Content Calendar Part 4: Strategy

Creating AContent Calendar

Our Content Calendar series is finally drawing to an end, and we appreciate how you all have responded to the insights we have provided here…

In Part 1, we discussed the importance of creating a framework for your content.

In Part 2, we highlighted the significance of measuring your efforts on social platforms.

And last week in Part 3, we walked you through the development of your content calendar and what it should look like.

Today we’re going to discuss with you creating strategies for implementation that get results.

Let’s begin with a fresh take on things. Social Media Marketing is still immature in the world of business and many small business owners still just don’t get it or know how to effectively use social media for their business. Don’t be stubborn with your marketing and lack the flexibility that social media marketing calls for. Classic marketing attempts to segment “consumers” into demographics. We all are familiar with the concept and most likely do the exact same thing with our own customers. However, defining a customer or followers by a demographic is a little out dated. Demographics are generally used in polls of public opinion and marketing to group individuals based on a variety of socioeconomic points. Until recently, we could all easily be grouped into our appropriate demographic and marketers enjoyed creating messages tailored to appeal to these different demographics.

Thanks to industrialization and globalization it’s becoming harder and harder to define these demographics. The best example of this shift is in luxury brands that have seen their customer pools widen as consumers with lower incomes began to desire and buy luxury goods.

So what does this mean for you as a business owner looking to use social media to grow your bottom line? Well, for one it means your segmenting your customers based on the wrong factors. Grouping people together based on their zip code, annual income or level of education simply doesn’t work…. Why? Probably because people are INDIVIDUALS, who deserve and desire to be treated with a level of respect. Grouping individuals based on “social market” factors turns a person into a number. Today’s consumer is not a number, they’re individuals who make informed purchases that they believe align with who they are on a fundamental level. What you should be looking at instead is your audience’s online intended actions. What will someone do with the information, services and products you provide?

It never ceases to amaze us just how many businesses overlook the treasure trove of information they could simply obtain by surveying their customers. Stop trying to figure out what works and start asking your customers what they like, want and need. A simple survey can help you determine what new products and services to offer, identify trends and highlight customer intentions! There are tons of online survey tools out there such as SurveyMonkey, KwikSurveys and SoGoSurvey, etc. Take the time to learn about your customers and how they feel about your brand. You want to develop a mindset for your organization that is focused on the wants and needs of the customer, to avoid doing damage control as a result of customer dissatisfaction.  Another great tool that can help you determine the intentions of your online audience is the Intent Index. The truth of the matter is that much of the information you seek is actually available within your organization in sales and service reports as well as in client records and inquires. Your online analytics can help as well, telling you what key words people are using to find you and where they are coming from.

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Image via iStockphoto

The goal behind focusing on your audiences’ intention is about obtaining more insights with less advertising, it’s about stepping into the customer’s shoes and out of your business bubble. Create a culture in your organization that encourages your team to create content based on the insights and information they have available to them. When creating campaigns for our clients we like to work backwards, in the sense that we like to always have a clear understanding of what their end goal for that particle campaign will be. Ask yourself what actions do you want your customer and followers to take after seeing your campaign, is it clicking a link, opting in, sharing, commenting or maybe you want to inspire them to create their own content around your brand. Whatever it is, you have to have a clear understanding and create a campaign that drives your desired actions.

Your social media strategy is simply a road map or guide lines for your desired intention. Take the time to analyze the appropriate social platforms for your business, as previously mentioned don’t be afraid to grow one platform at a time as you navigate your social media marketing. Determine how you  want to engage and with whom, develop your social voice and create a culture in your organization that empowers your team to be your loudest advocates. Creating a strategy that works should not scare you, in fact this entire content calendar series was roots in helping you to develop a successful strategy.

Take the time to write out your social media strategy, begin by determining what your main objective for using social media will be. Maybe your looking to easily facilitate a conversation between you and your customers, or you wish to support your vendors who have a smaller online presence. You can choose to educate or learn from others, whatever your objective is clearly state it for all in your team to know. Next, define how you intend to utilize each platform and how each platform with support the other’s. You may choose to use each platform to support a different area of your business. We’re firm believes that content and messaging should be tweaked to be unique to any particular platform. Give your audience a reason to follow you on multiple outlets to get a complete story or only on a few to get the information they desire. Either way but measurements in place to assess your efforts and be prepared to make changes when necessary. Most of all have fun!

We appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read this article. Be sure to leave an comments or questions you have below!

Content Calendar Part 3: Drafting a Calendar

Finally, let’s discuss the process of drafting a content calendar!Creating AContent Calendar Part3

If you have not had an opportunity to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this Content Calendar Series, we strongly advice you do.

So, as we previously mentioned,  a Content Calendar is a great way to organize your thoughts and efforts. To successfully leverage social media for your business, your efforts MUST be calculated! And by calculated we mean that everything you do from a marketing standpoint has to be measurable. In part 1 we discussed creating  a framework of content topics as well as the importance of  developing Master Copy Lists to pull from when posting to your preferred social platforms.  We cannot stress to you enough that you DO NOT have to be on every platform all the time, you should get comfortable with one to two platforms at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Social Media is a 24/7 medium and it can be exhausting trying to be present on multiple platforms simultaneously.

Grab all of the information you’ve compiled and pull out a dry erase board, calendar, or notebook; however you best organize your thoughts, go with it! First you’ll want to jot down all of the dates of important events related to your business. These should include your Google+ Hangouts, Networking Events, Blog Releases, Sales, Holidays, Charity Events, and anything that you do of interest related to you business. Word of wise, if you have a less than glamorous product or service you sell, i.e. insurance, gardening tools, computers, rather than littering people’s feeds with sales ads, attempt to share with them your company culture. Show people what makes you and your product unique!

