Social media content creation is one of the most ignored steps of a social media strategy. Businesses are often eager to "get in the social media game," ignoring the need for representative content. At best, this leads to failed and abandoned pages and at worst, the strategy will fail to deliver on any of its potential.
Your current social media strategy may have been very effective for the initial platform it was developed for. However, it is possible that over time, you have added platforms and targeted different users that you initially sought to engage. Whether you have a working content strategy, a strategy that is not performing to the level you hoped, or no strategy, I am sure that this checklist will provide some insight into the process.
Where to start? What type of content is appropriate for each social media platform? Who is my end-user? What do I want them to do when they receive my content? How will I know it was effective? These are all questions that you should have on your mind as you develop a content creation strategy.
Step 1: Identifying social media platforms
It is critical to know your audience. Each platform has its own audience and preferred access method. Too many links embedded in a notification may not be an issue for a platform that relies on a Web browser, but will seem slow or unwieldy if viewed by a smartphone. You can identify your audience on each platform by cross-referencing your site-specific demographics with your current target audience.
Step 2: Defining the content mix
Don't get lured into using the same message format for all platforms. A strategy is only effective if the content is compelling. As mentioned in Step 1, the content may be the same but delivered differently depending on the platform and the anticipated device. Too many use the same content message across multiple social media platforms, thus not effectively reaching their platform specific target audience.
Also remember that a fresh mix of posts is needed to keep followers interested. For example, you could rotate through sales-based posts, interactive posts, and informative posts to make sure that your page remains worthy of its followers.
Step 3: Organizing and planning your content
Take the necessary time to organize and plan content. Many businesses start well but fail to remain consistent. If the content delivery slows, becomes sporadic or stops, your social media strategy becomes stale and your audience will too.
Stay consistent by planning content on a monthly basis. I recommend two tools to assist in this.
The first tool is a content posting calendar. This could be as simple as a tabbed spreadsheet that is labeled by social media platform. Staying organized ensures that the messages are clear and true to the platform it will be posted on. It also provides a historical perspective on your content development.
The second tool is an automated posting service such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck. Content for multiple platforms can be created and scheduled to be delivered a month in advance. This ensures that content delivery will be "interruption free" in spite of peak times, vacations, etc. Also, the strategy can be viewed in a larger time frame. You should also take care to know when your target audience is most likely to be influenced by your content. Posting about social activities during normal business hours on weekdays will most likely not yield great results. Consider that you are not the only account the end user is following.
Step 4: Tracking the Post
Social media platforms and automated services are not always perfect. Follow up posts by double-checking that the message(s) intended for that day on the platform it was intended for. Verify that the links contained actually work. Take note of the amount of time it takes to load images and videos. Also, record any comments that are generated by a particular post. This will give you immediate feedback as to what might be working.
Step 5: Moderating
Step 5 separates the "posters" from the "strategists." Showing personality, responding to comments, and engaging the followers is what social media is all about. Whether the comments posted are positive or negative, they require attention. You need to know what is being said about you. Your competition is watching both the comment and your response. The amount of time that lapses between a negative post and your response is very important. Even if you can't respond completely, you can let the community know that you are looking in to the comment and will respond in full.
Step 6: Collecting Feedback
Collecting feedback from your audience, whether through comments that are given or analytics, is the metric in a successful strategy. Review your followers regularly. If your followers are mainly local, then you should consider times relative to your product and audience. However, if your audience is international, time of day should be taken into account. Free analytics tools can be found on some social media platforms and you should use them to your advantage. Keep an eye out for the number of comments and shares the posts have to help define, or redefine, the days and times you decide to post.
This checklist is part of an iterative process. Changes that you make today will propagate through the user community, they will react and you will collect the data. You will tweak and publish. The cycle continues...
Kate Salyers is the CEO of Your Social Status, a social media and digital marketing training and strategy company based out of Dayton, Ohio. Her years of experience with training and developing social media and digital marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies like 3M as well as smaller businesses like Towne Properties, has helped her approach social media and digital marketing with a unique approach that caters to multiple industries and user types. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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