You can’t have a social media strategy without a content strategy

Content is King.

So what!

If no one is driving the production of the right content, and has a meaningful understanding of what to do with it, then you might as well pull up the drawbridge on your social media efforts.

Previously, content was produced infrequently and with no expectation of a return on investment (ROI). The rationale was not business focused, but copying the crowd and hoping that you might get lucky and land a new client. The trouble is, with the advent of a panoply of sophisticated platforms, giving unlimited reach, the mindset has not changed. If there has been a changed emphasis it has been on pushing the material out: Twitter is a classic example where very often all that is Tweeted (infrequently) is the news with a link back to the website. Frankly, this is a complete waste of time, and you only have to look at the lack of engagement to appreciate this – remember social media is a social ‘communication’ tool and not a megaphone!

Stop and focus.

Before you produce any more turgid content, remember these three points (I could have given you 50+, but it would only confuse the issue):

1. What do your clients want to know about?

I know it’s stating the ever-so-obvious, but far too few firms/companies bother to ask what their clients want to know about. And I don’t mean defaulting to a client survey, although you could do worse. I mean speaking to some clients and asking them what would be really valuable. Think gobs and gobs of value not just the lip-service added variety. Newsletters are two a penny. What about an App built for your client? And I could go on but give meaning to the term added value.

Too often the knowledge management information is bought in and repackaged. It shows. You have to be prepared to put your brand identity on the prose, video or MP3, and not be distracted by trying to deluge the market with lots and lots of guff.

For me the acid test is whether the content is so good that your clients would be prepared to pay for it. If the answer is a resounding no, then that doesn’t say a lot for your creative skills.

Try to think of your favourite magazine or journal and take a leaf out of the publisher’s book. If you pay for something because it is niche, and the information hard to find then why not think the same way for your clients.

In a way this comes back to knowing your clients and their industry. The more you understand their sector/interests/risks/opportunities the more likely it is that you will be able to produce content clients will want.

2. Where does your client audience want to have those conversations or engage?

Each demographic will have its own social media tastes. Of course, you also have to think that some people may prefer email or to receive your content in the course of the post.

A number of Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems show you which social media sites your clients already occupy. This saves an immense amount of time. Again, though, if you can’t invest in this type of technology, you will have to do an audit. Once you have pulled the findings together, you will have a good idea of the number of clients on each platform. I would wager that more than a handful will be on Facebook or LinkedIn, a few less on Twitter and even less on Google+.

Armed with that information you need to ask yourself if the content that you are producing chimes equally with each platform. Skipping a few places, the short answer is that each platform will have its own unique ecosystem and one piece of content will not suffice. As an example, a website piece will not work so well on Facebook as will pictures, video and a focus on the community initiatives. Likewise LinkedIn via the Company page, may expect a more weighty piece and may not be all that fussed about a glossy image. On Twitter, you may find that a MP3 link will work better (using Audioboo).

This might sound a bit trial and error like but you have to think carefully about your content before you splurge it everywhere with unbridled enthusiasm.

3. You need to measure the results

Measurement is key. If you can’t afford a paid measurement tool then set up an Excel spreadsheet or Google spreadsheet and start plotting the basic numbers e.g. number of followers, connections, likes and how many mentions or comments you are getting from week to week.

The thing is once you have worked out what your clients want and how to engage, you need to understand how close you are getting to your notional ROI. You may wish for new client wins but you can’t expect those to happen overnight.

Lastly, make sure you set up a communications plan so that you plan ahead. And that plan should also make it clear who is responsible for what. Unless you have the benefit of a full-time social media manager, you need to allocate amongst your meagre resources who will prepare the web copy, the blog posts, and who will populate Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Summary

If you have 101 platforms, don’t kill them off but, equally, don’t carry on with the same old erratic behaviour until you have carved out a WOW content strategy. Absent such a strategy, you will find yourself going round and round in circles with no obvious return.

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I am available for speaking, consulting and one on one coaching. Please feel free to email me at juliansummerhayes@gmail.com or contact me on 075888 15384.

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