This is a guest contribution from Benjamin Taylor, of Eloqua.
At the core, one of the biggest goals of social media is to foster and maintain engagement. Anyone can create a social media account, but one of the hardest parts is to determine what kind of content you should be sharing. It’s safe to say that you have a good idea of what your niche or market finds valuable, but that is only a piece of the puzzle. Really having a true understanding of content and what/how it should be delivered takes some work. I’ve outlined five steps below that will enable you to determine how and what kind of content to share, when to share, and more.
When determining what kind of content to share, there needs to be a criteria or guidelines on what is or isn’t good content. What I mean by this is, the content MIGHT be interesting and valuable, but so what? With social media, the purpose is to deliver value AND be social so if content is being shared but it’s not generating any sort of socialization, then how valuable is it really? You’re looking for content that has a high # of shares, likes, RT’s, comments, Ect. These are the factors you want to pay close attention to. If a post is creating conversation from all corners; B2C and C2C, then the post is a success and this is the type of content you want to strive and push for.
Listen and read
Before you know what kind of content to share, look at what others are sharing. Far too many times I have come across brands and pages that share content that THEY believe to be valuable, but in reality is not what their audience values. How many times do we really want to read about your latest company press release or how your product or service is the best?! If you had a friend and all they did was talk about themselves and how great they felt they were, would you really want to talk to them often? The goal here is you want to share content that pulls people in, fosters conversation, and keeps them coming back. Okay, but how? The first step is to search and listen. Look at where people are sharing the most content, the type of content they’re sharing, and what is generating the most interaction. This will be important in moving forward.
Categorize and Analyze
Okay, so you’ve been listening and have done your research into what’s going on in the social-sphere. Now it’s time to analyze. Digesting all your research into the type of content can be a little overwhelming, and even harder to analyze and deliver, so categorizing and organizing the data will help. You can use a basic program like Excel to help manage your information.
First, create categories for the type of platform the content is being shared on; Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. It’s going to be important to know where the interacting is occurring. From there, create categories for the types of posts; questions, sales driven, industry specific, photo, video, etc. From there, you can dive even deeper and create sub-categories, for instance if it was a picture: meme, company photo, industry photo, picture accompanied by article, picture accompanied with text, and so on.
Look at the times things are being shared too. Assign numbers for the amounts of interactions/shares it received to help determine the level of social power the posts had. By categorizing and quantifying your research, you will be able to notice trends and themes in the social-sphere. This will enable you to have a much better idea of the type of content to share. Another bright side of doing all of this is you can create visual interpretations of your research and analyze what can be presented and easily digested by parties that are not directly involved with the project, such as higher level managers and clients.
Now you have a good idea of the type of posts that are working the best and where they’re happening. Now it’s time to find to help and aid in your own content, so where do we go? One of the easiest ways to determine the topic for your next status update or blog post is by searching out various sources for information. Some of my favorite places to find content ideas are
- Industry blogs or websites: See what the hot topics are and what others are sharing
- Your competition: What are your competitors writing about? See what they’re doing and make it better
- YouTube: What videos are popular right now? How come?
- Flickr/Pinterest: Visuals can lend a good hand in inspiration in what to share
- News Outlets: What’s happening in the world?
- Twitter: What are others sharing?
- Facebook: What are others sharing?
So now you’re ready to start sharing content, you’ve done the research and analysis and it’s time to get social. There are just a few best practices that I think are important to be mindful of in any type of content you’re sharing. They are listed below:
Create goals or benchmarks: Determine your goals and what you value as a success for your social media campaign. Don’t set unrealistic expectations but go into it with an agenda and game plan of what you want to accomplish.
Monitor and analyze results: Take a look at what you’ve been doing, what has and hasn’t worked and push forward to improve your brand to take it to the next level of social media success.
Bolster your brand image: Make sure the content you’re sharing aligns with your brand in some way, and still says relevant to your audience. Ex: Your pizza business wants to be seen as the interesting and engaging pizza brand that is cool, not just the pizza brand that shares funny memes.
Share others content: You’re not the only one with great content, so is everyone else. Share their content, help them out, and extend your reach as well as theirs.
Be consistent: In order to keep your audience coming back, be consistent in sharing great content. Don’t over post but by posting daily, they know they can expect content from you.
Now if you follow these steps, you’ll be in a much better place to be creating and sharing creative, relevant, valuable and most importantly engaging content on your social media platforms. Don’t fall into the habit that so many others have and just skip by on social media…stand out and let your content be the voice!
Benjamin Taylor is a writer for Eloqua, an international online marketing firm that provides social media marketing and asset management software. His professional insights are surpassed only by his rugged good looks, quick wit, and personal charm.