If you’ve been following my guides your small enterprise will likely already understand the importance of having a presence on social networks. However, to be really effective you need to actively engage your audience with social media by using a variety of different media types— including images, infographics, audio, video, and even memes. To help you with this, I’ve put together a few content creation guidelines to give you some ideas about what works and what doesn’t.
1. Know your audience
Before you even start thinking about social media you need to understand who your audience is. That’s because every audience is different. By researching your audience you’ll know which social networks to target, as well, the kinds of media that are suitable for your audience on the given network.
2. Determine your objectives
As well as knowing who your audience is, you also need to be very clear about what your purpose is. If your goal is sales, then you need to keep that objective in mind in everything you plan and put into action.
A good rule of thumb is for every seventh social media post to be sales focused and the others to be informative or warm people up to potentially making a purchase in the future (i.e. not directly asking for a sale but helping customers understand your brand, your industry, your products, your people etc).
It’s good to develop a small list of your objectives and refer to them regularly to ensure you aren’t losing focus.
3. Develop a plan
The next step is to develop a schedule of the content you intend to post. Most social media marketing strategies that fail do so because people post regularly in the beginning then they lose motivation or forget to post as they get busy because they haven’t planned sufficient content in advance.
Ideally, you should develop a calendar that covers the next 12 months so that you always know what is coming up and that you are moving towards your long-term objectives. Mark into your calendar, important holiday periods, industry specific events and new product launch dates so that you can align your content in with what will be going on in a particular month.
A lot of social networks or apps e.g. Buffer allow you to schedule several weeks of content at one time and choose when it goes live. This means you can automate a lot of your posting to save time – but you can only do this if you have planned your content in advance.
4. Quality over quantity
In search engine optimisation we always emphasis how important quality content is. It’s the same with social media. Rather than posting lots of “junk” you need to focus on quality and relevance. Yes, your social media posts will promote your brand but the real objective is to add value for your customers.
5. Use a combination of paid and organic marketing
Sometimes you can achieve your objectives just from your regular social media posts. We call this organic because if you post great content, your audience will naturally want to share this with others.
Sometimes, however, you’ll need a bit of help to get your content in front of a larger audience and that is where paid advertising plans come in. This “boosted” or “promoted” content has the potential to increase your followers because it will be presented to new people who are not already part of your captured audience.
6. Run parallel campaigns
In any type of marketing (including social media) you need to be able to assess the effectiveness of your campaign. The best way to do this is to run a couple of campaigns simultaneously. This doesn’t need to be complicated. It could be as simple as using two slightly different graphics, small differences in text or a different call to action on each. You can then compare the results to see which was the most successful. Often you can apply what you have learned by tweaking the content of former posts and then reposting them.
7. Learn from your competitors
If you’re serious about establishing presence with your social media posts, you’ll also need to pay close attention to what your competitors are posting, especially if they are well-established industry leaders. See what sort of engagement their posts have achieved and learn from what they have done. With a bit of creativity, you should be able to improve on their efforts.
8. Show that you listen
A personal touch goes a long way these days. Don’t make the mistake of posting and forgetting. Check in on your social media posts regularly and respond to comments. If someone posts a question or problem, resolve it promptly. This gives confidence to not only that customer but also other followers of your page who are watching on.