In a social media landscape that constantly and rapidly shifts, it is critical to ensure that your marketing strategy is successful and pays dividends— leaving you no choice but to master social media content marketing.
Buffer’s State of Social report addresses many of these changes in the landscape, as well as what marketers works and what doesn’t. The report also highlights key areas that marketers need to master to succeed in their strategies. In mastering these aspects of your social media content marketing, you will be at an advantage over your competition, especially since most companies don’t even have a documented strategy.
Here are five critical ways to master social media content marketing:
1. Make plans and document them
With over half of the marketers surveyed admitting to not having a documented social media strategy, it seems that they are just caught up in a race to publish something—anything. The result is like throwing spaghetti against a wall and hoping something sticks.
A knee-jerk reaction to social media marketing is not a strategy, and neither is creating an editorial calendar for a couple of weeks in advance or echoing the same content across every channel.
Understanding the why of social media marketing is more important than getting caught up in how. Neal Schaffer echoes this sentiment in an interview on building a sustainable social media marketing plan, which also provides some tips to create better social media strategies.
To create an effective social media strategy, you’ll need to take these seven critical steps:
Audit your current social presence:
- Consider which social media networks you are active on
- Determine whether your social media networks are optimized
- Determine which networks bring the greatest value
- Decide how your presence compares to that of your competitor’s
Document who your ideal customer is
Be as specific as possible and go beyond just demographic and psychographic information. Your best-laid plans will unravel if you market to the wrong audience.
Create a social media mission statement
You can use your mission statement to drive future actions, including what you plan to use your social media networks to accomplish. Ignore anything that doesn’t align with your mission statement.
Identify your key success metrics
What metrics will you use to determine if your social media marketing is a success? Metrics such as likes, shares, etc. can be useful. However, to justify the time and resources spent on your efforts, they would need to contribute to your bottom line.
Create and curate engaging content
Having gone through the above steps, it is now possible to create and curate content that will engage your audience. Your content can take different formats but managing the process can be a challenge, which is where a content calendar can come in handy.
Invest in a social media management tool
Using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Agoralpulse or SproutSocial amongst others can help save time and effort scheduling posts well in advance and ensures you can scale your efforts with ease.
Track, analyze, and optimize
Having metrics in place, tracking them, analyzing them and adjusting your strategy accordingly is perhaps the most important step when it comes to succeeding on social media. While there is an element of trial-and-error to social media marketing, tracking results, analyzing data and making the right tweaks to optimize your strategy is critical in ensuring that your efforts have a cumulative impact.
2. Track engagement metrics for content performance
Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, which favor content that sparks genuine conversation, have forced many businesses to create content that is more engaging. The fact is that Facebook’s algorithms are evolving and becoming smarter, so engagement bait techniques are less likely to be effective and you could result in losing your reach in the long term.
Also, research indicates that answering a complaint on social media can increase customer advocacy as much 25%.
Sprout Social’s research shows that 30% of customers ignored or shunned brands on social media are likely to switch to a competitor.
It is interesting to note the following data from Buffer’s report
The data doesn’t seem to indicate preferences about which engagements are more meaningful, as people can assign different values to things even when they appreciate them. In other words, preferences depend on the goals of your social media strategy and the outcomes that you are working toward.
Brand interaction is a more meaningful metric. That said, there are challenges that most businesses inevitably face, like the ones below, but they can become opportunities.
Engage with all relevant conversations
A challenge for businesses in encouraging interaction lies in finding the resources to engage with all of the relevant conversations. The basis for most social media engagement strategies involves staying on top of “mentions” on social media, tapping into relevant conversations, and filtering out the irrelevant ones.
Be consistent and authentic
Another challenge for businesses lies in quality control. In other words, maintain a consistent, authentic voice and tone across all channels and touch points at all times.
Developing a strong brand voice and using it consistently is an important part of making sure your company is recognizable and relatable. In fact, 77% of marketers report that effective branding is crucial to business growth. Around 50% of consumers follow one or more brands via social media platforms. To get their attention, you need to leverage your unique brand voice.
