How to Create a Social Media Content Marketing Strategy (That Works)

January 02, 2024
Written by
Jesse Sumrak
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own
Reviewed by
Ayanna Julien
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

How to Create a Social Media Content Marketing Strategy (That Works)

Your social media content marketing strategy outlines how you'll use social networking to create and distribute content—but that's not the end goal. See, most content creators and social media managers get lost in the process.

And that leads to subpar content performance and missed business opportunities.

In the end, you don't want more content. You don't even want better content. What you want is:

  • Sales
  • Subscriptions
  • New customers
  • Returning customers
  • Leads
  • Brand awareness
  • Shares
  • Upsells
  • Cross-sells
  • Referrals
  • Customer engagement
  • Customer satisfaction

Remember this throughout the rest of the article. 

You're not just planning and building an awesome social media marketing strategy—you're making a plan to hit big-time business goals. Yes, content is a part of that process, but the content isn't the end goal, and neither are more followers or higher impressions. 

The end goal is the list above.

With that stage set, let's get into everything you need to know to create and launch a social media content marketing strategy that works. 

What is a social media content marketing strategy?

A social media content marketing strategy is a plan for how you'll create and promote great content across your social networks. It outlines your goals, target audience, content types, and scheduling to make it all happen.

Each social media tactic connects to a specific purpose (like engaging customers, creating sales, and spreading brand awareness). That's why it's crucial to start our social media content strategy from the top down. 

If you skip around, you might just come up with the best ideas ever that don't support your business objectives or target your audience. And that's worth a whole lot of nothing.

Here's what your social media content marketing strategy should focus on:

  • Goals
  • Target audience
  • Content types
  • Scheduling
  • Content creation
  • Analytics and readjustments

Why do you need a social media content strategy?

A social media content strategy acts as your guiding star. Without it, it's easy to get lost chasing shiny objects and rabbit holes—and that's not hard to do when you're stuck on social media networks all day.

Trying to launch a content program on Reddit? Good luck. Without a strategy, you'll end up deep in a subreddit before you realize the day is gone. Want to engage your community on Twitter? You'll get lost giggling at @Wendys roastings and never accomplish anything.

A social media marketing plan keeps you on track. You have a reason for every channel you join and a purpose for every post you publish.

8-step process to create your social media content strategy

This quick 8-step process helps you take your social media content strategy from zero to hero. Follow it (from the top down) to build a plan that works.

1. Identify your social media goals

What do you want your social media profiles to accomplish? 

In the end, more followers or impressions shouldn't be your goal. Those can be tactics along the way (or milestones) to accomplishing your goals, but followers aren't business goals—unless you're an influencer looking to score sponsorship deals.

Social media doesn't necessarily have to drive core business metrics, either. For example, while your business might have a goal to increase year-over-year sales, you might play a more indirect goal.

Use your social media networks to build brand awareness or engage previous customers. You may even use it to drive traffic to your website or build your email list.

2. Clarify your target audience

Who are you trying to target on social media?

Your target audience on Twitter might not be the same as on Instagram. And your audience on Facebook probably doesn’t have a direct look-alike on Reddit.

Instead, your target audience should resemble your business' buyer personas (or at least a subsegment of those personas).

And remember, you can't please everyone.

Don't try to jump on social media and be everyone's friend. You need to create certain types of content for a specific audience. The general approach just turns your brand into another vanilla account that's dry and boring.

3. Audit your social media channels

What’s working (and what isn’t) on your social media channels?

You probably didn't come to this article looking to start a brand-new social media launch. You likely already have profiles spread across different networks and want to refine your strategy and drive results.

That's fine and dandy—you don't have to start from zero. 

However, before you scrap your plans and begin from scratch, audit your existing channels. See what's working and what's not. You might already have some successes you can replicate, and there's a good chance you'll find failures you can avoid duplicating.

What types of content performed well in the past? Jot those down. What types of content didn't perform so well? Make note of them. 

You don't need to have a social media presence on every platform. Focus on the ones where your target audience spends their time, whether Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, or YouTube.

4. Plan your content types

Ready for the fun part? 

It's time to identify your content strategies. Your content types could include any of the following:

Decide what you'll share on your different channels. You might use your Instagram account as a recruitment channel and Twitter to drive awareness for new products. Once you know the goal of your channels, choose high-quality content types that align with it.

For example, posting fun images of your company outing might not drive sales, but these could help with brand awareness, hiring, and retention. Conversely, posting images of your new product launch likely won't make anyone want to join your company, but it could get new and returning customers interested in making a purchase.

5. Find your promotional levers

Are you promoting your content the right way?

Posting content on social media doesn't necessarily guarantee it'll be a success. There's a lot of noise on social media, and without the right promotional strategy, your audience might miss your content entirely.

To avoid relying on the whim of the algorithms, you need to find other ways to distribute your content. For example, when hosting an upcoming live stream on LinkedIn, extend your promotions to other social networks. You might include it in your email newsletter or a blog post.

Here are promotional levers to consider using:

  • Messaging apps (such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Slack)
  • Blog posts
  • Email marketing
  • Pay-per-click campaigns
  • Podcasts
  • Internal promotions (such as employee messaging boards and resources)
  • Employee advocacy programs
  • Other social media channels
  • Influencers
  • Guest posting

6. Figure out your social media calendar

Do you have a publishing cadence for your social media? 

Once you have the content ideas and the promotional tactics, it's time to organize everything into a calendar. Work with different teams to sync your schedules and ensure everything aligns.

For example, if you need promotional support from your email marketing and demand-generation teams, give them an adequate heads-up. 

Factor in the content creation process. It's not always going to flow smoothly—sometimes, you'll encounter hiccups along the way. Plan for disruptions, and create a backlog so your content strategy never misses a beat.

7. Create the content

Ready to start creating quality content? 

First, use your in-house marketing team to create what you need—whether copywriting, social posts, or promotional tactics.

If you can't find all the internal help you need to support your social media content marketing strategy, consider hiring contracts and freelancers. They can supplement your workload and fill in the gaps where necessary.

8. Track your results

How do you know if your work has paid off?

After you launch your content marketing strategy, give yourself a pat on the back for making a huge step in the right direction. However, you're not done yet.

Not even close.

Now, it's time to track your results and monitor what's working (and what's not). Keep evolving your content marketing strategy to capitalize on your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses. Find the promotional levers that work the best and scale them—nix the ones that underperform or don't provide enough return on investment.

Add email to your social media content plan with Twilio SendGrid

Email marketing plays an integral part in any social media content marketing strategy. Let's face it: you don't own your social media accounts. The networks do.

You could build up a massive following and be unable to reach them without expensive pay-to-play requirements. Or worse, your account could get banned or deactivated, leaving you with no way to contact your loyal followers.

Email is different.

When someone signs up for your email marketing campaigns or newsletters, you now have permission to message them. No social media platform or Google algorithm will ever change that. 

Ready to add email to your social media content plan? Sign up for a free Twilio SendGrid account (no credit card required) to get access to email campaigns, automation, transactional messaging, and more.

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