Taking your social media to strategic, let alone savvy, seems strenuous.
The rapidly changing social climate and overwhelming choice of platforms, also in constant flux, make social media practice even more daunting. Confusing. Time sucking. Problematic.
If you’re anything like me, you want results from social media marketing (SMM) without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. And, you need to move forward, not slide backward in doing it!
Truly, you need to get a powerful SMM and management plan in place without making it a full-time job. You have a business to run! There’s no doubt, however, that SMM is a critical component in your content marketing strategy. And the reasons why are compelling.
First, social channels allow distribution and amplification of the valuable content you produce. Next, it’s a perfect noninvasive way to introduce your business, products or services, and website to the world.
Using social media helps create brand awareness by default, plus attracts traffic to your digital properties. Most importantly, it lets you connect with people. These connections lead to conversations, collaborations, and clients.
When effective, SMM permits you to grow your business organically, but there’s a bigger lesson to know. Lean forward, cause here’s the secret to social success! This lesson takes a minute to digest, and it’s about social intention. When you are intentional in creating, planning, and scheduling social media, your social significance blooms.
Don’t get me wrong; social media is most definitely a long game. But when you put it to work for your business, meaningfully, your results are more meaningful, too.
Strategic Social Savvy
Your selected social platforms matter. Your voice and content also matter. So how do you go about inserting meaningfulness into your social media, giving you a business strategy as opposed to haphazard posting?
How do you make the social sun shine?
1- Get Selective. Carefully consider which apps or platforms you want to concentrate on for your business. Unless you have a team, you probably can’t excel on all of them at once. It’s crucial that you weigh your audience’s needs with your business needs to find the sweet spot for both.
In Ann Handley’s Newsletter, she urges readers to reach out to her on social but qualifies, “Not Facebook. I hate Facebook.” (Sadly for Ann, I’ve been reaching out to her since 2015!! Ha)
2- Determine Your Why’s. Think about why on three levels: big picture, campaign, and content. It’s essential to have a purpose and an outcome in mind for every piece of content with a place in your content puzzle.
Stephanie Liu talks about creating “content buckets” for social media to organize a strategic mix of content for social channels. Using Agorapulse, you can create categories to cover your top content topics, but you can drill down deeper using labels to track campaign flow.
You’ve Got This
3- Figure Out How. Empower selected channels and content purpose with a compelling action plan to achieve or exceed projected results. Work diligently to unlock the strategy and flow to support your goals and campaign outcomes. Execute within your strategic framework until you reach projected goals. Persistence and consistency count for successful SMM.
Scott Ayres is the closest equivalent to Social Media’s Mad Scientist you’ll find, minus the mad part. But, it’s interesting to watch the insights Scott unlocks as Agorapulse’s Content Scientist to uncover the secrets to social media best practices. I’ve had good results testing some of his findings!
4- Measure, Analyze, and Reiterate. This step sounds boring, but without it, you can’t know what’s working for you and what’s not. You also won’t improve. Align what you measure by specific parameters connected to the objective or goal. Be careful not to be fooled by vanity metrics, though they’re a place to start.
Social Scheduling Seeds
For a long time, I thought social scheduling was cheating in a way and not entirely authentic. Maybe the chance to work with the Agorapulse social media scheduling software is the catalyst to change my mind completely.
Even though I was a Buffer user for years before discovering Agorapulse, it wasn’t all that automated the way I used it. It didn’t help me clarify or crystallize scheduling social with strategic intent.
NOTE: Buffer is a great starting software and does identify your best-performing posts.
The thing is, “scheduling” denotes automation, and of course, that means software to help. There are several high-performing and well-liked social scheduling choices, but did I mention my love affair with Agorapulse?
No matter what you schedule with, automation alone doesn’t do it all! You still have to “work” social media personally and interact authentically. Oh drats, you have to be social!
There are 3 key components to what you share on social media:
If you get these 3 parts right, you are on your way to social sharing success. And sharing is a huge part of it as well. You are sharing what you create, sharing other people’s stuff in curating, and you are sharing yourself in conversation. Share, share, and share.
