content marketing 101

Creating a Social Media Content Strategy + Free Planner

Creating a Social Media Content Strategy + Free Planner

As super busy small business owners, having a well-defined content plan is crucial for marketing success on social media. Whether you're a seasoned marketer or an aspiring entrepreneur, a strategic social media content plan can mean the difference between online success and online struggle.

Here at Socially Inclined we like to keep our marketing advice simple and easy-to-understand, so in the spirit of that goal, we make a distinction between "creating a social media strategy" AND "creating social media content". One is an overarching strategy and plan that guides your posting decisions and one is the act of creating the content that goes in that plan. 

If you're looking for tips and exact step-by-step process for how to create social media content for your business, check out that link. If you're looking for advice on creating an effective social media content plan and strategy, keep reading!

In this comprehensive guide, we'll share the key elements of creating an effective social media content plan that engages your audience and helps you reach your business goals.

If you’ve been struggling with what to post on social media or you’re just exhausted from having to come up with what seems like endless content ideas for social media, rest assured that you’re not alone.

Social media strategy and finding social media content is the number one problem facing small business owners today. The good news is that we can help! Here at Socially Inclined, we help 1000s of small business owners just like you plan their social media content every single day! We'll even post your social media content for you with Socially Suite. 

So let’s get started. 


8 Simple Steps to Creating a Social Media Content Strategy & Plan

There's 8 basics steps to strategic content planning that every small business owner or marketer needs to know. Of course, in a pinch, a post from a purchased high-quality content bundle is always better than having huge gaps in your posting consistency, but to truly be successful in the long term, we've found that those with a strategic social media content plan have better reach and build more robust communities online. 

Before you get started, make sure you have an excellent social media planner to work from. Using a social media planner as you create your content strategy will help you stay organized and plan faster so you can start posting great content and growing your business faster. 

Click here to get our Social Media Planner for Free. Just add to cart, and checkout. The coupon is already applied. Thank you for finding and reading our blog!

Now, let's help you get growing on social media...

We've broken the 8 steps down into 3 easy to understand phases of social media content planning: Planning & Designing, Creating & Organizing, and Finalizing & Executing.

Planning & Designing Your Content Plan for Social Media:


Step 1: Understanding Your Audience

Before diving into the creation of your social media content plan, it's essential to understand your target audience. If this sounds like high-level marketing jargon, take a deep breath and consider this: 

"Before you dive into selling, get to know your audience like a friend you've known forever. Understand their quirks, dreams, and what keeps them up at night. It's not just about making a sale; it's about connecting on a level that says, 'I get you.' Because in that understanding, you don't just sell; you become the go-to solution in their world. It's not just business; it's a conversation rooted in empathy." - Jessica Hetherington, Socially Inclined

Taking some time to understand your audience will enable you to tailor your content to resonate with your audience, fostering a deeper connection and increasing engagement.

  • Who are they?
  • What are their interests, pain points, and preferences?
  • What are their values, aspirations, and challenges?

Create buyer personas to personify your audience segments. Consider social listening tools to monitor conversations and sentiments related to your industry, brand, or products.


Step 2: Set Clear Goals and Objectives

Define your social media goals and objectives to guide your content strategy effectively. Whether you're aiming to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, or boost sales, your content plan should align with these goals. Establishing measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you track your progress and adjust your strategy as needed. 

Be specific and measurable when defining your social media content goals. Instead of a broad goal like "increase brand awareness," specify metrics like "gain 20% more followers in three months."

Align objectives with the marketing funnel, distinguishing between awareness, consideration, and conversion goals. This clarity helps tailor content to different stages of the customer journey.


Step 3: Choose the Right Social Media Platforms

Not all social media platforms are created equal, and each caters to a unique audience. Go beyond demographics; understand the culture and trends on each platform. Consider the tone, content formats, and engagement styles that resonate with users. 

Researching the demographics, user behavior, and engagement levels on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok can really help you focus your social media marketing efforts in the long run.

In general, unless you serve a really unique niche, we recommend a new business owner to start with the big 3: Facebook, Instagram, & LinkedIn.

There are exceptions though, so be sure to check out the list below to understand the culture and trends on each of the top 8 platforms.


