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Learn How to Create Social Media Content with a Social Content Plan

Make your brand stand out with a diverse combination of social media posts.

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Social media marketing can help increase brand awareness, brand recognition, and sales while improving your relationships with customers. A quality social media content plan can help you earn more followers and reach more people. When used correctly, social media marketing can help take your brand to the next level by reaching customers where they spend their time online.

Social media content should be included in your digital marketing strategy because it’s a cost-effective marketing tool that allows small businesses to compete with large corporations and form long-lasting relationships with customers. Social media allows your brand to showcase its unique personality, but your followers still expect quality content that’s engaging and can inform and educate them about your industry, brand, and products.

Social media can increase the traffic your website receives, and it’s an essential sales tool. The more you increase your visibility online, the more opportunities you have to convert visitors into loyal customers. Every post you create is a new opportunity to advertise your business, but your content plan should include a healthy mix of promotional and educational or engaging posts that can attract more customers.

Modern consumers are bombarded with advertisements on a daily basis; they’re smart and don’t want to follow businesses that constantly try to sell them products. Instead, your customers want to purchase products and services from brands that offer value, whether in the form of entertaining or educational content or sales promotions.

What is a social media content plan?

Creating good social media content requires a plan. A social media content plan is part of your overall marketing strategy; it helps you effectively plan the types of content you post on different social media platforms depending on your audience. A content plan should consist of the use of multiple types of content, including videos, blogs, eBooks, videos, and content developed just for stories.

Depending on the types of social media platforms you use, you should also plan your captions or post copy. For example, if you plan to post a photo of a customer using your product, you’ll need to tell your audience what’s happening in the photo to help them understand the content you’re showing them. Captions are also a great way to connect with your audience because you can ask them to leave comments or send shoutouts to individuals in your photos.

Social media content plans are necessary because they help you see all the types of content you’re sharing over the course of a month. They can also help you plan for the future. For example, if you’re planning a product launch, you can look at your social media content plan to determine the types of content you should create to announce the new product.

How to create a social media content plan in 7 steps

Developing a social media content plan can help you save time and make posting on social media more efficient. Here’s how you can get started creating a social media content plan:

1. Learn about your audience

Studying your audience can help you decide what types of posts will perform best. It can also help you choose the right social media platforms to use. Not all businesses will be successful on all platforms. For example, B2B businesses tend to perform well on LinkedIn and Facebook, while e-Commerce brands perform well on Instagram and TikTok. Things you should identify about your target audience include:

  • age
  • gender
  • education
  • income
  • interests
  • geographical locations

Learning about your audience can help you develop buyer personas, allowing you to build a content plan that will increase engagement.

2. Set goals

All of your business and marketing initiatives need goals to help you measure performance. A few goals you can have for your social media strategy include

  • brand awareness
  • website traffic
  • sales and lead generation
  • engagement

3. Perform competitive analysis

If your competitors are already successfully using social media, check on their profiles to see what types of content are performing well for them. After all, you have the same target audience, so the types of posts that do well for them will likely perform well for you. However, always make your posts unique. Never steal designs or copy from a competitor.

4. Gather content

Your brand probably has a few pieces of content already developed for marketing use. Grab all your content and see what you can repurpose for social media. For example, if your website has a blog, consider the types of blogs you can post on social media to increase web traffic and brand awareness. You can repurpose different types of content by making new content out of them. For example, your blog post can easily be turned into an infographic or video.

5. Develop a content creation plan

You probably don’t have enough content to repurpose for daily posts, so you must have a content creation plan that allows you to spend quality time creating social media content. You don’t have to be a skilled designer to create beautiful posts. Instead, you can use a content creation tool that allows you to create unique content without hiring a designer. Set aside time every month to develop content for the next month to always be prepared with content in case you run out.

You can also utilize content your followers and customers create for you. User-generated content (UGC) allows you to ask your followers and customers to send you photos and videos of them using the products. Of course, some of your followers will do this for free, but you may have to incentivize customers to send you photos and videos by offering them discounts on products.

6. Create a calendar

Creating a content calendar can help you plan your social media posts ahead of time, helping to save you time. If you plan to post on social media daily, consider using a social media management platform that will allow you to schedule posts on all your platforms from one place. These platforms allow you to track the effectiveness of your posts and analyze different aspects of your marketing strategy to help you make improvements in real time.

7. Evaluate content

After posting content, don’t forget about it. Re-evaluate your content regularly to help you determine which types of posts perform well and get the most engagement among your target audience. You may be surprised by your findings, so find a way to keep track of your likes, comments, and web traffic to ensure you’re utilizing the most effective types of content in your social media content plan.

