How to Create a Killer Social Media Content Strategy for 2021 & Beyond
By: Cori Widen, Product Marketing Lead at Boosted by Lightricks
In the past decade or so, social media has been an exciting new frontier in marketing. It has so much going for it as a marketing platform: it’s (mostly) free, it’s audience-driven, it’s fun, and it can be extremely effective.
But if you want to use social media to grow your business, it’s not enough to post whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like. Having a well-researched, social media content plan means the time and resources you invest in social media marketing won’t go to waste.
This guide will teach you how to create an effective social media content strategy that will help your brand flourish in 2021.
Align your social media content strategy with your target audiences
Marketing always starts with identifying and understanding your target audience. Who are the people who need your product or service most, and how can you reach them? An accurate customer profile will guide you throughout the rest of the process, and the only way to create one is to do your research.
Gather as much information as you can about your most loyal customers. Some questions to include:
- What is their age range?
- Where do they live? Both location and time zone are valuable to know here.
- What language do they speak?
- What are their interests?
- What’s important to them?
- What challenges do they encounter that are related to your product?
The more specific a buyer persona you build, the more effectively you’ll be able to target them on social media.
Analyze the performance of previous social content
If your company already has active social media accounts, you have some valuable data at your disposal right now. Take a look at the analytics of that platform and pinpoint what’s worked well and what hasn’t. Identify the highest-performing pieces of content and analyze the elements they have in common: what type of content was it? Images? Video? Text? What was the tone? What kind of message did it convey? When was it posted?
Once you’ve delved into the analytics, make sure to tweak your social media content strategy accordingly. Let’s say your company is focusing on its Instagram content strategy. If you have an Instagram Business account and are studying your account’s Insights, take a look at: Insights > Audience > Followers. There, you can analyze both Hours (the average times your followers are on Instagram on a typical day) & Days (the days of the week when your followers are the most active). Study when your audience is most active and then plan your future Instagram content for the hours and days when your audience is most likely to engage:
For more information on understanding your Instagram Insights, check out this blog.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to reach out to your existing audience about whether they’re enjoying your current content, as well as what type of content they’d like to see in the future. You can poll your followers to find out, like @EliseDarma did via Instagram Stories recently:
Research competitors and influencers in your field
Competitors, influencers, and complementary business accounts can provide a lot of useful information and inspiration for your own social media content plan. Some tips on when researching competitors’ social accounts include:
- Be sure to analyze:
- Which social platforms they’re active on
- How many followers they have on each platform
- Their posting frequency
- The types of content they’re posting
- Which content receives the highest engagement
- Their feeds can also give you ideas for content of your own to develop (just be sure not to copy from them).
- You may also discover gaps in types of content provided by brands in your field, pinpointing a niche that your company may be able to fill.
Another benefit of getting to know your competitors and social media influencers in your field is that you can reach out to them for mutually beneficial partnerships. Arrange social media takeovers of each other’s accounts to cross-pollinate your audiences or collaborate on giveaways. Instagram is the prime platform for creating collaborative content like this.
Choose your social media platforms
Before you start churning out content, you should make sure that you’re using a platform where your target audience actually hangs out. Different social media platforms attract different demographics. Research which platforms are most popular with people who match your customer profile.
Here are five of the world’s most popular social media platforms that you should keep in mind when planning your social media strategy in 2021:
- Facebook – 2.38 billion active monthly users
- Instagram – 1 billion active monthly users
- YouTube – 2 billion active monthly users
- TikTok – 500 million active monthly users
- Twitter – 330 million active monthly users
Another thing to consider is whether the platform supports the type of content that best showcases your work. Some platforms are more text-based, while others are image or video-based.
Also, remember that your following on one platform may be completely different from your following on another platform. This is great, because it widens and diversifies your reach, but it also means you need to strategize differently for each platform. Be sure as well to look out for new and emerging platforms to incorporate into your social content strategy.
For more in-depth and platform specific guides, check out these social media content strategy guides here to guide you in 2021:
- Facebook content strategy: Mapping out a Facebook content strategy can make your Facebook engagement more meaningful for your brand.
- TikTok content strategy: TikTok content is a new frontier but with the right content strategy you can grow your TikTok brand exponentially, despite video time limits.
- LinkedIn content strategy: A solid corporate content strategy for your LinkedIn company page can bring your many new eyeballs and customers.
- Instagram content strategy: Instagram engagement is more than just likes; a brand needs a clear content strategy in order to succeed in the busy waters of Instagram.