Pencil or type all of these events into a calendar that you can refer to as you build your content calendar. Aim to map out at least a month to a quarter in advance. We advise constructing your content calendar in an automated site such as HootSuite, SproutSocial, Buffer etc. Using the times suggested by your analytics (you should be updating this at least monthly), create posts centered around your events calendar. Make sure that your content is a nice mix of images, videos, quotes, and compelling copy… Sprinkle in some appropriate humor, be genuine and occasionally speak from the heart!

We want to automate the content that is imperative to the marketing of your business, because then that frees you up to truly be social, engaging with your followers and others. If you want to get noticed on social media start noticing and acknowledging others. If the time is taken and  the measures are in place, you will save energy as you begin to understand what’s working and what’s not. The largest hurdle you will have to over come is the limits of your creativity and willingness to create original content. The digital currency of your brand is it’s content. So be prepared to do it yourself or hire some help.

When you review the content in your calendar you should ask yourself a few questions… Is this visually appealing? Is this entertaining or informative in any way? Will this look good on a mobile device? It is projected that by 2020, 80% of all media will be digital with a global media consumption average of 90 hours a week. Don’t get swept away in the sea of content. Invest the time in great content or your just wasting your time!

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Image via The Brand Builder Blog

 

Your content calendar should be designed to be flexible. If after a month things aren’t working, then begin to tweak your content and try it again. You will have to be patient and play around with things before you figure out what works best for you. But once you do you will just fall into a rhythm. Social Media is not cookie cutter so what works for other businesses might not work for yours.  Be prepared to experiment and have fun!

Set goals to achieve, such as growing your followers, engaging with others, increasing blog views or hangout attendance. Creating a plan to get noticed, reduce your stress, and work smart!

We would love to hear your insights or questions… So please be sure to leave a comment below.

Content Calendar Part 2: Looking at the Metrics

Creating AContent Calendar (1)So last week we introduced you guys to the idea of a content calendar. Mapping out your social media campaigns allows you to be calculated. Developing a strategy with the metrics in place to measure your efforts, sets you up for success. But just mentioning the word metrics can send most running in the opposite direction. With the right metrics in place and some online tracking support you really can solve the mystery to Social Media Marketing success. The information that you’ll obtain will let you know just where to spend your time and money while simultaneously providing you with a steady feedback from  your customers. Many debate on whether or not you can actually see a ROI on your Social Media Marketing efforts, but you can if you put the right measurements in place. All it takes is a spreadsheet, some data and a little analysis. Today we want to discuss with you putting those measurements into place.

All a metric does is quantify and evaluate something! Simple, right? Well when it comes to your Social Media campaigns your metrics will help you understand what is and isn’t working for you or your customer. And with this knowledge, you can target your products, messaging and efforts on what does work. You see, every piece of content that you create and share is designed to enlist a response from your audience. Therefore, you need to have metrics in place to measure what is happening to the content and conversations you create. The issue arises in measuring that response, so we need to break it down into portions that we can measure:

  • Actions: How are people interacting with your website, content and presences on various social platforms?
  • Attention: How are people accessing your content and how long are people engaging with your content?
  • Community: Who are your Evangelists, the individuals who are invested in you? They often grow with you as you strengthen your presence.
  • Influencers: Who are the individuals that are sharing and engaging with your content the most? Chances are they are causing others to do the same.
  • Interest: What catches the attention of your audience and drives action? This is where content and context meet to create the best content for your audience.
  • Listening: What are people saying about your business and where are they saying it? Invest time in learning as much as you can about your audience by listening to them.
  • Reach: How far is your content traveling and for how long ? Quality content not only gets noticed but it also gets shared.
  • Views: How many times is someone visiting your sites or seeing a piece of content? Is this a first-time or a repeat visit?

These eight sub-divisions of response can all be individually measured, combine them and you will begin to see a treasure trove of information to help your tweak and make adjustments to your efforts. We know that this concept can be pretty intimidating for most. Luckily there are tools out there designed to help you. Let’s begin by breaking down the type of services out there:

  • Single-metrics service providers: These are third party metrics measurement systems that only measure one thing. These services include Klout or Kred, which measures your influence across your social platforms. Tweriod is a service that tells you the best times to post to twitter.
  • One-site metrics: These are the measurements that you receive directly from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Typcially they can provide you with useful information, but you still have to put it all together. If you happen to use an automation service to schedule your posts such as, HootSuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, CustomScoop etc., you can begin to obtain measurements across your multiple platforms. You will still be limited in the information you will generate from them without taking things a step further.
  • Advanced metrics: This is where things can get really exciting! Accessing the true power of metrics takes advanced techniques, that you are fully capable of learning with Google Analytics. It is one  of the best tools you can access as a business with a website and social presence. Extract reports that allow you to view your metrics at a microscopic level.

With all of these metrics tools you now have some good information you can put to use. The data you collect is your guide to creating the best content for your audience at the right times in the most visible place. This is key information that you will want to have handy as you begin to lay out your content calendar.Taking the time to map out your content ensures that your messaging will be on brand and takes the guess work out of your daily social media engagement. Keep in mind that you want to leave room for the unexpected.

Let us know your questions about metrics. We’d love to hear it! You can either @ us on Twitter, or leave a comment below. We love to engage!

Content Calendar Part 1