Social media provides the ultimate platform for building connections and exerting influence. If you have a message worth sharing and the desire to build a digital audience, you may have a promising future in social media content marketing.
Don’t confuse the role of social content creator with the role of an influencer, though. As much as the two have in common, they should be recognized as separate roles.
Social Media Content Creators vs. Influencers
Influencers are the faces of social media campaigns. They feature prominently in content and play a central role in images and videos. Many are involved in content development, but others leave the actual process of crafting messages to dedicated content creators.
On the other hand, social media creators may only occasionally appear before the camera. However, they're far more invested in the actual process of developing content. Some maintain their own accounts, but many work on behalf of businesses, nonprofits, or other organizations. Most focus on specific niches or audiences.
Social media content marketing can feel overwhelming, especially if your initial efforts fail to produce a dedicated audience. With proper planning and a little personal reflection, though, you can build a powerful digital presence and become a successful social media content creator.
1. Focus on a specific niche.
Whether you create content on behalf of a business or run your own page, it’ll be easier to develop a strong following if you select a niche early on. This will help you capture a dedicated audience. Ideally, your niche will involve a combination of two important elements:
- Your passion and
- Your expertise.
Academic credentials and professional experience inspire trust in your followers, delivering a sense of authority that builds influence. Additionally, expertise means you can reliably delve further into key topics, providing deep insights and solutions rather than surface-level overviews.
Niche experience gives you a valuable start, but it alone won’t make you successful as a social media content creator. Your background doesn’t matter much if you lack passion. Followers can immediately spot a lack of authenticity—and they'll be quick to drop out if they suspect that you don't truly care about the topic at the center of your social media efforts.
One great example of a social media content creator capitalizing on both passion and expertise is The Braces Guy, a popular orthodontist that found fame through social media.
Dr. Grant Collins, the "Braces Guy," puts an entertaining spin on teeth and orthodontics with educational videos and content across multiple channels, including TikTok and Instagram. As a practicing orthodontist, he's clearly an expert—but the enthusiasm displayed in his content clearly demonstrates a passion for the field as well.
2. Research your audience.
You've done some soul-searching and found your niche. Now, it's time to figure out who will actually read your captions or watch your videos. The makeup of your target audience will play a huge role in how you craft updates and where they're ultimately posted.
In many cases, niche and audience follow one another. In many cases, however, a single subject can be treated differently by various audiences. They may fall into disparate demographic categories or hold opposing viewpoints.
If you've already developed a following on social media, use these tools to analyze your existing audience:
- Facebook Audience Insights
- Instagram Insights
- Twitter Analytics
- Buffer Analyze
Platform-specific tools such as Instagram and Twitter Analytics focus on specific sites, while solutions such as Brand24 and Awario cross accounts to provide a broader perspective on your digital audience.
3. Observe industry trends.
No matter how respected you are within your niche, your success as a social media content creator relies on you continually updating your knowledge. In today's information age, industry developments arrive at breakneck speed. You’ll need to update your content daily to keep up.
Following the latest trends could be as easy as bookmarking a few high-authority websites. Read the content featured on these sites daily to get a sense of what’s going on.
Don't forget to follow like-minded content creators on social media, too. Not only will this effort keep you up to date, but it will also reduce your risk of inadvertently parroting content from competitors.
4. Develop your voice.
Depending on your niche and audience, you may be competing against numerous content creators for attention—the true currency in today's social media sphere. Your audience members may follow thousands of creators, but they'll only engage with a few elite accounts.
While your expertise will set you apart, most followers crave authenticity above all else. In a Stackla survey of 1,590 consumers, 90 percent said authenticity is critical in determining which brands to support.
Unfortunately, while most B2C marketers from Stackla's study claim to be authentic, consumers disagree: 51 percent claim that fewer than half of today's brands feel genuine.
Keep the following considerations in mind as you determine what sets you apart in an increasingly crowded social media landscape:
- What do you want to accomplish with your social content? What should followers understand—or how should they feel—after reading your posts?
- Which characteristics define your personality? How do these mesh with your writing, speaking, or photography style?
- Is there a situation when your content's tone departs from your typical approach? How can you address this issue?
- Do you maintain a consistent voice across various platforms? Does it change between written content and videos? If so, which approach resonates most with your followers?
5. Network both in-person and online.
Networking is just as critical for social creators as it is for "traditional" professionals. This should go beyond interacting with clients and editors. Reach out to industry authority figures to establish connections. Over time, you can draw on these relationships to score guest posts, interviews, or simple insights to take your content to the next level.
The basis of your online networking strategy should involve following influencers on several platforms. These individuals don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of followers. In fact, you're far more likely to build connections with micro-influencers. No matter their reach, interact by leaving insightful comments or sending private messages to establish a closer connection.
