Any business expecting to attract potential customers via social media needs a social media content plan that has been carefully and deliberately designed and delivered. Why? Because consumers today expect the businesses they patronize to be social. They expect to be able to build a trusting, personalized relationship with them; they expect businesses to share their beliefs, values, sense of humor, and more.
There are several aspects of a social media content plan and together they will guide you to success. Without further ado…
1. Knowing Your Target Audience is More Than Just Demographics
Of course, developing a customer persona is important, and that will guide you in some ways. For example, baby boomers are not likely to spend time donning ears and noses for Snapchat selfies, but Gen X’ers probably will.
Equally important is understanding how your audience make purchasing decisions. What questions do they ask? Where do they look for information, advice, and recommendations? When you can answer these questions, you will have gained some good insights in terms of ‘what’ and ‘where’.
So, where do you find this information? Try these sources:
- Legal Espionage – you know who your competitors are, so take a look at their social media accounts. What questions and comments are coming from their followers? Access a few of those followers’ accounts and get a feel for their style, tone, sense of humor, and values.
- Check out Facebook Audience Insights – there’s a wealth of information to be had about audiences:
2. Identify Social Media Goals that Match Your Business Goals
Understand this first of all: you are not on social media to sell. You are there to nurture trust and relationships. Here are some goals you should consider:
- Spread Brand Awareness: building a brand on social media means creating content that so engages an audience that they want to interact with you and share their experiences with you to their tribes.
- Communicate with Current and Potential Customers: promoting discussions, getting feedback, and always responding quickly to any comments will earn you ‘brownie points’. And, if a customer has an issue, resolving it publicly on your page tells others that you are committed to customer satisfaction.
- Increase Trust in Your Brand: You gain trust by posting content that people find valuable, informative, entertaining, and inspirational. You do not gain trust by promoting products or services all the time.
Your business goals may certainly include sales and increased profits. But getting to those goals via social media involves a very indirect approach. Any social media content plan you develop must honor this indirect approach.
3. Choose the Right Tone and Style
Generations all communicate differently. Their tone, their vocabulary, their ‘slang’ terms are unique to their age range. If you don’t mirror the tone and style of your audience, you will be considered irrelevant. Don’t be irrelevant. Capture these language nuances by doing the following:
- Study their conversations with one another and with your competitors
- Study the comments and feedback they leave on your accounts
Any social media content plan must include a ‘voice’ that resonates with its intended audience and it doesn’t always have to be with words. Consider how a clothing retailer, Mod Cloth, communicates with its female millennial audience. In this instance, it doesn’t need to say anything to create a ‘voice’.
With just the photography, Mod Cloth demonstrates that it values all shapes and sizes and does not only represent the typical ‘model type’ that brands have used for decades. This message resonates with the values of equality and diversity that millennials have.
By contrast, consider the Instagram posts of Foundr, a digital magazine with an audience of startup entrepreneurs. What are they looking for? Inspiration to keep going, of course.
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Remember: tone, style, and voice do not always have to be in the words you use, but when you use words, make them meaningful to your audience.
4. Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms
You can’t be everywhere, and you shouldn’t try to be. That’s like throwing everything against a wall and hoping some of it sticks. Some solid research will tell you where to be and when to be there, and even how often you should post your content. These are key parts of any social media content plan. Without this knowledge, you will not reach the right audience.
You don’t have to conduct this research – it’s already out there by such organizations as Pew Research which has recently published demographic use of most social media platforms.
Additional research will tell you the best times of day to post and even how often you should post and re-post your content. Using this free tool you can connect your business Instagram account and find out the best time of day to post on each day of the week for optimum engagement. This information should influence your social media content plan.
4. Scheduling Posts
You can make your social media content plan the hard way or the easy way. Meaning, you can plan your posts on a spreadsheet and then manually post each piece of content on your pages, or your posts can be scheduled in advance and automated. You create the content, set the date and time, add captions or text, and manage your content calendar in one place. For example, Hopper HQ is a comprehensive Instagram, Facebook and Twitter scheduler that can take a big portion of your social media content plan off of your plate and save you time.
5. And Now…the Content Creation
Again, content on social media is not purposed to sell. If you have been writing content for any period of time, you know this. And so, you want to keep the presentation of products or services to 20% of your postings or less. Usually, this should be in the form of a discount, free trial, or to introduce something new.
Here are ideas, tips, and tricks for your social media content plan:
- Get visual and use as much media as possible. Consumers are on their mobile devices, and they don’t want to read a wall of text in small print. Plus, 65% of learners are visual, and the brain processes and retains visual content better. In fact, people remember 80% of what they see and only 20% of what they read. No contest here!
- Use humor to entertain your audience; sometimes inspire them with a ‘feel-good’ story or news item that is totally unrelated to your business. Try using memes and gifs — your audience wants to see you as ‘human’.
- Put a face on yourself and your business. Show the people behind the brand! Tell stories and use photos and videos to do that.
- Host contests and surveys. And who hasn’t taken one of those quizzes that keep popping up on Facebook?
- Recurring content — a joke of the day or a quote of the day. Post it at the same time every day, and people will come back for more!
- User-generated content is an amazing attractor. And this is how you can ‘back door’ featuring your product or service. Solicit photos and videos from your customers, and post them on a scheduled basis.
These are just a few content types. Based on the research from the beginning steps, you’ll have a strong idea of what is the most popular social media content type with your audience.
6. Test, Test, Test
All major social media platforms have analytics tools – use them! Become familiar with Google Analytics and Instagram Insights, for example. There are plenty of free-standing tools, such as those offered by Hopper HQ (mentioned above), that will provide valuable analytics for you.
The point is this: you want to know what types of content are generating the biggest response. When is your audience most engaged with your pages? What demographics are most interested? Which social network is performing best? Getting this information will help you refine your social media content plan so that you are getting the ‘biggest bang’ for your hard work and effort, growing your following, and impacting your bottom line!
In the End…
Here’s a sobering but exciting thought. According to Statista (graph below), the projected number of people using social media during 2023 will be 3.5 billion.
There are no universal rules for content that captures audiences and keeps them coming back for more. But these 6 elements of a social media content plan will get you moving in the right direction!
Guest Author: Diana Nadim
Diana Nadim is a writer and editor who has a Master degree in Marketing. She combines her passion for writing with her interest in research and creates thought-provoking content in various fields. Besides working as a contributor writer for TrustMyPaper, Diana also runs her own 3to5Marketing blog. What inspires her the most in her writing is traveling and meeting new people. Follow her on Twitter.