In a time where social media marketing and content marketing have become integral to business success, the art of creating a well-structured social media content plan holds the key to capturing audiences’ attention, fostering engagement, and driving growth. In this episode of Modern Marketing Messages, our host, Taylor Karg, sits down with Americaneagle.com social media experts, Morgan Tracey and Kelly Biladeau. They reveal that the social media landscape isn’t just about posting visually-appealing content. It’s about crafting a strategic plan that resonates with your target audience while adapting to the ever-evolving trends of the digital world.
Why a Well-Organized Content Calendar is Vital for Social Media Success
Morgan emphasizes the ubiquity of social media and its importance for businesses. She highlights the necessity of having a content calendar to maintain a consistent presence on various platforms and effectively engage with the audience. Kelly adds that social media marketing allows for spontaneity, but a content calendar is vital to stay relevant and organized. It helps in strategically allocating time and resources to create graphics and copy for posts. Taylor agrees and underscores the role of a content calendar in achieving organization and clarity for post planning across different channels.
Tailoring Your Content Plan Through Effective Audience Targeting
Kelly explains that it's crucial to engage in conversations with clients to identify the target audience's behaviors, preferences, and interactions online. She emphasizes the importance of considering factors like industry, age, and content preferences to tailor the plan effectively. Kelly also mentions the availability of resources, including social media platforms and social media content planning tools that provide insights into audience demographics and trends. This understanding lays the foundation for social media content planning. Morgan supplements this by suggesting the analysis of competitors' social media strategies and platform choices to align with the client's goals. This comprehensive audience analysis aids in strategic decision-making about social media platforms and content.
Strategies for Nailing Audience Targeting in Your Social Media Strategy
Taylor explores the techniques that Morgan and Kelly employ, during the social media content planning phase, to understand a new client's target audience and competitors. Kelly emphasizes the importance of starting with a competitor analysis during the initial audit to determine which platforms are most suitable for the client's target audience. They assess the current engagement and alignment with the target audience on the client's platforms.
Morgan adds that she takes an outsider's perspective by seeking input from people fitting the client's target audience, both within her personal circle and among colleagues. She emphasizes the need to understand real people as potential audience members. The discussion also covers the frequency of such analyses, with Morgan mentioning that an initial organic social media audit is conducted during onboarding, and it might be revisited after periods like a year, six months, or a quarter to evaluate its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.
Leveraging Content Themes & Pillars to Resonate with Your Audience
Kelly explains that they build content themes based on trends and audience preferences identified through the initial audit. This approach ensures that messaging reaches the target audience effectively. Kelly emphasizes the importance of optimizing profile elements, like profile pictures and descriptions, to convey brand clarity. She offers an example of a client in the commercial industry, where a clear description distinguishes the type of services offered. When Taylor asks for an example of a content theme, Kelly cites an "engagement-focused" theme. She explains that this theme aims to encourage user interaction through likes, comments, or sharing. The approach varies for each client, considering what content prompts excitement and engagement within their respective audiences.
How to Determine the Goals & Objectives of a Social Media Content Plan
Shifting the focus to setting goals and objectives for a social media content plan, Morgan explains that she begins by asking clients about their specific social media goals. She emphasizes the importance of aligning content themes with these goals. For instance, different clients within the same industry might have varying objectives, such as driving website visits or encouraging sign-ups. Morgan highlights the significance of understanding client goals to guide content creation. She notes that goals can differ based on platforms—Twitter's goal might differ from that of LinkedIn. Tailoring content to these distinct objectives contributes to the overall success of the content calendar and social media strategy.
Social Media KPIs You Should Be Tracking
Kelly explains that reactions and engagements, such as likes and comments, are significant key performance indicators (KPIs). She notes that analyzing both overall likes and comments can reveal user interaction patterns. Kelly also mentions video views and the need to bridge gaps between view counts and engagement. Analytics from the website perspective provide insights into user actions after clicking a link or ad, revealing the effectiveness of the intended post goals. Morgan adds that analytics are often collected from content scheduling platforms like Sprout Social and tools like Google Analytics. She mentions the valuable metrics these platforms offer for comprehensive performance assessment, aiding in reporting and analysis.
How to Balance Different Objectives in Your Content Plan
Taylor explores the challenge of balancing different content themes and objectives within a social media content plan, such as engagement, brand awareness, and lead generation. Kelly emphasizes the misconception some clients have that social media is only for promoting services, whereas it's also essential for brand personality and awareness. To manage this balance, Kelly mentions that they typically incorporate around five to six content themes during the initial audit. She underscores the value of a content calendar in ensuring a diverse range of themes to avoid content and engagement fatigue.
