Often times when brands or businesses think of social media marketing, they immediately think of community management first. I don’t blame them. Since its debut, social media has opened doors to customers that otherwise we restricted to phone calls and emails. However, to truly drive business results with social media marketing, you need to think content first. Here’s why:
Have you ever had those days where your customers just aren’t talking about you, asking questions or, frankly, complaining about you on social media? It happens all the time. When it does, brands are left with “gaps” – periods of time where nothing goes out on their social media channels. No engagement or no content. Just static. By thinking about content first, you’re ensuring that your channels, regardless of customer activity, will be active. Content like photos, videos or even just plain text with a link can provide cover for those slow customer service periods. Those brands who think customer service or engagement first, often find themselves scrambling to remain looking relevant. At the end of the day, that’s stress on your business’s resources, and you look inconsistent to consumers.
Content has an amazing effect on consumers to show them that you’re legitimate. In a world of online scams, thinking about content first can ensure that at any point if a potential customer checks up on you, your content is front and center. That content helps the prospective feel comfortable working with you or spending their money on your products or services. Brands sometimes have the tendency to not see the big picture with their social media strategy. What do all the pieces of content put together look like? What story does it tell? Ideally, you would have thought about this before and ensured you have common language, graphics, themes and campaigns. All of which would run in conjunction with each other across multiple social networks. There’s no better feeling as a consumer than hitting a brand’s Facebook Page, then their Twitter account and finally the website and seeing a common thread.
Lastly, there’s inbound marketing. The entire concept hinges on being able to produce material that will activate consumers around call to actions. The same applies to social media marketing. Creating content that will get someone to act is first and foremost the key to get customers. So, just like you would create that email or direct mail marketing campaign with an enticing subject line and call to action, the same should apply to your content on social media. Entice users, lure them in and have them watch that video, like that photo or click that link to your website.
Now that you understand why it’s important to think content first in your social media marketing, let’s discuss what steps you can take to create a content strategy that will work with your overall marketing goals and objectives:
Very simply, don’t try to create content you don’t have the resources to execute. For example, don’t think you can create weekly vlogs on YouTube if you don’t have a staff member to do it or can’t pay someone to do it for you. Look at who you have on your team, their skills and talents, or the budget you have to spend, and try to figure out senseable, scalable content. Often times, photos tend to be the most economical, especially with all the free and paid photo sharing platforms available today. While video would be a bigger commitment, it would likely drive better results.
You’ve likely heard this one before, but having a content calendar allows for you to see what you’re creating and when. It also ensures that you’re not repeating your work, and allows you to easy share it with any other internal constituents in the company. As a visual person, like many, it also makes it easier to digest. I would recommend doing your content calendar a month in advance to ensure you have enough time to fill it out, gain approval and then start working on it. Try to use colors for various content types and themes and ensure the calendar has the ability to slot in days and times. Many social media management tools have built in content calendars to help you plan and automate social campaigns to ensure a constant stream of content across your social accounts.
While engagement on social media is very important, limiting the time and resources spent on interacting with potential customers is more important. Otherwise, your entire day could just be looking and trying to contact them. To specify, this is not in reference to customer service, where responding in a timely manner is even more important. Rather, this is referencing actively searching and trying to engage with people who you think would be customers. By setting certain hours for this type of work, you can ensure you’re being responsible with your time and resources.
At the end of the day, the proof is always in the numbers. With this or any strategy, you should always set yourself up to succeed by having tools in place to track the results. Tools like Google Analytics and Facebook or Twitter’s native analytics systems can be a great start to see inbound activity and actions. Whether a success or failure, everything can be a learning opportunity for your brand.
In closing, your ability to create consistent, timely and interesting content will be a big driver in your social media marketing success. It’s a cliche, but still very much applies to social media today – Content is King.
Eleonora Israele is an analyst at Clutch, where she is responsible for research on marketing software and digital agencies. Clutch is a Washington, D.C.-based research, ratings, and reviews platform for B2B services and software.
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