If you were on TikTok or Instagram in 2022, you probably stumbled across one of the many videos using this soundbite:
“Hi, I’m a small business owner! Unfortunately, that means I need to be a content creator. So here’s the content…”
And it went viral for a reason–
It’s so relatable!
As creatives and entrepreneurs, we know the power of social media.
But we also know how utterly demanding it can be to keep up with content creation on all the platforms, all the time, while at the same time trying to run a business and keep our creative “cups” full.
IDK about you, but I’m exhausted just thinking about it!
The reality is…
There’s a MUCH better way.
When you set up your social media content plan intentionally, you DON’T have to be everywhere at once.
And, better yet?
You don’t need to burn yourself out to effectively use social media to promote your creative business.
What you need is a social media PLAN.
Here, I’ll share my proven process to help you customize an effective content marketing strategy for your creative business without allowing social media to take over your life (or suck all of your creative energy)!
Once you start running your socials instead of letting them run YOU, maybe you’ll even enjoy showing up online!
I hate to burst your bubble here, but…
Social media is NOT a marketing strategy.
Not by itself at least.
Social media is a tool that can be used as part of a larger content marketing strategy.
Simply put: your social media plan dictates how your business will use social media platforms to support and achieve your marketing goals.
Now you’re probably wondering,
If social media isn’t a content marketing strategy all by itself, what exactly is content marketing?
You’ve probably heard the term “content marketing” thrown around in the online business world, but often the meaning is misunderstood. Content marketing is just one form of marketing your business may choose to use.
Unlike traditional marketing, which is often focused solely on promoting a product or service, content marketing is all about creating valuable, relevant, and consistent content that attracts and engages a specific audience (in this case, your Ideal Client Avatar or ICA).
So, if social media isn’t the ONLY way you can use content to market your creative business, what other options are out there?
Content marketing comes in many forms including, but not limited to:
In all honesty, content marketing can even include memes (yep– you read that right)!
The sky’s the limit!
As you can see, while social media is a great form of content marketing, it is certainly not the only option. A strong marketing strategy will include several different content marketing avenues.
Moral of the story?
Don’t put all of your marketing eggs in one basket!
Your social media plan shouldn’t stand alone! It will be more powerful (and less stressful) when paired with other content marketing streams.
The goal of content marketing is to build a relationship with your audience by giving them something they actually want or need.
Instead of just shoving ads in their face all the time, you get to build a rapport, respond to their needs, and be of service to your community!
Think of it like being that uber-hip friend who always has the best restaurant recommendations and relationship advice. You know, the one everyone wants to hang out with (hint hint, that should be you for your niche).
Relatable content is so effective because it nurtures your audience and builds their trust.
This is what makes social media such an instrumental resource in your business toolkit!
Not only is social media a great place to share your insight, expertise, and tips with your audience, but it’s also extremely COST-effective. Most social platforms are free or very low cost, especially when compared to pricey marketing options like billboards or TV ads!
Together these benefits lead to better leads, higher conversion rates, and, most importantly, MORE SALES!
It’s all about first impressions!
When used appropriately, content marketing, like social media, lives at the TOP of your marketing funnel.
Top-of-funnel content should be the first point of contact that leads your audience to other ways to work with you, learn from you, or buy from you.
Top-of-funnel marketing, such as social media content, is meant to attract COLD leads, build their awareness of your brand, and ultimately turn them into WARM leads who are ready and eager to invest in your offers!
Now that you understand what content marketing is and the role social media can play in your broader marketing strategy, it’s time to get your social media plan up and running!
I’ve distilled it into 5 simple steps.
While it may seem like content is content when it comes to social media, that’s simply not the case!
Content for content’s sake shouldn’t be your main focus.
If it is, this could be why your social media plan (or lack thereof) is feeling aimless or unsuccessful.
You can’t just throw something out there and hope it sticks.
The post-and-pray method is dead!
It’s important that before you create a single piece of content, you decide WHY you’re sharing it.
Are you trying to…
Gain more followers?
Foster a sense of community?
Build anticipation for a future offer?
Get more website traffic?
Build better brand awareness?
There’s no right or wrong answer.
Only you know what your brand needs to focus on to support your audience AND your business goals!
Whatever you decide your social media goals are, they should be both specific and measurable so you can track your progress and determine if and when you’ve met your goals (more on that when we get to step 4)!
Your ICA will influence your social media plan more than ANYTHING else in your business!
“What is an ICA?” you ask.
ICA stands for Ideal Client Avatar.
It is an exercise that allows you to get inside the head of the “perfect” person for your offers.