Morgan adds that analyzing KPIs helps adjust the content strategy. She highlights a client example where posts about company outings and trainings performed better than service-related posts, indicating the need to adapt content for different audiences. Kelly mentions the use of labeling features in tools like Sprout Social to categorize and analyze post performance, enabling adjustments based on actual data.
Keeping Up with Ever-Evolving Social Media Platforms
Morgan explains that the decision depends on the client's social media goals and brand voice. Each platform's compatibility with the brand's identity and voice is crucial. She gives an example of how platforms like TikTok may not be the right fit for some brands, like law firms or nursing homes, as their brand voice may not align with the platform's tone. Morgan highlights the importance of the client's goals in determining the choice of platforms. Kelly adds that maintaining accounts on every platform can be challenging and time-consuming, potentially leading to a lack of tailored content. She mentions the significance of adhering to platform-specific best practices to effectively engage with the target audience. Kelly also emphasizes that posting the same content across all platforms can be counterproductive and inefficient, underscoring the importance of selecting platforms strategically and tailoring content accordingly.
How to Maintain Brand Consistency While Adapting to Different Social Media Platforms
The discussion revolves around adapting content for specific brands while staying consistent across different platforms. Kelly mentions the challenge of the ever-changing digital space and highlights the importance of research to tailor content effectively. Attending webinars, reading articles, and staying informed about platform updates are emphasized. An example is given regarding recent changes in platforms, such as Instagram's allowance of multiple links in bios.
The conversation touches on the dynamic nature of social media trends, with Morgan humorously referencing the pace of updates. Kelly explains the need to adjust captions for different platforms, considering elements like link placement and hashtag usage. She notes the variation in hashtag use between platforms, mentioning LinkedIn's different approach. The importance of researching best practices and adapting content to align with current trends and platform specifics is emphasized. The trend of short-form videos is discussed as a common thread across platforms, though it's essential to be strategic as trends differ between platforms. Overall, the consensus is on staying updated and staying adaptable to effectively manage platform-specific content.
How to Create Content Themes that Resonate with Your Audience
Morgan explains the approach, starting with understanding the audience and studying competitors. She mentions analyzing the client's current strategies and evaluating what's effective and what's not. Themes and pillars are developed to be engaging, but if certain types of posts, like engagement-focused ones, aren't performing well, adjustments are made. She emphasizes the importance of periodic review, suggesting reevaluation every few months to determine what's effective and what needs to be refined. She also emphasizes the importance of taking a look at your social media content plan template and refining as needed. Morgan notes that not only can the client's following change, but also the platforms themselves, necessitating staying updated on what strategies will be effective.
How Content Themes & Pillars Enhance Your Social Media Branding
Morgan shares an example of a successful content theme that involved highlighting employee anniversaries on LinkedIn and tying it to open job positions within the company. This approach garnered a significant increase in engagement, around 500%, compared to other posts. Kelly talks about a client in the adventure activities industry where user-generated content played a significant role in resonating with the audience. The content themes that worked well for this client included sharing user experiences at the park and showcasing the different activities available, resulting in engagement and nostalgia among the followers.
Social Media Content Planning Tools
There are a number of tools available that simplify the social media content planning process. Some of the social media content planning tools we routinely use include:
- HootSuite: This platform offers an all-in-one solution to schedule, manage, and report on social media content. It also provides insights that can be vital for content adjustments.
- Sprout Social: This social media tool is also comparable with HootSuite with all-in-one capabilities, but offers a deeper dive into analytics, helping brands understand their audience better and refine their content accordingly.
- Canva: A design tool that's indispensable for creating eye-catching social media graphics and multimedia content. Canva is improving constantly with new features that speed up social media content creation.
- SmartSheets: Helps in organizing your social media campaigns in a spreadsheet-like format. We will use SmartSheets to roadmap our social media content calendar and plan in an interactive spreadsheet that cohesively works with ticketing and tasking systems.
- Google Search Console & Google Analytics: Both are crucial for tracking your website's performance and understanding how social media and new content drives traffic.
- Semrush: Offers keyword research tools which are essential when developing content for popular topics and inclusion of high-volume keywords into your content.
- Google Looker Studio: Allows you to visualize your data, making it easier to make informed decisions about your content strategy.
How to Create a Content Cycle for Social Media
Morgan explains that the social media content planning cycle varies depending on the client and their marketing planning. She mentions that one client is already planning content for October due to specific events like Halloween. Generally, they work about a month in advance, with content for the upcoming month being developed halfway through the previous month. This allows for client review and feedback before scheduling the content. The timing is adjusted to accommodate both the social media content planning and execution stages effectively.
