Christopher Murphy · 14 June, 2020
Summary: Here are a dozen ideas to get you started with social media. This is a work-in-progress, provided for my Orbit programme learners. If you'd like to know more about Orbit, ot my mentoring, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
These are workshop notes, designed as a beginners’ guide to content marketing – particularly social media – to promote your business. For details on signing up for this workshop, which I run ~quarterly, please get in touch.
Research, Research, Research
Before you do anything, spend some time looking at others and identifying what they do and what works. Unless you’re completely disconnected from social media, you’re likely to have noticed some individuals who use, e.g., Instagram or Twitter effectively.
Scroll back through their timelines and make a note of what works (and what doesn’t). Like any successful project, a considered social media strategy starts with research. Don’t bypass this phase.
Case Study: The School of Design
Here’s our list for @theschoolofx. I spent approximately a fortnight putting this together and analysing different posts so I could see what worked and what didn’t.
- AJ&Smart, Eden Spiekermann
- Counter Print, Present & Correct, Yoganotes
- Hiut Denim, Paynter Jacket, Blok Knives
Once our Adobe XD file is converted to a shareable Figma file, I'll share the templates we created. In our research, we looked at different types of posts: quotations; lessons learned; celebrating wins (large and small achievements); process posts…
Establish a Content Strategy
With some research under your belt, it’s time to create a content strategy to ensure your efforts are aligned towards a single goal.
What is content strategy?
A considered content strategy starts with your audience. To create content that meets your audience’s expectations, you need to understand their needs and motivations. Who are they? What are their goals? How can you help them?
- What is your audience looking for, and why?
- What are their goals?
With this established we can create a content strategy that defines:
- The types of content our audience is looking for; and
- The appropriate channels they use (e.g. LinkedIn vs Medium).
Choose Your Channels
/* Move this down, content should be first, then channels. */
The good news: The barriers to entry for social media are incredibly low. You can set up accounts for free and, once you're good to go, all you need to do is add content.
(Adding content will take time, and time is money, so work smart. More on that in a moment.)
You can’t be everywhere all the time, so be strategic. Pick one or two tools, stick to them, but evolve those tools if you need to. If you find a tool isn’t working, rotate and try an alternative.
There are lots of tools, but the tool you choose will largely depend upon what you do:
- Instagram, Dribbble…
- Codepen, GitHub…
- Writers, Strategists
- Twitter, Medium…
- Project Managers, BAs
- LinkedIn, Medium…
I've mapped the above social media channels for my designtrack audience (who mostly work around UX +/ UI design (i.e. they make the internet, etc.)). I'll be tailoring it for different sectors, e.g. I have examples for craft.
Do some research. Who else do you know that's doing a great job in your sector? Learn from them. Look at what they're doing. Look at their metrics. (Metrics means measurement of engagement, through likes, hearts, retweets, etc.).
If you’re involved with craft, take a look at Loewe, they’ve been doing a fantastic job with Instagram Live broadcasts.
On that note, as Paul Smith says, You Can Find Inspiration in Everything (And If You Can't, Look Again). /* This point needs to be pushed right to the top. One line, explaining that I believe we can learn a lot by cross-pollinating across disciplines. */
Maybe write a short introduction to the various channels. Although that may be a total waste of time? (This is something Katherine has asked about. I'm 50/50 on the value of this, the best way to learn about tools is to use them.)
Consider Your Audience
Ask yourself: Who is your audience? What would benefit them? And how can you add value for your audience through your social media channels?
Try to add value, don’t make it all about shameless selling (if you do, you’ll put people off, no one likes a hard sell).
As a rule of thumb, I’m a firm believer in the 80/20 rule:
- 80% of your content should be links to content that others will find interesting, noteworthy or useful.
- 20% of your content can be sales-focused.
With the above mapped out, make a plan.
Make a Plan
Make a plan. What are you sharing, where to and when?
It might sound obvious, but this is where beginners often take a wrong turn. They adopt a 'throw a spaghetti at a wall' approach, posting blindly without thinking, then get frustrated when the results aren't what they expect.
