How to Merge Social Media with Your Content Marketing Strategy

Social media and content marketing are basically one and the same.

Social is content, right? Viewing the two as separate endeavors doesn’t really make sense from a marketing standpoint.

Consistency is one of the keys to any successful marketing initiative. Syncing social media marketing to blogging, guest posting, videos, events, and other forms of content marketing ensures that a consistent brand voice is maintained across all channels.

Recent statistics have provided some interesting insights into social media marketing, including that there’s a 100 percent higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing and that a call-to-action significantly increases engagement.

The majority of marketers have been focusing more on social media over the past six months. Of course, in order to harness those benefits, you’ll need to understand social media and how to perform it.

Here are the most popular social media and chat platforms worldwide.

While 1.5 billion people are using Facebook, other networks such as Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are still important to focus on, especially for B2B companies.

There are both similarities and differences in how marketers choose to focus social media efforts in B2B and B2C.

 

Take a look at how they line up.

Making sure you’re choosing the right social channel for your business model is the first step in aligning social with content marketing.

But what about the nuts and bolts? What methods or tactics need to be in play in order to make your social media and content marketing efforts sing in perfect harmony?

As mentioned, consistency is key between the two.

When executed correctly, social media will supplement digital and offline content, providing a full-orbed view of the brand.

I’ve provided a list of seven steps to get this started, but it’s by no means all-inclusive.

Every content marketing plan is different, and sustaining conversions through such initiatives takes consistent work and planning in key areas.

1. Create a content calendar.

One of the biggest problems faced by content marketers is producing a steady amount of engaging content.

We all know how time consuming and difficult it can be.

You want to post frequently enough to gain a readership, but not so much that you end up creating a spammy site that can’t pass search engine qualitative standards.

Here’s a breakdown of other challenges faced by content marketers. Notice that “producing engaging content” is the biggest piece of the pie.

A curated content calendar resolves many of these issues, creating a schedule in advance and allowing an overview of each month’s content.

Not only can a content calendar help organize content marketing efforts, it also provides direction to the social media department.

Holidays, sales, and promotional events can all be marked in advance on a content calendar to ensure that quality content is researched, designed, edited, and formatted in time to publish for maximum impact.

Even with a content calendar, it’s important to stay abreast of current events. DiGiorno, for example, created an Internet firestorm last year when the company hijacked the domestic violence awareness hashtag #WhyIStayed to sell frozen pizzas.

You want to increase brand awareness, but not at the risk of appearing tactless or insensitive.

2. Enable social media promotion on WordPress.

To get the most out of blog posts on social media, you’ll need to enable the ShareThis plugin (which is automatically included for WordPress.com and Jetpack users).

ShareThis allows you to enable social media sharing buttons on your WordPress posts so that once they’re published, they’re automatically promoted across various social media platforms.

After linking social media accounts in the “Publicize” section of WordPress settings, each individual post will automatically be posted in each connected social media feed.

This plug-in automatically bolsters social media as a function of content marketing and is essential to automating processes.

If multiple authors contribute to internal blogging efforts, each can individually add their accounts while the main company account is available to all posters. In doing this, you’ll spread your reach across multiple social media accounts.

A popular social media hack is to use automated bots (called sock accounts, in reference to them being used as sock puppets). Be aware of both white and black hat bot practices as you don’t want to end up having your account banned and losing all the time, money, and other resources you put into building a following.

3. Optimize images and descriptions for social media.

Yoast SEO is one of the best SEO-centric WordPress plug-ins on the market. Not only does it check posts for readability and other SEO factors (keyword usage, word count, spelling/grammar, etc.), but it also allows you to create SEO-optimized page descriptions.

When you edit the post snippet, social media sites are able to display more accurate and engaging teasers to entice people to click.

It’s also important to add both full-sized and thumbnail images. This ensures that anyone who shares your link shares a picture, which increases the likelihood of the post being viewed, read, and shared by others.

Both Netflix and Oreo experienced huge wins on social media with engaging visual content, according to AdWeek. Following their lead is a surefire way to inject life into a stale business.

Here are a few more visual marketing statistics to consider in 2016.

4. Schedule posts with Hootsuite or Buffer.

Once you have a content calendar filled out with a month’s worth of engaging content, it’s time to automate a few supplemental social media posts around the clickbait.

