Why it is so hard to create great content for social media
By John Welch on September 24, 2020
Content Makes The World Go ‘Round
If you have a business that you’re trying to grow, then chances are pretty good that you’ve got “content creation” on your mind.
“Content creation” has become a buzzword lately. And it’s no wonder when you hear that content marketing is 3 times more efficient in terms of leads than outbound marketing, and 72% of companies say content marketing increases leads.
- Content Makes The World Go ‘Round
- Why Content Creation Is So Stinking Hard
- How To Create Social Media Content
- Winning On Social Media
Most people aren’t really even sure what “content creation” means anymore. They see this term and hear a lot of people talking about it, but they’re not any closer to creating content of their own, and they still don’t know where to start.
If that’s where you are, then read on. This guide will teach you how to create content that attracts your perfect audience on social media.
Why Content Creation Is So Stinking Hard
There are a lot of marketing folks out there telling you the “easy way” to create content. I’ve got news for you, there is no easy way. The reason content creation is so hard is because it’s so hard.
It takes a lot of time to create content. It takes a lot of thought and brainstorming effort. It takes courage to reveal your secrets to the world. It takes discipline to put aside time, especially when you’ve got client work to do.
There is no way around it. Creating content is difficult. It is also the most important thing you can be doing to find and attract new business.
The Shift to Digital Marketing
Historically, there have been many different ways to find new business. Up until recently, many companies didn’t bother at all with digital marketing. They were still having enough success with traditional methods of business growth, they didn’t see the need for this “digital marketing” thing.
All that has changed in the past few years. Many businesses are scratching their heads wondering why they can’t get results anymore. B2B businesses are seeing their cold calling efforts produce less and less fruit. B2C businesses don’t know why their mailers and coupons aren’t working anymore.
What it comes down to is simple: the world has changed. Millennials account for 25% of the US population, and they are the largest living population. For all the talk of how different millennials are, you would think it’s apparent that they won’t respond to the same marketing that Boomers and Gen X-ers enjoyed.
85% of Generation Z learn about new products on social media, and they are 59% more likely than older generations to connect with brands on social media platforms as well.
These two generations represent a large portion of the present buying power in the US. Soon they will represent nearly all buying power as Boomers and Gen X age.
No matter how you shake it, the future of marketing is driven by social media. Already, many brands exclusively market their businesses on social media, and that pattern is only going to grow.
49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations on social media. In addition, 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Gen X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers are active on social media.
54% of social browsers use social media to research products.
According to Dragon Search Marketing, 61% of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by custom content.
These are just a few pieces of data that show the power that social media marketing offers to businesses that are willing to use it.
Content Or Paid Ads?
Now that we’ve established the importance of social media for marketing your business, let’s talk about how to create content and engage with your customers.
Depending on your business, social media ads may be a good option. The reality is that social media ads are rapidly increasing in cost and becoming less and less effective due to their widespread use.
Just like TV ads, social media ads are creating “ad overload” for consumers.
The answer to this problem is not to give up on social media. The answer is to do social media marketing the RIGHT way.
How? By choosing to authentically engage with your audience and customers. The only way to do that is with content.
This isn’t rocket science, but a lot of companies struggle to understand how to create and use content in their business.
It comes down to a simple reality. Use your social media presence to teach your audience and customers how to solve their problems without you. If you do this, they will trust you, and they will buy from you.
It really is this simple. But simple DOES NOT mean easy. As I said before, content creation is really hard.
How To Create Social Media Content
Pillar Content and Cluster Content
The best way to create a consistent content machine for your business is to understand the concept of “pillar content” and “cluster content.”
Pillar content consists of the main problems that your customers and audience are facing. Cluster content are all the little details and pieces of information that make up the answers to the pillar content problems.
For example, “How To Attract New Customers Using Social Media” would be a piece of pillar content.
“3 Ways To Engage Customers On Twitter” would be an example of cluster content.
The real magic of using the pillar content/cluster content model is that it becomes much easier to sustainably create content over long periods of time.
