Note: The author edited this on October 26, 2020 with richer information and more details.
- Common objections regarding content creation
- Where businesses get it wrong
- Does social media marketing work then?
- Ok, so social media works now what to do?
- 3 tips on providing valuable content, easy (not!)
- Adding elbow grease | the works
- What to do with several audiences? How do you create relevant content?
- New in social media content creation process: How to know best content?
- What does a valuable content look like in social media?
- It’s a wrap
While many people assume that social media marketing is about talking to/with people on social media networks and dropping links here and there, these will never get any business far.
It is because the primary activity of a successful social media strategy for any company is to provide valuable content to its audience.
If your audience finds your content valuable, they will keep talking and sharing it.
If your audience finds your content valuable to them, they will go to your site and find out more about it.
If your audience finds your content value, they will help you grow you – by sharing about you even if you don’t ask them to. They will help at their own volition.
Providing valuable content to an audience is not something that we just conjure. A valuable content is something that is “dictated” by the audience.
Common objections regarding content creation
“But there is way too much content out there,” they said
…. and that is absolutely true.
Content of any type is accessible at the end of our fingertips – and there is a plethora of it globally.
Almost anything you want to know is online – including some weird ones, or by just asking Siri or Alexa.
Inspite of the so-called content glut, people still consume content everyday on social media networks.
So the challenge is not really about publishing and creating content but to provide great, information-rich content, hence, valuable and better content.
“But other companies have written about it already,” they said
That is also true.
There is “nothing new under the sun,” quipped a historic king of eons past.
However, if you want to grow your company’s brand authority, publishing original content written by you, and to feed your social media is the way to go.
Although I advocate for not just creating content (owned by) but also sharing curated ones (owned by others), you wouldn’t want to direct people to your competition because they have written about the topic already, would you?
Where businesses get it wrong
As businesses, our reasons for using social media can vary.
Among the many reasons: we want to make a sale. Who doesn’t?!
It is not a surprise that companies post sales content after sales content on social media because of the desire to make a sale.
But there is a problem.
Your audience’s motivations for using social media are in stark contrast to why companies use the social media networks.
My newsfeed is proof of how my friends use social media.
I have seen many of my friends “play” with apps like Nametests and OMG, share vacation photos and post food they ate last night.
They are there not to buy a product or a service, but to kill time.
If they ever want to buy something and need input, they say so, but I haven’t seen a lot in my newsfeed.
This social report corroborates my hunch and assumptions:
The chart shows that the top 5 reasons people use social media have nothing to do with buying anything from any company.
Also, from that report, none of what they are doing includes active participation on their part.
- Nothing to download.
- No form to fill out.
- No buying on their mind.
… which is what most of the companies we see in social media platforms want users to do.
Does social media marketing work then?
Inspite of the huge disparity of why people use social media vs. how businesses use the social networks, more are reporting success on what they are doing on the social networks.
According to this industry report, social media:
- Increased exposure grew to 93% from 87%.
- Increased traffic.
- Generated leads increased to 74% from 64%.
- Improved sales rose to 72% from 53%.
- Developed loyal fans grew to 71% from 63%.
- Increased thought leadership increased to 57% from 46%.
- Grew business partnerships improved to 56% from 49%.
Growth like these do not just happen magically.
There is a lot of content planning and strategizing that undergird all these positive growth.
A note to companies: Just because you are paying a social media company 100’s of dollars, it doesn’t mean that you will also get 100’s of shares. In fact, there is no guarantee that it ever will. Social media marketing is dynamic. Audience preferences change. Digital marketers who are in the dark side of social media can fake shares and number of followers; but decent companies do not do social media that way. They aim for steady and sustained growth – using both organic and social advertising – the legitimate ways.
Ok, so social media works now what to do?
Any business that desires to succeed in social media has to pivot its marketing approach and correct its expectations on how social media marketing is done.
The audience won’t change; the way they use social media is how they use it.
You and I, as companies, are not entitled to our audience’s attention; we have to earn their attention every day by providing value to them.
As social companies, we have to adapt by changing the way we communicate – and what we communicate on social media to influence how they behave ultimately.
If you don’t deliver value, your audiences are, in no way, obligated to give you their attention nor deliver anything to you in return.
Organic social media growth, guided by whatever metrics you track, is fueled by relentlessly creating and posting contents that matter to the audience – every day.
3 tips on providing valuable content, easy (not!)
● First step, know WHO you want to sell to;
● Second step, know WHAT they like;
Then, CREATE content that they like that is, therefore, content of valuable to them.
