We’ve met our fair share of founders and small business owners who wish they could find the formula that allows them to spend an optimal amount of time generating content and a decidedly larger amount of time reaping the rewards from that content. I’m here to tell you that no one, to my knowledge, has ever discovered that formula. At least not one that applies to any brand, carte blanche, no matter the industry. The truth is, brands are so different - their audiences are so different - that what works for one brand might be a catastrophe for another. Like anything else you have to build, or plan, some testing is in order if you’re going to find the “milk and honey” combination of work and reward.
If you saw the title of this post and thought: “Ugh, another post about how I need to make more content, or share more content,” then we have more in common than you realize. @@I’m not here to tell you that accelerating your content strategy means writing more blog posts, or posting 20 times a day@@ across 6 different social media platforms, or writing 10 columns in 10 different media outlets. That sounds miserable, really.
I’m here to give you some pro-tips to help you find your groove sooner than later, because the sooner you have your brand’s voice locked down and communicating with its audience, the easier it will be to grow.
Step One: Setting Direction & Tone
It’s really not enough to set up a social media account and simply move forward from there. There are aspects to consider. What voice makes the best sense for your brand to use? What should the visuals on each platform be? What kind of posts will you create and at what frequency will you post them? When?
Some companies use social media as a space to post updates or daily anecdotes about their day, mission, products, or services. Other companies use social media platforms to launch well-curated galleries of their work, or visuals that promote their message. One brand that does this incredibly well is Squarespace. I would urge you to look at their Instagram. I’m also a big fan of the work of Maersk’s Instagram. The nature of their business certainly helps them out. Their Instagram comes off as more of a travelogue than a public relations tool.
Step Two: Cross-Platform Testing
In some ways, direction and tone are really set by the audience they are meant for. Every brand has to find its own unique way to resonate with their audience in a way that inspires engagement. At Markon, we believe that the industry trend of casual, upfront communication, free of heavy staging, is more than just a trend - it’s here to stay. At least for the long haul. Depending on your industry, providing a candid look behind the scenes in your office or production/service space might be the way to inspire interaction with your brand. Consumers make choices based on quality and identity (yours and theirs). Letting them through the door, to see what kind of organization they’re thinking about patronizing is one way to earn loyal followers.
Tailor your message for different platforms, while also trying different strategies. Let your audience’s engagement rate and traffic from social to your website be indicators of how much (or little) you’re succeeding.
Step Three: User Testing
I’m a proponent of concentrated user testing. I think there is value in setting up focus groups and asking them to review the various pieces of content you deliver, be it on social media, your website, a podcast, or what have you. Create a rubric with which they can evaluate the content, but also ask them to liberally supply critiques outside of the bounds of the rubric.
You want to create multiple focus groups of diverse people. Consider a group of people you could describe as casual consumers. Another of early adopters. Another of the kind of people you want to become the core of your customer base. This will give you feedback from people at different stages / places in their role as consumers.
Working through the process of discovering what your audience needs / wants from you is the most important things you can do to empower your content strategy to contribute to the acceleration of your business's growth. So, get on it!