I performed an unintentional experiment when I set up my first Facebook group for a life coach.
I spent a lot of time doing research on Facebook groups before I started one. I felt like I knew my stuff and was confident with the direction I was going to help take it. To start on the right foot, I set up a posting schedule for the coach to follow. It was a mix of member questions and quizzes, day of the week posts, inspirational quotes, an exercise of the week, helpful articles and other content. My desire was to engage and entertain readers, and to keep them coming back for more.
The group was beginning to get successful when the life coach I was working with decided it wasn’t “professional” enough. Her plan was to only post industry articles and coaching tips – everything else I created got the big ol’ boot.
Well, the ship sank. All the fun and camaraderie left the building, along with many of the members. The coach eventually shut down the group, which was an unfortunate result.
Creating effective social media content isn’t always easy (unless you were born with a golden keyboard). After all, you have to attract the right prospect in a short amount of time to a tiny piece of website real estate. And if you miss the mark, you may not have another chance to engage that person.
I don’t mean to sound like the harbinger of doom (although it does feel powerful). There are tons of resources, articles, books, and courses to help you craft your social media content. And after a little practice and perseverance, I know you’ll catch on fine.
…I should make a note referencing the old Facebook group. The coach’s desire to share helpful articles and tips wasn’t a bad idea at all. In fact, Twitter would have been ideal for sharing articles and tips. But we had already decided Twitter wasn’t where she needed to show face. Her eventual problems with the group were twofold…
She wasn’t engaging her ideal audience with the types of content they wanted.
She wasn’t using the platform where her potential customers gathered.
All right, let’s set aside my long-winded introduction and dive into the goods. Do you want some tips on mastering your content marketing? Of course you do! Without further ado, here are some tactics to get you started…
How Does Social Media Fit In?
Social media marketing is a part of your overall content marketing strategy. In fact, it’s essential in supporting your company’s goals. Social media will suck you into a black hole, unless you have a content plan in place that connects to your goals.
If your company’s goal is to increase web traffic, posting a bunch of inspirational quotes on Facebook isn’t going to cut it. Your time would be better spent posting links to your articles and freebies. Those are the tactics that will make people click through to your website.
The content you publish on social media should be in line with every campaign you run. If you are heading up a challenge, promoting it on social media is fantastic. You can talk about it on Facebook and link to the event, promote it on Twitter, or create a “challenge” upgrade for a Pinterest pin.
Facebook groups are especially valuable for promoting challenges and courses. You have an audience of fans that chose to be a part of your community. They like and trust you, and can’t wait to consume your content.
Again, before you spend time or money creating content for social media, be sure that it supports your company’s goal. If it doesn’t, try a different tactic or approach.
Remember you may also have more than one goal. You could plan to increase your brand awareness at the same time you promote your first product. That’s fine, as long as you are aware of those goals and plan your content to help achieve them.
Social Spying…uh, I Mean Listening
When some people hear the term “social listening”, they think of monitoring social media for mentions of their brand or personal name. But, you can also use other aspects of “listening” to get some valuable content insight.
Sorry if this sounds creepy, but how about listening in on your audience’s conversations? What a wealth of information! You can discover more about their pain points, challenges, celebrations and more. Think about how you can use that information to fine-tune your content, sales funnels, landing pages and more.
Another benefit to listening in on your customers’ conversations is hearing them speak in “natural language.” They may describe your products and their pain points using terms you never thought of. Or they might phrase ideas in a way that is a direct hit on emotions.
This is another way to laser focus your messaging. Writing with the same words and phrases makes you relatable to your customers. They will feel like you understand them and can empathize with their situation. Trust!
Depending on your budget, social listening companies offer a variety of plans. Some even include free services. Several of the more popular companies include Sprout Social, Mention, Brand24 and Hootsuite.
Which Channels are Right for You
It is near impossible to engage yourself in every social media channel. And, thank goodness, this isn’t necessary for you to be successful. If you choose only two to focus on you can be thorough, responsive and creative with those channels. This is much better than muddling six channels.
Also, there’s nothing preventing you from adding another channel in the future. After you master the first two (or better yet – after you have the awesome gift of a VA bestowed upon you), you can branch out. See if adding a channel or two improves your business or brings you enjoyment.
For instance, as I write this article for my new business, I am focusing on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I know how popular Instagram is, but I’m not a fancy photo-taking kind of gal. I would have to invest enormous amounts of time on the platform to make up for my lack of talent with it. I did reserve an Instagram handle though. (You should reserve handles everywhere you can so you have them available to you in the future.)
Following are the best uses for the more popular platforms. Choose which ones you’d like to start with or decide if you’d like to switch to a new one…
- Facebook: Facebook is a must and should be one of your core channels. You can post a wide variety of content in several different formats. You can be creative, funny, informative and provide value to your readers. Organic reach isn’t workable anymore, but you can use Facebook to boost traffic to your website. It’s fairly inexpensive to pay to promote your blog posts or freebies and get a great response (make sure you promote your BEST content). Facebook is great for targeting specific audiences for advertising. And, if you have a Facebook Group, you have a ready-made marketing research tool.
