The Age of Content Strategy
It’s the age of “content strategy” and “content marketing.” Wherever you turn, more and more often, that’s something you’ll hear. In truth, content has been a core part of online marketing ever since the earliest days of search engine optimization. With recent Google algorithm updates, however, such as Panda and Penguin, a solid content strategy has become even more important.
Branded content is working wonders for many companies, and we’re not just talking about the content of websites here. We’re looking at well-crafted, skillfully packaged, and meant-for-social-media-goodness content that gets things done for large brands and small entrepreneurs alike.
Content strategy is alive and kicking for websites. It’s the focus of many SEO blog articles too, but a lot of people I see — people who are involved in social media — don’t plan a content strategy for their social channels. Despite the fact that people often regard social media as devoid of unique, packaged content (which stems from the belief that social media is for “sharing” content found elsewhere), it can work wonders for any social media campaign/effort.
Content Strategy for Social Media? Are You Kidding?
Engaging in a good content strategy for websites is hard enough; After all, it takes many resources to create content editorial for a simple blog. Why would anyone want to spend time (and probably money) for content to go onto social media? Aren’t we just going to share links and pictures?
A large part of your social media campaign should indeed consist of sharing interesting and relevant content, posting statuses or tweets that help users, engaging readers/followers, etc. Content for this is predominantly “sourced,” but how and when you present it also matters. There’s a fair amount of strategy involved; and apart from mere strategy, there’s “content strategy” even for social media. Three elements matter the most for how well your social media campaigns perform:
- Content Quality
Social media content isn’t just intended to gather social signals for Google, although that’s quite important. It doesn’t just drive click-throughs, either. Most of all, don’t just use a content strategy only to have an “active” social media page.
Social media should drive engagement. This increases brand awareness, popularity, and trust. All of this, not surprisingly, depends on your social media content strategy.
What’s A Good Content Strategy for Social Media?
The definition of good can differ widely. While it’s easy to say it depends on the niche/market you are in and leave it at that, there are certain basic but critical ideas that apply to most social media strategies:
- Curate and publish the most relevant content for “NOW”: People often collect a bunch of links and schedule them through social media management websites like Hootsuite or Buffer. While this is okay, make sure the content you share is not just relevant but also very current.
- Make them delicious: Boring, one-line posts with a shortened link aren’t exactly going to grab the attention of your followers. On sites like Facebook and Google+, add relevant images to your posts. These make them stand out and grab people’s attention. The basic tenets of Attention-Interest-Desire apply to what you post on social media. And don’t forget the last: Action! Always use call-to-action.
- Write unique, clear, simple, but magnetic titles and descriptions. Each social channel has a different demographic or style of engagement. On Facebook, people mostly don’t engage through comments (instead, a “like” is about as far as they go, for most posts). On Twitter, the engagement can be a little deeper, through retweets and replies. I’ve seen the community of Google+ become much more engaged than elsewhere. But it depends on how you format what you post over each of these social channels.
- Understand that social media is not just for posting links: It’s not Digg, after all. You’re not there to post links and move on. An effective social media effort is about creating engagement. If you can engage your users — get them to share, retweet, reply, comment or start a discussion that catapults into a viral thing — you can say your social media efforts have paid off.
Social Media Is An Extension of You/Your Business/Your Website
Social media is not — and cannot — be an exclusive entity that stands apart from your business/website. If you’re building a website, and trying to optimize it for traffic and conversions, you need to make sure your social media efforts aren’t going down the drain.
By “social media efforts,” I’m not just talking about creating an active social profile that has a lot of fans, followers, and the corresponding likes. What I’m really talking about is:
- credible click-through rates
- livelier engagement
- conversions from social channels
- readership and traffic
- higher chances of shares, retweets, and higher viral factor
Big brands are leveraging social media with explosive ROI. Branded content is rapidly becoming the next level for unobtrusive advertising — and guess what? It is working. And behind all of it is a solid content strategy specifically designed for social media channels.
Get on the bandwagon as fast as you can because it sure is going to become tough (in fact, it already is) to establish your voice amid all the noise.