Social Media: Save for best practices in the configuration of your paid advertising, can anyone really say they're running the best organic social media strategy possible? With SO many different strategies and tools out there, it's hard to tell which strategy is best. But what if "best" shouldn't be the goal?
Often times I'll see companies try really hard to do things like post several times a day, saturating their feed with things like employee profiles, award announcements, and even totally unrelated memes and GIFs. What happens shortly after is that, because there's no real rhyme or reason to their strategy, their social media presence will fizzle out as a return on their time is nowhere to be found, and nobody knows why.
What if, what we should be solving for is not the "best" strategy, but the most sustainable? If any part of the first two paragraphs of this post seems eerily reminiscent of the last time you tried to roll out a social media strategy, then this post is for you.
Today, we'll walk through how to create a social media strategy that is sustainable, follows a buyer's journey, and helps you strategically build your content inventory.
***As you go through, there will be times where this strategy seems like just as much work as any other. Rest assured, though it may require a bit of up front work, the steps we'll be walking through today will leave you in a place where, if executed correctly , two blog post a month (and a landing page here and there) is all you'll need to produce to keep up with your social media calendar. AKA, make sure you don't stop reading halfway!
The components of a good social media strategy
Although this isn't a "best social media strategy" post, it's important to recognize that are are 3 basic components to an objectively good social media strategy.
1. Curated content
Curated content is content that's created by other reputable sources that support your overall content strategy that week. Curated content helps our readers see that our ideas are widely supported by peers in our industry, and that we do more than operate within our own echo-chamber. thought leaders do more than just reinforce their own biases through self serving content--curated content helps our readers understand that we do our research. I highly recommend our QUUU integration for this--sometimes knowing where to search is difficult and Quuu delivers curated articles directly into your drafts folder in HubSpot which is pretty handy.
2. Educational content
Educational content is typically delivered through the form of blog posts, and is proprietary in that it's education delivered uniquely through you and your company's viewpoint. That is to say, using your unique expertise and position on the subject. Some folks get hung up on this and say things like "Well how many ways are there to talk about X?".
A good way to to start thinking about what makes your take on things unique is to ask yourself "If my company were to close its doors tomorrow, why would my industry be less rich a place?". When you know exactly what you bring to the table, it's easy to produce educational content that is differentiated by the things that make your company special. Maybe what you have is expertise, customer service, technical knowledge, etc. Play to your strengths, and you'll be able to educate your readers in a way that nobody else can.
3. Promotional Content
Promotional content is content that drives conversions via form submissions. It can consist of conversion paths you've built around whitepapers, info-graphics, bottom of the funnel offers (i.e. a free assessment), and more.
Order of operations
Now that we understand the components of a good social media strategy, we need to work out an order of operations. The cadence of our sustainable social media strategy draws on many common concepts found in the buyer's journey:
First: Curated Content
We know that we'll be aiming to educate our readers next, but before we try and do that, we need to earn our reader's permissions to educate them. With so much content out there, readers nowadays carry a pretty understandable degree of skepticism when it comes to reading articles that could somehow be traced back to a company's offering.
"OF COURSE you're going to tell me security is important, you sell a security product!"
If we want our readers to appreciate what we're putting out there, we need to show them that what we're writing about is important not just because we say it is, but because others say it is too.
Second: Educational Content
Now that we've primed our readers to receive content they're familiar with, we're ready to educate. Educating, not promoting, is our next step because before we ask that our prospects give us their information, it's important for your conversion rates that they understand why what you're about to offer them is worth downloading.
Third: Promotional Content
You've earned your readers' trust, and you've leveraged that trust to educate them in the way that only you can. Now is a good time to provide the next most logical resource in the form of a gated offer. It's our way of saying:
"we're not blowing smoke here, what we're saying is valuable...but this next resource, a little more so, so we're going to politely ask for your email in exchange because we put in a lot of hard work into developing it."
Structure your week around your buyers' journey
The above order of operations is typically rolled out over the course of a 5 day week, when we know our readers are most active on social media. Since we're following our Curated > Educational (Blog Post) > Promotional Cadence (3 content pieces), we have the chance to split the week in two to achieve something that looks a little like this:
|Curated||Blog post||Promotional||Blog Post||Promotional|
Now that we have the above calendar for our week, it's time to decide what our actual content will be! We need to contextualize our content around the order of learning that's going to be the most effective for our readers. Not surprisingly, the most logical and helpful route follows the buyers' journey.
When building out your plan, it's always better to start by identifying the topic you want to educate around because it's easier to work backwards to find the supporting article you know you'll need, and easier to search for the appropriate promotion when you know what downloadable content is the next most logical offer
Let's plan around promoting the topic: Inbound Marketing, and Marketing Reporting.
