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Compared to the first quarter of 2020, social media consumption has increased globally in the second and third quarter by around 30 per cent. People around the world are turning to social media to learn new skills, find out about products and services, and make sense of the world post-COVID. Unsurprisingly, YouTube is Australia’s most popular social media network, with how-to videos being the most consumed content. And, as a result, we all know how to bake sourdough and complete choreographed moves to Blinding Lights by The Weeknd. 

Now more than ever, brands are being scrutinised on social media and it’s important to capitalise on this new found audience.

The content you post on social media has the power to turn a brand into a household name and turn followers into fans. This kind of impact only comes from having a solid social media content strategy. It’s not enough to show up on every platform and sporadically update your audience when you have the time. The way to stand out on social media is to identify specific business goals, create valuable posts that align with these, and distribute the right content across the right platforms. Then you can measure your results, and fine-tune your strategy over time.

There isn’t one cookie-cutter social media strategy that will guarantee success. Your strategy will differ depending on industry and audience. There are, however, steps you should follow to build a plan that has longevity and helps your brand and business grow.

Get ready, because you’ll need insight, endurance and persistence.

1. Identify and set goals

Too often, brand managers get caught up in the idea of social media without stopping to consider purpose. Yes, in most cases, a strong social media presence can  be a benefit to your brand. However, if executed poorly, it can actually be damaging.

First and foremost, ask yourself: What do I want out of my company’s social media presence? Is it to increase brand awareness, change perceptions and grow trust, generate sales or leads, increase community engagement, grow an audience (followers, likes), or increase web traffic? Or something else entirely? 

Once you know your top one or two goals, then start to consider measurable performance indicators and a timeline. For example, “we want to increase traffic from our Facebook page to our corporate website by 50 per cent by the end of the year.” Ideally, your goal should be aligned to your overall business strategy. 


2. Build an audience persona

Content fails when it’s pitched too broadly, or worse, to every single person. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try to. And, the best social media marketers can identify more than just a general target audience or demographic. Why is this important? Because successful content speaks to one person by understanding their specific situation, motivations, needs, desires, and challenges. We need to connect with the right people through relevant and timely content if we want them to take action. So, know your customer, give them a name, and write for and to them.

3. Choose the right platforms

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According to data from 2019 Roy Morgan Australia, released April 2020, Facebook and YouTube are Australia’s most widely used social networks and this strength is evident across different generations of Australians. Facebook alone has 2.7 billion users, making it the largest country in the world, beating China at 1.4 billion. 

Consider how your target audience interacts with each network and avoid choosing a network alone because you like it (unless it fits perfectly with your target audience) or because it’s popular. While there’s no hard and fast rule for industries, typically:

Facebook and YouTube is suitable for most industries, but is particularly popular in the media and entertainment, news, consumer goods, retail, tourism, wellbeing and fitness industries. Both networks are heavy outbound referrers, meaning they are an excellent driver to corporate and eCommerce websites. So, if your goal is to increase website traffic, leads and sales, you may consider these networks in your marketing mix.

Conversely, Instagram isn’t as strong on website referrals, and is highly visual, so it lends itself to personal brands, creative agencies, artists, entertainment, retail, tourism, wellbeing and fitness. It’s dynamite for brands that are visually strong and have stylised product shots as it works as an aspirational and emotional selling tool.

 

LinkedIn, being a business platform (AKA Facebook for work), lends itself to news, media, professional services industries (ie finance, marketing, software, HR) and entrepreneurs. Due to the algorithm, it favours personal pages over business pages, so it’s brilliant for thought leadership. As you’d expect, it’s not typically strong for eCommerce. 

Avoid over committing by choosing too many networks. It’s better to have a strong presence on one platform than an average presence on four. 

4. Develop content pillars

Often, one of the biggest hurdles for many brand managers is what to post on social media and coming up with creative content ideas. An easy way to start planning out your content is to start with content pillars. Think of content pillars as buckets of ideas or themes that you want to share on a regular basis. 

The four most common pillars are: 

  • brand (think behind the scenes and people news)
  • entertainment
  • informational
  • promotional. 

From there, you can start to write down different content formats that you might want to fill those pillars with. These might be charts, infographics, animated gifs, videos, lists, mind maps, polls, and more.

When planning out your content pillars and associated content formats, remember that your visitors will be at different stages of the buyer journey. And, most will not be ready to make a purchase decision. If so, aim to place more emphasis on the pillars that will add value to your customer and encourage them to move to the next step. 

5. Create engaging content

According to the annual Yellow Social Media Report from Sensis, over half of Australian consumers said they are more likely to trust brands if they:

  • make their content engaging and relevant
  • update their feed regularly.

Stories are about people, not about things or objects. So when you create content for your brand, consider why the topic is important to your customer. If possible, demonstrate how it benefited or changed people’s lives. That’s where stories will connect your brand to buyers. If you can tell stories and the audiences connect, they’ll want to hear what you have to say. They need to trust you and care about you first before they act.

If your content is not relevant, it’s not engaging, and you customers won’t share it.

 “50% of consumers say they follow brands on social media to learn about new products or services, while 48% say they follow to be entertained. 51% of consumers will unfollow a brand if the content shared is irrelevant.”

6. Measure and refine

It can be frustrating when you put effort into your social media only to be let down by results. So how do you measure success? Go back to your initial goals.  

Creating engaging, relevant and authentic content is the perfect way to draw in your target audience. But it’s what you do with the footprint data that makes all the difference. Start getting comfortable with reading and interpreting the data from your network insights, analytics and your website. Always be open to making changes to your content. 

If you’re using Facebook or Instagram, ensure that you install a Facebook Pixel on your website. You should also have Google Analytics installed on your website to track behaviour, referrals and conversions. If you need help with this, send me a note. 

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Laura Prael

Author Laura Prael

Laura has more than a decade of experience in the digital communications industry and has worked for big brands including Google Australia, Westpac, Sanitarium, Weet-Bix, Avon and Elle Macpherson Intimates. Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Newcastle, and a Master of Public Relations & Advertising from the University of New South Wales.

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