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The 4 Stages of Creating Engaging Social Media Content

KEY TAKEAWAYS COVERED IN THE PODCAST

 

  • “An hour of planning can save 10 hours of doing.” — Dale Carnegie
  • One of the key aspects of social media is consistency. You need to show up every day.
  • You need variety in your posts to keep your followers engaged.
  • The assets you use with your social posts are just as important as the content itself.
  • You need to be present on your social channels! You can’t just post and ignore.
  • The better you can get to know your audience, the better you can create content that will interest them.
  • The more you post content that provokes engagement, the more people you’ll reach.
THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO REMEMBER ABOVE ALL ELSE…

 

The more you engage your audience and the more targeted you get at connecting with your audience with the right type of content, the greater reach you will have. Better reach will encourage the social platforms to deliver more of your content to your audience.

HIGHLIGHTS YOU SIMPLY CAN'T MISS

 

  • An update about how changes in Facebook’s algorithms will affect how your content app – 01:55
  • Recommendations and words of warning regarding how to handle the content you publish – 04:30
  • The 4-stage process for identifying content needs – 06:31
  • The reason it’s important you understand who your target audience are – 07:06
  • Where to look for ideas to create posts around – 08:50
  • How social media really works – 12:39
  • How to create assets—what you’ll use to put posts on social media – 13:30
  • Tips for scheduling your posts – 15:59

 

LINKS TO RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S EPISODE

 

Transcript below

 

Hello, and a really warm welcome to episode four of the Social Media Marketing Made Simple podcast. And I'm your host, Teresa Heath-Wareing. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm so glad you decided to download the podcast and give it a listen.

As you know, this is a brand new venture for me and it's only episode #4 of the podcast. I sat down and thought about what is it I'm going to talk about on this podcast, what am I going to teach you, and what valuable information can I give you that's going to help you market your businesses better generally and on social media.

I thought back to all the questions that I get asked all the time when I'm speaking to marketers and entrepreneurs like yourself. And one of the thing that I constantly get asked about and that people struggle with is how do we come up with content to put out on social media day after day, week after week. You know what? I'm not going to lie to you. This isn't the easiest task that we have.

Coming up with creative and interesting content can be difficult and even more so when you think about the recent changes that have been taking place with the algorithms. Basically, the rules in which things like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram decide what content they're going to show to what people.

 

An update about how changes in Facebook’s algorithms will affect how your content app

 

If you saw my Facebook Live a few weeks back, it's on my Teresa Heath-Wareing Facebook page, you would've seen that I did live talking about the recent changes in Facebook.

Basically, the short version is that Facebook are going to be giving more priority to content that engages people and provokes a conversation. If your content that you're putting out there is not getting much engagement and people aren't commenting or sharing, then the chances are less and less people are going to see your content. It's more important than ever that we think about how we can create engaging and interesting content for our social media platforms.

Today, I have decided to do a podcast on how we go about creating content. I'm going to take you through my step-by-step guide to coming up with and planning my content for social media. Don't worry, I know if you're anything like me, you are probably listening to this podcast while driving, doing school run, getting ready in the morning and therefore, you probably don't have a pen and paper to hand. No problem, I have put together a handy step-by-step plan, which you can download. Head back to the podcast page on the website teresaheathwareing.com and you will find that guide that you can download.

Let's dive straight in and get started. I saw a great quote the other day that sums up this whole exercise in one. “An hour of planning can save ten hours of doing,” and this couldn't be more right than when it comes to creating content for social media. Who sat for hours trying to come up with something for social media or days have gone by and you've suddenly thought, “Oh, gosh, I haven't posted for days.” I'm sure there's an awful lot of us out there. This is why we spend the effort to plan and schedule our content.

Unfortunately, one of the key things on social media is consistency, and about showing up every single day. I totally get it. Coming up with something every single day to post on social media is hard. But by putting together a plan, it's going to save you time and it's going to ensure that you've got variety on your page because no one wants to see a dull social media page putting out the same content day in, day out.

 

Recommendations and words of warning regarding how to handle the content you publish

 

So, I use my four-step process in order to plan and schedule social media content. But before we get into that, there's just a couple of kind of things that I want you to think about, consider, maybe call them words of warning. When you're scheduling content and coming up with a plan for content, you want to make sure that you do have a mix of scheduled and natural content.

Now, if you are scheduling content and you're not doing the natural stuff, it's unlikely to be as interesting as one that has a mix of both. What I mean is a scheduled post might be, “Here's a blog post that I did or here is a USP or a testimonial,” or something like that. A natural post might be, “Look, here's me at an event me, or here's the latest thing come off the production line.” Those are the natural posts and they do tend to be more interesting because they seem more real.

Also, scheduling and planning content doesn't mean, “That's it. I can post it. I'm never going to social media again.” It's all about being present, making sure that you are there on those social media platforms. The scheduling and the content planning is purely to help you manage your time. However, you can't just post and ignore. You've got make sure you're there as well.