The reason why creating pillar content works so well is because it forces you to think about your content in terms of the problems that you solve for your customers.
Pillar content is nothing more than the main things that you do to help your customers.
If you’re a hair salon, an example of pillar content might be proper hair care. Under this pillar you could have cluster content about caring for curly hair, straight hair, frizzy hair, thick hair, thin hair, men’s hair, women’s hair and the list goes on. Each one of those different hair types become a piece of cluster content.
Imagine how much content you could build just working through hair care tips for different types of hair. That content can be used for blogs, Facebook posts, Instagram videos, and more.
If you’re an accounting business, a piece of pillar content might be something like small business taxes. Under this pillar content you could cover how to track expenses, how to manage employees who have expenses, the top ways for businesses to leverage tax loopholes, how to stay organized so you don’t have a mad dash at the end of the year, and more.
If you’re a local gym, pillar content could be things like exercise, nutrition and lifestyle. Under nutrition you could create content on healthy eating habits, local places to find healthy food, what kind of diets pair with certain body types or exercise goals, and so on.
As you can see, using pillar content and cluster content basically creates a content strategy for you. All you have to do is pick three or four main areas where you help customers and that becomes your pillar content. Then you brainstorm all the types of cluster content you can create that supports your pillar content.
From this point, all that’s left is actually creating the content.
You may think that blogs don’t qualify as “social media content.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Regardless of what you may hear, blogging still has a place in your content marketing strategy. Especially if you are a local business looking for local customers, blogging should be at the top of your priorities.
Social media is really just a digital way to build community with your customers. Your blogs are the most important information you’re sharing with your community. It should be front and center in your social media content strategy.
Another reason to start blogging is that it creates a sort of trickle down effect for the rest of your content creation. If you create 4 blogs per month, those blogs become the foundation for the rest of your content efforts.
Things like social media and email marketing require more bite-size forms of content. The best way to do this is to simply repurpose your blog content across your other distribution channels.
How To Write Good Blogs
Writing a good blog is very straightforward. Start with a problem that your customers are facing and then explain how you solve this problem.
For example, a mechanic might write a blog about “The Top 5 Do-It-Yourself Mechanic Jobs.” In the blog the mechanic might explain how to replace spark plugs, how to change your oil, how to change a tire, how to change brake pads, and how to replace shocks.
A document storage company might write a blog on “The 3 Fastest Ways To Reduce Paper Storage.” In the blog they could share how to digitize paper processes, how to quickly and efficiently scan existing documents, and how to minimize paper use among employees.
The point is that blogging is not complicated, it’s very straightforward.
Once you’ve determined what you’re writing about, you need to know the mechanics of writing a blog.
How To Format Your Blogs
Your blog titles should be between 7 and 14 words. This helps with searchability and also increases the chances readers will click on your blog instead of someone else’s. The best way to write longer blog titles is use the “Title:Subtitle” format. For example, “Hair Care 2020: 5 Ways You Can Unleash Your Best Hairstyle.”
The length of your blog matters as well. The top ranking blog posts tend to be an average of 1,760 words long. This means that you should try to get your blogs between 1,500 and 2,000 words.
If you find that your posts are too short, it probably means you aren’t being detailed enough. Many businesses are afraid to give away their secrets, but that’s exactly what you need to do. Get really detailed and explain exactly how you solve your customers’ problems. You’ll be surprised how quickly you write 1,500 words when you’re actually teaching your audience how to solve their problems.
Pictures are really important for engagement on your blog. Wherever possible, use proprietary pictures from your own business. If you’re a software company, use screenshots of your software. If you’re a mechanic, show pictures from your garage working with your customers. If you’re a marketing agency, create your own infographics.
In case you’re wondering whether you should be using Instagram to market your business, here’s an eye opening factoid.
In addition, 73% of teens say Instagram is the best way for brands to reach them about new products or promotions.
Instagram content can seem overwhelming because creating high-quality visuals appears difficult. Thankfully, there are quite a few tools that make this much easier than you would imagine.
