Why Content Strategy Must Precede Social Media Strategy

Imagine that you have an opportunity to pitch your business to a group of influential decision-makers in your community.

How much preparation would you need to ensure the perfect presentation? My guess is that you’d be up every night of the week (for a month) planning your message. You might even enlist the help of a speech-writer. It would never occur to you to just show up, grab the mic and say whatever comes to mind.

And yet most businesses do exactly that with social media. Given the opportunity to present their business online, they simply jump right in without having prepared an interesting message.

Social media is a space where you consistently share something valuable, compelling and relevant. The assumption of course, is that you have something valuable, compelling and relevant to say in the first place. If not you must go back to the drawing board and figure out what it is you want to say – that in a nut-shell is your content strategy.

As you think about your own content strategy, ask yourself these questions:

  • what are my customer’s challenges?
  • what are their informational (content) needs?
  • what is that niche that I want to be known for?
  • how can I create valuable, consistent, compelling and relevant content that will attract new customers and retain old ones?

The next thing you want to consider is what kind of social media platform you will use to share your content. Think about where your customers are ‘hanging out’ online. Are they part of a Lindedin group, an industry forum, Twitter, or Facebook?

In order to be relevant, you must be absolutely clear about the online space that your customers (or potential customers) currently occupy. Otherwise your message will be lost on the wrong audience. It’s like Joe Pulizzi says – you can’t market a Youtube video to a blind person.

Once you establish the correct social media platform – take it slow. Go in there and introduce yourself. Then get to know the people in that community and build some relationships – ask questions, participate and contribute to the conversation. Share your expertise when it is called for.

As you gradually integrate into that community other members will be more responsive to your content when you’re finally ready to share it. In other words, your white paper, e-book or article will be more relevant to an audience with which you’re already engaged. Remember that people prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust.

Quick recap: Social media is the space where you present and share your content. Your content constitutes consistent, valuable, compelling and relevant messages. Therefore, before you enter the social media space, make sure that you have a well-planned content strategy in order to attract and retain the audience that you want.

Over to you – What came first in your case – content or social media?

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