Your social media followers probably aren’t counting the number of times you #hashtagoverkill digital marketing, B2B or marketing mindset, but it may feel to you like your content ideas are repetitive or #stuck.
You are not alone. Feeling baffled about how to generate new content (remember the early days when we thought creator’s block was a myth?) and dreading the spreadsheet every month—or six—is a common issue for both B2B and B2C content planners. The remedies to having enough social media ideas and content ready to go are simple to apply, so let’s look at how you can be prepared to drop social content anytime, anywhere.
Before we get to specifics, remember you must have laid the foundation for effective social media campaigns by completing the following:
Invest Time in Research
Part of having content ready for posting is understanding who you are as a company or business, who you want to reach with your content, what you want them to do and who you want to be—and sound like—on social. If you do a thorough self-assessment of your business, including your challenges and strong points, you won’t waste time trying to be someone you’re not ever going to be on social. You can focus your brainstorming efforts on who you are (maybe a little on who you want to be) and let the rest go. (Whew, we just gave you back the gift of time.)
Research on your followers includes not only demographics and geographics, but why they follow you.
People follow others on social for reasons that fall somewhere within these three categories: obligation (the perception that it’s not optional, such as you following your supervisor or boss, or employees following their company), reciprocation (you follow me, so I follow you and the resulting show of tribal affiliation) and connection (which seems simple, but connection can be as basic as I’m connected to you, so that you offer promotions that save me money). Research on what engagement and results your past posts have gotten can help you determine where your followers fall.
Research almost always helps decipher what kind of content resonates with an audience, or potential target audience, so don’t miss this step.
Identify Your Purpose and Goals for Social Media
Why are you putting effort into social media (a wrong answer is everyone else is doing it)? What do you want your social content to accomplish (a wrong answer is sell stuff)? Be specific. Your social media goals may be tied to other marketing goals but shouldn’t mimic them. Social has distinct advantages and drawbacks, so let it do what it can do best to complement your other marketing goals, but don’t make your social media goals just be your business goals in miniature.
At baseline, according to HootSuite, the content you create “will vary based on what you want it to achieve. Your call to action will be different for a sales post versus a post designed to build brand awareness and engagement.”
Insist on a Content Calendar and Content Schedule
Whether it’s in a Google Doc or Excel sheet, document what message will go out via what channel and when.
“A social media content calendar allows you to plan your content mix across social channels, so you get the most value from your digital content creation efforts,” according to HootSuite. “Your content calendar should also include your ongoing content needs. Once you’ve filled in your content calendar, it’s time to set your content up for publishing. Scheduling content in advance gives you a real-time view of your content plan, and allows time to double-check all the details.”
Curate and Construct Your Content
We think of this as the three Cs and the center (another C!) of always having content ready to post. You need content, so you must create it and you must curate it. Posts don’t have to pop magically into existence. Construct a content library, with examples of successful posts from the past for inspiration, and ready-to-post video, photos and text. Curating your content takes some effort, but it builds bridges and…connections.
Curated content is content from other brands or people that you share to your social media accounts,” according to HootSuite in its complete guide to curating content. And don’t forget user-generated content (UGC) , even in the B2B space.
When you share a link to a blog post, create a roundup of quoted advice from industry experts or link to someone else’s social media post, you’re curating. Be sure to analyze any social media efforts, so you know what worked and what can be scrapped for now.
Now that you’ve taken the fundamental steps, consider our suggestions for being post-ready at any time. Here are six approaches:
Pull Back the Curtain
If your followers on social want to build connection, let them see you in your natural habitat. Show you and your team in your retail environment, manufacturing facility, or on an employee outing. A quick video of the president of your company walking the office dog on her lunch break shows that your company consists of humans, but also shows that you can be trusted to display what’s real. Social is about community and conversations.
You may remember that advice that social media is akin to a party and no one at a party should walk up to other guests and say, “Hi, I’m Dave. I have stuff to sell, want to buy it for 20 percent off?” Not a way to connect, except for those who follow Dave around hoping he’ll make it 50 percent off.
When you pull back the curtain, be sure to include your staff. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, job milestones and other work achievements—and curate (almost) everyone’s content to showcase involvement. This not only gives you something to connect with your audience, but also allows your employees to appreciate the public recognition.
Browse The Web and Your Email for Engaging Articles
This doesn’t need to be endless scrolling. You probably already know where to find information and sources that cover your company or industry. Start there (be sure it has value to your target audience) and keep a spreadsheet of (updated) links. If you have a gap in your posting schedule, share one of the articles, and encourage your readers to like or repost it.
