This article is for CMO’s, marketing directors, digital strategist and social media managers of small businesses, start-ups and independent brands who are thoughtfully pondering the qualities of great content distribution. Fortunately, strategies to share your blog post isn’t determined by your budget and putting a quality process into place will streamline these strategies so that they are second nature as they are for us here at CodeSwitch.
We’ve taken these tactics and made them into a processes that keep us ahead of what’s coming, helping to expand the audience of our clients time and time again. These time tested techniques are in place at most larger agencies and we’re sharing them with you. Let the sharing begin!
Step One: Get to know your tools
There has to be tools in place that enable you or your team to be in more places and analyze more information than you could handle on your own. It’s the old adage of working smarter not harder and todays tools can help you do just that. Knowing your tools better than anyone else can be the key to succesful communication with your audience or being overwhelmed and feeling stagnant.
Here are three of our favorite social media scheduling, curation and analysis tools we’ve put into place for many clients.
Co-Schedule is unlike other social media scheduling tools (Hootsuite, etc) it was made from the ground up by editors and writers. You’ll want to make sure you’re familiar with with features like it’s Editorial Calendar, Social Queue, Top Posts features. They’re recently become a lot more marketing centric rather than just focusing solely on content and this is to your benefit. They are more than worth the money.
Oktopost is a little closer in feel to other social media management tools. So if you’ve used Hootsuite, Sprout Social or similar tools you’ll feel right at home. Bulk Uploads, social listening and campaign reporting and a few other tools you’ll be familiar with. This tool is great at curation.
Until your business or editorial department can produce with speed and accuracy you’ll need to fill in the gaps with great content that isn’t yours. It’s preferable that you do this even after your producing lots of content of your own as well. Oktopst is one of the best tools on the market for quality curation without the large time spend curating by hand. It’s also great a staying of top of engagement with audiences.
Onlypult is one stop posting and analysis for Instagram. The program is straightforward and won’t take much by way of effort to master. Taking note of picture type, post times, appropriate hashtag usage and experimentation are keys to success. The hashtag analyzer will put you on the path to more and more engagement.
There are plenty of other tools out there so if you’re starting from scratch, one great site to help you zero in on what’s right for your business or a client or employers business is Siftery. They don’t list all tools but they’ll put you in the right direction. If you find a tool but can’t use it for any reason, try typing that tool into Google and adding “vs” after it. You should get back the direct competitors to that tool.
Step Two: Know the content
While each phase is important for it’s own reasons, nothing trumps a thorough knowledge of what you’re sharing with any particular audience. While familiarizing yourself with whatever content management system in place is also crucial (know your tools), the ultimate goal is to have a thorough knowledge of the content in that system so that you’ll be able to recognize opportunities to engage with the audience regardless of platform.
Use your community
Knowing the in’s and out’s of your industry and all of the industry language that comes with it is no small task. So use your resources. If you’re confused or need more information about a topic, get in touch with the writer of the content, the editor or anyone else whom you feel can help you gain a better understanding. Failing to do so will only hurt your chances of doing a phenomenal job communicating bitesized chunks of information to an audience.
Get ahead of it
Get a head-start on the kinds of content being produced. It’s important to note if the content being produced mostly longform, short form, lists, infographics or a large combination of different types of posts. You’ll want to share them with hints as to their depth so audiences can anticipate what is being served up. Knowing the intricacies of how to share different types of content being produced is important.
This will become extremely important as you increase the reach of our content and diversify the audiences you’re reaching out to. As you learn your industry you’ll also want to pay close attention to how each community with that industry may use terminology, tools and media in different ways to better identify commonalities. Something as small as knowing an Account Executive in the marketing agency world, is different than what an Account Executive might be at a large cooperation can make all the difference. You’ll want to take notes as you’re digging into the details of each industry and community you’ll be targeting.
The goal isn’t to write one great post. It’s to write as many posts as possible, so that you can let the data (people) tell you which posts are great to the them. Then send out more of those kinds of posts.
Step Three: Create more now and it will pay off later
The editorial environment (even for a brand) should be a hybrid of relevant newsy pieces and slow cooked deep dive content, so it’s important to stay ahead of the editorial engine. Producing post assets that include both copy and visual elements in large volume will be key to your success. There’s no point in doing the hardwork of producing quality content if it’s not promoted properly very soon as it’s completion. This means being part of the editorial / production process and not waiting for pieces to become finished works is key. Here are some tips.
Stay in the moment
(The pic on the right: The excel tool used to calculate tweet length w/ hashtags and url’s)
Once you have some idea of what’s being written, take the time while it’s fresh in your mind, to create as many posts as possible while you’re “in the moment”.
Simply asking the author for a summary, title, keywords being used for the post, or who the target audience is will give you clues as to what kind of headlines can be produced even before the piece is finished.
