How to build a social media content strategy (beyond the cat memes)

Despina Singh

September 20, 202310 min read

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Social media has turned into a battleground where cat memes lock horns with inspirational quotes for supremacy. And trending hashtags have become the ultimate game of thrones.

But one brave soul by the name of Marketing Maximus has decided it’s time to rein in law and order in the virtual wild west.

The conference room was filled with marketers huddled together like survivors in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Tattered spreadsheets, abandoned emoji charts and the remnants of failed attempts at viral video reports are strewn across the table.

The atmosphere was tense, and not just because the office Wi-Fi decided to take an unscheduled vacation.

It was because there had been a constant struggle to truly understand the target audience — their needs, preferences and pain points.

Not to forget the perpetual challenge to keep the content relevant with the ever-evolving social media trends, maintain a consistent posting schedule, choose the right social media platform, find the balance between promotional, informative, entertaining and engaging content, adapt strategies per the algorithm changes, stand out and gain attention in the sea of content... the list could go on and on.

Our valiant protagonist, Marketing Maximus, took the podium with confidence rivaling that of a knight facing a particularly sassy dragon. And poof, with a click of the remote, the projector sprang to life, illuminating the screen with a title that sent shivers down every marketer's spine: "Steps to build a social media content strategy."

Listen up, fellow digital pioneers! exclaimed Marketing Maximus, their laser pointer poised like a rapier. “Today, we embark on a journey of epic proportions one that will lead us through the treacherous terrains of engagement algorithms, the haunted forests of trend jacking and the swamps of authenticity.
The room erupted in nervous laughter — the kind that surfaces when you realize the only thing separating you from certain chaos is a well-structured PowerPoint presentation.
Alright, grab your favorite beverage and stick with me for the next seven minutes or so. For I’ll be sharing Maximus’ wisdom step by step, you too can become the knight in shining armor for your organization.

Here we go.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Set clear goals

Apart from guiding you toward your desired destination, goals guide your budget as well. The internet is full of memes testifying that marketers struggle to secure an appropriate budget for their social campaigns.

Ouch. A sea of nodding heads and suppressed tears ensued.

Maximus added, “Generating some sort of online buzz or making our brand famous with cat memes won’t cut it as goals.”

A social media content strategy cat meme

What do clear goals look like, you may ask?
Here you go:

  • Increase brand awareness
    Goal: increase the number of followers, likes, shares and mentions
    Measure: track follower growth, reach, impressions and engagement rates

  • Drive website traffic
    Goal: generate more clicks to your website through social media posts
    Measure: monitor click-through rates (CTR) from social media to your website

  • Audience engagement
    Goal: encourage interactions such as comments, replies and discussions
    Measure: track comments, shares, replies and conversation rates

  • Lead generation
    Goal: collect contact information or inquiries from potential customers
    Measure: monitor form submissions, downloads and sign-up rates

  • Customer loyalty and advocacy
    Goal: foster relationships that turn customers into brand advocates
    Measure: track user-generated content, testimonials and referral rates

  • Educational content dissemination
    Goal: provide valuable information and insights to your audience
    Measure: assess engagement with informative posts and content shares

  • Product or service promotion
    Goal: increase sales or inquiries about your products/services
    Measure: monitor conversion rates, clicks on product links and inquiries

  • Influence and thought leadership
    Goal: establish your brand as an expert or influencer in your industry
    Measure: track mentions, shares and engagement on thought leadership content

  • Audience demographic growth
    Goal: attract a broader and more diverse audience
    Measure: analyze demographic data to identify changes in your follower base

Clear goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). The more explicit your marketing objectives become, the more skilfully you can tailor your social media content to achieve them.

Step 2: Research your audience 

Creating social content without knowing your audience is like playing darts blindfolded — you're bound to miss the bullseye,” Maximus pointed out.
Enter the superhero squad of marketing: buyer personas. These aren't just random avatars; they're your marketing Justice League, guiding your every move.