If you’re not using Canva for your Instagram posts, you’re wasting time and hurting your results. Canva is a free design tool that takes a ton of the grunt work out of making beautiful Instagram posts.
1) - Start With Beautiful Images
The best place to get images is to use your own. You would be surprised what you can accomplish with just a smartphone camera. This picture below was taken in my house on my iPhone. Using this image, I can craft a beautiful post using Canva.
2) Click “Create a Design”
3) Select the “Instagram Post” template
4) Click “Upload” on the left sidebar and upload your image
5) Drag your image onto the canvas
6) Go to “Elements” on the left sidebar and select the rectangle
7) Set the color to black and set the transparency to “30”
8) Add text
9) Download PNG
10) Post on Instagram
Putting this entire graphic together, including shooting the image and uploading to my computer, took about 10 minutes. Using a tool like Canva makes it easy to create high-quality, Instagram-worthy posts in a matter of minutes.
Other Image Sources
If you can’t take images yourself that work for your content, you can always use one of the free stock photo libraries that are available.
Depending on what type of photo you’re looking for, any of these sites are going to be a good option. They all have different areas where they really shine, so browse around when you’re looking for new images.
If one site doesn’t have what you’re looking for, chances are good one of the others will.
Tell Stories On Instagram
The best way to engage with your audience on Instagram is to tell stories. You need to create content that they want to engage with because it’s so good, not because it’s your brand.
The power of Instagram is that you can connect emotionally with your audience without selling anything, so that when you’re ready to ask for the sale, they FEEL great about your brand.
Quotes are a powerful way to tell stories on Instagram. Pairing a beautiful image with wise words from a giant in history is a great way to tell your story without making it about you. The graphic below would be perfect for a nutrition company or a health food store.
Image from Unsplash, text added in minutes on Canva
Share Customer Triumphs
Why toot your own horn when your customers can do it for you? Sharing your customer success stories, in their own words, helps your audience understand exactly what you do for them without feeling like you’re “selling” to them.
Image from Unsplash, text and transparency added in Canva
Inspirational content is a great way to build engagement and connect with your Instagram audience. This can include sharing inspiring stories, using images that challenge your audience to grow, and creating content that calls your audience to a higher level.
Posting Instagram Content
Once you’ve got a handle on creating your Instagram content, it’s time to start posting.
Posting content isn’t rocket science 🚀, but it pays to be intentional and have a method to your madness.
When To Post
According to SpoutSocial’s data, the best times to post are between 10am and 11am. on Wednesdays and Fridays. You can see there are some other hot-spots as well. As a general rule, evenings tend to be pretty solid for engagement, except on the weekends.
How Often Should I Post?
You should aim to post between one to three times per day. Major brands post an average of 1.5 times per day.
There is one rule that trumps all other rules.
Social Media Posting Rule: DO WHAT YOU CAN.
Consistency is the most important thing. If all you have time to do is post once a week, start there. You will get faster and better at it over time, and you can increase your frequency.
The most important thing is to start somewhere, even if it’s less frequent than you would like.
Quality or Quantity?
It’s more important to post good content than to post a ton of content. Don’t sacrifice beautiful and engaging posts for the sake of more posting.
Your audience will be drawn to the quality of your posts. You can always make more content as you get better at it, but building an audience requires high-quality content from the beginning.
Facebook is the third most visited site in the world, behind Google and YouTube. In addition, 60% of Gen Z want to communicate with more brands using messaging. Facebook offers a great way to do this.
For small businesses looking to grow, Facebook represents a tremendous marketing opportunity. Creating content on Facebook is all about creating community engagement.
What Content Should I Create For Facebook?
1) Guides and Handouts
One of the best ways to use Facebook is to distribute blog content and guides that you have created for your audience.
The most important reason for creating content is to educate your audience and show your expertise. Facebook is a great place to get your content in front of your audience easily.
Whenever you post a new blog, make sure you’re sending it out on Facebook as well. Re-distributing your blog content across other social channels helps your SEO rankings and makes your content more visible to audience members that may not spend as much time on your website.
