Updated 03 December 21
Sometimes the hardest part of social media is coming up with good post ideas, and finding time to prioritise this amongst 10,000 other things when working in a startup.
Why is good content important? Content that your following engages with will gain more reach, meaning more views, more followers and (hopefully) more customers.
I’ve helped many of Nova’s startups to strategise and create content for their channels. My content creation process has helped one to increase their instagram following by 450% in 5 months, another to quadruple their engagement rate and another to generate over ¼ of their businesses revenue from social media. Today, I want to share with you my process for generating impactful social content.
Approach it as a test
As with everything in startups, it is important that we design experiments, test our hypothesis and gather learnings. The same goes for content for your social media marketing. It is important to validate what content our audience engages and doesn’t engage with the most. The more experiments you run = the greater the learning.
Engagement is a two way street
Don’t expect your audience to engage with you if you don’t engage with them. Interact with other people’s content as you would through your own social media profiles, start conversations in comments or messages and PLEASE don’t forget to reply to comments from those who interact with yours.
I like to do all my rough work on a spreadsheet. I have linked a simple example of my content planner spreadsheet here, feel free to make a copy and edit it to whatever works for you.
Begin by searching for your top 3 competitors, or accounts who have a similar target audience, and look at the type of content they’re posting. Quickly scan the number of likes and comments they have per post and see which ones perform the best. Take a note of the content format (e.g. photo, meme, video etc) and subject of the post, likes and comments (image below).
I like to work out the engagement rate for their top performing content too as it gives me a target to aspire to. Additionally, if you’re already posting content, you should work out the engagement rate for that also as it gives you a nice base line to improve from.
Not every industry has lots of accounts creating consistently killer content. If this is so for you, try searching your business’ keywords on the social channel instead to see the most engaged-with posts in your niche.
Additionally; don’t overcomplicate it - if you have a strong user panel, or early customer group just ask them which accounts they like and engage with, what groups they’re a part of and what content they’d value from you!
It’s also worth looking at the type of content your audience engages with outside of your niche in case your competitors, or other creators, haven’t recognised the opportunity.
Are they making quizzes?
Are they sharing memes?
Are they posting images?
At the moment, there's no way of measuring the effectiveness of another profile, but it’ll give you some idea on what could be posted.
In the content planner template linked above, start by plotting down the post subjects you want to cover.
Next, think about what format your content should be. Looking back at your list of top performing content, which format seems to get the most engagement from your audience?
Is it video? Maybe photo? Live Q&As?
Don’t overthink this. Just write down the content you think would perform best. If you have a blog, you could also think about how you can create content that links back to that or ways to repurpose the blog content in social post(s).
Next start bulking out the idea by explaining what you imagine the social post to be. For example…
Working with Otimo, they wanted to create entertaining content about passing your driving test. The subject was passing your driving test and the format that performed best for this audience was video. We decided we would create a quick ‘meme-style’ video about the difficulty of learning to bay park.
If you’re not sure whether your idea’s are as good as you think, make sure it’s hitting at least one (ideally several) from this checklist:
A piece of helpful advice... let it and content can be a full time job. So bare in mind the time each post could take to make. I see lots of founders putting together infographics and dramatic videos that are full of production and effects. Based on the time it takes you to create these posts, they actually cost you money!
A little bit of entertainment works, but don’t get lost in it. The meat of your content should tap into the emotions of your audience, provide value and guide them to take action.
Surprisingly, this is the part most people fall short. But to quote Nike… “JUST DO IT”. The sooner you create, the sooner you can post and the sooner you can gather learnings.
Graphic posts, memes and photos
I make the majority of my static posts in Canva, a free graphic design platform that allows you to edit and create photos without extensive photo editing knowledge or design experience. It has thousands of free, professionally designed templates that, thanks to their drag and drop functionality, can be customised to your brand in just a few clicks. Here are a couple of examples of the posts I've made using Canva...
Video and gifs
Videos seem to be the medium most people are afraid of. Though it may be tempting to go back and rewrite some of your post ideas, don’t be shy to be hands on and get on camera yourself.
The majority of content we watch on social media is of people speaking directly into the camera. This is what people like to watch, it’s a much richer form of communication than static posts, it creates deeper connections with the account and feels more relatable.
You are your startup's biggest advocate and greatest weapon. It may seem funny to you that you’re filming yourself and posting it on socials, but it won’t to your audience. Get rid of those imposter syndrome thoughts and give it a try. I bet you’ll be impressed with the results…
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, something like this is absolutely fine! 👇
If gifs are a part of your content strategy, you can upload your video to Canva and download them as gifs. This format is part of the Canva pro subscription plan ($12.99 per month), but if you don’t fancy the upgrade there are loads of free video > gif converters online such as cloudconvert, ezgif and Online Converter.
If you’re able to post on social media natively, this is always the preferred option! But I understand, using a day to create and schedule your content for the following weeks is a massive time saver for an already time strapped entrepreneur.
There's a lot of debate in the content creator world over whether third party schedulers like buffer, hootsuite and later negatively affect your audience reach. Reason being, social media companies want their users and creators to spend more time in their app (makes sense, really). Personally, if I use a scheduler I opt for the native schedulers in each channel to avoid this. Plus, they’re free to use!
Facebook & Instagram have their own dedicated Creator Studio scheduler. Up till now, you can’t schedule stories, but there are rumors this feature will be available soon.
You can schedule your Tweets by clicking the calendar icon before posting a post on Twitter.
On Tiktok, you can schedule posts by using the desktop app.
Scheduling Tiktoks isn't currently available on your phone, but the mobile app does allow draft videos to be saved. A workaround could be to batch produce content ready to just push live.
Linkedin doesn’t currently have its own scheduler.
Likes aren't always the way they seem. The number of saves, comments and shares are important too. Your engagement rate takes this all into account.
By measuring the level of interaction on posts from your followers, you can understand how interested your audience is in your social content, what they like and what they don’t like.
To calculate your engagement rate, divide your post’s total number of likes and comments by your follower count, and then multiply by 100 to give you a percentage. Below is the google sheets equation I use to work this out:
Trust your engagement rate percentage. If a certain type of post or subject seems to consistently be performing worse than the others. Cut it. Alternatively if one seems to far outperform the others, then it’s clear you need to double down and create more content like this!
Sometimes, overposting can be just as bad as underposting. Play around with the frequency at which you post as well as the time. If your content’s engagement rate seems to be gradually dropping over time, it might be a sign that you need to adjust your posting quantity to increase your visibility.
Instagram insights are great, as they let you see when most of your followers are active (see below) - my advice would be to post just before the bulk of your followers come online to maximise engagement.
There you have it! Hopefully these 6 steps will turn you into the content creator you always dreamed you could be. If you have any questions for me about content creation drop them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them.