And also, don't over-repeat. Make sure you're not putting the same content over and over and over again. Now, I know that there are several platforms like that, platforms like Meet Edgar. I'll put a link to this in my show notes, that will recycle your content for you. You basically put it a load of content and it will post out and when it gets to the end, it shuffles it and sends it back out again.

You know what? This can be really helpful. However, you have got to have an awful lot of content and able to do that so that it doesn't look like you're throwing it the same thing over and over again. Then also be ready to stop and change at kind of any point. If something happens in the news or something might not be appropriate anymore or it's out of date, then obviously, again, you can't just schedule stuff and think, “That's it. I don't need to worry about it anymore.”

 

The 4-stage process for identifying content needs

 

Okay, onto the four-stage process. These four stages are stage one, understand your audience. Stage two, brainstorm your content. Stage three, create your assets, and stage four, schedule your posts. If you don't understand any of these stages, no problem. I'm going to talk you through them.

 

The reason it’s important you understand who your target audience are

 

Let's get started. Stage one, know your audience. Now, I have to apologise. If anybody has ever seen me talk or listen to other content or seen Facebook lives, you will know that I go on about this an awful lot, and it's because I can't stress how important it is that you know who you're talking to, because you can have the best content in the world but if it's talking to the wrong audience, then you're never going to engage the people that you want.

Someone once said it's like putting a billboard in a desert and I couldn't agree more. You really have to get to understand who is it that your target audience are, who are you trying to speak to and I don't just want to know are they male or female, how old are they, where do they live. I want you to think about all the details. I want you to even go to the effort of finding a photo that you think depicts the person that you're trying to target. I want you to think of a name. I want you to think, do they have children? What kind of job do they have? What type of house might they live in? What clothes do they wear? Where do they go food shopping? What motivates them? What do they do on a weekend? What cars do they drive? What are their aspirations and dreams?

I want you to try and get down really deep and understand who is it that you're talking to because the better you can get to know them, the better you can create content that's going to interest them. And I really want you to take some time doing this. I want you to really sit down and think about it, because you know what? This is going to help every single parts of your social media and your marketing for your business.

And also, it's not just about that you might have won, we call them avatar target market. You might have multiple target markets. It might be that for different products, you have different people. Don't feel like you've got to squeeze everybody into that one box. If it is more than one person, then that's fine but you just need to understand who is it that you're talking to.

 

Where to look for ideas to create posts around

 

Once you have figured out who is it you're talking, you can then move on to the next step. Step two, brainstorm content. When it comes to this step, I make sure that I have enough time to sit and focus on creating content without any interruptions. I find that my brain works better when I'm doing things batched together. If I'm hoping to go from writing a proposal or putting together a speech to then trying to drop into create some content, I find it much more difficult. Whereas if I sit down and I think about, “Okay, I need 14 posts or 7 posts.” I find that much, much easier.

Instead, I just want you to think about all the ideas that you might have for content and write them all down. They don't have to be full post. They just need to be ideas of the types of posts you might want. I would be thinking about what blogs do you have. Have you got what we would call evergreen blogs that it doesn't matter whether it goes out today or goes out in six months' time. It's still the same correct content.

Think about tips or hints and the questions that you get asked all the time, how can you be of value to people? How can you support them and give them information that they're going to want to know? Also don't forget to tell them things like, did you knows, any awards and accolades. Then, you want to be social. You want to do the more entertaining part. Videos, jokes, don't forget seasonal stuff. We've not long had Valentine's and Mother's Day and therefore, make sure you include some of those posts as well.

Then, obviously, you're going to include some posts around the more selling side of it. You're going to give them your USPs. You're going to talk about service offerings, competitions, any offers that you might have and you're going to be a bit more direct in your calls to action. You're going to ask them to click to your websites or you can ask them to download something or look at something.

Like I said, we sat here. We're coming up with these many ideas as you can possibly think about. Also, on another note, don't just think about your business and what you're trying to sell or your service. Think like the person that is going to be receiving the content. I had a great example when I was talking to a lady who [inaudible 00:11:07] really lovely online shop with gifts and cards and bags and little trinkets and things. We talked about her customer, who was her ideal customer or who is the customer that seems to be coming and purchasing the most.

We kind of drilled down the fact that it was a woman. She was probably a mom or married and she was buying gifts for herself and her husband and children and she had the responsibility of finding those lovely unique and different things. Therefore, we talked about the content that she was posting on social media because she was posting a lot of product content. I said to her, “Okay, so think about if you're talking a woman who's 30-year-old, got children, very busy, running around, what kind of content would be of interest to her?”

She changed her entire outlook on social media and this lovely lady started to post things around running around after the children, looking after the children, trying to get everything done, really finding memes and interesting content that would make you smile or laugh or that you could relate to. You know what? Her social media posts went through the roof because she got under the skin and understood who it was she was speaking to and showed them content. Okay, you might sat there thinking, “Well, what's the point in that? I'm going to be sharing them jokes or memes or videos about funny bits of content but it's not about what I sell or what I do.”

