By now, there is barely a company in the world that doesn’t at least attempt to have some sort of social media presence. Whether it’s the occasional tweet or Facebook post, it’s pretty much understood and accepted that social media profiles are a requirement for any business that wants to be seen as viable and legitimate–kind of like a website was 15 years ago or company stationary with a logo on the letterhead was 15 years before that.
For many organizations, a strange thing happens when they make the commitment to initiate a social media strategy: They have nothing to post. Sure, you can populate your channels with likes and retweets, but to build a following organically and glean real benefits from social media investments, you need content. Simply stated, you need your own stuff.
And that’s where so many tend to fall down. Because at the end of the day, articles take long a long time to draft, ideas don’t always hang off the lowest branches of trees and snazzy videos can be expensive and take time to produce.
On top of it all, those in the organization typically tasked with leading social media efforts usually have their primary jobs and responsibilities get in the way. Finding the time and motivation is a pervasive challenge.
These challenges are especially pronounced at smaller companies, where resources are always constrained. They simply can’t dump a bunch of cash in the lap of an external agency, and they can’t afford to divert too much time and attention away from revenue-generating activities.
All of which begs the question: How can companies efficiently and effectively create original content to maintain a consistent and vibrant social media presence on a shoestring–or even smaller–budget? Here are some tips to consider before making the leap:
Create a repository
Your respective business will dictate what kind of social content is appropriate and needed. For example, if you are a professional services company, your social content might consist of thought-leadership content pieces, opinion articles, etc. If you are a consumer products company, your social presence may be more visual in nature, full of imagery and video.
Whatever you determine the appropriate social content to be, start your effort by building a virtual library–a repository of non-time-sensitive content that you can quickly reach into when you social channels have gone stale or dormant.
Produce multiuse content
Content creation can be costly. For your investment in social media content to pay off, you need to give yourself multiple bites at the same apple. So in building your content library, consider creating content that is flexible in nature and can be used more than just one time, but without seeming or looking repetitive.
For example, when producing a video, do so in such a way that you can use snippets or screen shots for multiple posts across your social channels, as opposed to posting the entire video all at once and being done with it. Produce photos in a way so that new text or messaging can be overlaid. If a thought-leadership piece is published in a news magazine, repost with the new link included.
Admittedly, there’s a bit of a dance to be done when it comes to reusing content without coming off as repetitive, but it’s certainly possible and will help make your social media dollars go further.
Build a calendar
The social channels of companies that fail to deploy a concerted program often share a common characteristic: Activity is bunched together over a handful of days, followed by long stretches of dormancy. Someone has the idea to reinvigorate the company’s Twitter feed, blasts out a few tweets over the course of a week or two, and then inevitably returns to other priorities and the feed goes dark.
Social media is a real-time beast and, in many cases, content needs to be time-sensitive and reactive. But it doesn’t always have to be.
With your newly developed repository of content discussed in the previous bullet, create a calendar of non-time-sensitive posts to ensure that your Twitter handle, Facebook page or whatever you use does not go dark for too long.
Assign a content curator
There are a multitude of social and digital agencies eager to help you develop content and a social media strategy and get your program off the ground or take it to a new level. But the truth is that for social programs to endure and for investment to be worthwhile, the company must have a dedicated in-house person responsible not only for guiding the agency, but for curating content from other sources.
This individual should have responsibility for managing content in the pipeline, forecasting and planning posts and generally ensuring that social channels remain vibrant.
Enlist employee contributions
Not all content needs to come from a handsomely paid retained agency. Company employees can and should be encouraged, motivated and possibly even incentivized to contribute to the content-creation process.
We’re all walking around with cameras and video recorders these days. When employees are traveling on company business, off at industry events, meeting with interesting people, they should be encouraged to capture those moments and funnel to internal social media managers as part of the effort to further bolster and brighten the company social media presence.
Social media remains one of digital marketers’ mysteries. Some companies have mastered it. Others are still in the nascent stages. Others yet still are trying to figure out whether they need it at all.
Like anything else in business or life, doing it right requires commitment and investment. When it comes to content creation, make sure you are reaping the benefits of the precious resources you devote to your social efforts.
Image courtesy of hidesy/iStock.