

In today’s noisy social media world, you need to regularly amplify your content using various methods to ensure that you are seen. This can be done by:

  • “Boosting” your content through Paid Social
  • “Leveraging the Other” by identifying and connecting with people (advocate, influencers, partners, and employees) who can help you amplify your content.
  • Curating content” by publishing relevant content coming from people of authority or influencers who are not your competitors to help indirectly attract people to your content.

MEASURE

Your efforts are useless if you can’t measure their success. This is the reason why you need measurable goals in the form of metrics to show the effectiveness and ROI of your strategy.

Here are some of the recommended metrics I use with my clients:

  1. Engagement Metrics: How your audience responds to your content.
  2. Social Sharing Metrics: What content is shared where.
  3. Lead Generation Metrics: What content is generating what types of leads.
  4. Conversion Metrics: If your website has a shopping cart, how has content contributed to your online conversions.
  5. Content Bucket Metrics: How your different categories of content assigned to different personas are performing when compared to each other.
  6. Comparative Metrics: How your content is doing when compared to your competition for engagement, social shares, etc.

Develop a process for measuring, evaluating and reporting to help you always keep your finger on the pulse of your content marketing ROI.

CONCLUSION

Creating a content marketing strategy will be time-consuming, but investing the time now will be your recipe for success in social.

Engaging in social media without a content strategy is like driving at night with no lights. Spend the time now to craft a proper strategy, optimize it as you measure to achieve optimal results and treat it as a dynamic strategy that must change over time as social network users, social media habits and functionality being provided by social networks will always be in flux.


Neal Schaffer is a leading social media strategist, global social media speaker, social media agency CEO, and instructor at the Rutgers University Business School Mini Social Media MBA program.
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