That’s what the eBook I read said. Sooooo easy, right?
It’d be a disservice to you if I’d say that’s it; because that’s just the beginning of the work.
There’s MORE work to be done.
Adding elbow grease | the works
The steps described above are core in the content creation process.
If I’ll just leave it that way, it’s like ending the article with a cliff-hanger.
But I am not a fan of cliff hanger stories.
So allow me to flesh the steps a bit.
Know WHO you want to sell to
A sound social media content strategy begins with the audience.
It is one of the fundamental steps of a successful social media content marketing strategy.
In marketing jargon, the first and second steps above are about your audience’s demographic and psychographic characteristics, respectively.
It sure sounds like a mouthful, doesn’ it?
But don’t let the words scare you.
WikipediaDemographics includes a person’s name, ethnicity, gender, address, what they buy, where they buy it, how they pay, etc. Psychographics have been applied to the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles
In other words, do you know who your ideal audience is? What are their age brackets? What is their income status? Do you know their educational backgrounds? What are their needs and wants? What are their preferences?
If you haven’t already done this, do it!
Don’t complicate this step. Just have one as a start and refine it as you go.
Why is having a defined audience important?
Any organization – business enterprise, start-up, brick and mortar store, manufacturing company, SaaS, SAP, realtor – and I mean ANY that understands their audience is way far better equipped in crafting helpful, unique content.
The “WHO you want to sell to” forms the focus of your social media content strategy plan.
At a granular level, the more information you have about your audience, the easier it is to personalize the content you create for your target client.
Having the “WHO you want to sell to” identified, including their preferences, it helps with data tracking and information-gathering.
It gives you information that you can use to help you influence your target audience’s behavior – read, click, share, engage, view and buy – whether through a social media platform, blog or other forms of online content.
Knowing the WHO you want to sell to is underpinned by powerful and good information that you can must know to create and publish valuable and great content.
Where to find contents your audience likes | 11 Tips
There is an enormous demand for creating valuable content types in every industry that fits an ideal audience.
But it’s not always easy to produce the kind of good content that gets noticed.
In fact, creating valuable content is 41% of the content marketing challenge of digital marketers.
So if content creation with a view of providing helpful content is a challenge to you, you are not alone; but there are things that you can do to hurdle this challenge.
You may have a hunch what a quality content is for your ideal audience; however, it’s helpful to get insights from other sources to aid your content strategy.
Without the help of insights, you may find yourself struggling to create high-quality content after a short while.
Here are tools and resources to help you gather information to create useful content for your ideal audience – on social media and other digital marketing platforms.
1. Social media Insights
Your audience is on social media, so you should be drawing insights from the social networks.
The wonderful thing about social media networks is that there are multiple data and information that we can peruse to verify whether a social media post like an article or a tip is a valuable piece of information to your audience or not.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Google My Business, etc now have analytics that offer you information about your audience and their behavior. The best part? It is free.
Identify the contents that your audience “likes,” and therefore of value.
Audience behaviors that are indicators of what they “liked” can be a like, click, reply, share, view, visit, save, pin, repin, retweet, etc.
Explore the data that are already out there to help you identify these behaviors and activities of your social media users online.
The key here is to find out what particular behavior as represented by key metrics best reflects your business goal and to start gathering the information.
Pro-Tip: If you already are watching your success metrics, you’d agree with me that whatever piece of content you published that works on Twitter may not work on Facebook. That is why it is important to track customer behavior on each social media network to help you understand what content is of value to the audience in EVERY platform.
2. Google Console, Planner, Search & Analytics
Google’s free tools can shed light on what existing content of your website brought inbound marketing traffic and by what means including specific social media platforms.
Specifically, these Google tools provide information on terms used in the search query, aka., keywords by your online audience to find your site, or sometimes a social media post, and what questions they asked when they searched on Google. Web practitioners sometimes refer to it as user intent.
What is user intent?
The user intent, or search intent states which goal or intention an internet user has when entering a search term into a search engine. User intent is now a central factor in content and search engine optimization.Searchmetrics
Information you find using these tools reflects the “problems” and “pains” that your ideal users have.
If you use what you discover in your keyword research, you can predict what generates inbound marketing traffic, and that is great for brand awareness.
So what to do with the keywords you gathered from these research tools | 5 ways
1. A good social content strategy includes keyword strategy.
When writing copies, seed keyword on social networks.
Use it to get your target persona’s attention.
You already know that it resonates with them from your keyword research.
Use it on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google My Business and other social media sites that your company use.