Tap email newsletters for trending topics in your niche and industry. Comb your email newsletters monthly (or weekly) for relevant and topical material. If you’re not already receiving email newsletters, search and sign up for those you might find interesting and that will provide you with social media reposting possibilities, just as recommended on the Social Media Strategies Summit blog. (See what we did here?)
Initiate a Challenge or Contest
You may have participated in a social media challenge yourself or know someone who’s always on top of whatever is fresh in the viral-challenge world, so you know the power of a challenge. Challenges boost engagement, create user-generated content, and cleverly promote your company and your products.
Granted, some businesses fit the challenge or contest model better than others. (Did someone say Nikon and GoPro and their frequent photography and videography challenges?) Even if your business or company doesn’t have easy challenge material, the engagement generated by a contest or challenge is worth the brainstorming to establish one. (If you need to brainstorm with this one, call or email. We can help.)
Think Video First—and Not Just on YouTube
Avoid thinking only in terms of photos, text or links. Recent surveys conducted by HubSpot and Hootsuite indicate that the majority of consumers are interested in watching videos from brands they support – giving even more credence to the need to bolster your social strategy with video pieces that humanize your brand—or explain your products and services. How-to videos can be hits, particularly if your products benefit from being demonstrated in-use. How-to YouTube Shorts engage viewers with quick visuals and a specific result, according to Hootsuite. Remember, you can show your target audience how to use your product(s) — or ways to hack them for alternative uses (if appropriate).
Something as simple as hiring a drone to overlook your business location is a way to gain footage that provides an interesting perspective and makes for a visually smart social media post.
You can use short or longer (no documentaries, though!) videos describing key factors in your industry or those that address frequently asked questions. To find the sweet spot for video length, Hootsuite recommends the following:
- Optimal Instagram video length (feed posts, Stories and Reels): 60 seconds
- TikTok video length: 7 – 15 seconds
- Twitter video length: 44 seconds
- YouTube video length: 2 minutes
- LinkedIn video length: max. 30 seconds
- Pinterest video length: 6 – 15 seconds
For more video stats and information on using it in social, consider these insights from Sprout Social.
Create a Series
This doesn’t need to be video, but a story told over time can keep your social media followers coming back to see how things unfold. Create your own daily or weekly series and give yourself the gift of time back from having to plan. Yes, you’ll need to plan the series, but if it unfolds over a week or month, you’ve saved steps in content planning for those days and weeks.
“Instead of having to think of three new post ideas for the upcoming week, you’ll already know the format and theme of your series and can get into creating it right away,” according to Hootsuite. “For max efficiency, keep a running list of all your ideas then pick one to film (shoot or write) for the week, or produce and schedule them all in bulk a month or more ahead of time. In-depth educational series work especially well on YouTube. To keep people watching, create a YouTube playlist and link to it from each video’s description.”
Plan (back to where we started)
The real key to never running out of social media content is to plan. Ahead. Decide how many posts you want to make per platform each day and write out a calendar of content in advance. This will help keep you from having to come up with post ideas on the spur of the moment and feel as though you don’t have anything to share with your audience. You need to have content ideas ready to go because consistently posting to your accounts creates a cadence that keeps your audience aware of who you are, what you do and (yes!) why it matters.
It’s common to feel stuck or repetitive when generating new content. The key is to have a solid foundation, conduct research, and curate diverse content to keep it fresh.
Research helps you understand your target audience, their preferences, and what kind of content resonates with them.
Defining your purpose and goals for social media allows you to align your content with your objectives and effectively engage your audience.
A content calendar is a schedule that outlines what content will be posted on which channels and when. It helps you stay organized, plan in advance, and maintain a consistent posting schedule.
Curating content involves sharing relevant and valuable content from other brands or people on your social media accounts, which helps build connections and engagement.
Showcasing your team, workplace, and behind-the-scenes moments humanizes your brand and fosters a sense of connection with your followers.
Browse the web and your email newsletters for articles that cover your industry or niche. Keep a spreadsheet of relevant links and share them with your audience.
Challenges and contests boost engagement, encourage user-generated content, and promote your company or products creatively.
Videos have high engagement rates and can humanize your brand, explain products or services, and provide valuable information to your audience.
Creating a series allows you to tell a story over time, keeping your followers engaged and saving you planning time by having a consistent theme or format.
Planning in advance helps you avoid running out of content ideas, maintain a consistent posting schedule, and effectively communicate your brand’s message.