How to Create Content for Social Media in 2024: Ultimate Guide

How to Create Content for Social Media in 2024: The Ultimate Guide

Creating content for social media is both an art and a science. Science dictates the metrics of social media content strategy, while art dictates the efficacy of visual content, and drives the need for high-quality content that is structured, organized, and presented in a way that is visually appealing and compelling. Digital marketers, social media managers, content creators, and entrepreneurs alike must develop a muscle for social media strategy, in order to enjoy the benefits of effective marketing across social media. 

I’ve compiled a strategic guide to social media content strategy that will help give you the tools you need to capture the attention of your target audience, drive engagement, and consistently deliver high-quality material. As you develop your visual media, any video media, and textual captions and more, you can resonate with your audience, strengthen the presence of your brand’s online presence, and ultimately see your social media metrics improve. First, I’ll take a closer look at what social media means for your business, and how your social media presence impacts the health and longevity of your brand. 

Social Media Strategy: Why It Matters

Have you ever wondered why certain social media posts become viral while others barely get any engagement?

Content creation for social media has increasingly become the foundation on which you build a relationship with your audience. While ads may have once relied on the clear delineation of a television, billboard, print ad, or radio, the advent of social media has made it easy for a piece of content to get into the hands of your current or preferred audience. Your digital audience relies on the visual content and writing you put out, and engaging content is essential to make sure you continually stand out in an overcrowded online landscape.

Think of it this way: social media is both your resume, and your performance review for your business. It lets newcomers know why they should stick around, and lets people who are already familiar with your brand or company know why they would be missing out if they were to stop following along on your brand’s journey. The types of content you put on your social media content calendar is a significant portion of how you build relationships, encourage brand loyalty, and encourage repeat business. So how, exactly, do you successfully navigate managing your social networks? Start with creating a plan. 

Begin with a Plan

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From setting up your social platforms to settling on your content creators, to determining how to design your branding, you cannot be successful on social media without developing a plan. Creating a plan can mean determine what types of content you want to focus on, and beginning to create a backlog of that content. It can mean creating a general outline of post times, who you are seeking out for any influencer marketing you may want to use, and prioritizing relationships with potential customers. No matter the exact bones of your plan, make sure you have a clear idea of your goals and purpose prior to beginning your social media campaign. I have created a simple outline to help you develop your social media marketing strategy below. First up: 

Understand Your Audience

How well do you really know the people you’re reaching out to on social media?

Before you can begin posting to your social media channels, you need to understand your audience. Identify your target audience demographics and their interests. This will help you create content that will speak directly to the needs and wants of your audience–and go straight to your social media analytics. Understanding your audience involves conducting thorough audience research and analysis, in order to make sure you are offering valuable insights in your given niche. 

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

What’s the endgame for your content?

Knowing your endgame is essential to do well on social media. While it can seem as though simply posting consistently is enough to remain top of mind over a given time period, there is far more to posting across your social media channels than creating more noise. Instead, by setting measurable goals and objectives with which to track your success, you can more clearly identify the types of content you are best off creating, determine what direction you should go in, and even determine the relevant hashtags you should be using on your posts. 

Although most business owners do have some experience with creating goals, setting social media goals can be more difficult. This is, in part, due to the way that promotional content works, and how frequently changes occur on social media. Do not feel as though you have to create lofty goals immediately (i.e. “gain 10k followers”); instead, create actionable goals on your part (i.e. “post consistent, value-adding content three times per week”). This will help solidify your social media content creation, and give you a framework within which to work. 

Choose the Right Platforms

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Is your content reaching the right eyes in the right places?

Social media platforms are powerful tools, but they are certainly not all created equal. For some, a platform like LinkedIn will be essential. For others, Facebook is the real MVP. To determine which platforms are best for your social media content creation, you need to refer back to your audience. Your audience demographics will constitute a large portion of your preferred platform, as your relevant content will not perform well on all platforms. Age demographics, the type of content you create, and more can all inform where you are best off publishing your content.

There are some key components you need to take into account when determining which social media platforms to use. These include: 

  • Your goals
  • Your relevant content
  • Your competitors’ preferred platforms
  • Your niche
  • Your audience

By identifying all of these components in your own business, you can more accurately determine which platform/s will best suit your needs. 

Further Reading: 14 Content Marketing Platforms to Empower Your Digital Marketing in 2024

Spy on Your Competitors

Where are your competitors posting social media content? What content formats are they using? Which type of content seems to be the most successful?

Where you share a target audience, you are likely to share some aspects of social media content creation. By standing on the shoulders of giants within your niche, developing an analysis of what does and does not work for them, and gleaning information for your own content creation tools and practices, you can learn and benefit from your direct competition. Developing your social media content strategy requires constant revision, and keeping abreast of your competitors is one effective way to continually revise.

Determine What Content Formats You Will Publish

Text, image, and video are the main content formats, but there are many variations to choose from within these. Which are you able to consistently publish content for?

