CONSUME CONTENT TO CREATE CONTENT
Yes! FINALLY, an excuse to spend hours upon hours scrolling through social media, and in the name of 'work'!
Just kidding, I'm afraid. But I do believe that there is something to be said for being engaged with the channels and platforms you wish to use to talk to your audience. You should still be choosey, and try not to lose hours of your life to scrolling instead of doing, but it does help you to better understand your audience, allowing you to make a greater impact.
USING SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS CAN HELP YOU BETTER UNDERSTAND THEM
Totally anecdotally, I have witnessed engagement rates drop across social media when those in charge of a business, those defining the strategy, simply do not use or understand what constitutes 'ideal content' for the audiences on those platforms. They themselves don't browse, follow successful accounts, or see what is working. They don't understand their audience's expectations of a platform, and their content strategy reflects that.
Yes, you need to communicate your brand message and probably want to focus on content that is focused on your products and services. But if users of a platform are there because they want to see beautiful and inspiring images, they probably won't engage with repetitive, drab, or utilitarian content. There needs to be a middle ground. And using a platform yourself, engaging with the community and getting to know what works and what doesn't, can be incredibly helpful.
But like I say, this is not an excuse to spend half of your precious time scrolling. Which is one reason why starting out with, or consistently focusing on, just a few channels could be good for your marketing plan. It is better to do a few things brilliantly than many things half-heartedly. We can talk more about channels and how to decide what will work best for your business another time (or send me a message with any specific questions if you like!). But for today, let's focus on the simplest 'way in' to some key marketing opportunities for you. And some pitfalls.
WHAT CONTENT DO YOU LIKE TO CONSUME?
If we're honest, none of us feel motivated to do work that we don't enjoy. Sometimes that can't be avoided (hello, finance), but we can at least try. When it comes to producing content for your business, unless you have a strong understanding of where your audience are, you might as well start with what you yourself enjoy. This will make you much more likely to do the work.
For example, if you love Instagram, you're more likely to understand that platform, it's users and expectations. You've engaged with different accounts and know what inspires people and what is less successful. On the other hand, you just totally don't understand LinkedIn. Assuming your audience isn't comprised of the businesses who utilise LinkedIn daily, maybe you should get started in your Instagram comfort-zone, while you find your feet.
AND WOULD YOU BE COMFORTABLE PRODUCING CONTENT FOR THAT CHANNEL?
But what if you area terrible photographer, or simply don't 'get' what makes for a beautiful or engaging image and caption? Maybe you love using Instagram for inspiration and fun, but if you imagine trying to produce your own Instagram content you panic and all of the fun is gone. Here's where you have to make a decision... You could do your best to create something, but your heart wouldn't be in it and you know everything would feel a bit flat. You could hire someone to produce the content for you, relieving the pressure but increasing the costs. Or you need to think about whether you another platform or channel might be better for your business.
AND WHERE ARE YOUR AUDIENCE?
It's all very well and good to do what you like, enjoy your work, but sadly it doesn't make sense if your audience is simply not there. Here we must go back to the LinkedIn example above... if you're selling a lifestyle product or service, you might just want to put the bare minimum on LinkedIn, in case someone looks you up there to verify your qualifications and experience. But if you'd love some more corporate clients, you probably need to be more active on this platform, engaging with the business community by sharing relevant articles and information, as well as promoting your brand.
AND DON'T FORGET... marketing can really help your success, but it can be a time-drain - especially social media. So be discerning with your use of channels and platforms, think about how best to utilise any resources you have available, and consider how you can batch-create, automate and repurpose content.
And oh, look... you just created a starting point for your marketing channels and content strategy, based around what you know and like. Of course,that's not to say that you shouldn't explore other options and do plenty of research. I'm also a big believer in continued education around how to get the most out of your platforms. But this is a great starting point,so keep engaging with these platforms and communities. Consistently put quality content out there and see what happens.
As a business owner, I apply these rules myself. But I also remember that a handful of quality, engaged and motivated followers is fantastic. You don't need tens of thousands of people to engage with your content to be successful. For now, just focus on doing the work daily, test out a few different things, analyse and adapt where necessary... and see what happens. AND HAVE FUN!
NOTES: when I talk about platforms and channels etc, here's what I mean:
- Marketing Channels are the broader methods of promoting your business. They include Social Media, Email, Direct Mail, Print, Radio, Press, Audio-Visual.
- A Platform is where the content can be found. Usually used in reference to social media, this includes: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vero, LinkedIn etc.