Optimizing Your Social Media Content Strategy

text based graphic with same text as in post

Content is arguably the most important thing you should invest in on social media. Aside from the actual words you use in your social posts, content also includes videos, audio messages, banner images, infographics, and GIFs. While most of us know social media is a part of our large content strategy, we rarely think about social as having a content strategy of itself. That’s what we discussed this week, and we invited content marketing consultant Erick Heald to decode some of the confusion in this area.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Ericka Heald
Topic: Optimizing your social media content strategy
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What is a social media content strategy?

A social media content strategy is a document clearly outlining how you, as a business brand, will use the various social media channels to achieve your goals. It includes information about which channels you’ll be active on, what type of content you’ll share, your tone and language, do’s and don’ts, and sometimes even example posts to help any new team members understand your content strategy.

Apart from all that, as Jim suggested, your social media content strategy should also explain who your target audiences are and how you intend to reach them.

Q2: How is a social media content strategy different from a brand’s overall content strategy?

Social media is one type of marketing. Which means that you also have other avenues to market your business, such as email and advertising. Similarly, your content strategy for social media is only one part of your overall content strategy.

While your overall content strategy is intended to communicate your business’s story in various ways, your social media content is exclusively for your social audience.

In other words, you wouldn’t include a style guide for print ad copywriting in your social media content strategy. It’s crucial to understand this distinction because as Masooma put it, the expectations of your social media audience is vastly different from the expectations, say of Super Bowl fans who see your video ad.

Q3: How can listening on Twitter help your social media content strategy?

The foundation of a good social media presence is understanding and delivering what your audience wants. Most people, whether or not they actively use Twitter, come to the platform to interact with brands they use and to share their experiences with others like them.

That’s what makes Twitter so valuable—because people use it as a medium to voice their concerns, brands that listen will have great insights into their customers and potentials. This also helps them craft their messages in a language their audience is familiar with.

Another key reason to listen to your audience is they’ll tell you when you’re off the track or on the wrong side of an issue, as Don pointed out. Though it’s important to be aware of what your audience expects of you, listening also helps you learn what your audience doesn’t want you to be involved in.

Q4: How can you leverage community engagement to strengthen your social media content strategy?

Your community is constantly sending you signals about what type of content you should be sharing. They do this by engaging with your content or ignoring it altogether. Pay attention to how your audience reacts to your content. For instance, if you notice that certain styles of content or colors in your images are getting more attention than others—use more of what they like.

What’s more, if your community is strong and supportive, they’ll even generate content for you. This could be reviews on social media, retweets, or recommendations. This type of content (user generated content or UGC) has the highest value because it’s a sign that your audience appreciates you enough to vouch for you.

Kevin spoke about the snowballing effect of engagement. Twitter’s algorithm is designed to show you content that people you follow have engaged with. This means that if a handful of your audience engage with your content, it’ll automatically reach a wider audience. This works the other way too—so when your audience engages with content created by other brands, you’ll get that content in your feed. This is an excellent way to gauge what your audience is interacting with on a daily basis, apart from your own content.

Q5: What is a buyer persona and why is it important to develop one?

A buyer persona is a detailed description of your ideal customer. Consider a character in a story—the author would explain who they are, what they do, what they like and don’t like, and what makes them so special. Every character gets an in-depth description of what makes them tick. A buyer persona is the same, except you create it.

Creating a buyer persona helps you narrow down your messaging so that you can address the specific type of customer who’s most likely to want to purchase from you.

Based on the size of your business and the amount of services or products you offer, you can have different buyer personas, each distinctly complex. Our guest also shared a link to #ContentChat summaries where she’s discussed buyer personas more in detail. Check it out.

Jim listed out some of the principle elements you should include in your buyer persona, such as their hobbies, demographics, job roles and income, and the social channels they most use. The more detailed it is, the better. It’s like getting to know a character in your favorite novel—you should know everything there is to know about them.

Q6: Can Twitter help improve your buyer persona?

Absolutely. If you’re listening to your audience intently, you’ll automatically observe a lot of things that help build your buyer persona. Aside from that, you can also poll and survey your audience to know how they feel about one specific topic or incident. This can be a helpful way to identify topics you should and shouldn’t discuss on social media as a brand.

And of course, when you actively interact with your audience, you’ll have the opportunity to validate your observations. Twitter chats are the best way to build out those conversations.

It’s important to remember that your buyer persona isn’t a fixed point in time. As our friends from GiveWP mentioned, always be learning from your Twitter interactions and apply your lessons to your persona. Your buyer persona is based on real human behavior, and so it’s essential that it grows and evolves as any human would.

Q7: How can you identify issues in your social media content strategy?

A UTM (Urchin tracking module) is a unique tracking code that you can add to links. This will help you track the performance of every link you’ve shared on social media. For example, if you share a blog post on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and add a UTM parameter to each link, when you look at your blog traffic later, you can see how many clicks came from each platform. You can further analyze this data and even measure how long people have stayed on your blog post, how much they’ve scrolled, and which other pages they clicked through to from your blog post.

Such granular analysis can help you identify the types of content that work well and the ones that need fixing. For example, if you discover that only 20% of people who land on your blog post read the full post, it’s possible that the post is too long. Consider breaking it into two parts and see of that works better. Or if you realize that your visitors read your blog completely but they don’t click the CTA at the bottom. Perhaps you should try a more prominent CTA or place it elsewhere so that it’s harder to miss.

You can also use this tracking system to perfect your social media copy. For instance, you could share the same blog post twice with different tweet copy and see which one gets more clicks. There are many analytics tools that allow you to deep dive into these data, including Google Analytics, Adobe, and TrackMaven.

And of course, as Lanie reminded us, never discount the value of direct feedback from your audience.

Q8: How often should you re-evaluate your social media content strategy?

How often you re-evaluate your strategy varies based on your industry and social engagement. However, as a rule of thumb, consider evaluating your strategy at least every quarter, giving enough time for new experiments to take off. As our guest suggested, make monthly reports so you have a solid chunk of data at the end of each quarter to measure your performance.

That said, always be aware of what’s happening in your industry and across the world. During events that involve or impact your business, pause your strategy and verify that your plan is still relevant. COVID-19 is an excellent example. If you sell ergonomic chairs and had planned to target office managers and HR professionals in your content just before the pandemic hit, you should’ve re-evaluated your strategy as soon as lockdowns began. You should’ve, instead, shifted your focus to engage with individuals who were struggling to set up decent home offices.

Lance advocates for analyzing your performance every week. Even if you don’t make major changes every week, frequent reporting can help catch major problems pretty quickly. Based on how much time and effort you can allocate to reporting and analysis, choose a frequency that works for you and you can consistently keep up with.

Whether you report weekly or monthly, always ensure that you analyze all social channels on the same day. This is crucial and gives you accurate data.

Well, folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading, and for more insights from our chat with Erica, check out this Twitter thread. If you think this summary is pretty cool, let Madalyn and me know. But more importantly, come say hello on our next #TwitterSmarter chat—we hang out for an hour every Thursday from 1pm ET. See you then!

About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

Say hello: Personal blog | LinkedIn | Twitter