12 Types of social media content to produce

Your success on social media entirely depends on the success of the content you post. Producing effective, high-performing content, however, presents a number of challenges for small businesses. It’s competitive, time consuming, and should ideally add value to your customer experience.

To help overcome these hurdles, content strategies usually include a varied mix of content types. When you include a rich assortment of these 12 different styles in your marketing strategy, you can create a more engaging experience for your audience.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each style used by social media and content marketers, how to produce them, and the best platforms for them:

1. Written posts, blogs, articles, guides, and more

Advantages: These articles demonstrate your company’s knowledge and expertise, which can help build your credibility and reputation.

Disadvantages: There is a lot of blog content out there, so competition is thick—and you need a lot of creativity to create new topic ideas. Writing also takes a lot of time to generate content ideas, especially if you’re explaining complicated concepts.

How to produce: To help you think of compelling content, look at trending searches. This will give you insight into the questions people want answers to, which can spark ideas about what to write about.

Best platforms: LinkedIn and Facebook are perfect for these types of content, especially when it comes to articles that are 1,500 words or longer. You can post the whole piece, a short snippet, or a link to the piece. Twitter is also a great bet, but the limited character count means you can only include a link and small quote, which still can drive traffic to your website.

Pro Tip: Embrace the content calendar. Your content calendar is a framework for the ongoing story you want to tell about your business and what content to share. When you take a holistic view of your social media or email marketing output, you can turn ideas and broad strategies into an actionable plan that can be tweaked as you learn more about what works best.

Use our content marketing editorial calendar to visualize when and how you connect with your audience. The calendar displays your scheduled and completed marketing emails, social posts, postcards, and digital ads. You can filter your calendar to display your marketing for a specific audience or all audiences.

2. Electronic books (eBooks)

Advantages: An eBook tends to be longer and more detailed than blog posts, which helps showcase your industry expertise. Far fewer businesses take the time to produce an eBook compared to blogs, too, so you avoid that heavy competition.

Disadvantages: Not everyone wants to read a whole eBook, and they take a lot of time to produce and find content that will appeal to your target audience. While they can help generate leads, people don’t always actually read them.

How to produce: An eBook is basically several blog posts compiled together as chapters from the same category. You’ll want to choose your best content or even hire a professional writer with experience writing eBooks.

Best platforms: Users come to LinkedIn to connect with colleagues and learn relevant information about their job or other interests, which makes it an ideal network to share an eBook. Facebook and Twitter are secondary options.

3. Links to external content

Advantages: If you don’t have time to finish a blog post or your writer is on vacation, you can always link to relevant articles, resources, and websites from other sources that you trust. Industry leaders are also excellent resources for content.

Disadvantages: When you link to content that you haven’t created, you’re effectively opening a door to another business’s social media experience. Readers may even find the other source more informative than your page. Content curation is a good digital marketing strategy to use on social networks, but it also can be time consuming. It is important to check your social analytics to be sure that curated content is engaging and effective, and not to stop your own content creation process.

How to create: Research different blogs using keywords similar to those on your website. (Keywords are words or phrases commonly searched on the internet.) Make sure to read every post and click around on the website, too. This will ensure you don’t share an article on social media accounts from a site that could negatively represent your brand’s views.

Best platforms: LinkedIn and Facebook are great marketing tools for any type of written content, even if it’s just links to the content. Twitter is a secondary option.

4. Images

Good images or video definitely increase engagement, and they endear your brand to customers. They can also keep customers from quickly swiping past your post and missing your message.

Advantages: Visual content is much more digestible and engaging than long-form blogs and articles. Smartphone cameras are sophisticated enough to take stunning pictures, and apps help you quickly edit them, add filters to them, and more.

Disadvantages: Image-focused platforms like Instagram have a lot of competition. If you want quality beyond a smartphone’s capabilities, a professional camera and editing software can cost a lot and be very time consuming to use.

How to produce: Pictures and images are some of the easiest content to create. It's as simple as grabbing your smartphone or camera and snapping a picture.

Best platforms: Images work well on every platform, but Instagram and Pinterest are by far the best networks for pictures. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat are alternative options. Attaching an image to a blog post can also help improve engagement and clicks.

5. Videos

With the advent of smartphone cameras, it’s never been easier to hit record. Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes it, and it can be a fun way to show off your wares. Plus, as livestreaming has hit the mainstream, consumer expectations for social video has shifted. Videos that feel rougher around the edges can feel more native to social platforms. Give it a shot and include them in your content strategies!

Advantages: Capturing videos is easy and convenient—and they’re more engaging than pictures. How-to guides, video tours, and product updates and demonstrations all make for great video content that can both drive traffic to your website and increase sales.

Disadvantages: It's inexpensive to make quick videos, but costs escalate if you want a high production level.