2) Share Viral Content
Another great way to build engagement on Facebook is to share viral content. Your audience wants to connect with you and to feel like they know you. The best way to do this is to share the kind of content they expect to see from their friends.
3) Ask For Help Or Input From Your Audience
It’s really easy to engage with your audience by asking them to be a part of your decision-making process.
You can ask questions about your audience’s likes and dislikes. You can ask for help picking between two different design ideas or product labels. You can ask what problems your audience is facing that they need help with.
Basically, you’re inviting your audience into your process and making them a part of your business. This fosters community and makes them feel like they’re a part of something, not just a consumer being sold to.
4) Create Videos
People look at video posts for 5 times longer than static posts on Facebook. This means that if you want your audience to pay attention for longer, you need to be making videos.
Videos can follow all sorts of formats. They can be product videos, behind-the-scenes videos, customer testimonial videos, and more.
Videos don’t have to be fancy. You can shoot and upload your videos directly from your smartphone. Don’t get caught up in the quality of the videos, it’s more important that you’re creating honest, genuine content.
5) Share Inspirational Posts
Similar to Instagram, everybody loves a little pick-me-up. It’s always a good idea to share some Monday morning motivation or a cool idea on how to live your life better.
No matter what your brand is, you can find a message that is relevant to your business that also speaks to the universal desire to be a better person.
Posting On Facebook
The best times to post on Facebook are Wednesday at 11am and 1-2pm. Wednesday is the best day to post on Facebook in general.
It’s important to note that Sunday has the least amount of engagement of any day of the week. Early mornings and evenings also have the lowest engagement.
Try to make it a rule of thumb to post in the middle of the day during the week. Make sure to hit that sweet spot on Wednesday with your best content.
LinkedIn has rapidly become one of the most widely used social media networks around. It’s important to note that four out of five LinkedIn members drive business decisions at their company. If you’re trying to reach people who can make buying decisions, look no further than LinkedIn.
Creating content on LinkedIn is different than other social media sites, mostly because it tends to be more professionally-oriented.
Types Of Content On LinkedIn
The most common type of content on LinkedIn is personal posting. It it better to post on a personal profile than a company page. This is especially where LinkedIn differs from other social media sites.
Personal Page or Company Page?
It it better to be posting on a personal profile than a company page. This is especially where LinkedIn differs from other social media sites.
Users on LinkedIn like to engage with people, so it’s best to create a personal profile for the business owner or representative of the business and use that to build an audience.
Users on LinkedIn like to engage with people, so it’s best to create a personal profile for the business owner or representative of the business and use that to build an audience.
Types Of Content On LinkedIn
The most common type of content on LinkedIn is personal posting. This is a simple and straightforward way to share tips, ideas and news on your profile.
Content for posts can vary, but there are a few specific types of content that do very well.
Tip #1: Start With Experiential, Personally Engaging Posts
This is the most effective way you can start getting attention on LinkedIn: write meaningful, engaging, and visually captivating posts. We’re all just people, right? All work on LinkedIn and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
It’s important to get personal on your LinkedIn, don’t just focus on posts about business. It is a “social” network after all.
Tell your story, share your experiences and blend a little personality into your posts. It’s good practice to try to post one meaningful, valuable post every day. Try to make 3 business-related posts and 2 personal posts every week. That way you’re not overwhelming your audience with only work-related information.
Here is an example of a recent post of mine. (This post was completely unrelated to marketing or work!) It was the continuation of a 2-part post I shared about how I removed caffeine from my diet and the huge difference it made in my life.
This kind of information may seem irrelevant, but in many cases, this personal, story-like content will connect with your LinkedIn audience far better than the usual posts on how they can do [insert your service you want them to buy here] better.
Tip #2: Use Emojis
A lot of folks have an issue with emojis. Well, it’s time to put that aside! Whatever your personal feelings about emojis are, the reality is: emojis are the best way to 👋 grab attention 👋 in our hyper-visual world (like those little wave-y hands just did).
Maybe you’re asking yourself: how do I get emojis if I post to LinkedIn using my computer? Well, I use a website called getemoji.com. It is a searchable database of emojis that you can quickly copy and paste into your posts!
