A successful social media strategy is one that is designed to bring in paying clients. But it is a long term game.
The days of being able to post a “buy this amazing service I sell” post and expect lots of clients to sign up are over (if they ever existed). Did you ever buy from a post like that? People very rarely do. Yet we often expect that from our own content.
You need to build an audience (ideally full of your “Ideal Clients”, that’s people who may ultimately become clients – not your Aunty Nora and her nosey neighbours).
That audience then needs to get to know you. To trust you. To understand that you can help them (and you’re the right person to help them).
You then need to put an offer in front of them that gives them what they want at a price they’re willing to pay (at a time they want to buy it).
It’s a long term game. But one that pays off if you follow it.
I’m not a social media expert. I’m a website designer who uses social media. These days my preferred platform is Instagram, although I dabble in both Facebook and LinkedIn too.
Why am I sharing my strategy? Because it works. I get clients through Instagram.
But, I use Instagram alongside other marketing tools. Like my website (of course) and email marketing. On its own I doubt it would be successful. And that is the key. Each tool has their own role to play in your overall marketing.
What’s the role of social media? I use it to reach a new audience (that doesn’t already know me) and to help my existing audience get to know, like and trust me.
Before buying (and often earlier in the process) I expect this social media audience will check out my website (the address is in my bio to help them). It is critically important that your social media and website are aligned. They should use the same branding, colours and have a similar “feel”. That builds more trust (as well as indicating this audience has come to the right place). I always look at a client’s social media when I am building their new website.
Your website is a better place for conversion. It is more organised, showing what you do, leading visitors on a path that gives them the information they need to take that next logical step – be that to buy, book an appointment or get in touch. Of course social media can help nudge sales too.
This blog post is about creating social media content. Creating content to build an audience that will ultimately buy from you (whether via social media or another place).
It’s all about having a mix of content that will attract, connect with and ultimately convert your target audience into paying clients.
So how do you create that?
Step 1: Know your target audience
Like all marketing, the key is to understand who you’re marketing to. The “game changer” is to understand the kind of posts that appeal to them on that platform. That makes them connect with you. Increase the “know, like and trust” factor. And ultimately buy from you. Not every post you put out will hit the mark. You have to accept that.
But giving some thought to who your target audience is, and what kind of content works for them, will save an awful lot of failure posts and frustration.
Think about a few of the clients you have had that were perfect clients. The kind of clients you’d like more of. What did they have in common? What connects them to you?
Step Two: Content Buckets
Once you have some understanding of your audience you can come up with themes or “content buckets” that you can use in your marketing. Themes that will connect with your audience.
Some of those themes should relate to your business so you come across as helpful and knowledgeable (and it is obvious what you do without needing to say each time). But you need to pitch it at the right level.
If you are a family photographer, chances are your audience is not really interested in your equipment – which lens you use, the lighting you have etc. What they’re interested in is things like posing to look younger/slimmer/have fewer chins. Ways to get children to smile naturally for the camera (there’s a MacDonalds happy meal on the way home if you behave…). What you should all wear to look co-ordinated but not like the Waltons etc.
If you’re an interior designer what your audience might be interested in will depend on the stage they’re at in their life. First time homeowners might be interested in luxury finds that don’t break the bank, making small spaces look bigger and copying celebrity trends. Families with children may be more interested in storage solutions that work for children’s toys, interiors that look great but cope with spills and carving out “grown up” space. Downsizers will have different interests again. That’s why it is important to understand your target audience. Appealing to all (if that is your market) is hard, but there are some things like latest trends, sustainable choices and storage that have wider appeal.
Social media is not the place for long posts educating your audience about 754 different sustainable storage solutions. It’s short form media. You can, of course, repurpose a blog post all about 754 different sustainable storage solutions into lots of social media posts.
People have short attention spans on social media. You need to make the posts short, interesting and with a “scroll stopping” image. Video works well (and is being pushed by more platforms to compete with TikTok). I love creating Instagram reels with different characters to make a point. It’s educational and entertaining. But it takes time to put these together and my business is not creating content – it’s designing websites. So I mix up the kinds of content, with some quick and easy posts (often recycling blog content – I have 50 blogs so even if anyone has read them all I’d be surprised if they remembered all the points I’ve made – I don’t!) and some videos.
As you start to post different kinds of business content you’ll no doubt see what kind of content works better. Look at your analytics. Do more of the kind of posts that do well and less of the kind that doesn’t.
All business posts makes a very dull social media feed. In order to “know, like and trust” you your audience needs to find some other kind of connection. You need to show you’re human. “People buy from people”.
What do you have in common with your target audience or might you do that your target audience may find interesting? For me, it is things like parenting/family, being outside, supporting local businesses, “community” and working for yourself.
