So you’ve just began your content marketing planning for 2021 and you’re looking for some inspiration. 2020 is (finally) over and now is the perfect time to start proactively planning the messaging you want to deliver to your audience online. And I agree.
For many businesses, 2020 has been a mix of reacting, pivoting, just trying to stay afloat. Risk taking with business strategy and content marketing just hasn’t been a viable option. But with 2021 now upon us, it is the perfect time to shape up a strategy that delivers your business goals, knowing that if things change or shift you still have your best case strategy in your back pocket.
So where do you start and what do you need to be mindful of?
The first thing to make note of is that 2020 has seriously been a game changer for social media. Usage across every age group on all the major social channels has increased, with a notable jump in the 45 – 64 year old age category. People are relying on social media more for news, updates from their local businesses, to check in on friends and family and for lockdown entertainment. In fact, Facebook released a statement mid 2020 saying that “The [social media] usage growth from Covid-19 is unprecedented across the industry, and we are seeing new records in usage almost every day”.
But what users do not want, is noise. With so many extra users, content and business presence across every channel, you need to ensure that the content marketing strategy you put together is valuable and has substance, so that you can take advantage of the increased usage and engage with the right audience in a purposeful manner.
In saying that, here are the steps you need to go through to set your social media up for success in 2021.
Decide on your Social Media strategy, purpose and goals.
Following on from some wider business strategy planning, get clear on what the purpose of social media is in this context. Is it to generate sales? Increase awareness? Find new customers? Build more industry relationships? Start by writing 3 – 6 bullet points under the following headings. It will help you create your strategy and give you something to turn back to when you get busy throughout the year.
- Primary social media goals for 2021
- Eg. To increase brand awareness
- Primary stakeholder/customer group
- Eg. New mums
- Key messaging
- Eg. Our products are sustainable and considerate of the environment
- Key performance indicators
- Eg. Number of followers on all channels to increase by 35%
- Types of content
- Eg. Short videos
- Content themes
- Eg. Products
- Social media channels
- Eg. Facebook and Instagram
Plan in blocks
Planning your social media in blocks ensures you remain proactive and also in control of your workload. If you have your social media strategy in place, all your topic ideas and messaging ideas are recorded and ready to go for when you sit down to plan – making it easier to remember what strategy you are trying to achieve and why.
Depending on the frequency of your posting across social media, one month is normally a great cadence for your social media blocks, and scheduling a meeting to plan is a great way to ensure it gets done.
Brainstorm Topics first
When planning your social media out for each block of time, start by brainstorming topic first, before you get into the format or the channel. So the topic might be, “Valentines day giveaway” or “New product launch”. The reason it is important to be a bit more high level at this stage (rather than saying “valentines day picture on instagram”, “selfie with new products on instagram stories”) is you can ensure your messages and topics talk back to your goals and achieve a purpose. It helps you break through the social media clutter by ensuring what you are posting is considered, purposeful and has substance.
Use your content themes recorded in your strategy to come up with different topics for period. Sometimes it helps to brainstorm as a group and be as broad as you can. They are just ideas.
Look at those topics through a strategy lens
Once you have your topic ideas listed, look at each of them through a strategy lens. For every idea ask yourself:
- Does this topic help us achieve our goals?
- Does this topic add value to the lives of our key customer group?
- Does this topic talk to the main messaging of our business?
- Does this topic represent our values as a business?
- Do I have time this month to create content on this topic?
Using this guide should help you narrow down your topics to just a handful for that time period.
Discuss format and channel
After you have your topic list, then you can start planning how that topic is communicated to your stakeholders. Some topics are best shared in particular formats, for example a “Valentines day giveaway” topic might need to be a link to an article on your website so people can fill out the form to enter the competition. This means on Facebook it is shared as a post, and on Instagram it is shared as a story with a ‘swipe up’ link to your website.
Alternatively, with a “New Product Launch” you might have several formats that showcase the products and spread them out over the course of the week.
Deciding on the specific format and channel it is to be posted on at the last stage (rather than the first stage) means that you can objectively decide on a topic that helps with your strategy, and then focus on format and channel in a more strategic way, ie. what formats will reach the most number of people and communicate that topic best.
Actioning and Recording
To get the most out of your social media 2021 planning you should make sure that all this information gets stored somewhere easy to access and organised. There are lots of content marketing planning tools online but even if you just start with a piece of paper and a calendar you are worlds ahead of waking up in the morning and wondering what to publish on Instagram for the day.
Some good resources are:
- A3 Monthly calendar from Officeworks
- Airtable online sharing database perfect for managing content calendars (http://airtable.com)
- Later instagram scheduling tool (https://later.com)
You can allocate items to members in your team from here, or else just have something that guides you in the right direction for when you sit down to start planning, remembering that things that get scheduled usually get done.
Although the steps above seem quite rigid, it is important to balance this with interactive and live actions on social platforms. It is quite obvious which social media channels are overly scheduled in advance, and this can actually have the opposite effect of not posting anything at all.
Stay true to your plan, but put in the time to give your strategy the attention it needs around this plan to keep it fresh and organic.
Keep an eye on your performance. You should keep learning and pivoting your strategy every month or time period you sit down to plan. Only by doing this can you make sure you are working towards your goals.