 

How social media really works

 

But the point is the way that the algorithm works, the way that social works is they want you to engage people, and the more you engage people and the more you interest people, the more they're going to show all of your content to them. If you've done a couple of really good posts that have been funny and got good reach, then suddenly, when you then do a salesy post or you then do a post that's talking about a product or a service, then you're going to get better reach on that one because you've been providing them with good content.

Also, don't panic. I have put together a list of possible content ideas that you can use that is on the download of the four steps back on the website. We are now onto step three, so we've done step one, which is finding out who your audience is. Step two, coming up with lots of ideas for content and I am going to give you some ideas as well in the download.

 

How to create assets—what you’ll use to put posts on social media

 

And now, step three. This is all about creating assets and if you don't know what I mean by assets, no problem. This is basically the stuff that you're going to use in order to put your post on social media. Are you going to have an image with it? Are you going to do it as a video? Are you going to find an interesting GIF which is basically just a slightly moving image that would go with the concept that you're talking about? Have you got photos or slideshows or graphical elements that you've created?

The assets are almost just as important as the content itself. When was the last time you were scrolling through your social media platform, having a look at it and a text-only post jumped out to you. Not very often. However, how many times have you scrolled through and seen a picture that stood out to you or a video that's caught your attention? An awful lot more, I should imagine.

You've come up with some great content. You've thought some great things to share on your pages and now, you need to create an asset for them. Like I said, it might just be an image. It might be a video. It might be a GIF, but it's really important to think about how you're creating those assets. Now, there's loads of different social media design tools out there that you can use. And a couple of my favourites are Word Swag. This is an app that you can download to your phone where you can create kind of like quote memes so you've got a background image and you got text on the front.

If something you want to say is text-only, then that could be great to produce those. And they're really simple and quick. I'll put a link to that up in the show notes. And also, one of my favourites, and I know that every time I show this to people they love it, is Canva. Now, Canva is an online tool. Again, I will put a link in my show notes and it's amazing. The stuff you can do with it, it's so creative. They give you lots of ideas. You can store colours.

There's a paid version. If you pay for the paid version, you can upload fonts. You can save your branding. But the free version is still fantastic and it's so good and creative that you can create some really lovely images in there as well. Then, obviously, there's loads of online apps that you can use to create little short videos and of course, don't forget going live is super important as well.

 

Tips for scheduling your posts

 

Last but not least, we are now onto step four, scheduling your posts. You know what you're going to be talking about. You've created some lovely images or videos or fonts and GIFs that go along nicely and now, you need to actually schedule it. Now, there are many ways that you can do this. You can do a very basic level where you create an Excel spreadsheet or you literally have a Dropbox with your asset saved in and you have an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document where you've got all of the actual post content itself and you just go in every day and you grab it.

Or, you could use something a little bit more sophisticated where they can actually schedule the post for you. Now, I mentioned Meet Edgar previously. Like I said, that's the one that does the recycling of your posts and I wouldn't recommend using the Edgar until you have at least 60, 70, 80 posts because if you're putting out say, three or four posts a day on Twitter, you're going to burn through that content pretty quickly and you don't want people to keep thinking you're putting the same content out over and over.

Meet Edgar is good if you've got that high level of content. If you're wanting to schedule your content week to week or a few weeks in advance, which is probably what I would suggest to do, then you want to be perhaps looking at something like either Content Cow, Buffer or HootSuite.

Now, I know HootSuite is super popular. I have to say it's not my favourite for no reason other than the fact of I think you just get used to certain platforms in the way they look and I like to have very simple platforms. I'm a very simple person. But I like to see simple things. So, for me, something like Buffer and Content Cow are much more simple layout and much easier to understand but they do a really good job.

I will put links to all of these in the show notes, and basically, all you're doing is you're uploading your image. You're writing your text and you link your accounts to these platforms and you decide what time and day you would like that post to go out. Then, as if by magic even if you're not in the platform, that post will then be scheduled to go out on your social media platform.

But like I said, this isn't a case of you never have to look at it again. You do need to keep an eye on it and make sure when it does go out, it looks okay. Often, you can preview these things in the platform as well which is helpful. But then, obviously, you've got to be there to do the engagement part, to do the talking to people but the scheduling tools definitely help.

That's it. My four-step process to creating content. I really hope you find it useful and it is fairly high level so I know there's a lot more that we could deep dive into but as I've mentioned before, I want these podcast to be fairly short snippets that you can grab the information, take what you need and go and use it in your business. I would love to hear what you thought, so please get in touch with me and drop me a message via any one of the social media platforms and let me know what you thought of this podcast. I really do value your opinion and appreciate you listening today.

Also, I would love to hear what you would like me to talk about on the podcast. I'm still coming up with content. I'm still trying to work out what sort of subjects we're going to be covering and therefore, I would love it if you would come and tell me what would be useful to you in your business? What would help you manage social media better, market your business better? Please come and tell me as I would love to help.

Once again, thank you so much for joining me and I will see you next week.