Here's a quick "Which Social Media Platform is Right for My Business" Cheatsheet:

  1. Facebook for Business:
    - Ideals: Connecting with friends and family, sharing life updates, and engaging with a mix of content.
    - User Demographics: Diverse user base across age groups, with a focus on personal connections. If you have an ideal client, they are on Facebook... Using what you learned about your client in Step 1 (Understanding Your Ideal Client) you'll be able to find them easily. Using a professional marketing tool like this Facebook Growth Planner will help you stay organized and publish targeted content consistently on Facebook, helping you grow faster and reach more people than ever before. 
  2. Instagram for Business:
    - Ideals: Visual storytelling, creativity, and aesthetic content. Ideal for brands with a strong visual identity.
    - User Demographics: Skewed towards a younger audience, particularly millennials and Gen Z, emphasizing visual content. As with any social media platform, staying consistent and organized is the name of the social media marketing game on Instagram. Use the best Instagram Growth Planner to bring your social media content ideas to life on Instagram for better engagement, reach, and growth.
  3. Twitter/X for Business:
    - Ideals: Real-time conversations, news updates, and concise sharing of thoughts and opinions.
    - User Demographics: Diverse user base, popular among professionals, journalists, and those interested in trending topics. Learn how to optimize your Twitter profile marketing basics with our Twitter X for Marketing Your Business Masterclass.
  4. LinkedIn for Business:
    - Ideals: Professional networking, business updates, and career-related content.
    - User Demographics: Primarily used by professionals, businesses, and job seekers for networking and career-related activities.
  5. TikTok for Business:
    - Ideals: Short-form, entertaining videos, often featuring music and creative challenges.
    - User Demographics: Predominantly younger users, particularly Gen Z, with a focus on creativity and humor. TikTok can seem elusive to small business owners when it comes to marketing their business, but with the write organizational tools and direction, TikTok can explode your visibility online. Use this TikTok Growth Planner for Small Business to stay inspired, organized, and and consistent with your TikTok Marketing Strategy.
  6. Pinterest for Business:
    - Ideals: Inspiration, DIY projects, and visually-driven content curation.
    - User Demographics: Skewed towards a female audience, popular for lifestyle, fashion, and home-related content. Visual and valuable content reigns supreme in this social space, so consider using a Pinterest Growth Planner for better growth and reach on Pinterest.
  7. YouTube for Business:
    - Ideals: Long-form video content, tutorials, entertainment, and vlogs.
    - User Demographics: Diverse user base, popular among those seeking in-depth content and creators. YouTube is massive, but the marketing opportunities are endless if you can stay organized with targeted, consistent YouTube content.
  8. Snapchat for Business:
    - Ideals: Ephemeral content, casual communication, and augmented reality features.
    - User Demographics: Predominantly used by younger audiences for real-time sharing and playful interactions.

Understanding the ideals and demographics of each platform helps you tailor your content strategy for your target audience on specific social media platforms.

Regularly revisit platform analytics to adapt your strategy as user behavior evolves. Don't spread yourself too thin; focus on platforms where your audience is most active and receptive and when in doubt, start with the biggest and most comprehensive platform... Facebook.


Creating & Organizing Your Social Media Content Plan:

Step 4: Create Content Pillars and Themes

To maintain consistency and a cohesive brand identity across your social media channels, consider establishing content pillars and themes. 

Content pillars are overarching topics that reflect your brand's core values and interests. Themes, on the other hand, are specific topics or trends within each pillar that provide variety and depth to your social media content strategy.

Great social media content is like telling a good story. Instead of just posting here and there, think of your social media as a book. Content pillars and themes are like the chapters in this book – they give your story structure and keep readers interested.


What is a Content Pillar?

Content pillars are the big topics that show what your brand is all about. They're like the main themes of your story, representing what matters most to you. These themes make sure that your posts have a consistent style and feel across all your social media.


How to Create Content Pillars:

  1. Know What Matters: Figure out the important things about your brand. It could be how much you care about the environment, being creative, or making customers happy.
  2. Pick Big Topics: Choose the main subjects that fit with what your brand cares about. These are your content pillars.
  3. Check with Your Audience: Make sure that your content pillars are interesting to the people you want to connect with. It's not just about what you want to say, but what they want to hear.


