Thursday, 16 February 2017

How to plan your social media content

Planning your social media content
Planning is a key element of business success, and it’s certainly important when it comes to social media content.

When you’ve got a busy business to run, and if creating content and managing social media channels isn’t the thing that you enjoy most, it can be easy to push it down the to-do list and get on with other tasks.

But some advanced planning and organisation can make it less of a chore – and when you start to see some impact from your efforts you may even start to enjoy it.

You can make life easier for yourself by planning your social media content in advance, but remember to stay focused on providing value to your audience and using the relationships you develop to support your business objectives.

Creating a content calendar

To begin with I would recommend creating a calendar spreadsheet for the next six months. Start by putting in the landmark dates such as Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day etc. If you run a retail business or a restaurant then it’s obvious that those times of the year offer marketing opportunities to raise awareness of gift ideas and themed menus that you can offer and promote. But if you are a business-to-business company you can still use these milestones as the subjects of social media posts and blog ideas. For instance, if you are a business coach you could use Valentine’s Day as a hook to write about how you can help business owners to fall back in love with their businesses.

You need to add more events that are specific to your industry or sector to your content calendar. Google is a good place to start searching for national and international events that can be the inspiration for content. If you offer hair and beauty services you might want to note down glamorous red carpet events such as the Oscars and the BAFTAS, ready to talk about who was turning heads and why. If you provide health and fitness advice and products you may want to search for health awareness days, weeks and months and add those to your calendar.

Between these events you can think about topics that will be interesting to your ideal customers. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they will find interesting and useful.

Write down questions that you have been asked about your business by customers, or businesses that you network with, and use these as inspirations for social media content.

Don’t be a pushy salesperson

Don't just sell sell sell on social media
When you’re planning future content, remember that businesses and brands enjoying success through social media don’t ‘sell, sell, sell’. Social media is about building relationships, and that means listening to others and showing them support. You need to schedule some time to regularly read and engage with others on social media.

Your content needs to provide value, position you as an expert and show how you can solve problems and make life easier and better for your prospective customers. No-one likes pushy foot-in-the-door salespeople or aggressive cold callers on the phone – so don’t do that type of hard sell on social media either.

People want to work with businesses that are professional and get results but they’ll also be drawn to businesses that have heart, who show they appreciate their employees by celebrating their successes publicly and who demonstrate the importance they place on excellent customer service, honesty and transparency.

A picture paints a thousand words – a video even more

Importance of images and video in social media
All social media platforms are hungry for visual content.

You will have potential customers reading social media posts who may not even know that they need you yet. A strong image can grab their attention and make them aware of how you could make their life easier or better.

Testimonials from past customers can be turned into content for social media platforms. Use mini case studies as stories on Facebook and turn quotes into visuals for Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Video testimonials capture the essence of what you do and are a powerful tool to persuade people that they need the sort of help you offer.

Behind-the-scenes videos and images are also a great way of showing the human side of your business. It builds trust and confidence in potential customers to know you are experts at what you do with knowledge, skill and robust processes.

Infographics can convey statistics and data in a way that is memorable and grabs attention.

How often should I post on social media?

The answer, I believe, is that you have to find a level that you can sustain - but be aware that a couple of tweets a week won’t change the world.  Be realistic about the time you can spare and the resources you have. Is there someone you can co-opt to help you create content?

Once you have built an audience, and you are acquiring new followers and fans, try and be consistent about how frequently you post. Out of sight does mean out of mind on social media.

Once your calendar is up and running, try and stay a few weeks ahead in your content creation because it’s easy to fall behind when you’re posting something new every day.

You can use tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule content, but if you are focusing on Facebook remember that it has its own scheduling system, which you might find simpler and clearer to use.  

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