By adaptive - January 30th, 2013

It’s all very well spending time identifying the kind of content your business needs for its social media channels, but if it isn’t disseminated right, your strategy will fail...

It’s all very well spending time identifying the kind of content your business needs for its social media channels, but if it isn’t disseminated according to a tightly defined content strategy, it isn’t going to give you the right results. Here’s how to prepare your content for optimum effect…

In the first part of this series we touched on how important it is to have a content strategy and what factors need to be considered in order for it to succeed. In this part we are looking at how to develop your content strategy, the role of the brand advocate, how to segment your audience and the value of A/B testing.
Content alone won’t give your company the ROI it needs across the social channels it is active on without a clearly defined content strategy. Content that is created on an ad hoc basis that doesn’t clearly support your business’ marketing messages won’t be effective.
Jeremy Waite, Head of Social Consulting at Adobe believes that strategy is a road sign showing where you want to go, and that the best content strategies have these principles at their core:
  • Diagnosis – what is the nature of the problem/situation.
  • Definition – How are we going to solve this problem? What is our approach going to be?
  • Action – What are we going to do about it in order to reach our goals and objectives?

Defining A Great Content Strategy

Sharon Flaherty, Social Media Manager at, adds, “There has to be an overall purpose to your content strategy. It could be building an online community that engages with you, or building a customer base through social media channels. Whatever it is, it needs to be central to your business.”
“We knew early on that we had to think like a publisher and so we employed an editor to draw up a content strategy,” continues Flaherty, “Content is the mechanism we use to reach out to people who may not have used the brand before. Once we began doing content it just got bigger because it proved its worth. It brought traffic to the brand, which brought us customers. It’s been expansion and development ever since.”
In addition, Joel Dawson, Head of Online Marketing for Sainsbury's says that asking questions helps them come up with different ways of looking at the question of ‘What next?’ and planning their content strategy accordingly.
“Besides creating stories, images and videos that support our overarching marketing messages we need to keep in touch with our customers and understand what they want,” he says, “What is that value added or exclusive element that we can add? We examine what content worked well in the past and then we work to update that. For inspiration, it’s also helpful to look at what other brands are doing.”
Flaherty adds that a coherent content strategy needs to examine other aspects of the business, namely:
  • Type of content – video, blogs, articles, web chats and guides.
  • Internal resources – how much do you have? Can you afford in-house or will you be outsourcing? Do you have the expertise to do content?
  • Platforms – What technology do you need to support your strategy? How does it interact with the rest of the website and the customer’s journey?
Sainsburys made sure that their content strategy fit within their business in a campaign designed to engage the customer, build a specific internal brand, and empower their social media interaction. “Late 2012 we decided to work with our Facebook fans to develop a new flavour for Taste the Difference cookies,” explains Dawson, “We listened to our customers to see what was popular, worked with teams internally to use the information effectively, and then we ran a crowdsourcing exercise to shape the future of our in-store bakery aisle.”
This content strategy clearly ticked all the boxes by identifying the type of content to fit the medium and the market and used the information effectively. recently ran a social campaign on Charlie DeFouncs, Britain’s Worst Driver, to communicate the impact that the Gender Directive would have on women, their target audience. The directive, passed in December 2012, has banned the use of gender in calculating insurance premiums.
“We created a character in a series of short mock-umentary films, Charlie, that ran across all major social network platforms” explains Flaherty, “The goal was to highlight the changes caused by the directive. The series garnered over 529,000 views on YouTube and two videos made it into the YouTube Popular Around The Web chart, one reached second place.”

A Step Forward

While your content strategy will sizzle with all these ingredients, there are also other aspects to consider. One of the most important components is the brand advocate and their role in disseminating your brand message. A true brand advocate is a wonderful creature as they are a genuine fan of your business, but they need to be managed properly.
A recent study sponsored by Zuberance highlighted three important factors with regards to brand advocates:
  1. They are more active than previously thought.
  2. They have larger social networks than expected.
  3. Their recommendations are not limited to consumer brands and products.
The study by Zuberance found that brand advocates recommend nine brands, products and services per year.
What’s worth noting is that 50% of the respondents said that the “primary reason they recommend is because they’ve had a good experience with a product or service.” 
The primary reason for recommending a brand is the good experience that the advocate received. Developing world-class customer services goes hand-in-hand with high levels of engagement and brand advocacy.
This supports other research indicating that incentives – free products, cash or discounts – are not the biggest motivator when it comes to brand advocacy. Don’t make your brand advocate feel forced to give good feedback, it’s about giving them the freedom to be honest, and that adds validity.
“For us the whole point of social media is its ability to position content in a way that sparks conversation or interaction,” adds Sainsburys’ Joel Dawson. “Customer service, marketing and PR as well as brand reputation, have all been driving factors for us entering the social media channels.”
This ties in neatly with ensuring that, as part of segmenting audiences to tailor make content, you deliver content that is targeted and personalised. “It ensures that your engagement is greater, with higher click-through’s,” says Sharon Flaherty.
“Fundamental to a social media strategy is understanding what kind of content should be produced to ensure consumers remain engaged,” says Roland van Breukelen, Solutions Advisor, SAP Cloud EMEA, “Working out what customers want and delivering to those needs through social media interactions is essential. A proactive approach to engaging with customers online will not only increase sales, but directly impact brand loyalty. It’s the key to success in 2013.”
So, how do you segment your audience to match the content? A good way is to determine the medium and who uses that medium, and then use its specific strengths to communicate a message that has been personalised for both the platform and the target audience. If your Twitter audience is ideal for a certain message or campaign, use its 140 character limitations and the right language to engage them.

And Another Thing

You’ve determined your social channels, you’ve identified your audience, you’ve developed a sterling content strategy and it is running seamlessly, now what? Now you need to measure the effectiveness of your content.
“We do A/B testing to ensure that we are getting the customer journey right,” says Flaherty, “It may be that an asset on the page performs better higher up, if so, we learn from that and implement it.”
A/B testing compares two types of content, one of which has been modified in some way, to see how the results vary. It’s a comprehensive subject and one that can deliver superb results for the business. The question should not be if you implement A/B testing for your content strategy, but when. 
Taking your business to the next level on social media is a process, and not a thankless one. Improved customer interaction, loyal brand ambassadors, tangible return on investments, valuable percentage increases in interaction – these are all the reward for organisations who understand that content is king and that it is a constantly evolving beast. Measure it, understand it and focus on quality.
Sainsburys has seen social media engagement increase by 200% in the last 12 months as part of their cohesive strategy to deliver high quality content to the right markets. “We subscribe to the KUDOS model, as much as possible we look to be knowledgeable, useful, desirable, open, transparent and specific on social media.”

Coming in part 3

In the next part of this three-part feature we will be looking at who should be crating the content in a business. Should one department take on this role, or should you adopt a more integrated and holistic approach? We examine this topic by comparing businesses that tackle their content creation in different ways. 

Next Reads

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