To develop your brand voice, follow these steps:
- Determine your brand’s core mission and values
- Create a brand style guide and set specific guidelines
- Analyze your customer touchpoints to determine the consistency of brand experience and voice
- Apply your brand voice to all relevant social media channels
- Stand out from the crowd being consistent, aiming for real interaction and being relevant while providing excellent service
Measure the impact of social media engagement
Another challenge for businesses is being able to measure the impact of social media engagement. Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of social media engagement is not as straightforward as determining the traffic to your website or the number of clicks through to a landing page. Social media engagement could, however, be measured through different lenses like:
- Time spent with customers
- Reach – the number of people who come in contact with your brand
3. Use social features to drive direct purchases.
Social selling is a term that has been used for a while and is increasingly being practiced sales teams. However, the Buffer report indicates that most businesses do not plan to increase their use of social features to drive direct purchases.
This can be a mistake, as social media can influence potential buyers in the research and interaction stages of any customer journey. People can also be prone to impulse buys, especially where buy buttons and shoppable tags can reduce customer friction and encourage shopping. Sharing shoppable posts can also increase touchpoints in the customer journey.
We are beginning to see multi-level funnels reduced to discovery and purchasing. To be on top of such changes, we need to understand the options each social network offers to drive sales. On platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, your audience is already in the habit of swiping up to make purchases. On platforms like Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat, brands are personalizing checkout experiences for customers via automated chatbots.
Experimenting with offers and features like shoppable tags and AI-powered checkouts can only serve to improve the ROI on your social media content marketing.
Critical steps to master sales on social media:
Identify your audience:
Cast a wide net to catch as many prospects as possible. For example, you could use:
- Use social media filters with keywords and phrases to identify who is talking about your niche’s product or services
- Search for those who have a negative view of your competitors’ products or services
- Search for those who have a positive comment or inquiry about yours
Profile your leads:
Chances are your leads are sharing a lot of information via social media, so be sure to make use of it to target specific people and drive conversations. By creating a profile for each lead, you can better segment and target your future customers.
Analyze your leads:
To engage your leads, you need relevant information about them such as the topics they tend to interact with, the hashtags they use most frequently, etc.
Score your leads:
Score your leads based on the attributes available via social profiles and interactions which are indicative of them getting closer to a purchase.
Develop the relationship first via conversations that are sincere and authentic.
Like email drip campaigns you could also set up similar campaigns to nurture leads on social media. Insights and conversations gathered over the entire customer journey will help you to personalize conversations and make them more meaningful to shorten sales cycles.
Your sales leads should be added and tagged in your CRM so you can track their progress as they move through your sales funnel. Tagging them will help you to attribute results and revenue to your social media marketing efforts.
4. Invest in influencer marketing
According to author and renowned marketer, Seth Godin, “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”
However, with the demand for attention on the rise and overwhelming product options on the market, consumers are beginning to lose sight of who they can trust. So, what can you do?
Employ influencer marketing.
After all, getting the message to your desired audience can only be effective and easier via someone who already has their ear.
In short, you need an influencer. Consider the facts:
To build an effective influencer marketing program as part of your social media content marketing, you’ll need to take the following steps:
- Identify and define your audience
- Find the right influencers
- Qualify your influencers based on your business objectives
- Engage and reach out to influencers
- Track, measure and adjust your strategy
5. Employ stories in your content including ads
Stories seem to be an ever-increasing popular format for people and businesses to connect with their audiences. But why?
The answer is that stories are easy to create, are engaging, require little or no editing or even much thought before publishing; they are authentic, fun, and relatively short. In fact, 57% of brands believe that stories have been somewhat effective or very effective as part of their social media strategy.
With the introduction of ads to stories on Facebook and Instagram, there will be even more opportunities for businesses to generate value from the format since most businesses haven’t invested in the format yet.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of Stories.
- If you haven’t started with Stories, start with Instagram Stories. They are growing the fastest and they have a range of tools to use to create stories, with many built directly into the app.
- Start with one format then use others and repurpose your content. For example, you can save your Instagram Stories and repurpose them sharing on your Facebook profile or as a YouTube video.
- You don’t need to invest in external tools. There are many tools available within Instagram that allow you to create something amazing without using any external tools.
- Create Story Highlights on Instagram to feature your stories on a permanent basis.
- Your stories should evoke emotion because, when people feel emotions, they are more likely to act on your call to action. So, create stories to help, entertain, make people laugh, provide solutions or take people behind the scenes. A simple way to do this is to document what’s happening in your business.
Over to you
Do you have a social media content marketing strategy that has fueled your engagement levels? How do you measure it?
Feel free to leave a comment here below or engage with us on social media.