“You can’t have a social media strategy without a content strategy.”

This is a quote by  Susan Cato, Senior Director of Web and New Media Strategies at CompTIA – I read it this morning in an article on how to create a Social Media Content Strategy.
It’s the crux of the matter – with all the buzz around social media activity for business, the core simplicities are in danger of being lost. Content is King. Always. And Social Media is no different in that respect. What’s the point of engaging if you have nothing to say?
So… how do you develop a Content Strategy?
Rich Brooks has some tips for us in his excellent Social Media Examiner blog – to summarise:
There are three important elements to developing an effective content strategy.

  • You need to know what your customers, audience or community want to talk about and be willing to engage in those conversations.
  • You need to know where your audience wants to have these conversations – in other words, where they go when they are online.
  • You need to measure the results of your conversations to see which ones are enthusing & engaging your audience.

Let’s start with what your customers want to talk about. You need to know the words and phrases your audience use when they are talking about your service or product – get this wrong and you’ll be missing out on important and relevant conversations. You can use keyword analysis tools such as:

Although you may think these are more suited to SEO work they are, of course, ideal to identify how your customers want to talk about subjects related to your chosen field. Once you’ve done that, you can ensure they are included in your content in the right terms – it’s the start of your Content Strategy in fact!
Once you know what the discussions need to include, you will then need to find out where your customers are having these discussions.
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for B2B (business to business) companies. Facebook does well for B2C (business to consumer) offerings. Blogs and online video-sharing sites like YouTube can work for any audience.
Let’s just take LinkedIn for the moment as this is the Social Media Platform that seems to create least resistance in those business to business owners I talk to about a Social Media Strategy. It’s the platform that they most understand as relevant to their offer and their target client / customer, and therefore feel most comfortable with.
One way of making it work for you – if you look at the Answers section in LinkedIn and search for answers to questions that are based on your keywords, you will find Forums, Discussions & Groups that you can contribute to. For example, an HR executive might search for “employee retention” –

By contributing to these discussions your expertise becomes visible to potential clients. I regularly contribute to discussions on LinkedIn and often get enquiries and invitations to connect on the back of that contribution.
In my next blog – how can businesses use their content on Facebook and actually get an acceptable result?