Think of it this way: if your social media strategy were an office potluck, buyer personas would be your secret ingredient.

First up, the basics – age, location and all that jazz. It's like knowing who prefers donuts over kale salad at the team breakfast.

But hold onto your ergonomic chairs, there's more.

You're about to dive into the Sherlock Holmes zone. You're digging for gold nuggets on how your personas chat about your brand, your industry and your products. It's like eavesdropping at the water cooler, but with less sneaking around.  Think of these insights as the cheat codes to their hearts:

  • What tickles their interests?

  • What makes them raise an eyebrow like the office dog when someone sneezes loudly?

Armed with this knowledge, you're practically a mind reader. You know what they crave, what tickles their fancy and what keeps them up at night.

So, brew that content like it's office coffee – strong, invigorating and tailored to each palate.
With your personas by your side, you're not just posting; you're building relationships, one hilarious meme at a time.
Pro Tip:
An AI-driven social listening tool can help you take this further by monitoring and analyzing conversations across social media platforms — EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT TAGGED. It gathers real-time insights on consumer sentiments, preferences and demographics, allowing you to understand your target audience's interests and needs.

Sprinklr-s dashboard showcasing mentions and distinct users- graph to analyze audience engagement and reach

Step 3: Analyze your competitors 

To comprehend the effectiveness of your social media content strategy, it's imperative to extend your gaze beyond your own data. Conducting a competitive analysis will serve as a catalyst for generating fresh content ideas. This involves identifying aspects where you can potentially outshine your competitors by enhancing content quality and adopting more effective formats.
By employing competitive benchmarking tools, you can streamline the process of extracting insights from rivals, including metrics such as average engagement levels, growth rates and their most successful content pieces.

Sprinklr-s competitive benchmarking dashboard to analyze competitors social media game

The automated nature of this tool simplifies the task and contributes to the formulation of well-informed objectives and strategies. This data-driven approach empowers you to refine your content creation.

Maximus concluded the third step with corny humor, “Why did the marketer bring a ladder to the competitive analysis?”
*Pindrop silence*
“To take their strategy to the next level!
Yes, you’re not alone, I think he needs to work on delivering better jokes, too.🤝

Free Social Media Strategy Template

Craft great customer experiences on your social channels, no matter the scale.

Step 4: Review your current social content 

Once fully aware of your audience and objectives, it is time to perform a social media content audit on your existing posts. 

Conducting a content audit offers valuable insight for devising a tailored social media content strategy aligned with your brand. This process provides quantitative data on post-performance, enabling you to identify successful elements.

Scrutinize posts that garnered favorable outcomes and those that fell short, across each platform.
Your audit criteria should harmonize directly with your content goals. For instance, if enhancing brand recognition is a goal, analyze follower count and impressions on each platform. Discern posts that contributed to gaining new followers.
Pro Tip:  
If you aren’t employing a social media management tool, an alternative approach is to extract and analyze data by exporting the analytics from each platform into a spreadsheet.

Notably, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest Business and LinkedIn Business facilitate the direct export of post and page analytics.
If you’re using a social media management platform like Sprinklr Social, you can look at all of your social media data and analytics on one, unified platform.

Step 5: Choose your content types and formats

This step is about diving into the data-driven creativity pool.
When planning social content, align with those buyer personas. Think about their preferred content formats. Keep it diverse.
Here are some ideas:

  • Collaborate with content creators

  • Go live for real-time interaction

  • Feature employees or offer glimpses of the office for authenticity

  • Create polls or quizzes in your posts or stories

  • Utilize user-generated content

  • Share educational how-to videos featuring your products

  • Organize contests for engagement

  • Join relevant trends (if they suit your brand)

  • Give a behind-the-scenes look

How to find your audience’s preferred content formats?
The pathway to understanding which content types and formats resonate lies in your data analysis.  Examining your top posts empowers you to make informed decisions about your content approach.
Sprinklr, for example, can identify your most successful posts across channels, sorted by your top metrics. This might include looking at which posts received the most engagement, which formats led to higher click-through rates and so on.

