You can't just wing it when it comes to your business' social media strategy and content marketing. At best, your efforts could be wasted. At worst, they could be absolutely disastrous.
It's so easy to set up social media accounts and start posting blindly. But, it's important to appreciate the fundamentals of content marketing and put together a solid social media strategy first.
What is content marketing?
A great social media strategy is built on great content — photos, text, infographics and videos.
Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing is not primarily about spruiking your wares and selling stuff. Instead, it focuses on establishing yourself as a trusted advisor and valued source of reliable information.
Rather than give your audience the hard sell, the goal with content marketing is to grow awareness and build trust.
Of course, it can also help increase sales and forge stronger relationships with existing customers — both of which will help improve your bottom line.
One common form of content marketing is "thought leadership," where you establish yourself as a voice of authority in your industry. This can include offering education and insight, such as:
- Examining industry trends
- Exploring key issues
- Offering practical advice
The idea is to inform and educate, while building your credibility as a recognised expert in your field. That's why thought leadership content fits so well into a social media strategy.
Done right, content marketing can be a lot more cost-effective than traditional marketing channels like radio or TV. It can also cut-through with audiences who tune out other marketing messages.
Effective content marketing published on your website can also improve your search ranking.
It does this by bringing in more potential customers via your social media strategy and organic search results (the kind you don’t have to pay for). Applying the correct search engine optimisation (SEO) practices to your posts and videos often means using the right keywords and tweaking the structure.
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What is native marketing?
They might sound similar, but it is important to appreciate the difference between content marketing and native marketing. Both have a role to play in your social media strategy.
Content marketing is generally published via your own channels. This could include your blog or social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn. While you might pay someone to help you produce the content, it doesn't cost you anything to publish it.
Meanwhile, native marketing is a form of advertising that is designed not to look like an advertisement.
In some ways, native marketing has the same goals as content marketing. Both aim to engage readers rather than sell them something. The big difference is that you generally pay to place native marketing in an existing outlet like a:
In terms of buying space on the page, native marketing can be more expensive than placing an ad, because it is more effective at reaching readers. You can extend this reach by bringing your native marketing content to the attention of your followers as part of your social media strategy.
Setting up your social media strategy goals
Social media is full of off-the-cuff comments, but you don't want to wing it when you're presenting your business to the world.
The first thing to do is consider the needs of the business to make sure your strategy is in alignment. Simply bringing in traffic to your website or social media channels isn't a great goal in itself — if it’s not the kind of people likely to work with you, your effort is wasted.
Let’s discuss some common social media strategy goals to consider.
1. Lead generation
For many businesses, lead generation is one of the most valuable things that content marketing can deliver. High-quality, tailored content can help bring in more qualified and targeted leads.
A well-honed social media strategy helps bring in leads by ensuring your content reaches the right people through the right channels.
Using your content's call to action (CTA) to build a mailing list can also provide lead generation, plus it can help forge a stronger relationship with new and existing customers.
2. Brand awareness
Beyond encouraging readers to follow up on a specific CTA, the goal of your social media strategy might be to build awareness. Along with general awareness of your business and what it offers, this may include raising the industry profile of key executives or subject-matter experts within your business.
Your business might also find value in building its reputation as a trusted advisor, one that potential customers can turn to when they're ready to do business.
3. Engagement metrics
When it comes to measuring success, it helps to look beyond impressions and views. User engagement can be a better indicator of the effectiveness of your efforts. This often includes:
- Bounce rates (the percentage of people who click on a link in your post, then quickly leave the page without taking an action)
- Returning visitors
- Click throughs (number of people who click your link)
- Scroll depth (how far down the page readers scroll)
- Likes, shares and comments
Keeping a close eye on the numbers above can give you a better idea of what content within your social media strategy is doing well and what needs improvement. You can also use Google Analytics to monitor viewer acquisition by channel.
4 steps for building a successful social media strategy
Once you have your goals in place, it’s time to start mapping out your social media plan. Consider the steps below before leaping into making your very first post. Use a tool such as GoDaddy’s Digital Marketing Suite to create business-boosting social media posts and promotional emails.
1. Know your audience
Deciding who you're talking to is critical when it comes to producing any kind of content for your social media strategy. You need to know who you're trying to reach, so you can speak their language and address their needs.
Becoming a trusted advisor involves cutting through industry jargon to provide information and advice that people can understand. This requires putting yourself in their shoes to consider the challenges they face.
In return, connecting with the right kind of readers will increase engagement along with the quality of lead generation.
2. Find your talent
Now is the time to tap into the expertise within your business, such as key employees, suppliers and subject experts.
It doesn't matter if they aren't great writers, as most business posts are written by a pro.
The important thing is to assess the expertise spread across your business and then consider how that expertise could translate into valuable and engaging posts, infographics or videos for your target audience.
Once you've generated a list of great topics you can develop your ideas into a brief for a writer (who might be inhouse or external). The writer can interview the talent to help them explore and articulate their ideas, then produce a great piece of polished content with the talent's byline.
You can then upload a teaser of this content to any of your social media channels. This will help draw your audience into your website.
3. Establish your voice
The tone you take for your social media strategy will be determined by who you are and to whom you're talking to.
A consumer brand aimed at a younger demographic might take on a friendly, chatty or even whimsical tone. Meanwhile, a financial services provider would favour more of an authoritative, matter-of-fact tone. This should be spelled out in the brief to the writer.
Either way, don't get too bogged down in formal language. Keep it accessible, engaging and genuine.
To ensure consistency, develop a style guide which includes language and tone. Also consider the areas you want to cover and potential no-go topics, such as certain social and political issues.
4. Plan your content
It's important to plan your social media posts in advance to ensure the content can be reviewed before it goes live.
This involves designating responsibility for social media and establishing workflows to ensure everything that's published goes through all the appropriate checks and balances.
Don't bombard your audience with too many posts. Instead, tailor the frequency of your posts to what’s appropriate for the platform. Remember, it's more about quality than quantity.
Get started on your own social media plan
You can't bash out effective content marketing off the top of your head. It needs to be backed with a well-planned strategy. Set your goals, know your audience, and find your talent. Then, establish your voice and plan your content to give your social media strategy the best chance of success.