Once you select an emoji, all you have to do is click the “copy” button and you can then paste it anywhere on LinkedIn.
Play around with emojis on your LinkedIn profile, in your posts, and even in messages that you send to other LinkedIn users.
Now, I’m not saying that using an emoji every time you feel like it is a good idea. There are definitely folks who get carried away 🐟🦅 with them. For example, I don’t recommend putting emojis on either side of your name or adding 3 emojis in a row at the end of every sentence.
The emojis catch the eye of people scrolling through LinkedIn and help format your post!
Tip #3: Share Actionable Information
My final tip for beginning to strengthen your LinkedIn marketing is by sharing actionable information. Giving away information that your audience can act upon immediately is a great way to start growing your engagement. Who doesn’t want to engage with a post that encourages them to do something positive? Their engagement is seen by their own network as them taking a positive step in their life/business—or simply agreeing with that action.
It’s how social media works: we share ideas, processes, tutorial videos, and even personal experiences that someone else can then take and share, appreciate, or immediately apply to their own life!
One of the biggest mistakes people make is feeling like they must always have some sort of funnel in place to direct people to a landing page or capture an email address. Like I mentioned before, these are real-life people using LinkedIn. They can tell if you are trying to constantly sell products or services to them, and they will begin to ignore or even disconnect from your presence on LinkedIn.
🔑 When you share valuable or personal content simply for the sake of helping, you establish rapport and trust with your audience. This increases engagement and makes them much more likely to respond when you do share some sort of invitation to dive deeper into your business!
This is one of the most powerful ways to use LinkedIn for sharing content. LinkedIn will allow you to upload a PDF, and it will automatically parse it into individual pages. It basically allows you to share slides on your post.
Gary Vaynerchuk does an awesome job using this form of content on LinkedIn.
When you click the arrow to the right, it goes to the next slide.
The possibilities are endless for creating fun, engaging, and powerful content using this method!
Live video on LinkedIn is one of the most important types of content. LinkedIn Live is not available to every user. You have to apply for a the ability to use LinkedIn live and only once you are approved can you start streaming on LinkedIn.
Because of this barrier to entry, there are a limited number of live video streamers on LinkedIn. In addition, LinkedIn is strongly promoting their live content, so when someone you are connected to goes live, you get a notification.
This means that when you get approved for LinkedIn Live, your livestreams will also be sent out to your connections.
LinkedIn Live offers the opportunity for significant engagement and massive awareness. It also carries the prestige of being a person approved for LinkedIn Live!
Applying for LinkedIn Live
The application process is simple. You can apply here.
It helps your chances of being approved if you already post video content on LinkedIn and if you have evidence of already streaming live on other platforms.
A good way to prepare for applying for LinkedIn Live is to release native video content on LinkedIn for a few weeks before you apply and also create some livestreams on YouTube that you can show as examples.
Using A Streaming Service
In order to stream on LinkedIn, you’ll need a streaming service that connects to LinkedIn. There is a list of streaming services that work with LinkedIn. We’ve had great success with Streamyard.
What Kind Of LinkedIn Live Content Should I Create?
The best kind of content for LinkedIn is video interview content. Starting a vidcast is one of the fastest ways to start creating high-quality content and building an audience on LinkedIn.
It’s really simple, just find people in your LinkedIn connections that have great things to say for your audience, then invite them on your video show!
Ask them great questions and let them solve real problems for your audience. This kind of content creation is some of the best you can be doing on LinkedIn.
Winning On Social Media
The real secret to creating content on social media is to set reasonable and achievable content creation metrics for yourself.
You have a finite amount of time and can easily end up down a rabbit-hole trying to feed the social media marketing beast.
Here are the most important things to remember:
- Consistency is the most important thing.
- Quality is more important than quantity.
- Great content is the result of a genuine attempt to solve your audience’s problems.
If you keep these 3 rules in mind, you will be well on your way to developing amazing social media content for your audience.
Good luck!Back to the blog