In this second instalment, we’re going to cover goal setting and content planning in a more depth, including how to create your own action plan, as well as looking at some of the tools that are available to you for content marketing on social media, such as content calendars. We’ll also go over why it’s important to optimise your content for social.
Haven’t read the first instalment of this guide yet? I highly suggest you do as this second part will make a lot more sense. You can access part one here.
Setting Your Social Media Content Marketing Goals
With your target audience/ideal customer defined (something you should have a much better idea about having read the first part of this guide), it’s time to figure out your social media content marketing goals.
Do you remember my top tip from the first instalment of this guide? Not sure? Here it is again: Never ever create content for the sake of creating content.
I cannot stress how important this is!
Ask yourself, why do I/we produce content? If you’re not sure, or your answer is something along the lines of: because the boss wants at least one new blog post a week, then you’re probably producing it for the sake of it.
It’s almost certain there is no real purpose and I’d bet my life that you don’t have any definitive goals in place.
Should you ever find yourself publishing content for the sake of publishing content, stop! At best, it’ll be a waste of your time. At worst, it could actually end up damaging your brand. That’s because thin, poorly thought out content ultimately adds little value and could undo a lot of the good work you’ve done building relationships with your audience.
So what goals/objectives should you be looking to hit with your content? Here is a bunch to start you off:
- To educate (How to posts, etc.)
- To inform (Latest news and update posts)
- To entertain (Funny posts, videos, memes, etc.)
- To inspire (Push people to better themselves through inspiration e.g. 10 killer content marketing campaigns)
- To gain backlinks (Good content frequently gets linked to)
- To boost your SEO (Links boost SEO, keywords help with organic reach and so do social signals
- To drive social engagement (Likes, comments & shares boost your brand’s social presence and boost SEO)
- To secure affiliate sales (Blog posts or social posts that specifically contain affiliate links)
Just remember that any goals you do set need to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).
My Complete Social Media Starter Kit contains more information about S.M.A.R.T. goals and includes five examples of social media marketing goals to help you get started.
Now, ask yourself again, why do I/we produce content?
Your Content Action Plan
You should never find yourself in a position where you are scrambling around looking for something to share on social media. Nor should you frantically write an unplanned blog post just so your website has some fresh content that day.
To prevent this from happening, you need to create a content action plan. It will serve as your roadmap for the year ahead and ensure you always know exactly what’s coming up in the near (and far) future.
Your content action plan can be created in six steps:
- Identify target audience
- Set SMART content marketing goals
- Perform a content audit
- Generate content ideas
- Define content types
- Create a content calendar
We’ve already talked about identifying your target audience (in the first part of this guide). We’ve also looked at setting S.M.A.R.T. content marketing goals/objectives.
Now, while I could elaborate more on all of the remaining four points, I’m not going to. That’s because there are tons of excellent posts out there on the Internet that cover content audits and how you can perform one.
In fact, a quick Google search for ‘content audit guide’ returns a whopping 287 million results (at time of writing) and the first page of the SERPs is littered with guides from some of the world’s most trusted and knowledgeable brands.
So that just leaves three steps…
Generate content ideas
Many marketers get super frustrated when it comes to developing content ideas. And I get why. The good news though is that generating content ideas doesn’t have to be difficult.
A great way to start is to consider the seasons of the year and how they relate to your company/industry. For example, in winter, people all over the world celebrate Christmas. It’s an event that leads to countless Christmas-related content being created in every industry you can think of (and the ones you can’t).
Timely content (like Christmas posts during the festive season) generally tend to attract more shares and engagement because people are in the festive spirit.
Once you have thought about the seasons of the year and the events they bring, move on to consider any annual industry-specific events or important dates and brainstorm some content ideas that might spark the interest of your target audience.
You’ve now got a basic foundation of content ideas which you can develop further and add to going forward.
If you want further inspiration, check out some websites like Answer the Public and discover the types of questions people are asking online every day.
Define content types
There are so many different types of content and you need to understand that you are not expected to produce one of every type. The trick is to figure out which ones work best for you in terms of driving social engagement and helping you hit your other goals.
A quick and dirty way to figure out what works and what doesn’t is by analysing your competitors’ content and seeing which ones result in the best ROI.
Here are some of the most popular content types to give you some food for thought:
- How To posts
- Case studies
- Opinion pieces
- Q&A sessions
- Press releases
And the list goes on…
The best part is that you can repurpose a lot of your content and score lots of nice wins with it over and over again. It’s something we’ll look at in the third and final part of this beginner’s guide.
Create a content calendar
Now that you’ve got some topic ideas and have come up with a list of content types that you know your target audience likes (derived from your competitor and ideal customer research), it’s time to start filling up your content calendar.
It sounds fancy, but a content calendar is literally just a record that shows what you’re going to post and when you’re going to post it. Many people get by using a simple spreadsheet that serves as their content calendar and outlines their content plan for the next X months.
If you want something a little more fancy and bespoke, Google is your friend (again).
For example, this post by HubSpot – The Social Media Content Calendar Template Every Marketer Needs – contains a wealth of information relating to content calendars and even has a free template that you can download (providing you give up a few personal details).
In fact, there are loads of informative pieces of content out there relating to content calendars. Here’s another from the Hootsuite blog: How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar: Tips and Templates. It too has some free content calendar templates you can take advantage of.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, I’d highly recommend ContentCal. They are the best Social Media Content Planning and Scheduling tool in my opinion! They also have a ton of free resources on their website. If you’re struggling for social media content ideas, make sure to check out this blog post: Social Media Calendar Ideas.
In the third (and final) part of my Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Content Planning, Scheduling and Repurposing, we are going to cover content optimisation for social, how to repurpose content to gain maximum value from it and the pitfalls/benefits of scheduling.