Planning your content
So far, you’ve created a strategy, and have identified when and where you’re going to post.
You now know who your target audience is, so it’s time to think a little more about what you’re going to post. It’s easiest to think about your content like a funnel. You move from the initial big ideas to gradually become more refined through weekly themes on platforms and individual posts. By planning your content this way, you can make sure that all your social media activity relates to the overall campaign in a meaningful way.
There are six main items to include in your plan:
Key themes and messages: Think about how your campaign themes and overall messages will flow over the course of the campaign. Will it be the same thing every day? If not, you can separate them into a narrative arc, clustered against time periods in the calendar.
Dates and times: Within each week, list the dates, including weekends, and any notable dates or events that might influence content. Depending on the intensity of your campaign, you may split individual days into specific time periods, for example, morning, lunchtime or later, or by time zone, for example, morning Asia, morning Europe, morning EST (Eastern Standard Time) or morning PST (Pacific Standard Time). These choices depend on the target audience you are communicating with.
Platforms: Thinking about each time slot, list the major platforms that you will use, and the key message you will be using at that time. For example, Facebook for an interview with a designer, Twitter for a product announcement, or Instagram for a design gallery.
Content type: Plot out the different content formats you’re using on the content plan, for example images, galleries, interviews, promotion and videos. You can then see at a glance whether you’re going to be overloaded with videos and not have enough opportunities to engage users. Remember, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn all have character limits you will need to stay within.
Specific post copy: Write out the actual wording for your posts. Best practice is to have the earlier copy written in full, but subsequent steps can be completed later. For example, you might write a tweet for the first part of the campaign exactly as it will be posted. For any following ones you might simply sketch out the content, for example, “Follow up to first tweet, giving a different angle”, or “Preview for coming activity”. As the campaign matures, you will get a better sense of what language works and which messages need reinforcing.
Accompanying assets: Think about what else you need to make your social media post resonate with your target audience. Both Twitter and Facebook report that using images results in posts receiving significantly more engagement. You might use video or photos, a clickable link to the company website, and/or campaign tracking code (if you have one).
Having your content plans outlined in a document will help you see your campaign at a glance. It can also be useful for sign off, sense-checking and coordinating activities across a team. Asking someone else to look over your plans usually helps to improve the flow, or remind you of things you might have overlooked. Make sure this information is shareable and safe from any computer or network issues. You can create it as a shared document, either in the cloud, for example on Google Drive, or use a dedicated social media management tool.
Social media management tools
You can use social media management tools to schedule posts in advance as well as help you gain an insight into their performance. Companies which offer these services across multiple social platforms include Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Buffer.
If you choose to schedule posts in advance, make sure you keep a close eye on what content you have coming up in future. Think proactively about whether that content is still relevant or valuable. You might choose to remove or reschedule content to improve performance, or in response to audience feedback.
Make time to reflect on your planned content in light of any events which might influence or impact public mood and attention. For example, if your target audience seems to be caught up in a natural disaster or other crisis, your pre-scheduled promotional messages might appear to be irrelevant at best, and exploitative or insulting at worst.
You’ll find more information on how to shape your content in the related course How to Create Great Online Content. You’ll also find some articles on best practice for managing social media marketing content in the See Also section below this step. But in brief, the following considerations will provide you with an introduction to the process:
- Keep it brief: All social platforms have character limits and adding video or other media to your posts can limit this further. Videos should have subtitles or captions as many people browse the internet with sound switched off.
Links: Adding a link to a post can drive people to content, but it inhibits retweets and favourites. Think about your desired campaign outcomes, and plan content accordingly.
Numbers and statistics: Numbers can increase engagement because they draw the eye when scanning a page. You can maximise this effect by creating simple images containing statistics taken from a longer article.
Ask questions and answer them: Social media is a two-way conversation. Polls, questions, user perspectives or testimonials can all help to humanise marketing activity.
- Tell stories: Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are especially good for publishing interviews or longer thought pieces. Collections of photos can also tell visual stories. Twitter’s threaded tweets and the ability to curate Moments allow you to link content together. All social platforms can be used to share ideas over time in episodic ways, using a particular hashtag or scheduling.
What do you think?
There are many ways to use content effectively within a social media campaign. Think about the kinds of content you engage with in social media. What works best for you?
Join the conversation in the Comments section.
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