What is a Content Theme?

Now, inside each of these big topics, there's room for more details. Content themes are like the stories within each chapter. They let you talk about different things that still fit into the big topic. Some themes can be things everyone likes, and others can be about what's happening right now.


How to Develop Content Themes:

  1. Keep Up with Trends: Stay in the loop about what's popular, what's happening around you, and what your audience is into. These will be your content themes.
  2. Mix Old and New: Balance talking about things that always matter (evergreen themes) with things that are trending (what's happening right now). This way, your audience always finds something interesting.
  3. Ask Your Audience: Get them involved! Ask what they want to talk about or share their ideas. It makes your content more real and interesting.


Your Content Themes and Pillars Will Change Over Time:

Think of your content like a living thing that grows and changes. What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow - this is what makes social media marketing such a challenging (but rewarding) field of marketing. So, from time to time, check how people are reacting to your posts. If something isn't working, don't be afraid to try something new. Keep your story fresh and exciting.

Watch this FREE Marketing Masterclass on Content Themes: What is a Content Theme? How to Create Content Themes that Reach More People?  

In a nutshell, content pillars and themes help you tell a great story on social media. They show what matters to your brand, keep things interesting for your audience, and let your story evolve over time. So, don't just post randomly – create a story that people want to be a part of!

Step 5: Use a Content Calendar and Scheduling

Creating a content calendar is a fundamental aspect of any successful social media content plan. Plan your content ahead of time, considering important dates, holidays, and industry events. In addition to planning around dates and events, consider aligning your content with broader industry trends.

Picture your social media presence as a storybook. Now, imagine having a map that guides you on when and what to post, making sure your audience stays interested in that book. That's the magic of planning with content calendars and scheduling tools – a handy way to stay organized and connect better with your followers.


Getting Your Social Media Content Calendar Together:

A content calendar is like a plan for your social media adventures and the better your social media content calendar, the more exciting your social media adventures will be.

Here's how to make a social media content calendar that works without getting too complicated:

  • Figure Out Your Goals: Before diving in, know what you want to achieve. Whether it's making more friends, getting people to visit your website, or just getting your name out there, your goals shape the kind of stuff you share.
  • Circle Important Dates: Mark down special dates, holidays, or things happening in your field. These are your chances to share stuff that really matters to your followers.
  • Go with the Flow: Besides specific dates, think about what's popular right now. Staying in the loop and sharing what everyone's talking about keeps your posts interesting and relatable.

Get the Best Social Media Content Planner and Calendar for FREE

We love our blog readers! So enjoy a copy of our Best Social Media Content Planner for free as a thank you for reading our amazing content. Just click add to cart and you'll see we've already applied the coupon to your planner! We hope you use this amazing free gift to make easy work of organizing your social media content and growing your business on social media. 


How to Keep Your Content Calendar for Social Media Fresh and Fun:

Your content plan isn't set in stone; it's more like a recipe that you can change up.

Here's how to keep things interesting:

  • Look at What Works: Check how your posts are doing. What are people liking? What are they ignoring? Use this info to make your posts even better.
  • Go with the Flow: Things change online, and that's okay! Keep an eye on what's new, and don't be afraid to try new content ideas for social media. Your plan can always evolve.
  • Learn and Improve: Think of your plan as a practice. Learn from what you're doing and keep making it better. It's like leveling up your social media skills.

Planning with content calendars is like having a friend that helps you share the best parts of your story online. It's not just about what you post; it's about sharing things that people want to be a part of.


Making Life Easier with Social Media Scheduling Tools:

Once you've got your plan, it's time to put it into action using scheduling tools. It's like having a superpower for your social media game:

  • No More Stress – Automate It: The best social media scheduling tools let you set up your posts in advance, making sure you always have something to share. It's like having a helper that keeps your social media alive even when you're not around.
  • Post When It Matters: With scheduling, you can pick the best times to post, even if you're not online. It's like having a secret weapon to get your posts seen by more people.
  • Stay Flexible for Surprises: While planning is cool, life on social media can change fast. These tools let you be flexible – you can jump in and share stuff right when things are happening or everyone's talking about something.

Use scheduling tools to automate social media posts, ensuring a consistent and timely presence on your chosen platforms. This approach not only saves time but also allows for strategic planning and optimization. 