All of this, of course, is geared towards your audience and providing valuable stuff to them. Social channels are the most audience-centric of all, so keep that in mind. You are sharing to give and to help. Eventually, after all kinds of generous sharing, you may get noticed.
But beware, getting social notice doesn’t happen overnight. Stay the course. You’ll get there. Each social step you take is (often) silently moving you forward, slowly building you.
Your Social Scenario
Every business, blog, and person is different, but determining your social strategic direction may benefit from checking out what’s going on in your industry on social. By seeing what your target market wants, or at least is getting, you can make some decisions for your SMM plans.
Do you want to play it the same, only better, or do you want to take an entirely new approach? What gaps are no one covering, and can you capitalize by owning that space?
Will you take a hyper-focused direction or a more rounded philosophy for what you post? You may want to give some thought to how you want to position your brand, what tone or personality represents you, and if you’re going to create a branded visual design for social.
Since social media falls under “marketing,” there’s no better source to lean on than (poor) Ann Handley once more. In her “Annarchy Newsletter” (did you subscribe from the last link?), Ann reminds us the whole of social content marketing revolves around this theory, “Tell Me Without Telling Me.”
People don’t like being marketed to, so that’s the beauty of the social part of SMM. It’s very low-key and based, like the best marketing always, on word-of-mouth. For people like me who are not high-pressure sales types, social media is a more comfortable fit.
Social media is high-test fuel for sparking inbound marketing, my favorite marketing. Inbound seeks to magnetize customers to you without you needing to “sell” them at all. They come to you already aware of and wanting to work with you. Social and content marketing is pull (inbound), not push (outbound) by design.
Next, take a look at how to go about creating that magnetic pull, so people are clamoring to do business with you.
How to Set Up Your Social Media Magnet
Commit to the channels where potential customers are spending their time. If the people you want to reach are on a platform, then you belong there, too. Social Sprout breaks down some demographics for the major social sites you’ll want to weigh in finding the right channel for you.
But remember, social media isn’t mandatory, and the choice is up to you. If you have plenty of business or choose not to participate for any number of reasons, that’s okay, too. However, like Ann’s Facebook example earlier, if you hate a channel or are talentless at something (like photography or visuals, for instance), then trying to conquer that channel (Instagram) falls flat.
Again, it’s a matter of what works for your customers or audience and what works for you. You don’t have to do videos if you are completely uncomfortable with it, even if it’s the hottest thing to share on social media now and for years running.
Consider the top quality content type you produce and what’s winning with relevance and value to people. What other people are doing and making like gangbusters doesn’t matter. Your unique message to your core audience does.
Mark Schaefer argues in favor of blog content in this assessment of blogging, saying, “…there is still huge opportunity out there. Research shows that just 1 percent of people on the web are creators. If you’re blogging, you’re already in an elite class!”
Mark further clarifies, “The economic value of content that’s not seen and shared is zero.” He explains your content has to “move” if you want to create an audience or community around your brand.
What Do You Do Best?
When you accentuate your content assets by getting them to move with a friendly social kick right to your key audience, things start to happen. But you aren’t going to reach anyone with less-than-awesome content or by doing something you aren’t very good at or despise doing.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t step into a new and perhaps uncomfortable media mix as you grow, but shine a spotlight on your starring content first. Expand it and repurpose it for social media and consistently get seen. Start working on making sure your content moves!
Give your social content both confidence and personality. Play a little with it and experiment. Try interesting angles or creative campaigns.
One way to add personality is to create content around holidays, traditions, and celebrations.
Pulling your favorites from a resource like that last link gives you a starting outline for social content for your social scheduling calendar. You can fill in dates for every single month to get things going, and, for a bonus, you can create evergreen pieces to use over again, year after year.
Speaking of evergreen work, your content assets should include evergreen, no matter your prime medium. Evergreen content, when socially grown, continues to gain momentum for your digital footprint. And grows credibility. Follow-through to social channels from your hub content, drilling down and expanding out, similar to your content strategy and content site structure.
Connect your business website/blog, core message, and key content topics using content hubs, silos, and pyramids, as explained on CoriWriter.com, as the foundational work to build on with SMM. Yes, social media marketing is an extension of your content strategy and part of the overall business marketing plan. Now, do you see your content schedule filling up quite nicely?
