You have a social media strategy in place. You have an idea of what you’re going to post, when you’re going to post it, and who you’re trying to reach with your social media strategy. You have your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram accounts populated with posts and a calendar to help you schedule all of your social media marketing campaigns well in advance.
And you also have your content strategy. You have an editorial calendar for your blog. You know what types of topics you’re going to cover, whether it be a video, an infographic, interactive content, or a blog post. You may have a PR outreach strategy in place for some of your content campaigns. You know what content you’re going to produce and what goals you’re trying to achieve with that content.
You and your team have put in the work to optimize your SMM strategy and your content strategy, but how do you ensure content marketing and social media marketing work together?
Social Media Marketing vs. Content Marketing
What is Social Media Marketing?
According to Neil Patel, a leading marketer and New York Times bestselling author, Social Media Marketing can be defined as:
“the process of creating content that you have tailored to the context of each individual social media platform in order to drive user engagement and sharing.”
Fairly straightforward, right? Not really. Social Media Marketing isn’t as simple as posting a link to your product on Twitter and calling it a day. It’s an incredibly strategic marketing effort that, like Patel mentions above, must be tailored to your audience, to each individual social platform, and optimized to drive user engagement, shares, and traffic back to your site.
What is Content Marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:
“a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Focus on the “distributing” part of that definition above. Distribution can be anything from digital PR outreach to email marketing, to yes—sharing on social media. Which is where this post comes in handy.
Read on to learn how to integrate the two strategies and amplify your content to new levels using social media.
The Key Elements that Connect Content and Social
While social media marketing and content marketing differ in many ways, both content and social strategies have nearly the same structure. This makes it incredibly easy to align your objectives, audience, and content calendar right from the get-go.
A fully-fledged social media marketing strategy and a fully-fledged content strategy will have several core components. Work to unite each of these components into one integrated social and content strategy.
1. Define Your Goals
The first step for a content or social media marketer is defining and aligning objectives.
What are your goals with social media marketing? Do you want to increase brand awareness by earning more shares, likes, and follows? Do you want to drive traffic back to your website and use SMM to help sell a product? Do you want to use SMM to communicate with your current customers?
Like setting up your social media marketing strategy, your content marketing strategy should begin with the same question: What are your goals? Some possible goals may be to increase brand authority, be more visible, offer value to your community or industry, improve your website’s search ranking, or to get more customers for your product or service.
2. Define Your Audience
Who is it that you’re hoping to reach? Who actually benefits from your content, product, or service? Identify your customer base and any other potential audiences that could benefit from the content you create and put out into the world. Define your audience and meet them where they’re at.
Over 77% of Americans have a social media profile, and no matter how hard you try and how often you post, you’ll never be able to reach all of them. Which social channels is your niche audience using? What types of content are they engaging with?
What types of content is your potential audience already consuming and sharing? Where is this audience engaging with content online? What publications publish content in your industry or niche often? Where is your audience most likely to go for recommendations for the product or service you’re offering?
A content or SMM strategy that is not informed by research isn’t a good one. Identify your competitors, optimize what’s working, scrap what isn’t and make sure you showcase your unique value proposition to your audience. What sets you apart? Highlight that to your audience.
Identify your competitors, analyze their social presence, and determine what direction you want to take your social media strategy from what you’ve learned. SproutSocial has an in-depth guide on how to perform a social media competitor analysis and template here.
While you should never create content for SEO (Neil Patel explains why you should write content for people, then optimize for SEO), you still need to research the keywords that your audience is searching for, and try to rank for those keywords. You may also want to perform a keyword analysis on your competitors to get a sense of the direction to take for your own content strategy.
Keyword planning allows you to better understand your audience and communicate with them more effectively by providing content that answers and serves their search queries. If you don’t know where to start, Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool to get you going.
4. Establish A Content Calendar
Just having a social media profile isn’t enough—you need to create, curate, and share posts and updates with your audience often. You’ll want to define a few topics that you’d like to focus on, and then produce, refine, and follow a social media calendar. A mix of visual and text-only content with a healthy dose of GIFs should get you started on Twitter, while video reigns supreme on Facebook. Define a clear plan by utilizing a content calendar.
The editorial calendar for your content strategy should have a establish a publishing schedule and identify four key parts:
- Format: Is this a blog post, a white paper, ebook, research campaign, video, infographic, or interactive asset? Will it be hosted on-site or off-site?
- Keyword(s): Identify the keyword(s) you’d like the content to be rank for. Also, identify related keywords or long-tail keywords for this content.
- Title and Topic: Give a title and description of the main topic. A great tool to make sure the title and description are optimized for SEO is Yoast SEO.
- Goal: Specify which stage of the buyer’s journey and the related goal this piece of content strives to achieve.
5. Content Promotion and Distribution
Once you start integrating your content and social calendars, the real fun begins. Your on-site and off-site content will provide endless opportunities to share on social, and your social analytics will better inform content creators what types of content “win” with your audience on social media.
Your social editorial calendar should coincide with your content calendar, and for every piece of content published, you should have planned unique and strategic messaging in advance.
As Ashley Carlisle notes in A Six-Step Guide to Growth Through Content, “While the keyword research should help your content get found organically through search engines, promoting your content is crucial but often overlooked by startups.”