What is Inbound Marketing
Why Marketing Reporting is important
Since we have a blog post detailing "What is Inbound Marketing", what we'll want to precede it is something that positions our post well. What we want to come after it, is something that helps us explain the "How" of inbound marketing, that fits into our promotional content criteria. Same goes for our half-week topic of "Why Marketing Reporting is Important":
Why cold calling is dead
What is Inbound Marketing
Guide to your first campaign
Importance of Marketing data
Request your reporting trial
What is Marketing data
Let's break this down by the halves of the week.
Mon - Wed: We're letting the reader know, through a third party resource, that cold calling is simply not the way to do business anymore. Shortly after that, we're introducing a blog post that explains in detail what Inbound Marketing is. Since we're confident that inbound marketing is a great alternative to outbound, we know that our blog post is positioned as well as it can be given our Monday post. Once our readers know that outbound marketing is insufficient, and once they know about Inbound Marketing, we're in as good a position as possible to suggest that they download a guide that will walk them through their first inbound marketing campaign!
Wed - Fri: We're letting our readers know what other reputable sources consider as important data points for Marketing teams. Then, we're letting them know that the very marketing data they just read about, is being progressively more looked at as necessary for the employment and growth of marketing teams. At the end of the week we're saying: "Now that you know what to look at, and why you're looking at it, download a reporting trial with our software than can help you keep that data in one place."
"WAIT! This makes sense and sounds great, but it's a lot more work that I bargained for when I came into this post."
You'll be happy to know that the hardest part about actually rolling out this strategy is the first two weeks. The reason for that is that content can and should be re-promoted every two weeks. While you don't want to re-create the exact same post word for word, re-promoting your content aligns it with the best chance of getting to the right person at the right time, if nothing else because it may reach an active audience who may have missed it the first time around. It also gives you the chance to truly be able to measure the success of your content. If something doesn't perform well the first time around, you'll want to know if it was just poor timing, or a miss in our being able to anticipate our readers' interest. You'll need several rounds of promotion to be able to tell.
This means that, yes, the first two weeks are originals and that's going to take a bit of work:
But, once you have those two weeks nailed down, you can take the next two weeks to produce 1 week's worth of original content by re-promoting your original 2.
Now, we'll run it a third time around, but this time we have 3 weeks to produce an original. Sensing a pattern?
After about 2 months of staying on this cadence, you should be able to upkeep your entire social media calendar simply by adding one original week a month! Technically we could go for longer than that in between original content, but at that point we may be erring on the side of being lazy and our readers could start to take notice after many months of the exact same content.
Being here is a sweet spot, because now we have the choice to either keep going as we've been, or to mix and match the best performing parts of our Social Media calendar so far!
So how and why is this a more sustainable way to run your social media strategy?
1. It's thematic
There's ease in being able to say, "this week I'm going to focus on X and Y". The week after that, I'm going to focus on A, and B".
2. It respects the buyer's Journey
In terms of fleshing out the theme, all we have to do is take care to follow standard "Who > What > When > Why> How" format. If we're going to publish a blog post on the "Why" of something, the follow up needs to capture the "How". If we're talking about the "What", our follow up is the "Why" of it. Simple!
3. It's easy to plan and repeat
There's a rhyme and reason to it! This makes it incredibly easy to map out months ahead of time. In terms of prep, it's important to know how much time we need to set aside in order to produce content based on how long it usually takes us. This approach to planning our social media makes it simple for us to know when we'll need to plan accordingly for an upcoming post we want to roll out.
4. Anyone can pick it up
Its simplicity makes it so that anyone could pick it up and follow along, which also makes delegating our social media efforts to a content producer very easy.
5. The crux of the strategy depends on your most agile content producing activity
What's the time it takes to write two 400-800 word blog posts a month, in the scheme of the overall time we spend marketing our business every month? Not t
6. It's measurable
Because our approach here is so thematic, and because we're giving each piece of content ample chance to perform, we'll be able to know exactly which topics interest our readers and which don't.
7. It's Actionable
Knowing which pieces of content perform best allows us to mix and match our best performing content, as well as make decisions in regards to paid advertising that we wouldn't otherwise have data to back (for example, if we had a promotional content that performed particularity well compared to others).
8. You build your content inventory
All this content that we're producing and marketing is something we've planned for and store. It's now content that we can leverage beyond our social media strategy, like our emails, or as FAQ sales collateral.
9. The hardest part is getting started
Running this strategy is very much like pushing a snowball off a hill, it just needs to get a little bit of traction and then it rolls on its own.
10. You learn a lot about your business in the process
By requiring the use of curated and promotional content as well as educational, we're having to go out and find supporting research, as well as think about the kind of offers our readers may want to take advantage of! In the process we may run into facts we didn't realize were out there, or find ourselves in direct communication with our clients in order to understand the offers that attract them. When we plan for success, and consistently execute on that plan, we find it in more places than we expect.
I hope this was useful in helping you plan a more sustainable social media strategy! Give this walk-through a shot, and if you have any questions, feel free to email me at aromo@HubSpot.com.
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