Of course, keep the copy relevant to the image, article, video or educational content you are sharing.
Don’t just stuff it with keywords because you can.
Social media networks have its own search bars, and Google, if it likes your content, could show it to searchers too, even if you posted it on a social platform.
2. Use it as hashtags.
Hashtags are used for searching in some social networks. Three to four words should for a hashtag should be enough; don’t make it too long!
3. See how the keywords are used online.
Use the keywords to research how it is being used and for what digital content type so your company can create an original content.
Use it to research on Google, YouTube, Amazon and on other digital networks.
4. Write a long form content about it – a blog.
Any content writer should know that a content that reflects user intent is a relevant content. Use it as your focus keyword when writing an article for your company.
5. See #10 below.
Use it for further research.
Pro Tip: Even with a detailed understanding of users, realize that the assumptions and insights gathered from data such as this are rarely (if ever) completely accurate. The reason is users (and their interests) are dynamic… As a result, it is imperative to engage in a thorough initial and regular ongoing [keyword] research project. (Website Magazine, Nov 2017, page 22 by Peter Prestipino – “Data-Driven SEO Shortcuts for Early Stage Content Marketers“)
3. Your Competitor
Across social networks, your competitors may be sharing a new product announcement, software update, a sale, or any piece of content – all these can impact your customers’ loyalty.
You can ethically find information as to what creative content your competitors are sharing and which social media posts of your competitors are getting the most engagement.
See what types of content they posted in social media or online; then outdo them by creating a better version of it for maximum effectiveness on your favor.
Find message gaps in what they are sharing and address it by writing a unique blog post. Then share it on social media to engage your customers – or get potential customers. Facebook’s Insights has a nifty tool that you could use to track ethically your competitors and others in the industry.
And if you want to get information as to who the players are in your industry that you should keep an eye out for, you can do so by using a Google search operators for research.
As an example, I wanted to know if there are any plastic manufacturing companies in California. So in the Google search bar, I used the search operator:
inurl: plastic manufacturing location:california
Another example: I want to know who the other plastic companies that are using Twitter, I can do that by using this search operator on Google search:
url:twitter.com plastic manufacturing
Studying your competition can, most certainly, show you what you are missing – and what they are missing, and help you identify content opportunities for greater exposure.
4. Other surveys and reports
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Use the information that is already available out there. It may not be specific for your unique business, but you can test it, if you are starting from scratch.
5. Your survey + a caveat
The key here is asking the RIGHT questions. It can give you a glimpse of what content your audience needs or “pains” they have. You can use Twitter and Facebook to do a quick survey or you can use survey tools via email.
Note, however, that surveys are not always accurate, although it comes from the audience.
Apparently there was a study made by a beer company that surveyed customers to find out if they liked the regular beer or the premium beer. 80% of those surveyed said that they prefer the premium beer. However, their sales figures proved otherwise. Most people bought the regular beer, not the premium beer.
Pro Tip: My point about surveys you make is that don’t take it at face value; use it to analyze and probe further. If ever you are doing customer survey, combine your results with data you find in search because data you gather from your own search are what your audience unwittingly creates when they do their daily digital tasks. It is free of their biases.
6. Customer service representatives
As your organization’s front line in engaging with prospects and customers, this department is a huge resource for you if providing valuable content is your goal.
They may have a process in place to collect inquiries and complaints, and standard answers they provide.
All these you can use as a basis when publishing valuable content for your ideal audience.
7. Sales representatives
Not just your customer service but your sales representatives would be, also, familiar with questions that are being asked by your potential customers during discovery and product demos – including reasons why it is not a “fit” for them.
They can provide valuable information as you put together your content strategy for social media and online.
They, too, are your great internal source of information besides your customer service reps.
8. Niche Groups and Sites
This could be forums like Quora, Reddit, Master Mind Groups including the ones you see on Facebook
Often you will find people fielding questions that may be related to your industry.
Search what people are asking and provide a social media post or a long post answering that question that matters to your target audience.
9. Test your personal newsfeed
I sometimes use my personal timeline to test the reception of my friends regarding a content.
If I see that the result is favorable, I post the content for the public via Facebook page.
I only post business-related posts on business pages.
10. Existing customers
What better source of information for content creation than your current customers!
Ask them why they liked your product and what improvements they like to see.
For the interview, aim at creating an educational content that will be helpful to your audience personas.
Gear the interview toward problems and pains they have that your product or service can alleviate.
You can even mix the content in the interview with the information you gather from your keyword research.