Marketing automation is one of the most effective ways to support customer acquisition and retention.

In fact, over 88 percent of marketers responding to a recent survey indicated that social media automation specifically plays a major role in streamlining social media efforts.

While a proprietary automation on the backend is ideal, not every organization can afford this. For the time being, Hootsuite and Buffer are some of the best social media automation tools on the market.

Using either platforms, you can schedule posts across multiple accounts on multiple social media platforms. This provides a one-stop shop to both monitor and post on social media.

As mentioned above, be sure to periodically check scheduled posts to ensure you’re not accidentally doing something inappropriate like promoting guns the morning after a mass shooting, which the NRA inadvertently did after a deadly school shooting.

Live-tweeting and otherwise celebrating live events on social media, however, is a fantastic way to sync social media with other content marketing efforts.

5. Coordinate real-time sessions.

Social media is an effective way of organizing live events. Whether it’s an in-person meetup or just a live video session, these events gather groups of people to participate in a branded event at one time.

  • Here’s how to create a private or public event in Facebook.
  • Click “Events” in the left menu of your News Feed.
  • Click “Create” at the top right.
  • Click “Create Private Event” to choose between a private or public event.
  • Fill in the event name, details, location, and time.
  • Click “Create.”

You’ll then be taken to your event where you can invite guests, upload photos, share posts, and edit event details. This is a great way to take a headcount and estimate the effectiveness of promotion efforts.

Social Media Examiner has a great list of other ways to promote events on social media.

6. Enable Facebook comments.

Enabling Facebook comments on your website allows readers to log in and verify themselves using their Facebook account. It also provides a checkbox to allow them to share comments (along with a backlink) on Facebook.

This is an invaluable tool in spreading the conversations being held in your blog’s comments sections throughout social media. People often have strong feelings, and by involving their social circles, they’re increasing post visibility.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to enable Facebook comments on your WordPress website.

<iframe width=”550″ height=”342″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/j4N4X0eRu8k” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Facebook is far and wide the most populated social media platform. The company also owns WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, and Oculus, which all have growing user bases as well.

Here are a few statistics to consider when integrating Facebook into your website.

Mainstream blogs like Huffington Post (the highest-traffic blog online) use Facebook logins and comments to great success. It’s a vital step toward merging social media with content marketing initiatives.

7. Hold regular meetings.

The only way to ensure that everyone remains on the same page is through regular team meetings. Your social people need to talk to your blog people who need to talk to your leadership people, and etc.

By gathering everyone for status reports and to bring up issues, you ensure that everyone agrees on a common goal, mission, and direction for the company.

I’m not a fan of holding meetings just for the sake of meetings. If there isn’t important information being discussed, it’s simply a waste of everyone’s time.

Here are a few tips for running an effective meeting. These tips apply brilliantly to your social media/content marketing coordination meetings.

With 25 million meetings taking place in corporate America every day, it’s important to be brief, concise, and direct, following up via email with written confirmation of any important points or responsibilities.

These meetings provide a time and place to address any concerns, brainstorm topic ideas, and discuss both wins and areas of opportunity for the business.

Conclusion

Social media is an essential component of a comprehensive content marketing initiative.

If you’re neglecting social, you’re basically neglecting a massive pipeline of brand virality and exposure for your brand. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2C or B2B, social matters.

When you integrate social media into content marketing on both a technical and operational level, it becomes easier to maintain a consistent brand voice across all channels.

Automation tools help connect social media platforms to web properties while proactively researching, and planning content provides a solid foundation to scale marketing efforts.

When social media and content marketing work hand-in-hand, the overall ROI for the business increases exponentially as customers are satisfied, referring friends, and coming back to engage with the brand for more.

How have you integrated social media into your content marketing strategy?

Jessica Corry

Jessica is a marketing consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship.

More Posts

Continue Reading

10 Signs You Might Need to Hire Outside Help with Your Social Media

Is your brand on social media?

Are you tired of pouring time, money, and other resources into your social media accounts while watching other brands outperform you?

Maybe it’s time to hire some outside help.

In this article, I’ll discuss the major signs that you should consider hiring outside help to get your social media presence back on track and contributing to your profitability.

1. You’re leaving customer questions and comments unanswered.

JetBlue is well-known for having one of the most responsive business Twitter accounts.

