I had the pleasure of speaking at the Mashable Social Media Day hosted by Slice Communications in Philadelphia.

Since most of the attendees are social media managers, I customized my presentation and discussed how to maximize the synergy between social media and content marketing.
Here is the reality: whenever I discuss content and social media marketing with my clients, they immediately dive into what content we should produce for social media channels or how to creatively repurpose content for various channels. This is good and all, but I always ask my client to sit back (physically) and elevate themselves (mentally). I ask them to take a moment look past the trees (their daily tasks) and focus on viewing the forest (social media, from content planning’s perspective).
Social Media strategy

The types of content we should produce or the creative ways of repurposing content will come naturally when we take care of “4 + 1” at a strategic level. So, what is 4 + 1? 4+1 is about honing and aligning 4 elements with the central marketing team through 1 collaboration process.

Social Media Content Marketing

Once you are able to align these 4 elements through a regular communications process, everything related to execution and copywriting will come naturally.

4 Elements for Alignment

1: Objectives

Social media managers tend to focus on the numbers of retweets, shares or likes. We should certainly pay attention to those metrics, however, the key from the start is to make sure that social media objectives are aligned with the overall business objectives. Here is a good example of converting business objective to the social media level:

Business:  Increase <x>% of <Product> revenue <$xM> by expanding to <Segment>.

Marketing: Establish <Product> as the preferred choice for <Whom> in the <Segment> by building awareness & driving demand.

Content Marketing:  Build awareness and drive demand for <Product> as the preferred choice for <Whom> in the <Segment> by creating and promoting relevant content to relevant channels.

Social Media Marketing:  Build awareness and drive demand for <Product> as the preferred choice for <Whom> in the <Segment> by creating and promoting content to relevant social media channels

Action for social media manager: Can you identify your company’s business objectives and translate them to your team’s objective?

2: Personas

We create our products or services either to solve certain problems or entertain our customers. As a marketer, it’s important to clearly identify who they are and understand as much about them as we can. In order to rally the internal team and external agencies, it’s essential to create a fictional representation of our ideal customers. That’s called the Buyer’s Persona. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns. The benefits of a buyer’s personas:

  • Make your audience real
  • Rally the internal and external teams
  • Share a common understanding
  • Drive messaging development
  • Guide content creation

Below is what a persona typically looks like:

 buyer’s persona example


Social media marketing manager needs to determine if they would like to use the corporate team developed personas or create their own. This should only be done if the specialized personas also support the overall business objectives and are approved by the corporate team. Either way, social media managers should evaluate the company’s buyers’ personas and customize them for social media outreach. Below is the example of customizing the corporate persona for social media communications.

buyer’s persona for social media example

Action for social media manager: Does your company have buyer personas? If it does, do you need to customize the personas for social media marketing? If it doesn’t, can you create one for your social media outreach and rally your internal stakeholders and agencies?

3: Value propositions and messaging

In most companies, value propositions and messaging are product-specific. That’s not enough for daily and hourly social media outreach.  For social media marketing, messaging and value propositions need to come in the following categories:

Value Proposition and messaging

For each category, ask yourself the following questions or fill in the blanks. To write solid social media copy, you need at least 3 benefits.  

  • Product-specific: what 3 benefits will the reader receive if they use :::?
  • Event-specific: 3 reasons they need to attend: ___?
  • Discount-specific: Save: _ if you act quickly.
  • Editorial-topic specific: They want to learn or be educated about :: so they can ::__, :__, :____, :___.
  • Solution-specific: Help them solve :____ so they can :::, :____, :____

Action for social media manager: Can you create value propositions and messaging for the categories?

Alignment 4: Editorial plan

Social media managers usually have hourly, daily, and weekly social media editorial. In order to see the forest, you need to have a good understanding of your company’s content. Understand what content is available now and is planned on the near horizon. Know who the subject matter experts are that can create content. Determine if there are editorial themes to guide content creation.

Action for social media manager: Can you identify existing and future content pieces?  Can you determine how to leverage content for different social media channels?  Can you take the content pieces you want to use and create a monthly and quarterly editorial plan? For existing content, can you repurpose them for different formats?

A communication process

Over-communication is better than under-communication. Do you have a timely social media meeting with key internal stakeholders? The purpose of the meeting is to provide them with updates and ask for their help.  In my book, Global Content Marketing, I discussed the possible agenda items for collaboration meetings.  You can refer to this blog post: How to build a collaborative relationship between headquarters and geographies.

Action for social media manager: Do you have a regular meeting to keep your stakeholders close and management closer?

In summary…

Before I do any tactical deep-dive, I work with my clients to complete the 4 elements with standard templates I’ve developed. Some clients already have all the information, it’s a matter of finding and refining it for social media communications. For some clients, we need to create everything from scratch. It’s usually a fun and frustrating journey. There is also an aspect of self-reflection and self-discovery which leads to re-evaluate overall social media objectives, messaging framework or even budget allocation.

Do you have these 4 elements in place for your social media and content marketing efforts?  If not, it’s time to sit back and take in the forest.

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