This content was created through a collaboration with the folks over at Zoho Social. To dive into more advanced topics on social media marketing, check out their educational content on The Social Journal.

Your social posts are some of the shortest writing projects you’ll encounter in business, but they can be surprisingly complicated. In this chapter of our social media series, we’ll show how to take your social media strategy from concept to the final draft.

Step 1: Establish your brand’s voice

Decide how you’d like to communicate with your followers, and stay consistent.

Be creative

Social media gives brands incredible creative freedom in communicating with their audiences. The advent of SMM has seen big name brands use their handles to put out copy using informal internet slang and absurdist memes to great success. Others have made names for themselves by creating high-brow, mysterious, or even socially conscious personalities. All of this is largely communicated through text. This leaves you with an important choice to make as a brand: what’s the voice of your business?

Consider your audience

The high degree of creative freedom online can be paralyzing to a social media newbie. One simple method for dialing in your brand’s voice is to look at your audience. With your customer profiles in hand, you’ll want to shoot for a brand voice that’s both appealing and intelligible to the people you’re talking to.

For example, if you’re targeting an audience of young college students, they might respond well to an informal, humorous communication style (appealing). However, you’ll quickly end up losing them if your humor relies on cultural references from 30 years ago (unintelligible).

If you need more inspiration, look to other successful brands with similar demographics to your own. That being said, don’t focus too much on individual accounts. It’s important to consult a variety of sources for inspiration until you come up with a voice that feels like your own. On the internet, it’s especially easy to tell when a business is trying to mimic another account’s style, and the backlash can be merciless. This isn’t exactly surprising, given that 86% of consumers name authenticity as a crucial factor when deciding which brands to support.

Stay consistent

Once you’ve arrived at a general idea of your brand voice, it’s important to keep your communication style consistent across all your front-facing content. In fact, businesses that maintain brand consistency have been shown to boost their revenue by as much as 33%. Adopting a social media persona provides you with a lot of creative leeway in expressing yourself. On platforms like Twitter, you can let your hair down a little, so to speak. However, the same basic tonal elements you’ve established—whether it’s “enthusiastic”, “serious”, “informative”, or “respectful”—should be included in your marketing emails, your website, and anywhere else you’re communicating with your customers. This will help shape a cohesive brand identity and narrative, and avoids any unnecessary confusion.

Step 2: Tailor your copy to fit your different channels

Once you’ve established a strong, engaging voice that reflects your brand’s image, consider the differences between each platform when you start drafting your copy.

Copy length

Over time, social media users have formed their own preferences on how they like to consume content on the different platforms. This means that, depending on which platform you’re using, people will respond more strongly to different lengths of copy. Fortunately, we have a list of the best-performing average copy length on each platform:

  • Facebook: 40-50 characters
  • Twitter: 70-100 characters
  • Instagram: 138-150 characters
  • LinkedIn: 16-25 words

If these are shorter than you’d expect, keep in mind that these stats are all averages, not hard and fast rules. However, the list works both as a rough guideline for your copy length and a reminder to always keep your messaging as simple and straightforward as possible.

Multi-platform strategy

If you’re starting to think that you may not have enough time to create content across all your social media platforms, you should take the opportunity to optimize your social media strategy. Consider how much energy you want to put into each platform on a regular basis, taking into account both the potential for lead engagement and your comfort level with each type of content. It may be a better use of your time to establish a strong foothold on a single platform than to try juggling all of them at once.

If you are committed to a multi-platform strategy, it’s important that you cross-post, not cross-pollute. For example, if you’ve used identical copy for a promotion on both Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it will likely come across as disingenuous, spammy, and lazy to anyone who sees more than one of those posts. If you’re going to cross-post, make sure to build in enough variety between platforms so that each post ends up being additive rather than repetitive.

Step 3: Proofread all your posts

Once you’ve drafted a post, it’s time to do a final check before pushing it live. Try to get someone other than the post author to do this for you. It’s always good to have a second pair of eyes that can catch something you might have missed.

You should create a proofreading process to keep you publishing professional-quality posts every time. Here’s a short list of precautions you can use to start:

  • Spelling and grammar check. Short copy means even small errors will stand out.
  • Make sure any images you’re using fit within each platform’s dimension requirements.
  • Use emojis and hashtags judiciously.
  • Double-check any pages or profiles you’ve tagged in your post. Account handles often differ from platform to platform.

Step 4: Create your content schedule

Relationship building 101: people need their space. Social media communication, as vast and powerful as it is, can easily become overwhelming. And with so many new businesses emerging every year, that won’t stop any time soon. Make sure you have a long-term content release strategy to keep your brand’s output manageable and consistent.

Based on user statistics, here is how often the highest performing accounts on each platform tend to post on average:

  • Facebook: 1 post/day
  • Twitter: 1-5 posts/day
  • Instagram: 1 post/day
  • LinkedIn: 20 posts/month

Prioritize your content

If you’re overflowing with ideas for new social content, you’ll want to avoid bombarding your followers with updates. With the help of a content calendar (like the one inside Zoho Social) you can get a detailed, big-picture view of your upcoming content. You can use your calendar to organize and schedule all your posts, across all your platforms, at precise, consistent intervals.

This is a simple, yet valuable hack that builds trust and loyalty among your followers. From your calendar, you can schedule posts from your backlog that need to be posted on particular dates (holiday sales, new product announcements, service updates), and ones that can be used to generate engagement during slow periods (educational content or customer surveys).

If, on the other hand, you find yourself struggling to come up with new content to fill out your calendar—that’s okay! Don’t stress to schedule a bunch of new posts for the week if there’s really nothing new going on. The most important part of keeping your audience interested is consistency in quality. If your brand only makes a new Instagram post once a month, but it’s always relevant and engaging, you minimize the risk of opt out (mutes or unfollows). Meanwhile, you can work to steadily ramp up your output as your business grows.

Whatever your situation, you should aim to create a layered, evenly structured content schedule that gives you just the right amount of exposure, with enough lead time to comfortably swap out any posts as needed.

Managing Your Social Media Accounts
Getting Started With Social Media For Your Business
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