- Twitter: Twitter is big on breaking news, article promotion, information sharing, and discussions. It can also be a great way to respond directly to your customers’ concerns or questions. As a newbie, you can use Twitter to connect and form relationships with experts or influencers in your field.
- Pinterest (technically a search engine): Pinterest can be an excellent platform for driving traffic to your site. And, you can use it to share useful ideas and valuable information with your audience. If you spend a bit of time upfront creating attractive pins, you can use them as templates forever after. This is also a good way to keep your branding consistent. Pinterest users love content upgrades too, so if you have one, be sure to advertise it. If you can pin it, you can promote it. This includes challenges, lead magnets, ebooks, courses, and almost all other content.
- Instagram: Instagram is a valuable visual platform, but it’s not optimized for forming relationships. Talented people can raise their pages to an art form with beautiful photos, videos, and stories. But, you can also use it to promote your content. As long as you keep to a theme or stick with your brand colors, you can make an attractive page (unless you’re me of course). If you need inspiration, you can search the web for Instagram themes or can buy custom templates.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is news and business oriented. You can use it to share valuable industry-related content, make connections with peers and experts, and job hunt or recruit. Use it to keep up with your industry’s news, research, and trends. Also, depending on what type of subscription you have, you can reach out and contact almost anyone.
What You Should Post
It’s important to remember each platforms’ characteristics because it will affect the type of content you write for them.
Following is a quick rundown of what you’d likely post for the more popular platforms. I’ll get more specific in future posts, which I will link to, because the topic can be a rabbit hole of information.
- Facebook: Blog posts, grapics, curated content, quotes/affirmations, and videos, especially live videos (they are by far the most popular form of content on this platform).
- Twitter: Blog posts, curated content (giving a nod to the author if appropriate), breaking news, short commentary.
- Instagram: High quality photos, preferably with a color or mood theme, styled quotes, stories (which disappear after 24 hours).
- Pinterest: Blog posts with a branded graphic (some of which promote content upgrades), photos, quotes, infographics.
- LinkedIn: Blog posts, curated content, business news.
Content Distribution with Social Media
After completing your blog post and publishing it, what’s the first thing you should do? Yes! (I’m assuming you got that right.) You need to distribute it on your social media channels. There are actually a few reasons for this:
- People will share your article
- You will contribute to your brand awareness and recognition if you’re consistent
- You will drive traffic to your website, especially if you promote a content upgrade
Always distribute your content multiple times because not everyone will see it if you only post once. Some social media management companies, like CoSchedule and Sprout Social, allow you to set up a sharing schedule. There are also companies that cater to a specific platform, for instance, Tailwind and Pinterest (and Instagram). If you so desire, you can schedule your content pinning for an entire month with Tailwind.
Following are the average guidelines for posting on the first day of publication:
Facebook: 1 post
Twitter: 12-15 posts
Instagram: 2 posts
Pinterest: 12 pins
LinkedIn: 1 post
After the first day of social posting, you can follow a recommended schedule or you can make up your own. In general, you should post more in the days right after you publish, then diminish the schedule over 2-3 weeks.
After that, if it’s an article that will stay relevant in the future, you can schedule it as an evergreen post. In this case, you or your social media management company will publish your posts, forever and ever. You should never stop distributing your evergreen articles. They will continue to get visits and grow your traffic over time. (Note: Periodically check your evergreen content to be sure it’s still relevant. If not, update it.)
If you’re a beginner to hashtags, they may be a bit confusing. Here’s the lowdown. On social media, hashtags include a word with the hashtag sign placed in front of it (that part’s not confusing). They will appear like this:
Hashtags, when used correctly, work as a content filter. If I specify the hashtag #weddinginvitations, my search would only show posts with that designation. They are especially helpful for events and contests. If I am sponsoring a promotion called “The Best Photo Ever”, I would ask that everyone in the contest include #thebestphotoever in their posts. This way people could use that hashtag in their search and see all the photo entries.
But how do you know where and when to use them, or how many to use in a single post? Here are some guidelines:
- You need to research hashtags before you use them. If you include a hashtag in your post that no one uses, it doesn’t boost your views at all. However, if you find a popular hashtag that a lot of people search for, your content has a better chance for discovery.
- Use hashtags on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Use them for promotion, filtering searches, creating a community, branding or holding conversations.
- Best practice is to add up to 2 hashtags for a Twitter post, 10 or more hashtags on Instagram (up to 30!), 2 hashtags for Facebook, and 1-2 hashtags for LinkedIn. Don’t spam hashtags!
- You can buy software or services that help you find the best and most popular hashtags to use for your content. Examples are Twitonomy, Tagboard or RiteTag.
In this article I touched on several of the more important aspects of social media content, but all the information out there could fill a massive book (hmm…upcoming project maybe?).
Some advice? Don’t rush into posting your content on social media. Research the different aspects of each platform and do things the “accepted” and most productive way. Don’t waste your time and effort on tactics that aren’t going to bring you any returns.
If you have any questions about the giant hairy monster of social media content, feel free to send them to me:
#emailkristin (don’t really use that hashtag anywhere, I made it up).