Avoiding Content Fatigue – Strategies for Keeping Your Social Media Plan Fresh
Kelly and Morgan provide tips for maintaining a content calendar and avoiding content fatigue. Kelly suggests starting each month by looking at upcoming holidays and finding ways to tie them back to the business or industry, while also staying relevant and engaged in current conversations. She emphasizes the need to constantly revisit the strategy and adapt it based on changing trends and audience preferences.
Morgan adds that it's beneficial to incorporate one new thing each month into the content calendar. This could involve trying a new type of engagement post, incorporating videos, or exploring different ideas. They caution against making too many changes at once to avoid overwhelming the audience.
How to Measure the Success of a Social Media Strategy
Kelly and Morgan discuss how they evaluate the success of social media content on a monthly basis. They start by utilizing the analytics provided by the platforms themselves, comparing metrics from the current month to the previous month. This helps them identify any significant changes in performance and allows them to adjust their strategies accordingly. They also focus on identifying top-performing posts and analyzing trends in content themes.
Kelly also highlights the value of using Sprout Social's social media content planning tool for competitive analysis, which allows them to compare their metrics with those of competitors. This gives them insights into their industry standing and helps them ensure they are meeting client KPIs while also staying competitive within the market.
Morgan explains their use of "cubing," a method of analyzing top and bottom-performing posts to identify patterns and trends. They examine factors like post type, caption length, and engagement to better understand what resonates with the audience and what doesn't. This approach helps them refine their strategies and adapt to the evolving landscape of social media.
Successful Social Media Content Types
Kelly and Morgan discuss the positive impacts of specific social media strategies and content types. They mention that giveaways tend to yield dramatic positive increases in engagement, especially when participants are required to comment, tag others, and share the post. They emphasize the value of including the term "giveaway" directly on the graphic to capture users' attention as they scroll through their feeds.
User-generated content (UGC) is another powerful approach that they highlight. Sharing content created by customers or followers not only increases engagement but also promotes authenticity and avoids coming across as too sales-focused. They provide an example of a food company that sees significant growth during grilling season due to the abundance of UGC they receive from customers who tag them in their posts. Repurposing this content not only builds authenticity but also expands the brand's reach and customer loyalty.
The Importance of a Well-Structured Social Media Content Plan
Morgan and Kelly provide their top takeaways for creating effective social media content plans:
Morgan emphasizes the importance of understanding your audience and aligning your content with the goals of your social media strategy. She highlights that regardless of how visually appealing or well-crafted your content is, it won't be effective if it doesn't resonate with your audience and serve your overall objectives.
Kelly stresses the value of thorough research in the ever-changing landscape of social media platforms and digital marketing. She underscores the significance of staying informed about best practices, trends, and audience behaviors to ensure your content remains relevant and engaging. Additionally, she emphasizes the importance of planning, balancing the flexibility to adapt with the advantage of having a well-prepared content calendar.
Social Media Content Plan Template
Having a social media content plan template can act as a roadmap for your social media journey. Most social media content plan templates should include the following:
- Content themes: Plan daily or weekly themes, like “Tuesday themes for social media,” to maintain consistency and engage your audience.
- Posting schedule: Integrating posting schedule for social media can help maintain a consistent presence. Remember, it's not just about the frequency but also the timing.
- Content mix: Balance your content with a variety of post types – from images to infographics, blogs, and videos. The 'social media content mix' should be diverse to cater to different segments of your audience.
- Analytics: Use the tools mentioned above to review the performance of your posts. This helps in refining your strategy over time.
- Backup plan: Always have a plan for social media in case things don't work out. This could be in the form of extra content or alternative strategies.
Listen to Modern Marketing Messages Today!
Whether you're a seasoned social media marketer or a newcomer to the field, this episode of Modern Marketing Messages equips you with the knowledge needed to create a well-structured and compelling social media content plan that helps your brand stand out from the crowd.
- Modern Marketing Messages: Podcast // Twitter // Instagram // Facebook // YouTube
- Taylor Karg: LinkedIn
- Morgan Tracey: LinkedIn
- Kelly Biladeau: LinkedIn
- Resources: Digital Marketing Services, Social Media Marketing Services
Brought to you by Americaneagle.com, a digital marketing and web design company, Modern Marketing Messages discusses the latest and greatest in both online and offline marketing tactics, strategies, and trends. We take a deep dive into anything and everything marketing, speaking to the best and brightest minds in technology and marketing. Episodes will cover different areas of focus, from advanced SEO to paid search, personalization to influencer marketing, and everything in between.