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If content is published in the forest of the Internet, and no one knows it’s there, does it really have an impact on your marketing objectives?
The answer: no, of course not. Or, at best, a minimal impact. Too many content marketing strategies rely on publishing content for content’s sake and assume that people will just magically find it. That might boost your organic search traffic a little, but it’s not going to get stellar results. To pay off big time, your content marketing plan needs to have a well-documented process for promoting your content.
The Foundation: Researching Your Marketplace
To get started, you need to figure out where your customers hang out. Do they prefer Facebook? Or Twitter? Or are they active on LinkedIn? All of this will depend on who your specific customer base is. To start, ask your current customers where they’re most active at and what social networks they really enjoy using.
Another tactic is that, assuming you have some analytics to track, you can look at your incoming traffic and see how much of it has come via Twitter vs. Facebook (or other social media sites), then focus your promotion there.
Another thing to think about is where your customers go to get answers. Do they search for a tutorial on YouTube? Post a question on Facebook (or in a Facebook group)? Or ask on Quora or Reddit? You can, of course, ask your current customers about this, but you can also do some detective work of your own. Search for questions that your potential customers might have, on each of those channels, and see if there’s already a discussion going (or a video tutorial with a lot of views). Join Facebook groups where your customers would hang out, and watch the discussions. You get the idea.
Building Your Outposts
Based on the research you did in step one, you want to pick 1-3 social media outlets to start with. If you’ve got less time to devote to social media right now, err on the side of caution: it’s better to consistently rock it on one social media platform than to do a mediocre job on three.
Once you’ve decided where you’ll be starting, you want to make sure your profile gets off on the right foot, and that means making a good first impression. Aside from sharing useful content, that means having a good looking profile. Even if you don’t have the budget for a professional designer right now, this is still very doable. SproutSocial has an always up-to-date guideline for social media profile images, and Canva has free and low-cost templates to get you started, as well.
Past that, you want to grow your audience faster, without being scammy. Here are a few resources and suggestions to get you started:
- Sponsored posts, to help jump-start things. Even with a relatively small budget, this can help you jump-start your social following. Two of the more popular options here are Facebook and Twitter—here’s a guide to getting started on Facebook with sponsored posts, and here’s one for Twitter’s sponsored tweets.
- Austin Allred’s Hacker’s Guide to User Acquisition has some great ideas, although currently, only the chapters on Instagram and Twitter are available.
- You can use tools like RiteTag to see how active certain hashtags are, not only to include them in your own tweets and posts, but to find others and engage with them on that hashtag.
- In general, be as proactive as possible. Search for questions on your social network of choice and answer them. Don’t just follow people, actively talk to them and comment on their posts. If you look at the Instagram case study, that was key: not just liking, but following, liking, and commenting was what built an audience that was ready to buy.
Planning For the Future: Creating Your Editorial Calendar
To be successful in your social media efforts, you need to create an editorial calendar that ties together keyword research, content marketing, and social media marketing. Ideally, it would look something like this:
- Keyword research and social media research, to see what customers are actually searching for and asking about
- Turning that research into content topics
- Creating the content while keeping an eye on keywords
- Creating a social media sharing schedule for each piece of content, as it goes live
How far do you want to plan out into the future? You don’t want to remove all spontaneity from your content marketing—if you stick to a plan and refuse to add anything extra in, you’re doing your business a disservice. That prevents you from chiming in on current events and trends, which can be a big source of traffic and discussion. Ideally, you’ll have a backlog of evergreen posts and ideas that can be scheduled at any time, but leave a little bit of wiggle room to respond to hot topics or industry news, or just write when inspirations strikes you.
When it comes to managing your editorial calendar, CoSchedule is one of the best options out there. It gives you a calendar view of not just your content, but social posts that are scheduled through the app, and it lets you schedule out posts for not just the day of, but day, week, and month after the post goes live, so you can keep driving traffic to a post after it’s published. Another option is the Tweet Old Post plugin, which pulls posts from your archive and retweets them at a regular interval. You can also republish older posts on Quora or LinkedIn if that’s where your audience is at; check out this example at Buffer (#7 on the list).
Keep it Going: Monitor and Engage
Many businesses go through all this work and then totally drop the ball on engaging with their audience and customers. Don’t make that mistake! Here are a few tools that can help:
- Mention was developed specifically to keep you alerted to when people are discussing your company on social media or engaging with you on social media.
- Hootsuite lets you keep an eye on not just interactions with your Twitter (or other social media) accounts, but you also can set up searches for specific hashtags or words, and engage with users who are using them.
- You can also set up IFTTT triggers so that you get a text message every time someone mentions your company or posts on your Facebook page, which can help you keep on top of things when you don’t have a full time social media person in your company.
Now, you’re well prepared to get your content out there. All that’s left to do is start creating awesome content. If you’re struggling with knowing where to start, we can help.
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