How to produce: Similar to images, video production has a range of difficulty. Where you decide to land on that spectrum will dictate whether you need specialized skills and equipment.

Best platforms: YouTube is the king of video content, but videos also perform well on Facebook. For shorter videos, Instagram is the best option, even above YouTube.

6. Video Stories

Advantages: Stories are images and short videos that last 24 hours before disappearing for good. They’re available on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Keep users updated about events, offers, or other announcements—or give them a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your business. The possibilities are truly endless!

Disadvantages: The fear of missing out can be a powerful motivator, but their short life expectancy also means that some users might not engage with them.

How to produce: The option to produce image or video stories is in each social media network’s app. High-quality production is not needed, making them easy for any business to create.

Best platforms: Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat have popularized this content type and remain the best options.

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7. Live Videos

Advantages: Live videos are a great medium to bring events to audiences that aren't physically able to attend. Unlike stories, which are gone after 24 hours, you can still watch livestreams later.

Disadvantages: First you need something to stream, such as an event. Then you need someone to operate the smartphone or other device and talk. The WIFI connection is also important. If your connection is bad, the video may need to repeatedly stop and buffer, which can result in poor quality.

How to produce: Like stories, social media platforms that support live content make the option readily accessible and convenient to users. They'll show a preview of what your audience will see, which gives you the opportunity to make sure everything looks good before you go live.

Best platforms: Facebook Live is the most popular livestreaming social media network. Smaller platforms like Periscope are also viable, but it may be harder to draw as large of an audience.

Pro tips: If you’ve worked hard to create great images or video for your social media posts, make sure they look good on mobile devices. Almost 3/4 of the global population uses a mobile phone, and nearly 80% of time on social media is spent on a mobile device.

Stay inspired. Keep a list of brands or organizations whose social media imagery you love, and check in with them from time to time for more content ideas.

8. Infographics

Advantages: Infographics use visuals to support explanations, statistics, and other written concepts. They are especially impactful for conveying complex ideas.

Disadvantages: Creating infographics requires both copy and graphics, which means you may need multiple people working together to create them. They also require a fair amount of creativity and research.

How to produce: First you need to create an outline for your infographic. Once the outline is done, your writer and graphic designer can begin creating the individual parts and piecing them together.

Best platforms: Facebook and LinkedIn are both excellent options for infographics. Twitter is an alternative choice.

9. Testimonials and reviews

Advantages: People trust the opinions and experiences of others more than what a business says, which is why testimonials and reviews are so valuable.

Disadvantages: Encouraging customers to offer their testimonials isn't always easy. Also, this is the only content type that isn't really in your control. With reviews, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be positive.

How to produce: Contact past customers and ask if they'll offer up a testimonial. It's bad practice to incentivize people to review your business, however, as this can come across as dishonest, and review sites like Yelp may punish you for it.

Best platforms: Testimonials and reviews work well on Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook even has built-in star ratings on business pages.

10. Announcements

Advantages: Getting the word out about new products, events, livestreams, and other noteworthy things can help build hype and alert people about what's happening with your business. Audiences love having the inside scoop on their favorite stores and brands!

Disadvantages: Carefully plan out the length of time that’s appropriate to begin building buzz. Launch the announcement too early and you might not gain any traction.

How to produce: It's often best to trickle out information slowly. Think of announcements as a bunch of little teases leading up to the big news.

Best platforms: Announcements can be made on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and even through social messaging through social media tools as long as you adhere to the best practices of that network.

11. Contests

Advantages: Because people like to win, social media contests are engaging and fun to host.

Disadvantages: You need a prize, which costs money. And if the process to enter the contest is too demanding, participation may be low.

How to produce: Think of a prize that your audience will be interested in winning. Ideally, this will be related to your business, but this isn't mandatory. Then create a schedule for how long the contest will run as well as rules for entering.

Best platforms: Contests can really be run on any social media platform, but don't overdo it on more professional platforms like LinkedIn.

Get more social media content ideas on how to grow your lists with giveaways.

12. Holidays

Advantages: Many users love holiday-themed content, and it’s easy for businesses like yours to piggyback on themes, traditions, and other holiday-specific concepts.

Disadvantages: There are only so many holidays in the year, and major ones like Christmas create lots of competition because many other small businesses create festive content, too.

How to produce: Think about how you can use the holiday to enhance your content. What questions does your audience have around this time, and how can your content solve those challenges?

Best platforms: Any social media network can host a little holiday cheer.

Start building your social media presence

To make your brand stand out, save time, and enhance your customer experience, take advantage of each social media platform’s features to weave these different content types together.

Over time, you’ll learn what types of content resonate most with your unique audience. You’ll never know what works best until you try!

To learn more about how Mailchimp can help with your social media strategy, check out our social media marketing tools.

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