Take a look around you.  It seems that every business, person or idea has their own Facebook page, Twitter account or YouTube video.  You can go to the gas station and see a sign flashing that says to follow them on their new Facebook page.  You can eat at a restaurant and be told to follow them on Twitter to receive special discounts.  You can even see videos that have been made by organizations on YouTube.  In a world where everyone is using social media you don’t want to be left in the dust.  However, in order to not be left in the dust you must have a social media strategy and more importantly a social media content strategy.

How to Develop a Social Media Content Strategy by Rich Brooks was a very nice article that was broken down into simple steps.  I really enjoyed this article because it was thorough and easy to follow.  I believe that anyone could follow these steps and have great success in reaching more people and expanding their “client” base.

In order to develop a social media content strategy, one must first know what a content strategy is.  Content strategy is knowing what content you are going to use in order to use social media effectively for your cause.  Brooks broke this down into three simple elements:

1)  You need to know what your audience wants to talk about and be able to engage in those conversations.
2)  You need to know where your audience has these conversations.  This could be Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or other social media sites.
3)  You need to be able to measure results.

Next, you need to know what your audience wants to talk about.  An easy way to do this is by examining keywords.  You have to be able to uncover the language that your audience is speaking.  If you are a music producer and you are talking about a venue and your refer to your rock concert as a show or a tour while your audience is calling it a festival, then you are not going to be able to connect to your audience.  The  conversation will pass you and your audience by.  It is best to understand your audience and what they are talking about.  You have to connect with them and be able to use the same “language” that they do.  Some great tools to use for keyword analysis are Keyword Discovery and Google Adwords.  By typing in a word or a phrase into these sites you will then get other ways to phrase or say what you want to.  For example, if you type in the word hat you will get results like ladies hats, men hats, fashion hats, caps, berets, beanies, warm hats, winter hats, cowboy hats, tops, crazy hats, military hats and many more ways to say hats.  So if you sell snowboard hats you may want to also use the word warm, winter or snow in front of the word hat.  It is important to speak the same language as your audience.

Next you must know where your audience hangs out online.  Once you know what your audience talks about you need to know where they talk.  Does your audience use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or some other social media site?  Well it is a good idea to find this out.  If you are putting content out there, you want it to be viewed.  In order to find out where your audience hangs out Brooks suggests using Flowtown in order to visualize and break down where people get their content.  This is based on indicators such as sex, age, education level and many other sub-categories.  Brooks also suggest using listening tools such as Google Alerts and Tweetdeck.  Using sites like these will help you become part of the conversation on topics that you and your audience are interested in.  If you are looking for topics about bowling you can easily start groups on these sites about bowling and see what people are talking about about bowling.  It is very easy to setup, and it will give you ideas for content and conversation amongst you and your audience.

After finding out where your audience hangs out online you must implement your strategy.  To do this you can blog, tweet, Facebook, post a question on LinkedIn or create content for YouTube.  You must use what you have learned in your preliminary research.  You must use content that will contribute to you and your mission.  Once you have started to use your generated content you must be able to measure your results.  In order to do this you must measure the impact of your conversations that you have been having on your social media sites.  Some ways to do this that Brooks suggests are:

1) Measure how many comments and Likes your Facebook group page receives.
2)  Track how many follows you accumulate on Facebook on a monthly or weekly basis.
3)  See how many retweets you get.
4)  Measure how many comments and views your blog gets.  It is important to check the statistics out.
5)  Measure social media referral traffic.  This means how much traffic is sent from Twitter to Facebook to the other sites that you use?  It is important to connect them together and to try and get your audience to view all the pages.

Overall, Brooks says that you must listen, be patient and be flexible.  It takes a while to figure out what you are doing. If you would like to read some suggestions that others have left for developing a social media content strategy then you can read the comments that were left on this article.

I really enjoyed that Brooks broke-down how to develop a social media content strategy in such small and easy to accomplish steps.  I believe that a novice or professional could take away great information from this article and implement it into their own developing social media content strategy.