If I was in to stamp collecting (I’m not!) I probably would post very little on this because I’m not sure my audience would necessarily share my joy in finding that “must have” stamp. They’re more likely to connect and share my joy at that bottle of gin/bar of chocolate hidden in the back of the cupboard that I had forgotten was there…
What you choose to share is up to you. With social media you get to control how you come across. You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to (including your family). But it’s difficult to build a connected audience if you don’t show anything outside of the work you.
How can you use this in your content? You can share you “doing” these things. If you follow my Instagram account you’ll see I regularly post a photo or video on my stories from my morning dog walk in Knole Park near where I live. A pic of Barney, my dog, always gets attention. I might also post on stories if I have been shopping locally. I share humorous posts about the realities of parenting and working for yourself (because they make me smile and I think they’ll make my audience smile too). You can ask questions about this kind of thing too.
Topical things work well – the latest TV series or film. One of my best performing posts was about the Netflix series Bridgerton (there was a website angle). Yes it had an image of the Duke of Hastings which of course helped…
It’s a balance. This kind of content is great for getting people to know you. The kind of thing you might chat about if you met in real life as friends. But you do need to think about what you want to be known for too!
Other Connection Buckets
There’s another kind of “content bucket” I use which relates to how I want to come across.
I want my target audience to think of me as empathetic, understanding, motivating, inspiring, empowering and with a sense of humour. So I share these kind of posts. Think about how you want to come across. What you are like in person (with your target audience, not with your family!).
Quotes and memes make it easy to show these qualities/emotions.
But sharing your own experiences is also very effective. Showing these qualities in practice. There are days when I’m “on it” and days when everything goes to pot. My life (and my business) is not perfect. And nor am I. So I post about the good and bad days. Of course, it is your social media and you choose what to share (and how). I rant far more in private than you will catch me doing on social media!
If you’re in the health and fitness space it’s worth showing that you have days when you don’t feel like it either, or you “fall off the wagon”.
It’s being human. And that is an important quality your audience can relate to.
Whilst social media is not usually the best place to sell (your website, an email or even message is better), you can and should post “sales content” to remind your audience you run a business!
There are lots of different ways of doing this.
You can, of course, have a direct sales post. It might be “these are the ways you can work with me”. Or it may be a single offer that you want to promote at that time.
But you can also share case studies and testimonials showing how you have helped others like your target audience. I often create a reel (with appropriate music) showing a new website I have built (sometimes with a “before”). Or I might show a few websites together to make a point (eg how to show personality in a website). These are what I call “show not tell” posts.
Depending upon what you do, you can also share posts of you “in action” or your product/service under construction. So if you’re a jewellery designer you could show the steps and all the hard work that goes into that beautiful finished creation. These kind of posts are particularly good for showing the “value” in what you do.
You don’t have to make a physical product to do that. If you’re a massage therapist you could show you setting up your room before a client. It shows the thought and care that goes in to what you (and which you don’t tend to get in a corporate organisation).
Step 3: Creation
I’d love to say I have days when I batch create content and then I can forget about it for the rest of the quarter/month/days.
I do try to get ahead (and I now have some help with my social media content) but some days I will post “on the fly” and some days not at all because I’m too busy or not feeling inspired. It’s the main reason I only really post on Instagram. It’s the platform I found works best for me (yes I know LinkedIn should do but I’ve never managed to “crack it” in the same way).
When I do have the time to create how do I do it?
- I’ll write down my content buckets and then just brain dump all the ideas I have for each bucket
- If/when I run out of inspiration I might look at old blog posts and/or social media posts to see what is there that can be repurposed
- I’ll then “batch create”. So I might do a bunch of quotes and other written text posts. Then I might do some posts with images. I might create some reels (I usually batch create reels after I have been to the hairdressers…). And I save these (in Instagram/Meta business suite)
Only then do I think about when/how I might post these. I try to post a variety of different kinds of post over a week/fortnight. I schedule some (using the Meta Business Suite), but reels need posting “live”.
Where I tend to trip up is running out of a particular kind of post…
A successful social media content strategy is one which attracts the “right” audience for your business, connects with them and ultimately gets them to take the course of action you want them to take. This could be starting up a conversation in your DMs, it could be visiting your website or it could be signing up to your email list. It’s unlikely that social media content alone will get you clients – it should work together with other forms of marketing to get that result.
The first step in creating good content is to know who your target audience is and what interests them. Some content should be related to your business, some related to you/your connection with them and some should be sales. It’s a question of balance. As you post you should take note of what performs well and what doesn’t.
If you can batch either ideas or content it will make your life easier as you can schedule posts (or save as drafts to post in real time). But that’s not always possible (at least for me). We’re all human!