Algorithms favor variety, so it is always best to make sure you have a solid arsenal of content in different formats with which to work. The more formats you include in your social media content creation, the more likely it is for you to have a clear picture of what works well for you, what you should cut back on, and what most convincingly speaks to the algorithm within your preferred platform. The many different social media content formats include the following:

  • Written text (blog posts / newsletters or carousel documents on LinkedIn, Threads on Twitter, or Instagram Threads, for example)
  • Link-based posts (to lead social media users to your website)
  • Singular images
  • Multiple images (carousel posts)
  • Shortform videos (TikTok, Reels, Shorts)
  • Longform videos (YouTube)
  • Livestream videos (LinkedIn Live, Facebook Live, etc.)
  • Memes
  • Infographics
  • User-Generated Content (including from influencer collaborations)

As you can see, this includes a wide range of content, with their own specifications, such as educational content, promotional content, and more. By using a variety of these types of content, you build your social proof and gather more information about what your audience prefers. 

Create a Social Media Content Strategy

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Ever heard of a content calendar, or do you post on a whim?

Developing your own content calendar is absolutely essential to make sure you are delivering content consistently. While creating your calendar, plan themes, topics, and even differentiated types of content to keep your content fresh and interesting, and to keep your audience coming back for more. Posting on a whim is problematic for many reasons, not the least of which is the potential for making a mistake, or misunderstanding a current event or trend. 

Further Reading: 7 Best Content Optimization Strategies for 2024

3 Best Practices in Creating Social Media Content

Successful social media content creation relies on enacting best practices as you create. Social media best practices remain largely the same, whether you are creating educational content or you are promoting a specific product, making it essential to follow some basic guidelines in the content creation process. I have compiled what I consider the most important practices in developing a content plan and carrying it out, in order to enjoy success across all content types. 

Further Reading: The 18 Elements of Successful Content Planning

1. Craft Engaging and Shareable Content

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Can your content prompt a double-tap, swipe, share, or save?

Engaging and shareable content is the name of the game in social media content creation. Although content creation tools can help somewhat, developing your content library will require far more than a simple tool. Instead, you need to create captions, headlines, and posts with your audience in mind, delivering informative, useful, and inspiring content on a regular basis. Visuals are a big part of developing compelling content that practically begs to be shared, so make sure you are using visuals effectively for branding, education, and promotion.

Storytelling techniques that encourage audience engagement are also important; from video content to short captions, make sure you are focusing on connecting with your audience, adding value to their day, and demonstrating precisely how you are improving their experience. 

2. Optimize and Distribute to Each Social Media Platform

Do you know the secret sauce for pleasing the algorithm?

As we discussed above, different platforms require different things from content strategists. Understanding and using platform-specific best practices and optimizes your content for each platform is essential to ensure that likelihood of experiencing visibility and engagement consistently over time. The nuances of each platform’s requirements can be found on their community guidelines, and you can use those guidelines to make sure you are in line with the best practices of your chosen social media network.

Further Reading: 13 Content Distribution Strategies That Work in 2024

3. Measure and Analyze Performance for Kaizen

Does the data tell a success story, or is there room for improvement?

Numbers do not lie. In the world of content marketing, it is essential to make sure you are consistently tracking metrics and identifying any and all areas in need of improvement and areas that are performing well. Kaizen is a system of measuring that performance, by evaluating whether or not there are consistent, small improvements being made. By keeping a close eye on and analyzing any and all changes to performance within your social media, you are adopting a kaizen approach that makes improvement manageable and doable.

Further Reading: 7 In-Depth Content Marketing Tips [+ Real-Life Examples]

Examples and Case Studies

What does success look like?

Case studies offer an incredible tool to conduct an in-depth analysis of successful content strategies from businesses that have a history of success in their content marketing strategies. These social media success stories can help you evaluate how to most effectively drive social media engagement and improve the content found on your social channels. I have collected 3 examples of content marketing efforts that have demonstrated benefits for the companies that enacted them.

Case study #1: The American Kennel Club

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The American Kennel Club changed their approach to content marketing by appealing to a larger audience in 2020. Rather than relying on email marketing, as had previously been the case, the AKC began spending more time and energy developing articles targeted toward new pet owners in search of high-quality information, and witnessed a 30% increase in traffic year over year, and $26.6 million in search traffic value. 

Case study #2: JetBlue

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JetBlue leveraged its mistakes to build a thriving and robust content marketing strategy. When the airline elected not to cancel flights and left many passengers feeling stranded and frustrated, the company issued an apology video on YouTube. The success of the apology led JetBlue to release a regular series of videos on the subject of maintaining a healthy, clean, and respectful flying experience on YouTube, with great success. This demonstrates the value of acknowledging and subsequently learning from your mistakes. 

Case study #3: AARP

AARP sponsored tweets for ThisIsPretirement.org

AARP was intent on increasing their audience, and bringing in people aged 40-60. To do so, they partnered with a marketing company to develop a campaign aimed at this age group, with the intention of encouraging their audience to take a test and subsequently develop a retirement plan. The campaign in question saw a 61% conversion rate, and an 11% CTR. This demonstrates the importance of knowing your audience, and developing a plan to add value. 

Conclusion

Are you ready to start crafting successful social media content?

Digital marketing is a constantly evolving arena, making it essential to continually evaluate how your social media is performing, whether your business goals are being met with your current strategy, and how you can make improvements large and small. Strategic content creation requires you to stay on top of current trends, and develop adaptability, in order to continually evaluate and then update your strategy and campaigns. Using the steps and best practices above, you can get started on your social media strategy today, to increase your engagement, improve the reach of your content, and increase your confidence in moving forward with digital marketing.

Hero Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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