While you’ll find many of the top influencers on your "follow" list by way of content-related searches, a variety of tools can help make the search easier. These tools allow you to build lists of influencers via browser extensions and keyword searches. Top options include:
Don't skip out on in-person networking opportunities, either. For example:
- Attend industry conferences or events specifically targeted to social content creators. They'll provide insight during keynote presentations and contacts through social functions.
- Hit up conference show floors and other vendor presentation areas to talk with represented businesses. Your efforts could lead to powerful partnerships.
- In addition to developing new relationships, be sure to maintain and build on existing contacts. If you don't already follow in-person contacts online, make a point of looking them up and reaching out. Your previously established network may be more relevant than you realize.
If nothing else, attending events will allow you to get a better feel for the people behind the profiles you see on your preferred social media channels. Likewise, others will see how the “real you” stacks up against your social media presence.
6. Keep writing.
The saying "practice makes perfect" applies to social content creation. The more you write about a specific topic, the better you'll understand it over time, and the easier you'll find it to develop a compelling voice that appeals to your audience. Regular practice also helps you maintain your writing ability, which, without regular effort, can easily be lost.
While daily updates on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn are ideal for developing a targeted voice, a variety of other practices can also help you strengthen your writing skills. Examples include:
- Leaving detailed comments on blogs, social media posts, and other content that captures your interest
- Writing responses but not publishing them as comments—instead, use these written thoughts to fuel your own posts
- Taking notes throughout the day as you make observations in your daily life
- Using prompts to break through writer's block: apps such as Writing Challenge may help
<div class="tip">It's also in your best interest to publish social media posts regularly. Consider setting up a social media content calendar to establish a routine and schedule.</div>
7. Invest in the tools of the trade.
While many social media users have tired of Instagram's overly polished images, they're also unwilling to put up with grainy photos or low-quality videos. Your visuals don’t need to be on par with those produced by experienced photographers, but crisp and clear images are essential. These can be difficult to achieve without the right camera or photo app.
Begin by selecting a smartphone or a digital camera suited to your niche and platform. High-end phones tend to produce the best images and videos, but a variety of mid-tier options also work well. Keep your unique photo or video needs in mind as you select a device that will give you the best ROI in terms of content quality.
The most expensive phone with the most advanced camera still won’t make up for poor editing. Thankfully, a variety of tools allow novices and experienced editors alike to perfect their social media content. Favorites include:
8. Explore new platforms.
While many social creators maintain a presence on several platforms, others achieve greater success by focusing primarily on just one or two sites. Don't be afraid to follow their lead and settle into a niche—but remember that your platform of choice always risks falling out of style.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube all appear to hold staying power, but new platforms and opportunities for building your audience are always on the horizon.
Keep an eye on emerging opportunities, but don't commit to new channels until you feel confident that they reflect your purpose and voice. Until then, feel free to set up a private account and experiment. The more comfortable you get with emerging sites, the better prepared you'll be to unveil new accounts when you've determined a particular platform can help you spread your message.
9. Level up your hashtag game.
Compelling written copy may currently dominate Instagram captions and LinkedIn posts, but hashtags remain as important as ever. These helpful tools allow you to attract attention and categorize the content.
Qualities worth considering when integrating hashtags include recent trends and popularity among top influencers. The number of hashtags and their placement within a given post also matters. If you struggle to keep these elements straight, look to tools like Hashtagify.me for assistance.
Over time, you should get a better feel for which hashtags attract the most attention, both in general and within your target audience. Hashtag skills, like writing, emerge over time, so don't get frustrated if you struggle to understand this unique internet language at first.
10. Keep an eye on metrics.
If you're committed to building your audience, you'll need to determine which types of posts appeal most to your followers—and which should be abandoned. Unfortunately, no one-size-fits-all approach applies. A variety of factors impact performance, including everything from the topic to your hashtags and even the time at which you post.
Successful social creators do not post content blindly hoping it will strike a chord. Instead, they conduct thorough research to determine what their audiences want and how they can deliver it while still maintaining an authentic voice. From there, they track performance closely. They seek patterns to discover which posts succeed and how their performance can be replicated in the future. Detailed analytics are crucial to building an effective social media content strategy.
Once you've laid the groundwork for a successful social media presence, it's time to begin tracking your key performance indicators (KPIs). Traffic may dominate these metrics. Likes and views provide an initial glimpse of your reach, but these only represent the beginning.
Neil Patel argues that influence warrants just as much consideration as traditional traffic-based KPIs. Does your content really matter if it fails to spur action?
Look to influence scores assigned by PeerIndex, Kred, and Klout to determine whether your content sparks engagement. These tools go beyond follows to analyze comments, retweets, and mentions. They'll quickly show you whether your posts get people talking.
Put It into Practice
Social media content creation requires far more work than one might suspect. The effort begins long before updates go live. From audience research to KPI tracking, each post gets careful attention long before—and after—it's shared.
As a social content creator, you can draw on your passion and expertise to influence a vast digital audience. Crafting compelling content may prove challenging, but the thrill of authentic connection makes the effort worthwhile.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Stephanie Lica.