Step 6: Build your content calendar

Once you've got a handle on what strategies work best and your main goals are set, it's time to dive into creating a social media content calendar. This calendar is like your roadmap for your social media content plan, giving you a bird's-eye view.

It's a great way to organize your ideas and make executing your strategy a smoother ride. Think of a content calendar as the heart of all your posting activities.

Sprinklr-s unified calendar helping brands keep their social media content strategy organized

Don't hesitate to give your content a second life. Repurpose and share it across different platforms for maximum impact. And when deciding where to share what, remember to consider how well certain types of content perform on specific platforms, based on your audit results. This way, you're not just posting content, you're strategically curating it for success.

Pro Tip:
If you want to make finding the right posting times easier, let Sprinklr’s AI-driven Smart Scheduling worry about getting your posts out at the highest traffic times for each social account.

Deep Dive: How to create a social media content calendar in 2023

Step 7: Promote and share your content

Your social media plan is more than just posts. It's about sharing content actively to boost brand visibility. To distribute effectively, consider these three ways:

A. Set up content scheduling

Get ahead with your content planning using social media tools. Sprinklr has cool scheduling and publishing features that make sharing your content a breeze. Perfect for those busy posting days, just like Nike’s on Instagram. And don't forget, Sprinklr's Smart Scheduling also helps you know the best times to post on social media.

Nike-s Instagram post testifying their consistent social media content strategy

B. Get others to spread your posts
Having others share your stuff is like high-fives at work. Your plan: talk back or reshare when folks share your stuff. Get your crowd chatting by tossing them a question. Ask for their stories on socials or in blog comments.

And don't forget your team – they're your megaphones. A crew-powered plan can shoot your stuff way out there. Your team? They're like your brand's cool spokespeople. Try Sprinklr’s Employee Advocacy. It makes big ideas easy, and fits right into how you do social stuff.

C. Work together with creators
Here's a smart way to spread your stuff: connect with bloggers and content creators in your field. When you're buddies with other brands, they'll probably pass your stuff to their crowd, and you'll do the same for them. Keep in mind, that whatever you dish out to your peeps, make sure it's useful and fits your style.

Interesting Read: How to kickstart your social media collaboration

Step 8: Gauge the effectiveness of your content 

As the presentation carried on, Marketing Maximus amused the room with tales of crafting captivating captions, plotting hashtag heists and navigating the treacherous waters of content calendars.
By the time the final slide appeared, showcasing Step Eight: Gauging Your Success (or as Maximus put it, "Counting the Dragon Scales"), the room was filled with triumphant laughter and a newfound camaraderie.
Finally, Marketing Maximus succeeded in bringing law and order to the virtual wild west.
Tracking is key for a long-lasting strategy.” Maximus also stressed on keeping metrics crisp for an effective content plan before adding:

  • “Inspect your content's performance every month

  • Check how each piece did and what drove it

  • Judge how well it backed your step one goals”

Notable social media metrics are:

  • Awareness: how often people viewed, via impressions and reach

  • Engagement: reactions, comments, clicks and shares

  • ROI: conversions and referrals from outside

Also, the competitor benchmarking tools within the social listening solution by Sprinklr also unveils how your audience perceives competitors versus you. It displays your share of voice (SoV).  Maximus concluded with a corny message, "I've come to believe that social media success is directly proportional to the number of times you've refreshed the analytics page in a day. Scientifically proven, of course!"

Final Thoughts

So, if you find yourself lost in the wilderness of social media uncertainty, remember the tale of Marketing Maximus and their merry band of marketers.

With a dash of humor, a pinch of creativity and the unwavering belief that hilarious memes can indeed change the world (but with a little planning on the side), you too can master the art of crafting a social media content strategy that goes on to become the stuff of legends.

Onward, brave content creator, and may your engagement rates be ever in your favor!

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