Before you can create a single piece of content, you need to know who you’re speaking to in order to make it as specific and relevant as possible.
Generic and general is NOT the way to get attention in the online space.
If you ever hope to gain your audience’s interest or trust, you need to be on the pulse of their desires, needs, and goals so that your content can support them on their journey, whether they decide to buy your product, work with you, or not!
COO Tip: Want to learn more about how to get clear on your ICA? Click here to read it on my blog!
Sometimes it can feel like you need to be EVERYWHERE online.
You might get caught up in keeping up with the latest and greatest social media platform: Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest…
…it can be dizzying to decide!
And when you try to create original content on every platform (especially without a strategy) it’s easy to feel like you’re being spread too thin!’
If you aren’t careful, social media can become a full-time job!
Plus, you could have the most value-packed content in the WORLD, but if your “people” aren’t seeing it, it won’t matter!
Luckily there’s a simple way to narrow down the options and make your efforts count!
Once you know your ICA, you’ll be able to effortlessly decide where you want to show up on social media.
By asking your target audience where they spend the most time.
You can start by:
When you know where the people you’re trying to reach spend most of their time online, you’ll not only feel more confident that your content is getting in front of them, but you’ll also find your social media plan is way more effective because you’re showing up where it counts!
When you identify the social platforms you’d like to focus on, start with one or two. Once you feel confident about sharing content in these spaces, you can always expand into other areas, but don’t try to do too much all at once!
COO Tip: You can also ask your audience what kind of content they prefer to consume. Short-form videos? Carousel posts? Blogs? Email newsletters? This will help you decide not only where you want to show up but how you want to serve your audience once you get there!
Now it’s time to focus on the quality of your content.
As we’ve established, the “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks method” isn’t gonna cut it!
In order to leverage your efforts and increase your impact, your social media content should follow what I like to call the 3 E’s:
You want it to engage your audience by focusing on their hopes, challenges, goals, and successes. Using familiar language and even pop culture references will help you connect.
Your social media content also needs to be efficient (for your sake)! If it’s consuming hours of your time, not only is it likely sucking you dry– it’s also totally unsustainable! Make sure you can continue to show up the way you want to on a realistic schedule! This will ensure you aren’t throwing lackluster content out into the world that could potentially tarnish your brand reputation. Content that isn’t impactful and intentional just becomes noise.
Lastly, your content should be effective, meaning it helps you accomplish the goals you have for your brand. Even if you like a certain type of content, if it isn’t pushing you toward your version of success, it isn’t truly making an impact! This is why it’s so important to document and track your content marketing efforts so that you can see what is or isn’t working from an unbiased perspective.
When you keep the 3 E’s top of mind, your business’s social media content will bring people into your marketing ecosystem, nurture them, and eventually convert them into customers or clients.
Finally, it’s time to pull all of the pieces of your social media marketing plan together.
Your social media plan isn’t just something you can set and forget because you truly won’t know what works for you without a little trial and error.
It will take time and effort to get your plan dialed in, and even then, your plan will likely change over time depending on your ever-evolving goals, social media platform best practices, and trends in your industry!
For those reasons and so many more, it’s crucial that you create a social media plan that includes systems with rhythms to ensure you’re assessing and responding to your social media progress regularly.
To measure and adjust your progress you’ll need to:
COO Tip: Don’t fall victim to vanity metrics! While likes, comments, and shares may help you understand what kinds of content your audience responds to, they DON’T typically have a direct impact on your business, your bottom line, or your goals. If you get caught up in this kind of data, you’ll likely find yourself chasing numbers that don’t actually matter!
Are you ready to take your social media plan and content marketing strategy to the next level?
While the 5 steps outlined earlier are a great foundation, there are several ways to further expand and enhance your strategy for even greater impact and sustainability.
I have so much MORE to share with you!
I’ve developed an easy-to-implement SYSTEM for recycling and optimizing your content marketing across various platforms, including your social media, blog, emails, and videos.
You’ll go from feeling like you are on a never-ending social media hamster wheel that leaves you overwhelmed, frustrated, and unsure about the role of social media in your business to confident and in control of your social media plan.
Ultimately, this will allow you to effectively create content and drive REAL results in your creative business.
Plus, I have tons of proven tips for generating new and creative content ideas, so you’ll never have to face a blank page again!
If this sounds interesting to you, join me for my upcoming virtual workshop, “How to Run Your Social Media, Instead of Letting It Run You,” on April 6, 2023, at 1 PM EST.
The workshop is sponsored by my alma mater, RISD, and alumni can register for free!
For the first time, the event is also open to the public for only $25.
Don’t miss out – click here to register and save your spot and get access to the replay!