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How to Create a Social Media Strategy for Content Marketing [with Templates]

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Social media plays a fundamental role in content marketing performance and success, allowing content marketers to build brand awareness, influence prospects, and ultimately drive return at every stage of the sales funnel. Not only is social the place to meet target buyers before they are in-market, it is the place to build and nurture relationships with existing customers through the content they care about, before urging them to take an action.
With one in three people, or 2.5 billion, active on social networks last year, it is impossible to deny that social media offers a prime opportunity to find, connect, and engage with your target audience. This year more than ever, CMOs worldwide are aggressively investing in social media to drive business and build their brands, and it’s easy to see why.
When leveraged correctly, social media can help you:

  • Grow and curate an audience
  • Build brand awareness
  • Find and attract potential customers
  • Increase traffic to content hubs
  • Drive conversions and business

Of course, that is easier said than done. But by first creating a documented, full-funnel strategy that’s fully integrated with your content marketing program, you’ll set yourself up to achieve your goals – however ambitious they might be.
In this post, I’ll walk you through how to do exactly that, and take you through the steps crucial to creating a social media strategy designed to support and enhance your content marketing program.

Review your content marketing strategy

For your social media strategy to be successful, it is imperative that it be fully aligned with your content marketing strategy. Before diving into the how-to of crafting your social strategy, take a step back to evaluate the key elements of your content marketing strategy:

  • Business objectives: Your content marketing goals and the KPIs you’ll measure for success
  • Target audience: Who you’ll reach through content
  • Mission statement: What you’ll achieve through content
  • Distribution tactics: Which channels you’ll use to deliver your content to your target audience
  • Measurement: How you’ll report on your success metrics

These same elements will serve as the backbone of your social media strategy, so it’s important to know exactly what they are before you get started.

Determine your goals aligned to your content marketing strategy

In this section, you will assess what you are hoping to solve by integrating a social media strategy into your content marketing program.
Consider the following questions:

  • What does a successful social media strategy look like for your company?
  • What are the key metrics and KPIs you will measure?

With answers to these questions, you can set realistic and achievable goals. You may choose to differentiate between business objectives, such as traffic to site and conversions, and social objectives, such as the number of followers and engagement rate. Identify both your primary and secondary goals and commit to holding yourself accountable for reaching them. Finally, determine a timeframe: When do you expect to meet your goals?
Aim to identify and assign at least one goal for every stage of the funnel. At the top of the funnel, your goal may be to build brand awareness, expand your target audience, have ongoing conversations with your followers, and drive traffic to your content hub. Lower-funnel goals may include driving leads and influencing deals.
Next, determine which platforms and social tactics will best help you achieve those goals at every stage. For instance, you may decide to leverage Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to boost awareness and drive traffic and engagement at the top of the funnel, but only Twitter and Facebook to drive leads and influence deals. A high-level funnel might look like this:
social media_content marketing funnel.png

Establish your KPIs to measure success

As content marketers, ultimately your goal is to meet – even exceed – business objectives. Beyond engagement, it is critical to understand if and how your social strategy is driving reach, leads, conversions, and revenue. When it comes to evaluating success, think back to your initial goals. What did you hope to achieve by integrating a social strategy into your content marketing program? Return to the funnel, and determine which metrics you’ll use to evaluate success at every stage.
At the awareness stage, KPIs generally include:

  • Impressions: The total number of times people have seen your content. Impressions measure how successful you are in exposing your target audience to the content you share. Higher numbers in this category mean that more people are coming into contact with content. If your content is showing up in more people’s feeds on a more regular basis, you’ve chosen the right platform for social sharing.
  • Reach: The total number of unique accounts that have viewed your content. Like impressions, higher numbers in this category are a good indication that your content is optimized for whichever platforms you are actively leveraging.

Remember that awareness precedes traffic and engagement in the funnel. Your audience has to be exposed to your content before it can be prompted to take an action or convert. In the long-term, increased impressions and reach should lead to higher engagement.
Traffic + Engagement
Though they vary from network to network, KPIs for traffic and engagement generally include:

  • Website clicks: The number of taps on the website in your profile.
  • Likes: The number of people who like your content. Keep in mind that likes are arguably the least telling when it comes to measuring success, and shouldn’t act as a stand-alone KPI.
  • Shares: The number of times your content is shared by others. Increased shares will ultimately lead to increased reach.
  • Comments: The number of comments posted on your content.
  • Brand mentions: The number of times your brand was mentioned by other users.
  • Pageviews: The number of pages viewed or clicked on a site during a given time.
  • Sessions: A group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame
  • Followers: The total number of people in your network.

