A few years back (originally posted in September 2014), I had the great pleasure of being the very first guest blogger on The Lotus Position! Below is my post from their blog on the Recipe for Social Media Marketing Success. I’m dusting it off and breaking back out after a few years as it has some great points that can be followed even today. Be sure to check out The Lotus Position for more great posts on follow @lotus823 on Twitter!
Cooking up quality social media and content marketing campaigns can be a daunting task. Like cooking a homemade meal for your entire family, sometimes finding the right recipe and getting started can be the most overwhelming step. While this will serve as a general guide for crafting your own stew of social media success, finding a great marketing agency, skilled social media chef, or online marketing resource can help guide you so you’re not writing your recipe from scratch. There’s no need to reinvent the meal. Now let’s get cooking!
Every great recipe starts with great ingredients. Figuring out which ingredients you’ll need, how they’ll be used, and getting them together can be half the effort. Take your time and remember that no matter how complex or clever a recipe is, success can’t happen without all the essential components.
One of the first things you’ll need to consider is the scope of your social media and content marketing campaigns. Is your business (or your client) a mom-and-pop catering to a local audience, a large brand with national reach, or somewhere in between? Be pragmatic and don’t stretch yourself or your resources too thin.
Staff & Budget
Once you’ve figured out the general size and depth of your social media endeavors, you’ll need to allocate your resources accordingly. Are you a one-chef show, or do you have a whole kitchen of cooks at your disposal? Taking inventory of whom and what you have to work with along with your estimated serving size should be among the first steps in planning your social media and content marketing strategy. Also keep in mind the next steps you’d need to take to expand in case your campaign grows quickly.
Having the right tools to cook with is a must for any chef; you can’t cut veggies without a knife, and you can’t boil water without pots. Consider what hardware (such as cameras for photography) and software (such as Final Cut for video production) you’ll need when it comes to cooking up your content.
Preheating and Prep Work
Before you fire up the stove, there are carrots to be chopped and garlic to be peeled. Get to know the audience you’re trying to reach: research which social media sites they are using the most, identify influential niche blogs and communities, and create user personas. Having an understanding of who your campaigns are for and where they spend their time online will help you to cater to their taste. Once you understand what makes your target audience tick, brainstorm some ideas for content. Organize and outline strategies, write preliminary copy (such as a mission statement) and create social media pages if you haven’t already. Remember, it’s better to be active and engaging on only a few social media sites than inactive on many.
Once you have everything you need prepared and your oven warmed up, it’s time to get your hands dirty!
When cooking, timing is critical. Ingredients that take longer to cook need to be done first so everything comes together in harmony. Things like SEO need to be simmered over longer periods of time, and assets like videos must be planned, shot and produced. Make sure you give yourself enough lead time with larger projects and make a content calendar to keep everything running on schedule.
Measure Everything Carefully
Mixing up a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of salt can ruin even the most carefully planned dishes. Just as you must carefully measure each ingredient as it’s added into a recipe, it’s important to measure the progress of your efforts on every front. Use Google Analytics (or similar tracking services) to monitor traffic to your website, and the various insights/analytics components of your social media pages to see what content is successful and what isn’t. Understanding who is visiting your sites and why will also give you indications on how to tweak your SEO efforts.
Taste While You Cook
While an actual dish is prepared completely and then served, social media and online content are constantly being created, served and consumed. Throughout the process of creating and executing your online campaigns, it’s important to dip your finger in to taste your recipe (e.g. feedback and engagement from your audience, staying on-point with your brand messaging) to see what is working best and build upon it. While this goes hand-in-hand with keeping an eye on your online metrics as mentioned in the previous step, making sure you’re achieving the flavor and overall tone you want is a bit more subjective.
Spice Things Up
Even the most delicious traditional recipes can benefit from adding a little kick! Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and add a little spice to your online marketing. One incredible example of some impromptu zing being thrown into the mix was Oreo’s epic tweet during the Super Bowl XLVII blackout. This ended up being one of the standout moments of the Super Bowl, and it was all done in the heat of the moment.
Have a Balanced Meal
Just like you wouldn’t have an entire meal of just rice, make sure your campaigns are a healthy balance of content, social media, SEO, PR and traditional marketing elements. All of these components working in harmony can create delicious, result-driving success.
Plating and Service
No matter how delicious a dish is, it might as well be dog food if nobody gets to taste it! Getting the final product to your hungry audience and having it look appetizing is just as important as the ingredients that went into your recipe.
If you’re not familiar with the term, plating is “the practice of arranging food in an attractive and appealing manner on a serving plate” (thanks to WiseGeek for the well-worded definition). Presenting your online content in the right way and making it easily accessible can make all the difference. Using hashtags, shortlinks, posting during peak usage times, optimizing for search and posting to the appropriate social platforms are just a few ways to ensure the online campaigns you worked hard to cook up reach your audience piping hot and looking great. Also be sure to include a healthy amount of cross-linking between your social platforms and content pieces so users get a taste of everything you’ve got!
In addition to the presentation of your efforts, getting feedback and raising a glass for the occasional toast can make everything taste that much better. Respond, converse, and encourage people to try everything on the plate. Personable engagement with your audience will keep them coming back for second helpings!
Thanks for reading my recipe for social media success. For more digital marketing deliciousness, follow me on Twitter at @HelloPresto. Bon Appetite and be sure to tip your waiter.