With real-time access to information readily available at our fingertips, we are constantly inundated with content. Content has become the center of our social universe so much so that brands now have to act more like media outlets in order to reach consumers. Not that they are necessarily producing breaking news, but brands are the source of information for consumers and prospects via social media.

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Brands and agencies often have an abundance of social media accounts to maintain and manage but how do they effectively keep up with the constant, real-time demands for posts, articles, videos and photos while maintaining cohesiveness with overall brand voice and campaign objectives. The answer: creating a social-content master plan. During this Search Engine Strategies Chicago session, Spredfast’s Director of Social Media, Jordan Viator Slabaugh, and Internet Marketing Ninjas COO/CMO, Chris Boggs, talked about the value of developing a content strategy and the process behind it. Here are three key takeaways from the session:

1. Create an Informed Strategy
With social media, one size does not fit all. You not only need to ensure you reach your target audience but that you capture their attention and keep them wanting more. Think about who you’re targeting and where they are participating. Make sure you’re answering the right questions to determine what channels to engage from, the type of content to share and the frequency of posts.

Creating content can sometimes be tedious but as Jordan noted, “not everything has to be new, it has to be interesting.” Her advice, every piece of content should be able to have at least three versions: long form, ‘snackable’ and multimedia. This way you have the flexibility to alter the content and offer it for other audiences to digest in ways they would find interesting.

2. Make sure there is organization and orchestration
Content is only as good as the people and processes behind it. As we know, it is critical to be consistent and timely while aligning with the overall voice of the brand. In order to do this, there needs to be a centralized content and editorial plan. This should also include a process for who’s responsible for publishing and monitoring and on what channels. There also needs to be cohesion between the social media team and the PPC and SEO efforts to ensure campaigns are fully optimized.
Fill in weekly or monthly calendars ahead of time with content that is evergreen (what is always relevant) and time-based (upcoming program, campaigns, etc.) to leave time for monitoring and real-time interaction which leads to the next strategy component…

3. Adopt a newsroom mentality
As mentioned above, with constant streams of news and information, companies need to stay on top of the conversation and operate more like a news room than a brand with pre-packaged content. It’s not just about scheduling interesting content to push out; it’s about pulling consumers in with what’s timely and relevant to them. Think about storytelling; why something important is and what is the emotional connection? Think about breaking new and trends; how does it relate to your brand and affects your consumers and how can you enter the conversation. And lastly, think about how consumers might digest content; how do you publish it to make it more engaging and readable?

Having a social media content plan is critical for brands to stay relevant and reach their target audience, but even more so, it allows them to engage with their audience and develop relationships. People continue to ask how to measure the ROI for social media and content marketing. Although there are various metrics used to paint a picture of the end result, Jordan noted that the future of social media will be focusing on a new ROI – Return on Impact. The idea is for brands to create experiences and intrigue their audience through social media so people will buy, share and talk about the brand or product and become loyal consumers and brand advocates.