Results will take time, so don’t expect overnight success. Social media is just like any other form of marketing, it’s a long game: stick at it and you’ll be rewarded; give up too early and you won’t see the results you’re hoping for.
When you consider your plan, consider how you might group your content into different patterns. (I’ll show an example of some patterns in a case study at the end.)
Design Doesn't Go Amiss
You don't have to be a graphic designer to create captivating social media content.
There are a wealth of tools out there that you can use to ensure your content is consistent and looks professional. Canva is a good place to start, it's a free tool for creating beautifully designed content.
Using Canva you can access over 100,000 templates available for desktop, mobile and tablet. I'm sure everyone will find something that fits the bill there.
If your budget's a little more generous, you might want too invest in bespoke design. You're less likely to show up at a party in the same off-the-peg suit if your suit is tailored.
We need some screenshots of Canva in here.
What's Your Schedule
Nothing beats consistency. Stick to a schedule.
Here I'll talk about a content calendar and I'll include a link to one that workshoppers can download for free.
Tools like Buffer are useful for this, you can use them to schedule your week’s worth of social media in an afternoon or during dead time. For many people, Buffer’s free plan will suffice. If you’re getting more seriously engaged, the paid plans are worth exploring.
Measure and Adjust
Whilst I wouldn't obsess too much over measuring your statistics, it's a good idea to measure how your social media strategy is performing periodically.
- How is your content performing?
- If something’s working? Do more of it. If something's not working? Do less of it.
Measure against some realistic KPIs (key performance indicators) and then evolve your strategy if you need to. For example, you might look at:
- How posts are performing, and what kind of engagement they're getting. (Likes, Hearts, etc.)
- How your follower count is performing. (Is it going up? Is it going down?)
If posts perform well (and are increasing your follower count), try and do more of those types of posts. If posts aren't performing well (or they're decreasing your follower count), do less of these.
Consider Your Content's Lifespan
Your content has a life beyond your channel. Bear that in mind and design accordingly. I have an example I'll show here.
This is the last element (and I haven’t finished it). Once you have your content strategy up and running you can start to think about amplifying you’re message.
Most social media platforms offer introductory deals designed to encourage you to part with your advertising budget.
It depends upon your business,
Gather social tools here…
Scheduling with Buffer. Look at this… what alternatives are there? Mention education discount, charitable discount, etc..
Instagram will only allow you one link, so this tool’s useful… for adding profile links.
Taplink puts your Instagram sales in order
Instagram allows users to place only one clickable link in the profile description, but this is often not enough. Using Taplink, you can place any number of links to pages of your products and services, special offers, instant messengers for communication in one click, accounts in social networks and more.
Sign up, screenshot the process and add here.
I’d like around three case studies, different types of approaches.
I think, given this is in Notion, this should be a separate page that’s embedded here.
There are many great publications, offline and online, that will help further underpin your understanding of content marketing. I’ve included a few below to start you on your journey.
- Share Your Process This short deck about Blok Knives social media channels is worth exploring for a visual overview of one brand’s approach to content marketing.
- Content Strategy for the Web
I haven’t read all of these, I’m just gathering them here for research, i.e. I’m not endorsing or recommending any of this content.
Should Text Be On Instagram Image Posts: Yes or No?
Catching the attention of users on Instagram has never been more challenging. Last year, the Social Media Lab ran a test comparing photos vs text-only graphic images . We found that photos outperformed the text-only images, but it brought up lots of follow-up questions regarding text on Instagram images.
Holding bay for periodical content…
Fold this in here.
Explain what these are. Show some examples (maybe make some examples). This lady, below, talks about ‘printables’, explore that too.
Ideas for printables for designtrack could be the productivity sheets. Make them, design them. They also could be worksheets.
Use the Start! Worksheets.
Explain why they are and show some, e.g. Landen, Etc. Also explain how MailChimp, etc., can be used for these.
Pop up things on web pages…
- A first name;
- An email address, obv.
- A testimonial, if possible. (The five stars are good too, I don't know where they came from, there's no citation… but you see them visually and think: "Five star book!")