Chances are that, even as a beginner, you already know that social media is something your brand should be doing. The real question in your mind is “How?”
Whether your brand is already blasting out content from 20 different channels or has overdue plans to do so, you need to know if your efforts are going to be successful. You don't have to be a marketing mastermind to be able to create stellar social content. You just need a little creativity and a solid foundation in the basics.
It starts with knowing the process, inserting your company's unique story into it, and mobilizing an online community to share engaging conversations around your brand.
Understanding the Process of Social Media Content Creation
The one thing you don't want to be without when it comes to producing quality content is a plan.
Having a plan in place, from the brainstorming phase to measuring results, is crucial to your social media success. Your plan is essentially your social media content strategy—or the guidelines that outline the goals, creation, and delivery of your content. Your strategy can be as detailed as you'd like, but it should at least include the four essential steps.
1. Decide What You Want to Accomplish
What are your goals for creating content on social media? Are they to drive people to your website? Build a community? Go viral? You and your company's leadership team first need to identify what you're trying to accomplish with each and every post. Typical content goals include:
- Growing brand awareness
- Driving customers to your website
- Connecting with followers
- Increasing engagement
- Boosting sales
After you choose specific goals for your social media content, you then need to plan for how you will measure your goals. Luckily, most social media channels give you access to data that analyze these key performance indicators for you.
Say, for example, one of your goals for Facebook is to increase brand awareness. Use Facebook's Insights tool to track page views and post reach to assess your efforts.
Or maybe you're using Twitter to engage with your audience. Twitter Analytics measures retweets, mentions, and more. And they even let you glimpse the type of user that is engaging with your content through demographic data.
Having the numbers at your fingertips makes tracking your content's performance easier, so spend the time looking into analytics tools that work for you.
2. Research Where You'll Accomplish Your Goals
Answering the where is just as important as answering the what when it comes to your social media content. The channels you choose to publish to will determine the type of content you'll be delivering and the type of user who will most likely be receiving it.
Facebook, for instance, continues to be popular among adults: 69% of them say they use the platform, according to the Pew Research Center. Meanwhile, 60% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 and 24.
Does your brand appeal to a certain age group or demographic? Are your products or services best relayed through photos, videos, or blog posts? How many people on your team will be contributing content to your channels? All of these questions will help you choose channels that are right for your content capabilities.
3. Plan Your Content and Your Schedule
It's time for the main event of the process—creating your content plan.
This is where you hash out what types of content you'll be producing, who will be producing them, who will be delivering them, when and how often you'll be posting and measuring results, and more. Your social media content plan will be the detailed approach you'll live by when it comes to crafting each post.
But the devil is in the details, right? So you need a way to stay organized. Using a free content calendar, like those from Compose.ly, gives you an at-a-glance view of the types and quantities of content you have scheduled.
There are several templates you can find online, or you can build your own content calendar to fit your needs.
4. Evaluate Your Efforts
This is where your KPIs come back into play to reveal what's working and what needs a new approach. Keep track of your metrics, analyze how they're making an impact on your goals, and adjust them as needed. Sprout Social has a popular solution to analytics tracking (not to mention an awesome publishing platform) where most of this can be done for you.
But when it comes time to tweak, the best place to look for answers is with your own followers. Post a poll or a question asking fans what they want to see more from your channel. Then deliver it to them. Simple and done.
Getting to the Heart of Your Social Media Content
Understanding the general framework of social media content marketing is one thing, but now you have to bring that content to life.
How will you stand out from your competitors? What will make someone click that subscribe button? Your story will make the difference.
Know Your Brand
Sure, you have the mission statement down. You know your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. But now you have to translate all of that into a story that can be shared on social media.
Start with an outline for your narrative. What's the underlying tone of your brand's message? Maybe you'll use humor, irony, wit, sass, or cool professionalism in the language of your posts.
See if there is a way to incorporate your tagline into a memorable hashtag. Decide what you will be talking about other than your products and services.
Show Your Brand
Next, fill in the gaps. Your story writes your social media content, but visuals bring it to life. Posts with images earn 94% more views than those without, and users recall visual content 55% better than textual content after three days, as reported by Finances Online.
Whether it's through images, infographics, videos, or memes, you have to be able to illustrate your story. Let's look at how makeup company Urban Decay does this on Instagram.
Unlike the flowery pink glam shots of most of its competitors, Urban Decay maintains an edge in photos that reflects its brand. It's a look that even their hashtag defends and perhaps defines best: #prettydifferent.
Creating a Conversation
The last element to creating social content is realizing that you're not the only one in charge here. Your audience has just as much power as you do when it comes to posting, discussing, and steering the conversation around your brand. Sound exciting? Terrifying?
It can be both.
Your best bet will be to go into this conversation enthusiastically with an open mind, an honest approach, and a contingency plan in your back pocket—just in case.
Shape Your Content before You Post
If you want to remain the driver, lead your audience down a path when you post. You can ask a question, encourage likes and shares, or give them an easy reason to smile. Look at your content critically before publishing to see if there are any potential flaws in the language or meaning.
And when something's up—a company-wide shipping delay, a website crash—be the first to address it. Your audience will appreciate the transparency.
Respond, Respond, Respond
People like to know when they're heard.
It's a given that you'll respond to questions and concerns that pop up on your channels, but there's a trick for acknowledging your audience and boosting your content's engagement at the same time.
Respond to the comments that don't ask a question. It's a little thrill to get a mention back from your favorite brand when you're not expecting it, and it drives other followers to comment in the hopes of receiving a response too.
Embrace User-Generated Content
User-generated content is one of the biggest content trends to watch out for this year, and a powerful one.
User-generated content can be a post, photo, video, review, or other piece of content that a customer creates around your brand. This type of content gives potential customers a look into your product that they may trust more than your landing page.
And fans are happy to create it. Nielsen recently reported that 29% of "heavy users"—those who use social media 3 or more hours a day—consider it very important to support their favorite brands.
But how do you encourage user-generated content? Contests are a huge incentive. Take a look at the success GoPro had with its million-dollar challenge.
In one fell swoop, they solicited 42,000 pieces of content from their followers—content that winners will be more than happy to share and promote.
Plan Your Strategy
Creating content as a beginner to social media isn't difficult. All it takes is a working knowledge of the process, a plan that crafts engaging content that tells your story, and an energy that sparks discussions around your brand.
Ready to take your content prowess to the next level? Check out our guide to social media content curation.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Andrea Tharp.