Whenever a customer mentions the brand, the company responds within an hour. Even CEO Robin Hayes is known to respond.

Apparently, not every company is doing it like JetBlue. According to Convince & Convert, “70% of companies ignore customer complaints on Twitter!”

Source

If your company isn’t able to respond to customers immediately the same way, you’re leaving a bad impression on social media. This makes your social media presence more of a hindrance than a help.

Source

Some brands might have a social hotline for customers to air their grievances. If you do, then you need to be monitoring it and responding to it.

Source

If you’re not responsive, then you might need a little outside help.

Social media consultants and agencies are dedicated to social media activity. Social media professionals make sure that no customer questions or concerns go unanswered. Instead of leaving customers hanging, consider hiring outside help to create a social community that contributes to the company’s bottom line.

2. Your social media following is shrinking.

Donna Maria at the Indie Business Network recently highlighted a myriad of ways businesses lose customers via social media. Social media is supposed to be a place where customers connect and engage with a brand. If they’re unable to relate to the business on social media, they’re likely to leave, never to return.

Social media agencies have established processes and procedures to effectively build a social media account into a positive extension of the brand. When a customer enters your brick-and-mortar store, you treat them like part of the family, and the same should be true on social media.

3.  You’re not seeing enough website traffic from social media.

Social media traffic should account for approximately 30 percent of your web traffic. This 30% may include all social sources, not a single social site.

Garrett Moon discussed his strategies for driving traffic on social media platforms. By gathering and analyzing data on social media activity, you’ll have an accurate picture of how you’re doing and can adapt accordingly.

Data analysis is an important part of business, and it’s an area on which social media agencies built our business. If you’re unable to implement solid processes to collect and analyze social media data to quantify your efforts, it may be time to hire outside help.

4. You know you’re not that great at social media.

All over Twitter, you’ll see people label themselves as “social media gurus.” These self-proclaimed experts may have a large following (or not), but it’s difficult to tell if they’re able to translate this success to future work with your business.

In order to be successful on a social media platform, you need to know how the community works, optimal times to post, and how to encourage engagement. A lack of expertise slows innovation, so it’s important to have experts on the team.

Hootsuite has 6 quizzes to test your knowledge about social media. If you’re unable to pass these quizzes, it’s time to start looking for social media help.

5. You’re doing a lot of social stuff, but you don’t know how to focus on the right stuff.

A successful social media campaign needs to be focused and consistent. From 2011 to 2015, Coca-Cola saw a 96 percent positive or neutral consumer sentiment on over 125,000 posts across all social networks, thanks to its #ShareaCoke campaign.

Source

During this time, the company went all-in on the campaign, printing common names on their products to encourage sales and sharing of their products.

Social media agencies know how to create a voice and stick to it. Instead of trying different things, leading to an inconsistent impression among customers, experts can drill down to the brand image and constantly supplement it. If you’re struggling to create a consistent brand image across all marketing channels, you’ll benefit from seeking outside help.

6. Social isn’t making your business grow.

Greg Shuff, the owner of DryHop Brewers, emphasizes the need for delegation to grow a business. While a solo entrepreneur or employees of a small business often wear many hats, this business model isn’t sustainable as a business begins to grow.

Business owners looking to scale their business to the next level need to have a dedicated staff for each business process. A dedicated social media agency focuses entirely on social media marketing, allowing other teams to focus on their goals. By compartmentalizing each job process, teams improve productivity, contributing to the overall efficiency and success of the company.

7. You know you’re wasting time on social media.

There are a lot of social media platforms these days. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr, and StumbleUpon can each keep a person busy for an entire work day. Dedicating all this time to social media without a defined ROI can feel like a waste of time.

Social media agencies excel at quantifying and monetizing a social media campaign. By formulating a plan, preparing a schedule, and executing each step, a social media pro can create and document success.

Over time, you’ll see increases in followers, customer engagement, and conversion rates, which provides a valuable ROI for any business.

8. You feel like you’re throwing away money on social media.

Every company would love to have a dedicated digital marketing team, but most don’t have the budget. It costs a lot of money to staff a team, and training, development, and turnover can quickly drain the company’s liquid assets.

In 2015, the average business spent between $200-$350 per day on social media. A monthly cost of $4,000-$7,000, thus, is a decent estimate for social media cost projection. According to surveys, businesses spend 13% of their marketing budget on social media, a number which is expected to rise to 21% in the next few years.