At Fractl, we specialize in digital PR outreach for most of our client campaigns. Executing this type of outreach for your content can amplify your brand through link building and building trust from third-party publishers.
6. Reporting and Analysis
You need to be tracking how your posts do and comparing them with your competitors. Refine and optimize what’s working, scrap what isn’t, and listen actively to what your audience is saying. Did your total followers or engagement increase? Did you drive much referral traffic? Social Media Marketing isn’t something you can “set and forget” no matter how easy it is to schedule posts in advance. You’ll want to be actively engaging with your audience and participating in conversations.
How did your content perform? How did your audience receive it (read comments, social media engagements, third-party posts, etc)? Did your conversion, visibility, traffic, or engagement improve? Remember that not all metrics can measure all goals and content formats. For more resources, we wrote up an in-depth guide on how to track the right metrics to measure content marketing ROI.
Now that you’ve seen just how closely a content strategy looks to a social media strategy, you realize that not only is it easy to integrate the two, you’d be better for it. Your social media strategy should exist to assist your content performance by amplifying content on social media, distributing it to a wide audience, and informing your editorial calendar by reporting on what’s working and what isn’t.
The State of Social Media and Content in 2018
The Bad News
Here’s the bad news: “Over 3 million blog posts are published on the Internet every day.” Because of this incredibly oversaturated and competitive landscape, social shares are falling. According to a 2017 BuzzSumo Content Trends Report, 50% of posts had four or fewer shares!
According to the same study, “The median number of backlinks in our sample of 100 million posts published in 2017 is zero. In fact, over seventy percent of all content published is never linked to from another domain.” If you can get more than one backlink, you’re doing good.
The Good News, 10X Content
So if social shares are failing, and it’s very difficult to earn a single backlink, should you give up hope and throw in the towel? Of course not! Here’s why—the best performing content is also the highest quality. If you focus on producing less, but higher quality content, zone in on unique subtopics, and produce content that's better than anything else that’s out on the web, you will earn more backlinks and you will earn social shares in the 10% of top performing posts. This means serious research, in-depth, long-form content, and original, exclusive, insights. As BuzzSumo points out, “This takes more time, but the evidence suggests that you are better off investing time in the creation and promotion of fewer high-quality articles than a large volume of lower quality ones.”
At Fractl, we believe you need content that is 10 times better than what’s currently out there to achieve a robust backlink portfolio. That’s why we create “10x content” by doing extensive, original research and utilizing expert designers and programmers to bring emotional, data-driven stories to life. Read more about our content services here.
How to Amplify Your Content With Social Media
The oversaturated content marketing landscape is why it's more important than ever to utilize social media to amplify your content performance. Social media can help your content reach a significantly wider audience than if you didn’t integrate it at all. Social media can help you rise above the noise and reach your audience before your competitors do. Here are the tactics you can use to amplify your content on social media.
1. Leverage Paid Ads
When you’re paying to promote your posts on social media, remember only to promote your very best content, especially if you’re on a budget. You want to get the most out of your money by promoting content that strategically works to move your audience through the buyer's journey. Be sure to create hyper-targeted audience personas to target the ads to, to ensure that your content is reaching the people that you know would find value in what your produced and are possibly already in the consideration stage of the buyer's journey. Learn more about the best content for each stage of the sales funnel here.
For paid amplification, you can use Facebook’s Boosted Posts for Facebook, Twitter’s Promoted Tweets for Twitter, LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content feature for LinkedIn, Promoted Pins for Pinterest and Instagram Ads for Instagram.
2. Choose Your Platforms Wisely
Consider the top social platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube), and see where the largest concentration of your target audience members are.
Don’t frantically try to set up every social profile if it’s more than you can manage or doesn’t make sense for your audience. If your target audience is retirees, for example, you don’t need a SnapChat presence. Be where your audience is, and remember, It’s better not to have a presence on a social channel than to post sporadically and inconsistently.
3. Reach out to social media influencers when appropriate
Are there any social media influencers in your niche you can partner with to amplify your content? Think bloggers in your niche, Instagram or Twitter personalities. Why reach out and pay influencers for saying something you can say yourself? Well, ideally, “the influencer has built a foundation of truth between themselves and their specific audience.” Hopefully, their audience is one you're trying to tap in to (if it's not, don’t use that influencer!) Read more about how to find the right influencer for you here.
Retargeting is a method used to show relevant ads to users related to a previous search they made or pages they visited. Using the information collected, a marketer can purchase ads on social networks the user visits. Retargeting is a great way to build thought leadership in your niche using content marketing. You can target users who have visited your site with content that shows the benefits of your service or product as well as your expertise on the topic.
5. Get involved in online communities related to your industry
There are social platforms that cater to your niche community online. The major one that comes to mind is Reddit, the front page of the Internet. Chances are there’s a Reddit thread (or two) that relate directly to the audience you serve. Other social platforms that have segmented communities related to each niche are Medium and Quora.
Content Marketing and Social Media - Finding a Synergy
Content Marketing can be hugely beneficial to your bottom line, by doing increasing brand awareness, demonstrating your trust and authority as a brand, increasing lead and sales, improving your search ranking, increasing organic traffic, industry recognition, demonstrating thought leadership and the list goes on and on. The problem is if your content never sees the light of day and doesn’t reach your audience, it's just you shouting into the void, and never reaping all the benefits that your hard work could earn.