Optimizing Social Channel Management
Keeping in mind the speed of change in marketing, advertising, broadcasting, and the communications industry in general at this point, means to optimize your social channels, you need to adopt an agile mindset.
Flexibility and experimentation, along with a close ear to social performance and responses, are key. Social listening has never mattered more as we feel our way around to the new marketing now evolving from our changing society.
Still, using the holidays and special occasions list as a content skeleton to initiate a social editorial schedule gives you a starting outline. Identify your core content topics and audit your content library for the best pieces to promote.
Be sure you allocate content for a blend of your main topics and an equal mix to fill the content buckets you identify. (The 3C’s for social components, shown above, is an excellent universal formula. Hat tip, Tad Hargrave.)
Besides covering topics and buckets, you also may want to think about another area to mix for what you share: visuals. Because featuring visuals in social media matters, you also want to try to include photos, videos, graphics, infographics, slides, gifs, and emojis, along with written content. Visual content gets more engagement and shares.
Again, what you share, how, how often, and when are variables and are often platform-driven as well as business, industry, and audience-based. Every social strategy, every social media mix, and every social content plan is unique. Therefore, allow for creativity, experimentation, and iteration as part of your social strategy.
However, adopting both a strategic plan and a posting schedule offers you the ability to showcase your brand on social consistently. With planning and scheduling of social content comes consistency, ever-increasing the visibility of your brand.
Consistently Showcase Your Brand on Social
As far as getting into social media for your business, you have two choices, either DO it or NOT! What I’m trying to say is there’s no halfway for social success. Decide you are doing it or not because saying you’re doing social and not showing up is just a waste of time. Even worse, your ghost social channel looks like a mere facade. Being unreachable on social platforms meant to be “social” translates to just the opposite. Think connecting.
The point is to connect with people simply. Connections lead to interactions. When you connect, you open communications. Growing valuable relationships starting with interactions with people leads to friendships, collaborations and colleagues, and ultimately, sales.
However, keep in mind social media is a form of content marketing and inbound marketing when approached organically. Honestly, good social pieces often feel more like public relations efforts, making memorable emotional connections while delivering brand impact. SMM, as is typical of any form of advertising and marketing, requires multiple touchpoints. So, put your content out there and make it move using the social channels of your choice. Make your choice reflect your core audience, your business and industry, and your talents and preferences.
In this post, Jaime Shine of Clearly Conveyed Communications clarifies some crucial points:
“Social media is a long-term game; don’t expect success overnight. Instead of trying to create content that will go viral, focus on building and delivering value to your audience one day at a time.” ~Jaime Shine
The smartest thing you can do is make an impression on your social channels to make people want to work with you and interact further.
Top Tips to Help Hone Your Social Skills
First, a word of warning (Jaime mentions this VIP detail as well) for posting on social: Remember everything you post is visible. Understanding and respecting this one point is crucial.
The phrase “think before you ink” absolutely applies to the digital realm. You are creating your imprint digitally. Therefore, try these:
- Be thoughtful in what you share, always maintaining an audience-centric approach. If you’re busy helping others, you take the focus off of yourself and are truly present to interact.
- Even if you occasionally share off-topic posts to mix things up or give a peek of your other interests, you mostly want to stay on topic, so people understand what you’re about.
- Cultivate and conquer one or two platforms simultaneously and only add more as you master your key ones. You also need to stay up-to-date on constant changes on your leading platforms. Still, you may or may not want to test and try new ones constantly, depending on your business.
- Optimize your selected channels in an ongoing manner, including content.
- Gain deeper understanding by asking questions, listening to discussions, scouring reviews, and mining comments for insights around your topic. Speak to issues that remain unanswered; fill content gaps in your industry.
- Enhance your social media presence with powerful visuals. It’s all about the visuals, baby! You want to rock it on social, right?
- Get out there and do it. The only way to master your social media marketing and social platform/channel multi-mix is to do it. Just start step-by-step, one-by-one. I find learning by doing is the best way to learn first. Expand and grow next. And finally, succeed and exceed in creating business directly from your organic social media marketing strategies.
Are you producing and leveraging social media marketing? Getting your strategic social savvy in place pays off over and over. What’s your take?
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