Source

But what is the ultimate impact of this money? Where is it going? What is it doing?

When hiring an outside agency, these operational costs are shifted to the agency. Social media experts can provide qualified and experienced staff so your business is focused on selling and turning a profit.

9. You don’t have a clear plan for your social media strategy.

No business can succeed without a plan, but planning and executing a successful social media campaign takes a lot of work. Often what happens is businesses become reactive and are never able to formulate an actual social media plan.

It doesn’t need to be complicated. A simple four-step plan, like the one below, is a perfect starting point.

Source

Social media agencies start with a business plan. When you’re searching for outside social media help, start by asking potential vendors to submit their past successes and a personalized plan for your business.

Before spending a single penny, you’ll have a solid social media plan that both parties agree to and work to materialize.

10. Your social media conversions are really low.

Regardless of how well your social media accounts are doing, it means nothing if those interactions don’t convert to sales.

If conversions are low, it could signal problems with your approach. Sure, most people know how to “do” social media, but do they know how to drive conversions and improve revenue?

It’s important to carefully track conversions from social media in order to assess the ROI. You may wish to go to the extent of creating a funnel like the one below, demonstrating the path and progress of sales leads.

Source

It’s vital that your sales and marketing teams work together and complement each other to ensure a seamless transition from the first interaction to the final sale.

Outside social media agencies are focused on generating leads to turn over to the sales department. While social media metrics are important, contracting an outside vendor allows you to hold them accountable for generating leads that convert to sales.

Conclusion

Social media is an important part of any business’s online presence. On social media, customers can engage with companies to form a connection and raise brand affinity. This only occurs when a social media presence is solid.

It’s important to be responsive to all customers, promote valuable content, and convert engaged followers into paying customers. If you’re struggling to quantify your social media presence, employees are being stretched too far, and are lacking a solid business plan, it’s time to consider seeking outside help with your social media.

Do you hire outside help with social media? Did it change things for better or worse?

Jessica Corry

Jessica is a marketing consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship.

More Posts

Continue Reading

5 Epic Social Media Fails and How Not to Commit Them

The Internet is full of tales of woe about how people lost their jobs, lost their BFFs, or just lost their reputation by a social media mistake.

It’s scary stuff.

But where these articles fall short is on the advice side. It’s one thing to laugh, squirm, cry, or rant at the idiots doing the stupid social media stuff.

But what if it’s us? What if we’re the ones who are likely to commit the next major Facebook blunder or Twitter fiasco?

What then?

All those “stupid things people did on Twitter” articles suddenly don’t seem so funny.

Let’s take another look at those epic social media fails, and see what we can do about avoiding such mistakes, not just laughing at them.

1. Don’t defend yourself like this.

After landing a spot on “Kitchen Nightmares,” the restaurant-owning duo took some flak for the way that they ran their restaurant. When Amy and Samy heard the negative PR, they unloaded the heavy artillery in their defense.

The dealt it back a little harder than they needed to.

When things simmered down (a bit), and the couple had an hour or so to cool down, they posted this:

So, for whatever it’s worth, they said

sorry not sorry.

HuffPo’s Leigh Blickley, admitted

these people are freaking crazy.

The Internet loved to hate them. Parodies, cartoons, complaints, they had to deal with a lot.

 

But they dealt with it in the wrong way.

What’s the lesson for humanity?

People are going to say bad things about you. Deal with it.

But when you’re in the heat of a flame war, it’s easy to lose touch with your inner zen, and let loose with some salty language and a few well-placed insults. Touching keys with your fingers just happens. It’s hard to help it, right?

Yes, it’s hard. But wait. Just wait. When the haters rant and the bloggers begin ramping up their campaign, just wait.

You will gain more by staying silent than by trying to defend yourself. If you’re lucky, those in the Internet community not pouring forth vitriol will defend you. But if you’re not defended by the Internet’s gracious-hearted, a period of silence on your part will at least give the haters less ammunition to throw back at you.

Defensiveness is never a good PR move. Neither is sniping back at your critics.

2. Do not capitalize on tragedy.

When bad things happen, it’s never a good time for you to make a buck from it.

This is what London Luton tried to do with their Facebook pic and comment:

The caption read, “‘Because we are such a super airport….this is what we prevent you from when it snows……Weeeee :).”