Keep in mind that no one KPI from the list above tells the whole story. Increased likes and comments will likely matter less if pageviews and sessions to your content hub are plummeting. Decide which metrics are most appropriate for your brand when it comes to measuring traffic and engagement, and be sure to view the results in the context of the full funnel and the goals you’re working to achieve.
At the last stage of the funnel, aim to evaluate how traffic and engagement impact lead generation. Are your engaged followers converting? Are your efforts on social media generating new leads? If not, you may not be publishing the right content on the right platforms at the right time. Depending on the nature of your company’s offering, KPIs for action might include:

  • Blog or website sign-ups
  • Newsletter sign-ups
  • Product page visits

Consider what content will be most successful in driving and reaching leads which could ultimately influence deals and revenue. At NewsCred, for instance, we do this by promoting our gated content on an ongoing basis – everything from downloadable templates to ebooks to whitepapers.
Most platforms have built-in social analytics designed to help you track and measure success. These include:

  • Facebook Insights
  • LinkedIn Analytics for company pages
  • Twitter Audience Insights
  • Instagram Insights

In an ideal scenario, the content you post on social media should regularly engage prospective customers and incentivize them to invest in your service. Consider using a template to track KPIs and measure success at every stage of the funnel:

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 4.52.48 PM.png

Audit your existing social media channels

A key step to building any new strategy is evaluating the existing one – or potential lack thereof. A social media audit allows you to analyze your company’s current usage of social media, expose areas of strength, and identify opportunities for optimization and improvement.
Start by taking an inventory of all of your social channels:

  • Compile a comprehensive list of your channels, both active and inactive
  • Delete or merge duplicates to avoid confusing your audiences
  • Remove secondary or inactive accounts if posting is irregular or performance is weak

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 4.52.41 PM.png
Next, determine what content you have at your disposal. How often do you publish new content? What has the potential to be revived, repurposed, and redistributed across channels? Opt for cornerstone or evergreen content, since both have long shelf lives and demonstrated success for boosting traffic.
Finally, determine who will own content curation and creation moving forward. Assign roles to your editors, copywriters, designers, and videographers.

Establish your target audience

In order to create engaging content that resonates with your audience, it’s critical that you understand who your audience is. This step may be redundant if you already have a documented content marketing strategy in place, in which case you might already be working with an ideal customer profile.
Keep in mind that social media also offers a massive amount of information and data about who people are and what they care about. Hence, it serves as an opportunity to reach people who are just outside of your target buyer persona. At NewsCred, our primary target includes senior-level content marketing leaders at enterprise companies, but on Instagram, for instance, our content reaches a much broader and diverse pool of people who may be potential NewsCred employees, junior-level marketers, or marketers at smaller companies, aged anywhere from 15 to 65.
If you aren’t already working with an ideal customer profile, begin by building a buyer persona. Consider the job title, income, gender, age, and location of your primary and secondary personas, but remember that you are creating for real people. Hence, the content you share on social should tap into their personal preferences, habits, interests, concerns, and emotions. Note that consumers increasingly favor businesses whose values align with their own. Social media can serve as an outlet for companies looking to take a public stand on timely issues.
How will you captivate their attention on social? Think about what your aspirational audience wants. How and where do they consume content? Use this information to help you decide which social networks to focus on. For instance, if your prospects and current customers use Facebook as their primary platform, that is where you should be most active.

Establish brand personality, voice, and tone

Once you have determined who your audience is, you can begin to understand how to talk to them. Establishing a brand voice and tone will allow you to keep social messaging consistent across all channels.
If your company does not already have brand guidelines in place, you might spend some time on this section. Social messaging should emphasize your brand pillars and personality, as well as your editorial tone and voice. Will you be serious and authoritative, or humorous and playful? Finally, build a social personality that will accurately reflect the look and feel of your brand – from the color scheme to the font style – and resonate with your audience.
Consider your content marketing strategy when crafting your social personality: your tone, voice, and perspective should all match up. As a general rule, avoid straying too far from the framework set out in your content marketing strategy to maintain a level of consistency across every platform that your company has a noteworthy presence. You want your audience to always be able to recognize your brand, anywhere it shows up.

