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Social Media Content Strategy: From Start To Finish

For brands without a social media plan, here's your strategy to bookmark. Create social media posts, publish them, and track your results efficiently.

A social media content strategy is like a map and a guidebook rolled into one.

It’s an essential document that tells you how to get from point A to point B to ensure a return on investment (ROI) from social media.

It tells you where to post, what to post, and how often to post to meet your goals. It gives you direction, as well as a way to reach your destination.

Without a strategy, using social media to grow your business might be too random or scattered to work.

With a plan in hand, however, you’ll have a better shot at reaching the right people, with the right content, on the right platforms.

It matters because more people than ever before are congregating on social media — nearly 60% of the total global population.

In the U.S., 72% of people use social media, with the most popular platforms being Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

This means your audience is probably on at least one of these platforms – but you won’t connect with them, drive more traffic to your website, or increase sales without a solid social media content strategy.

What Is A Social Media Content Strategy?

A social media content strategy is a plan that contains all the ins and outs of how you’ll use content to grow your brand and reach your goals on social media platforms.

Ideally, your strategy will be documented so you can refer to it as you carry out the tasks associated with creating social media posts, publishing them, and tracking your results. If you have a team, your strategy document will also help keep everyone on the same page.

Remember: You can and should see direct brand growth from social media content marketing if you do it right – with a plan.

If, on the other hand, you post whatever, whenever, with no strategy, goals, or measurement, you’ll probably see little to no results.

How To Build Your Social Media Content Strategy In Seven Steps

1. Set Goals That Align With Your Brand

Every strategy should start with setting one or two goals for what you want that strategy to achieve.

Goal-setting hones your focus and guides your actions so you’re not wasting time on things that don’t matter.

For example, if one of your social media content marketing goals is to drive more traffic to your website, metrics such as likes and shares won’t matter that much to you. Instead, you’ll look at your click-through rates (CTRs) and website traffic from social media.

Here are some other common social media content marketing goals:

  • Grow awareness of your brand: Track your followers, post shares/mentions, and post reach.
  • Earn more leads: Measure email sign-ups, lead magnet downloads, and clicks that came from social media.
  • Increase engagement with your brand: Pay attention to likes, comments, and shares per post. Track mentions and replies to your Stories.

Remember, don’t track everything – track what will help you meet your goals.

2. Research Your Audience And What Platforms They Use

If your brand already does content marketing, you understand how important it is to define your audience before you start creating content.

Audience research will guide what you post more than any other factor; Every post you create should engage them on some level.

To do that, you need to know what will engage them.

You can base that on what you know about them, such as their age, gender, income, job title or industry, etc., or you can find out directly from their mouths with methods like:

  • Interviews (exchange emails or direct messages, or talk to them 1:1).
  • Social listening.
  • Surveys.

Audience research will also help you determine which platforms your brand should be using.

And, no, you shouldn’t be on all the platforms. Instead, choose one or two on which to focus the brunt of your efforts, and choose them based on the most common platforms your audience uses.

3. Optimize Your Social Media Profiles(s)

An unoptimized social profile will hurt the work you put into social media content marketing. An unprofessional, sloppy, or off-brand profile will not help visitors understand who you are or what you sell.

Instead, make sure your profiles are engaging, informative, and appropriately branded so you can help leads discover more about you.

  • Use a branded profile picture: Keep it consistent across your profiles for a seamless look.
  • Clarify your bio: Keep it short but sweet, and make sure you explain succinctly what you do for customers.
  • Include the right links: Always include a link to your website, whether that’s a landing page or your home page.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, Rifle Paper Co. is a hugely successful paper goods company with the simplest Instagram profile possible. It still checks all the boxes:

Screenshot from Instagram, November 2022

4. Choose Your Topic Areas And Post Types

Now it’s time to choose your topic areas of focus for your social media content as well as what types of content you’ll post to each channel.

The intersection of your brand expertise + customer interests should inform your topic areas. What subjects can you post about with authority and know-how? What topics does your audience want to hear about? Narrow it down so your social profiles are cohesive and relevant.

After that, narrow down what post types you’ll create.

Each social media platform offers an array of options, but your audience may expect to see certain types of content on specific platforms, e.g., lots of visual content on Instagram, or text-based posts and links on Twitter.

For example, Stumptown Coffee Roasters focuses mainly on posting visual product features on Instagram, while its Facebook page is dedicated to sharing events and featuring its many cafes across the U.S.

Screenshot from Instagram, November 2022

5. Set Up A Content Calendar And Publishing Schedule

Consistent publishing is one of the key tenets of a good social media content strategy.

Publishing regular, high-quality content increases your visibility and gives your audience more chances to engage with your posts. That’s why, to make consistency easier, you should maintain a social media content calendar and create a posting schedule.

Plan everything from what you’ll post to the day and time it will be posted. You can also plan out campaigns or when you’ll reshare old posts with the right tool, like MeetEdgar (my personal favorite).

Screenshot from MeetEdgar, November 2022

Don’t forget to schedule posts for the times when your audience will be online and scrolling through their feeds.

You can rely on studies and benchmarks to help you figure this out, or you can learn the best times to post for your audience through testing (and a bit of trial and error).

6. Create A Plan To Engage With Others

Don’t forget to factor in engagement when you plan your social media content strategy.

And no, I don’t mean your audience’s engagement – I mean your brand’s.

Social media isn’t a one-way street, but rather a continuous dialogue between you and your audience. Keep the conversation going by engaging with them and with your wider community.

If you add an engagement plan to your strategy, it will be easier to stay accountable. E.g., “Like and comment on two to three community posts per day.” You can even plan for spontaneity, like “Engage whenever you see an opportunity to connect.”

7. Keep Track Of Your Social Media Content Strategy Performance

Once you start creating and posting content according to your strategy, you can start tracking metrics.

Some important metrics include:

  • Reach.
  • Impressions.
  • Engagement (including likes, comments, saves, shares, etc.)
  • Follower growth.
  • Brand awareness.
  • Click-through rate (CTR).
  • Brand sentiment.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Remember, you’re not tracking all the metrics, but rather just the ones that connect to your goals (which you established in step #1).

Not all of your content ideas will perform, but that’s the point of tracking: to find out what works and what doesn’t, so you can pivot accordingly.

Keep an open mind, be flexible, and don’t be afraid to try new ideas.

Most importantly, check in with your social media metrics regularly so you can get a clear picture of your performance over time.

A Social Media Content Strategy Keeps You Focused And Accountable

Social media can be an overwhelming place for brands without a plan.

You’re not a solo user having fun – you’re a business that needs to be able to justify the time you spend on social media content marketing.

That’s exactly why you should create a strategy.

You need a plan if you want to meet your goals and make good use of your time and resources.

With a plan, you’re much more likely to move the needle.

So, get out there and start strategizing – and plan on seeing results.

More resources: 

Featured Images: ronstik/Shutterstock

VIP CONTRIBUTOR Julia McCoy Founder, Author, Educator at The Content Hacker™

Julia McCoy is an 8x author and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and presence that lasts online. As ...

Social Media Content Strategy: From Start To Finish

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