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Why you need to stop doing social and make or review your content strategy. Now.

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Content, either created or curated is the King and Queen in 2012. Do you have a strategy? There is an order to doing certain things.

A base or foundation that has to be in place before you begin building on top of it.

A lot of us rush into social media without having that base. Then we wonder why the whole thing brings us so little. It is in fact highly damaging to your brand to be using social media without defining your niche and strategy. Impressions of you once formed are more difficult to alter than if you simply start afresh.

Social Media is different because it is content created and shared by you and your friends. Something interesting, compelling and relevant.

Everyone these days is a brand AND a Social Media marketer. You may want to deny being a brand or a marketer but you cannot. You must ask yourself this: “What makes my brand so interesting that people will want to talk about it and share it with their friends?”

You will not succeed in Social Media if you don’t have something interesting to say and you do not keep strictly to your niche. Development of an increasingly narrow niche is also a very savvy play as well.

Social Media is the vehicle for communicating and distributing interesting stories (content) across the internet. In turn, readers share the content they think is compelling. Then their readers share it. So more than just wanting to get your brand out to customers and readers you are also aiming at developing an army of raving fans who will become your advocates. With the push of a like or +1, a retweet or a repin button.

What does “content strategy” have to do with it?

The purpose of content strategy is first to brand you and then to keep you in the eyes of the target market of that brand. The end result is that you will attract and retain the attention of the audience that you want to reach. And have them share your conetent and in that way promote you.

Imagine for a moment that you’re invited to pitch your business to a room full of potential investors. They’re willing to hear your story and let you persuade them with your ideas.

You would probably not just show up, stand on the stage and say whatever comes to mind right?

Most people are doing that with Social Media. Given the opportunity to present their brand to an online audience of potential customers, they simply show up without preparing a compelling or targeted message.

They talk and they share but what and to who?

Now this “content” I am talking about can be original generated content as well as curated content. Both are equally necessary. They will brand you as an expert, a sharer and an expert sharer. People are flocking to these kinds of people.

Social Media is a highly active and evolving space. There’s a lot of conversations going on. It is a very distracting environment, and everyone has a very short attention span.

You have to figure out EXACTLY what kind of conversation you’re going to spark that will make people pay attention to you because in Social Media it is very hard to get attention and to retain it.

Remember everyone is a brand. Everyone is getting more and more savvy at marketing that brand. Who and what may have been the flavour of May may be forgotten by Christmas.

That’s why it’s important to have a plan (content strategy) and have it in place before you show up on social media. You plan must also be constantly reviewed. Get feedback from others. It is about how people see you not necessarily how you see you yourself. What Twitter lists are you being added to? Are they in the niche you want to have people see you in? What Facebook groups are you being added to. What do your friends believe you would be interested in/ deliver value about?

How do I approach my own content strategy?

As you brainstorm your own content strategy, ask yourself these questions:

What niche do I want to be known for? Example: A car repair workshop.
What are my customers’ desires? Example: Enjoying he most comfortable, maybe sporty, safest and most reliable car they can
What kind of content do they consume? Example: Articles, photos and videos
How can I create interesting yet consistent content that will attract new customers and retain old ones? Example: Create a blog on my website showing them how to do basic car maintenance (featuring both text and video). Publish weekly.
When all is said and done, what business results do I want to achieve for all my hard work? Example: More clients and more sales.
How will I know if this stuff is working? Example: By periodically measuring how many new customers and how many new sales, I have made since executing my content strategy.

Do I need a social strategy to make this work?

Ideally yes.

You can achieve your business objectives through your content strategy without social media marketing. For example, visitors using long-tail search terms car, repairs (and locality) can certainly find your content through Google or Bing (although this doesn’t happen overnight).

However, social media marketing can help you distribute your content much faster and reach more people than your website. But, your social strategy doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s simply a plan that will work seamlessly with your content strategy to help you achieve your business goals.

To do this, first understand how consumers behave online:

They meet in different places (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest);
They read, share and discuss different content (blogs, videos, podcasts, music);
They evaluate brands based on content and by what their friends like and share and discuss. Online conversations are the new market place.

Organizations that understand this behavior are able to communicate directly with consumers and influence their perception of their brands. Here’s what you need to do:

Think about where your customers are located online and join those communities.

Establish a listening campaign to figure out who’s doing the talking and what’s being said.

Consider how you will connect with the more influential ‘conversationalists’ within those communities. Do you need to create your own Facebook business page or Linkedin compamy profile? Or do you need to comment regularly on select blogs? Use these channels to interact with your community by asking questions (surveys), participating and contributing to conversations (comments/discussion forums) and sharing your expertise (your content).

You will need to be doing a significant amount of sharing of them.

Share whatever is going on in your offline world with your online community (pictures and videos).
Reach out to other bloggers (guest blogging).
Respond quickly to comments and feedback on your own blog.

Your Content Marketing strategy is enhanced by Social Media but can also survive without it. Your Social Media presence and effectiveness on the other hand will founder without interesting, informative or humorous content.

Before entering the Social Media space, you need a plan to figure out how to deliver interesting content on a consistent basis so that you may attract and retain the attention of your target audience.

Michael

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