Tragically, the photo used was from an accident in which a child was killed.

Although it didn’t take place directly on social media, American Apparel did something similar during the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy. They had a sale.

That storm took 285 lives, destroyed 650,000 homes, and caused the loss of $75 billion in physical capital.

Not the time for a 20% off sale.

No, let’s not do sales during hurricanes.

Events like this are no laughing matter. It’s not a time for jokes, no time for sales. It’s not a time for marketing campaigns. It’s a time for mourning, for respect, and for tactful silence.

Advice: Implement a double-check approach for Facebook posts. If you have one person creating the posts, have another person check them before they are scheduled or posted. To simplify this practice, use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to create, review, and schedule posts before they go live.

3. Don’t cuss out your customers.

Any unkind words you say on Facebook about your customers will be duly noted.

Like this tirade:

Sorry you had to read that.

It happened, and it’s too bad, because that kind of customer service is what makes headlines, not pacifies customers.

In the real world, there are unpleasant customers. They do complain. Their complaints could be baseless and unnecessary.

But you still have to respond with patience if you want to keep your reputation intact.

Advice:  Instead of reacting to a customer’s insults, a short, brief, apology is all that needs to happen. You can’t successfully solve an irate customer’s angst in a Facebook thread, anyway. Please, don’t try.

Pigalle’s fiasco could have been sidestepped if they merely asked, “We are very sorry that you had an unpleasant experience. We are sending you a direct message with a personal apology from our owner, returning your $200 bill, and finding out what we can do to improve.”

Done.

4. Don’t ask your followers to defriend people.

The point of social media is to build relationships and connect the world in meaningful ways.

What was Burger King doing, then, by blowing up social media with its “sacrifice” terminology, and sending “angry-grams?”

They were shooting their brand reputation in the foot, that’s what.

Burger King went to the trouble of creating an application that allowed Facebook users to defriend people.

If you get rid of ten of your friends, you’ll get a free whopper. Pretty cool, huh?

So maybe Facebook friendships aren’t that deep. And maybe your friend list could use some pruning. But this is not how to do social media.

Advice:  Use and encourage social media for what it is intended to do — foster and sustain human relationships.

Cold-hearted defriending is not the way to run a great campaign. Instead, warmhearted encouragements go a long way in enhancing your brand reputation.

5. Limit user-generated content when you are facing negative publicity.

It’s no secret that some people don’t like the police force. For all the help and safety that these public servants provided, they have also been the recipients of negative publicity as well.

The New York Police Department attempted to face the negative publicity head on, by soliciting user-generated content in the form of a hashtag campaign, featuring photos of NYPD members.

Unfortunately, hashtag campaigns do more than elicit positivity. They can also generate negativity.

This might be a nice photo:

But this is not.

Active Twitter users, on the whole, did not possess very many positive photos of NYPD activity.

Advice:  If you’re going to ask for user generated content, do so on a neutral topic, and only when your brand is enjoying positive vibes.

Generally speaking, people are more likely to participate in a UGC campaign when they are either 1) extremely happy, or 2) extremely unhappy. On the whole, the public’s attitude towards the police force doesn’t skew positive. If anything, it’s neutral. In the wake of media coverage about police brutality, however, it may tend to skew negative.

That is not the time to launch a UGC campaign.

You as a brand have no control over what people can post on social media, and opening the floodgates will only give you a level of exposure that you may not want.

Conclusion

Social media is dicey territory. You’re taking a big risk by sticking your neck out in the wild and wooly world of customers, fans, haters, and unhinged erstwhile customers.

But for all the newsworthy negativity, there’s a ton of positivity. Social media is like anything innovation. It can be used for good, and it runs the risk of being used for ill.

What social media safeguards does your brand have in place?

Jessica Corry

Jessica is a marketing consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship.

More Posts

Continue Reading

6 Warning Signs That Your Social Media Marketing Efforts Are Failing

Do you sense that your social media marketing isn’t providing the outcomes you had hoped for?

Having a strong social media marketing strategy is growing more and more important for businesses and the success that they’re seeking.

Just a few years ago, social media could be viewed as a supplemental marketing effort, but the marketing world of today largely revolves around social media.

Jessica Corry

Jessica is a marketing consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship.

More Posts

Continue Reading