Research and monitor the competitive landscape

By scoping out how your competitors are using social media to achieve their business goals, you will gain valuable insight into best (and worst) practices for execution.
Start with a keyword search on social networks to discover a mix of companies in the B2B space. Make a list of your top competitors. Who are they? What are they doing on each platform? Analyze their presence on all of their active social channels, taking note of everything from the number of followers to posting frequency to engagement activity.
Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 4.52.20 PM.png
While researching, consider the following:

  • What can you replicate?
  • What can you improve upon?
  • What should you avoid?

Let these questions guide you as you begin to craft a unique social approach for your business.

Build a monthly social media content calendar

This is arguably the most critical step of a successful social media strategy. The content calendar will be your most valuable tool when it comes to planning ahead, staying organized, maximizing efficiency, and leading content creation and management.
Use a spreadsheet to set up your content calendar. Keep the design as simple as possible so that it is easy to update and edit on a regular basis. You might consider the following template:
Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 4.52.09 PM.png

Before you can begin populating the template, you will need to:

  • Establish content pillars to help you classify and group social content into clearly-defined categories, such as “product,” “service,” “events,” and “editorial.” Leave space for temporary categories like “seasonal campaign,” which could be associated with one-off events or campaigns.
  • Consider asset types. What assets will you share on social? What assets do you have access to and can easily distribute across channels? Depending on your bandwidth, you may choose to create new, social-specific assets from scratch, like graphics, photos, infographics, videos, and animations. Note that text-only posts tend to be less successful when comes to engaging social audiences.
  • Determine how frequently you will post on each platform. Depending on content volume, posting frequency will vary from company to company. You may choose to post multiple times every day or only a few times every week. In terms of deciding when to post, the best method is to test a few different times to determine when your audience is online and willing to engage with your content.
  • Decide how strict or flexible the calendar should be. Are you assigning posts a hard publication time and date, or can timing be roughly estimated? Whether or not you are following a strict schedule, you should plan posts at least one to two weeks in advance. Prepare for live or real-time posts as best as possible by drafting stand-in copy and readying hashtags.
  • Set your goals and the KPIs you’ll measure for success month over month or year over year. In doing so, you’ll eventually be able to track relative performance to understand which tactics are most effective and where you need to optimize. For instance, if engagement rate is higher one month compared to previous months, consider why this may be. Your goals may change every month depending on the content you are trying to promote. At NewsCred, for instance, the month of May this year was dedicated to the sustained promotion of our upcoming ThinkContent: Transform Business summit on June 6 in New York. As Social Media Manager, my goal was to ensure that the event received as much exposure on social media as possible – to maximize visibility and drive registration.

Once completed, circulate your calendar to your wider team to ensure that everyone is aligned and can share the same expectations for the month. The calendar should reveal which tools and services you will need additional resources for, whether that’s video production of advertising. Hence, creating a calendar is a prerequisite for allocating budget.

Create a daily to-do list

The social content calendar will help you stay on top of your monthly to-dos. However, there are other tasks you should be doing on a daily basis to ensure the success of your social media strategy. These include actively engaging with your audience, whether that’s responding to direct messages, liking, or sharing posts in which your company is mentioned. Over time, regular engagement with your social audience could help increase conversions and retain loyal clients or consumers of your content. Response time should be kept short, at a maximum of four hours.
It is also a good idea to monitor social trends, buzzwords, and hashtags on a daily basis. Staying abreast of the latest topics trending on social means gaining insights into the preferences and interests of wider audiences. You may find yourself adjusting and managing social content planning according to popular hashtags. Be sure to keep an eye on your competitors, too, and continue to make note of their daily social behavior relative to your own.

Report on progress and adjust your strategy according.

With a documented, data-driven measurement of success in place, you are ready to report on the progress and next steps.
Meet with your wider team as well as other department heads to provide monthly updates and align on your future approach. Use your meetings with colleagues in HR, sales, product, and software to inform social content planning for the following months. Finally, meet with your executive management on a quarterly basis to present results and planned changes and updates to your strategy. This is also a time to request additional budget, should need be, and accept questions and feedback.

Final note

A social media strategy should be an integral part of every content marketing program. Social offers the exciting opportunity to increase brand awareness, build and strengthen brand credibility, expand audience reach, and drive leads and revenue by influencing prospects and customers at all stages of the funnel. Like most things, a successful strategy takes a few tries to perfect. Don’t hesitate to regularly test new tactics and adjust your method accordingly.
Gaby Tama is NewsCred’s Social Media and Content Marketing Associate.

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