Incorporate flexibility into your social media content calendar to respond to real-time events or trending topics. Regularly review and refine your schedule based on content performance. This might seem difficult to do, but with top-notch social media scheduling programs like Socially Suite, it can be done in just a few minutes. 


Finalizing & Executing Your Content Plan for Social Media:

Step 6: Mix Up Your Social Media Content Types

Variety is key to maintaining audience interest. Incorporate a mix of content types such as images, videos, infographics, polls, and user-generated content.

  • Break up the Monotony: Throw in images, videos, infographics, polls, and even let your audience take the stage with user-generated content. It's like giving your followers different flavors to enjoy.
  • Know Your Audience Preferences (See Step 1 of this Guide): It's like throwing a party – you want to know what your guests love. Understand your audience's likes and dislikes. Do they enjoy a good laugh, a quick how-to, or maybe a behind-the-scenes peek? Tailor your content based on what they love.
  • Try the New Stuff: Social media is a playground of possibilities. Dive into emerging content formats like short-form videos (use premade short-form video templates to save loads of time), interactive polls, or even create immersive experiences. It's like trying out the latest games – your audience loves the excitement of something fresh.

Understand the preferences of your audience and experiment with emerging content formats. For instance, short-form videos, interactive polls, and immersive experiences can enhance engagement. Keep an eye on industry trends to stay ahead of the curve.


Step 7: Cultivate Engagement and Build a Community

Social media is a two-way street, and fostering engagement is important for success. Building a sense of community around your brand fosters loyalty and advocacy.

Consider creating a Facebook Group. It's like having your own club where your most engaged followers can connect with each other. Share exclusive content, run discussions, and make them feel like VIP members of your community. Learning how to grow and monetize your Facebook Group is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your social media marketing efforts. 

Here's how to turn your social media presence into an engaged community:

  • Be Quick with Replies: It's like texting a friend back. Respond to comments, messages, and mentions promptly. It shows you're there and ready to chat.
  • Talk, Don't Just Post: Imagine you're at a party. Create opportunities for dialogue by asking questions, running polls, and sharing interactive content. It's like starting a conversation that everyone wants to join.

Building an Engaged Community on Social Media:

  • Encourage Participation: Think of your followers as friends. Get them involved with contests, challenges, or sharing exclusive content. It's like hosting a fun game that everyone wants to play.
  • Handle Feedback Gracefully: Whether it's a compliment or a concern, respond with authenticity. It's like being a good host—acknowledge positive vibes and address concerns. This builds trust and shows you're listening.
  • Go Live or Host Webinars: Take your audience behind the scenes or share valuable insights live. It's like having a face-to-face chat with friends. Live sessions create a sense of real-time connection.
  • Collaborate for More Fun: Imagine throwing a joint party. Partner with influencers or brand advocates to extend your reach and credibility. It's like inviting cool friends to join the conversation and adding more perspectives to your community

Remember, social media isn't just a billboard—it's a living, breathing community. By actively engaging, encouraging participation, and creating spaces for direct interaction, you're not just building a brand; you're fostering a community where everyone feels welcome and connected.


Step 8: Keep on Eye on What's Working (and What Isn't)

Regularly assess how your social media content is performing using analytics tools provided by each platform (or by using those built into your preferred social media automation dashboard). It's like checking your map to see if you're on the right course.

Look at metrics such as reach, engagement, click-through rates, and conversion rates to understand how well your content is connecting.

Read the Socially Inclined Blog regularly to stay informed about changes in algorithms and industry trends, adapting your strategy accordingly.


In summary...

At Socially Inclined, we recognize the challenges small business owners face in the constantly changing world of social media marketing. If you've ever found yourself struggling to find content for social media or felt overwhelmed by the constant demand for fresh social media content ideas, know that you're not alone.

We're here to help thousands of business owners like you every day, providing the support needed to navigate the complex world of social media marketing.

Crafting a successful social media content plan requires careful consideration of your audience, goals, platforms, and content strategy. By following the steps outlined in this social media content strategy guide, you'll be well-equipped to create a dynamic and effective plan that not only engages your audience but also contributes to the overall success of your social media presence. Stay adaptable, stay creative, and watch your online presence thrive.

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