11. Use answerthepublic.com
This is really a handy tool because it gathers questions that people ask on Google and Bing. And it offers it either as a list or as an infographic.
So since providing valuable content is your aim, and since you reached this part, I recommend that you check it out.
As you already know questions that people search for and ask, imply a need or a pain.
Create a post that answers relevant questions either as a social media post, or a blog post.
P.S. Answer the public’s cover where you type in your phrases is a bit creepy to me, but the results are useful.
What to do with several audiences? How do you create relevant content?
While we already know that providing valuable content is a challenge, it gets more challenging for a company with multiple audience personas.
And I know several companies that are in this situation.
But it can be done. How?
Segment content by target persona. This means you have to personalize the content specific you share to THAT group. It doesn’t matter if the content applies for all segments; you have to hyper-target them, if you want to get their attention.
So doing this, call them out when you post the content while highlighting a value that would appeal to them.
By personalizing content for each audience group, it allows you to optimize the performance of your content to a granular level by closely monitoring engagement and revising your content marketing strategy, if needed.
For large companies with resources to spare, this step is easy.
But for small companies that have very limited resources, do “addition by subtraction” by focusing on a few that bring you better results.
You can’t do it all.
New in social media content creation process: How to know best content?
Fact is, figuring out what your ideal audience wants is not always easy, even if you are a veteran in the digital field.
- This goes back to knowing your audience, just scroll back up and see how; then post a content relevant to them.
- Use some tips (see above) to find out contents that would work best for your audience. You can use some of these tips even if you are just new.
Don’t know how to use the tools and don’t know how to do research?
There are marketers out there (*cough* like me) that can show you how to the tools if you want to DIY research, and they can also do in-depth audit and research.
Want it free? Explore YouTube, if you have copious time. There are thousands of books and webinars in this topic.
What does a valuable content look like in social media?
It is hard to capture in these examples what a valuable content is, but here are the formats of a potential content that may apply to your target audience:
● It can be a content that answers a question that they searched for. If you have the question covered using the terms that people search for, your efforts will pay off. If you have a lot of FAQs answered, create a different category for it.
● Instructional how-to guide. This could come in the form of a video that you can post on YouTube, an infographic or a long form article, or micro posts.
● A short quick tip that either addresses your audience’s need, or a current info.
● If sharing a data, explain its significance. Don’t just drop it and leave. Describe why it is important and how it affects your audience.
● It can be something that is funny but still on-topic.
● It can be something that sparks an idea to help them with what they need in the form of a question. Or something that starts a conversation that can spark new ideas
● A valuable content alleviates what pains your audience—or at the minimum ease it enough to where they realize you’re an expert and someone they can trust to do business with. Like the tips on social media content ideas.
● Sometimes it is not even a tip or a solution to a problem. It can be a simple question that they can easily answer.
● An evergreen content that stays to continue relevant and useful past its publication. It requires minimum update – and has been repurposed to different formats.
● The format doesn’t matter. A text will do well if it it “interests” them or is about them.
● Be like Amazon.
Your target audience is tired of sale-y post. When creating valuable content like a product or service page, sell the value, not the feature.
● It can be a valuable content checklist that your audience can use as reference – and download.
● It can be a question content in long form that addresses an FAQ. Here you are leveraging rich content you have gathered from your customer service desk and sales representatives. Write an actionable content and share it online.
● Good B2B content is storytelling that piques people’s interest and pulls them in. Anecdotal stories are helpful. Sometimes it is hard to write anecdotal stories about a product or a service. Instead, share a story about a certain customer or tell a story about why you are supporting a certain charity or group. People love stories!
● A collaboration with your customer like a case study, an interview, a podcast or a livewebinar.
● It can be a white paper for your industry. If you don’t have someone internally that can put this together, better hire an expert.
It has to be digestible and helpful information, whether it’s presented as an article, or visual content like an infographic, a video, memes, podcasts or a brief report.
It’s a wrap
Providing valuable content is not easy, but it becomes much easier when you get to know your audience more.
Hence, understand who they are and their interests by knowing what they are looking for on search engines and social networks, then craft the content in line with what they are interested in.
Having said all these, I know that each social media network is different in terms of demographics, what contents the audience consume, and how they consume it.
So here is a series for each platform that I started:
● Pinterest: How to know what valuable content to create for Pinterest
● Twitter (soon)
● Facebook (soon)
● Instagram (soon)
Now know that the only way to earn your audience’s attention is to deliver unquestionable value, go and create them.
Your turn, what does providing valuable content mean and look like to you?