If you're putting together a new content marketing strategy, you know how much work there is to do. With your attention pulled in so many directions, it's surprisingly easy to forget about defining specific content requirements.

Too many companies just set their employees loose to create articles or blog posts. While this isn't necessarily the worst idea, it doesn't support a clear focus for the content. You want your content to strike the right balance between being informative and entertaining while also making sure it supports a larger company strategy. When working with my clients, I take them through a series of exercises to help define the right for their .

What content is right for your business?

A good rule of thumb to create an optimal content mix is to reduce calls-to-action and purchase-driven content to around 20%, but that will vary by the product or service you sell. Calls-to-action should be higher if the decision cycle is short and the purchase decision is an emotional one.

This is typically the case in the fashion industry, where visual content like videos and images are predominant.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, long decision cycles and rational decision-making should involve establishing a relationship with the audience and nurturing it toward a purchase decision using content forms such as white papers and webinars.

Once you have a good overview of your post ideas, a great way to establish the balance between content types is to build a content calendar that holds the publication dates, content items, and social networks.

Some social media management tools will allow you to label the content type with a color in their content planning functionality.

But in order to use all of these content types on social media, you'll need to publish them through a limited number of publication options provided by the social networks.

Social Media Content Types

To post your content, Facebook allows for the largest range of content types including photos, videos, and text posts, as well as polls, check-ins, live videos, and product tagging.

The 6 types of social media posts for small businesses:

  • Photo or video posts
  • Text posts
  • Polls
  • Check-in
  • Live video
  • Product tagging

Type 1: Photo or video

One of the great types of social media posts is the photo or video post. Instagram's philosophy is to catch the instant by actually taking a photo with your mobile phone for your next post.

For business purposes, though, it's worth taking photos with professional equipment to make sure the quality is high. It's also a good idea to plan posts ahead of time and schedule your posting to several networks via a tool.

When posting videos, you should always post them natively on each social network. This means uploading the original video file to that specific network.

You may be tempted to publish your video on a video network such as YouTube or Vimeo and then link from your other social network to the video, but the video reach is penalized when you do this. This is because each social network has its own compression algorithm for optimizing the user experience.

Another reason is that social networks don't like linking to external resources, meaning users will leave the social network to pursue the user journey. It may be worthwhile using some form of social media advertising to guarantee content distribution for your video.

Type 2: Write text, links, and hashtags

The text post is the most common type on social media. But text alone rarely catches your audience's attention. Facebook allows you to pep your text up by showing it on a color or image background and enhancing the text format.

Text posts can also include links to pages outside the social network. This is one of the ways you can link to content you've created elsewhere. When you insert a URL into a social network, they will fetch the page and include the featured image and the title of your post automatically. This makes a post look great.

You should always remember to add your own text at the top of the post, though: Why are you posting this? What do you think of it? Would you like to hear other people's opinion on it?

Also, be clear about what's most important in the post: your post content or the content it links to. If you want users to visit the link, then make a call-to-action for it.

A good way to improve the engagement rate of a text post is to tag people. Tagging is accomplished by using the @ sign and then typing the name of the person. After you type a few characters, the social network will suggest matching user profiles so you can select the one you want to tag.

Tagged users will be visible in your post and will also receive a notification. You can use tagging to alert people to the fact that you've mentioned them, and you can also use tagging to ask specific people questions to solicit engagement: “What do you think about that, @theblueprint?”

Hashtags are similar and possible on most posts. These exist on most social networks, but they have a more active role on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Both Facebook and LinkedIn have adopted them, but their usage is less impactful on these networks.

Type 3: Create a poll

Polls have been around for a long time. They are interactive, topically relevant, and easy to set up. They have their own content type on Facebook and Twitter and have recently been added to LinkedIn.

A poll can be used to engage users, but it can also be used to learn about preferences, or even to find answers to a business dilemma. You can only ask one question and have a limited number of answering options.

By defining an end date, you make sure the survey completes. The poll output is itself an interesting piece of content that you can reuse in other posts.

Type 4: Check-in

Check-ins are a unique type of content not available on all social networks. They are often underestimated, but their effect will show up in a social media audit as a positive contribution to the page's reach.

Check-ins are most notable on Facebook, where they can play the role of a bridge between the online and the offline world. When a user checks in to a page, it creates a social media notification post to the users' network.

It thus creates awareness about the page the user checked into. When the page belongs to a physical venue, the check-in suddenly has an additional meaning. It means the user is actually at that location and can create awareness about a physical location.

Type 5: Live video

One of the great benefits of social media is the way it can enable small business. Thanks to social media, the entry barriers into communication, advertising, and video production have practically disappeared.

today need to focus more on what to do than how to do it. In the case of live video, Facebook recently updated its live video interface, the Facebook live producer. It can help businesses move from their initial steps into live video all the way to professional setups using advanced tools and equipment.

This allows small businesses to get started with live video as if they were large corporations with extensive communication budgets.

Here are some tips and best practices to help you be successful on social media.

You want your followers to know what to expect from you, so follow a consistent posting schedule. This will also help you avoid posting too much, which can be off-putting for your followers.

Provide fun ways to generate more leads and engage with your customers, like running contests, linking to your website or special offers in your profile bio, and hosting live videos with exciting updates or news. You can also utilize Facebook or Instagram Shops to sell directly on social media platforms.

Use your analytics tools to see demographic information, customer behavior and social media trends to inform your content. Knowing what your audience wants to see from you and responding accordingly can go a long way in boosting your engagement rates.

The best way to ensure success on social media is to go in with a plan. This means sitting down and coming up with a social media marketing strategy that includes each platform you plan to use.

This largely depends on the type of business and its social media goals. Facebook has the largest audience and the most room to customize your social media marketing. Twitter is the best for receiving feedback from and directly engaging with customers. Pinterest is ideal for small and niche businesses that can market directly on the site. YouTube is arguably the best social media for driving traffic to other websites, such as a company webpage where customers can make purchases.

The best social media is the site you can leverage for your business's specific goals. With that in mind, though, a combination of social media usage on multiple sites will typically yield the best results.

The disadvantages of social media largely depend on the platforms you use, but there are some universal drawbacks. The first is the investment. It takes a lot of time to manage a social media account, and if you are outsourcing the work, it will take a lot of money to pay for that time. While the initial outreach generated from those investments is usually worthwhile, social media investments generate smaller returns over time.

Another major drawback is the potential for bad publicity. Something as simple as a typo can send a very wrong message, and even after you make corrections, the consequences of bad publicity will persist. It is practically inevitable that a social media account will encounter political or otherwise controversial topics, and someone is guaranteed to dislike your business's discourse.

One of the hardest risks to manage is the influence of your social media followers. They will always represent a small portion of your total customers, but they will be the most vocal, and they could lead you to misread what the majority of your customers really want or think. Putting too much stock in social media can send a business down a bad track.

There is no magic number for social media marketing. While you should probably spend at least a little money on it, how much you get out of your spending will depend on the efficiency of your campaign. According to WebStrategies, companies typically spend 15 to 25 percent of their total digital marketing budget on social media. That marks a nice place to start, but you can and should adjust your spending according to your return on investment statistics, once those numbers are available.

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