It will be difficult to come back to a piece of content and create posts that are just as good, after the fact so get them down while their fresh. Use a tool like ourTweet template (above) to keep track of character counts, links and hashtags so that you can focus on creation. The goal is to get ideas out of your head and into a tool. (It doesn’t matter what tool that is. A pad of paper is a tool.)
Cover all the angles
Remember what social media is really about…people. While writing an individualized post for every member of an audience is nearly impossible, it’s entirely possible to write posts that cover a broad range of angles regarding the same post/subject.
Examples of different tactics for writing several posts on the same topic:
- Synopsis: Summarize the most important information in the content.
- Interesting Tidbits: Pull interesting facts and pieces of information that are unusual or might spark interest.
- People: Picking out the people who are part of the story and including them in your posts is always a good idea.
- Businesses and Buildings: Give a shout out to the businesses and buildings who are clients, partners, and community members.
- Cities and Neighborhoods: Geography is one of the key factors that make information relevant to some and irrelevant to others. Writing posts with this in mind can be key to improving shares, engagement and reach.
- Tie-in: Staying on top of current trending topics, events and how they can be used to increase the distribution of content is another great tactic to make part of your arsenal.
More pictures, more pictures, more pictures
While having great copy is key, the world of digital consumption is becoming more and more visually focused. In the current digital landscape you’ll need lots of pictures to help convey the different angles of each story you’re telling. Remember that posting the same copy with a different picture can work but posting the same picture over and over rarely works.
Step Four: Listen to your audience and respond
Distribution of content in a thoughtful manner is only the first phase of making and managing a social presence. Next comes the important role of making sure no one feels left out of your social party.
You’re the host and everyone’s invited
Social media is your way of reaching out to people and inviting them into your brand or companies world. So there’s content to bring them closer, it’s the job of the person managing distribution to be a great host never allowing anyone’s communication to go unnoticed. To be as efficient as possible, you’ll use the Oktopost or other listening tool to make sure no one falls through the cracks.
Should you respond? Or Not
The general rule of thumb is to always respond in some way. Who doesn’t want a thoughtful reply when they’ve taken the time to engage first? No one. However, a host should always remember to stay in charge and control the engagement. This means never feeding the trolls. In addition liking, favoriting or retweeting… a response is great way to engage when you’re not quite sure what to say. Lastly, give them something else to read when possible by sharing other posts by your team or other useful information. The goal is to be of real use to an audience not just to your company. You’re not making a sale you’re making a connection.
Engage beyond the content
Remember to bring personality and a human side to your communications. Engaging with those in your community of stakeholders and beyond is a great way to broaden your reach and grow affinity for what you’re doing. This means it’s also good to just take out some time to chat with people on topics that aren’t relevant to your mix. While it shouldn’t take up the bulk of your time, once there are regular engaged members of your audience, keep this close.
Step Five: Numbers aren’t everything, but they matter
You’ll have to use equal parts of creativity and analysis to be successful. Remember not to get wrapped up in the numbers. They’ll only take you so far and getting likes for likes sake is almost never the goal. So what numbers should you pay attention to?
Big numbers aren’t the number one goal, unless you want a larger audience, and lets face it most of us do! This is a confusing statement and all it means is that growing the overall pie (audience) is always part of the goal. While you can’t engage with everyone in your audience, engaging with 20% of one million is better than engaging with 20% of one thousand. So a large part of what you’re always looking to do is grow the audience.
Hashtags and Ads
A steady combination of well researched hashtags and strategic use of ad dollars to increase the reach of content, will be key to growing eyeballs (that reach we talked about). One is never more important than the other. You’ll need to pay close attention to which hashtags work best on what platforms, in addition to what’s trending and what content that you’ve published should be “boosted” to a broader audience. The better you become at using organic tools like hashtags the less money you’ll have to spend on ads. So pay attention the which hashtags get you what numbers. Equally, pay even closer attention to how much money you need to spend to reach your audience before a post plateaus on organic reach. Remember, you can’t pay for people to be interested in what you share, only to reach those who are interested.
Sharing rules, for now
In the past there has been great debate about the usefulness of likes, follows, replies but once the NYT published their study on the psychology of sharing, the debate ended. When the goal is to grow the audience, shares are digital gold. So when possible you’ll want to use this metric as the one you are looking to improve upon the most. Collaboration with the writers and communication of trends to them is key. Until we can begin to focus more on how much time readers are spending with our content, shares will be the key metric.
Once you know what kinds of content your audience loves to share, make sure more of those posts are being produced. The numbers are only important if you team knows what they mean. High share count means to people cared about that information and think others will find it useful.
Find the smarties in your field and make sure they a part of your every day feed. Once you dive into any industry you can only fake it for so long unless you are an expect on the subject matter your sharing. So find the influencers and knowledgeable people in the field who can help you to engage with your audience. Create lists of at least 5 influencers per topic or community group and engage with them often.