This is part two of a two-part series. Read Social Media Influence Part One: Map Your Allies here.
There's definitely more to social media marketing than meets the eye. As we learned in part one, it's critical to identify influential members of your ecosystem in order to begin monitoring and cultivating them.
But there's a second part of the social media equation that's really important -- content!
So how do you make content that engages, inspires and gets you more customers? You use inputs from your influence maps, as well as inventorying the best assets you already possess. If you take the strategic approach from the beginning, your content strategy can be done efficiently.
What Content Do You Already Have?
For most business owners, pictures are one of the easiest things to collect -- product shots if you sell a physical product, or perhaps stock photography if you are a service provider. Description of your services or a product catalogue can also be bedrocks of a content strategy. Do you have press clips? Use them. Finally, if your website has a description of how you founded the business, be sure and leverage that on social.
Action Step: Create a "content inventory" in Excel or Google Spreadsheet. List the type of content (picture, video, text), as well as a description and copy you can use on the various social networks.
What Holes Do You Need to Fill?
Photos are a quick low-hanging fruit in the content world. If you are a coffee roaster or a small toy manufacturer, consider taking photographs of how the process comes together. Do you or members of your staff have interesting stories to tell? Be sure to tell them using social media. Finally, if you participate in "giving back," whether through donating a portion of your sales to charity or sponsoring the local Little League team, be sure to leverage that story in your social media holdings.
Action Step: Create a "wishlist" -- content you would like to create, and code it according to its difficulty. For example, it's easier to write a quick personal message than to create a video.
What Content Can You Collect?
In the first part of this series, you identified several items that help you understand your market and ecosystem better: including keywords around customer conversations and major press outlets. Use those inputs to think about things to blog or publish on your social media channels. For instance, a company called Barkbox (which sells gift boxes of goodies for dogs) scours the web for cute pictures of dogs to put on their blog, newsletter and Facebook and Twitter pages. It's an easy way to source content that excites people.
Action Step: Look at your Twitter list -- what content can you retweet or re-post? Are there any common themes emerging from your subject area?
What Content Can You Pitch?
Journalists, especially at small, cash-strapped publications, are always looking for story ideas. Make their lives easy by studying what's successful on their blogs and pitching an article that seamlessly fits in. Are you a professional web designer? Contact a tech blog and pitch an article on "The 10 Most Common Mistakes on First-Time Websites." A bookstore? How about talking a local blog into a guide to "Best Book Gifts"?
Action Step: Identify 2-5 publications you would like to pitch and craft a couple of ideas for each.
Keep it Flowing
No matter where your content comes from, keep it flowing constantly. A picture, a quote, a quick positive review from a customer, all of these serve to get you in front of more eyeballs and a bigger potential audience.
Action Step: Create a content calendar, and commit to post a certain number of items per week to help support your business. Consider scheduling a block of time to help you find and publish more content.