- Snapchat content strategy: Snapchat may not be the leading social platform anymore, but it still has a serious presence: your Snapchat content strategy should not be overlooked.
- Pinterest content strategy: Pinterest has a TON of new customer potential if you can sharpen your content strategy to bring the right type of Pinterest user to your brand page.
- Reddit content strategy: Reddit is a combo message board and social platform, but there is indeed a way for brands to utilize various content strategies on Reddit.
- Quora content strategy: Quora might look like a quirky FAQ portal, but you’d be surprised at how many brands are killing in on Quora simply because they have a clever Quora content strategy.
- Medium.com content strategy: Medium is the online magazine that every brand should be aiming for, as a thought leadership platform that can raise a brand’s web presence to many new relevant audiences.
Determine your social media content style
The look, feel, tone, and voice of your social media content should stay consistent with those of your brand. Decide what type of content is a good fit for your business: what are the topics your posts should address? What messages or information will be most valuable to your customers, and how can you convey those things in a way they’ll find engaging?
Set out your SM goals and objectives
A solid social media content strategy requires concrete goals and objectives. What is it you’re hoping to achieve with your social media accounts over the next week, month, or quarter? It’s a good idea to set goals for overall performance — such as increasing your following or website traffic — as well as goals for each individual post, such as click-through rates (CTRs), conversion rates and engagement.
Additionally, it is a great practice to set a meeting at the end of each month to check in and see if your brand is reaching its goals and to assess your brand’s ROI on social media. See this blog for recommendations on how to effectively measure this.
Gather the right resources for high-quality content
Your social media accounts are the interactive online face of your brand. They need to look and sound professional as well as reflect the personality of your brand.
You’ll need well-designed videos and/or images, as well as concise, crisp copy that’s in line with the voice of your business. Make sure you have the resources to produce high-quality posts — and that may include staff members who specialize in creating and managing that content as well as a budget for outsourcing, paid ads, and professional tools for management and design of social media content. And of course, a high quality video maker for ads.
If you don’t have a design team or much of a budget for design, don’t be intimidated – it is very possible to execute an effective social media content strategy without breaking the bank. Here are some tools that you can use on your own to create high-quality social media content:
- Use Boosted to create social videos that look professionally produced. You can use your own footage or select stock footage, and then add text and other elements. Here are some examples of the type of content you can create with Boosted:
- Unsplash is a great resource for free, high-quality images that you can share across social media.
- Pexels is also a great image resource, and offers free stock videos as well.
Create a social media content calendar
Now that you’ve collected all this information, it’s time to draw up a social media content plan.
You can develop a weekly or monthly plan, depending on your needs. Chart a content calendar based on what you’ve learned about your target audience behavior and responses, incorporating ideas you’ve gathered for content that will engage them. This outline will serve as your guide for what and how often to post, and should include concrete concepts that your team will be able to turn into content easily.
Here are 4 few different options for creating your social media content calendar (pick the style that works best for you!):
- Google Sheets
- A project management tool like Trello
- You can try out a social media content strategy template, such as HubSpot’s
- Check out The Content Planner if you prefer to write out your plan by hand
Additional social media content strategy tips: Facebook + Instagram
As mentioned above, the top global social media sites are Facebook and Instagram. While we do not recommend that your small business be active on every social media platform, these two dominating platforms are likely to be at the center of your social media content strategy. Here are 3 content strategy tips to keep top of mind for both Facebook and Instagram.
3 Facebook content strategy tips
1) Utilize Facebook Groups – Facebook Groups are a great platform for building a digital community. 1.4 billion people use Facebook Groups in 2021! Managing a Facebook Group involves creating content, starting conversations, commenting & offering your expertise, and moderating the posts and comments from the community.
Here are some helpful guides you can refer to when building your Group:
- Should You Start a Facebook Group for Your Business?
- How to Find Your Customers in Facebook Groups
- How to Get More Members in Your Facebook Group – Fast!
2) Try out advertising on Facebook – Many businesses have Facebook ads at the center of their Facebook content plans. More and more brands are turning to targeted ads to boost their Facebook business pages. Facebook’s targeted advertising platform utilizes its advanced pool of data to send your message to the people who are most likely to want to see it. Check out our guide here for practical tips on how to get started with Facebook ads.
3) Use Facebook as a customer service tool – Facebook is one of the first places customers go to check out a product or service – as well as to share their thoughts about said product or service. Make sure to reply in a timely manner to comments and messages – 42% of people who have reached out to a brand, product, or company via social media for customer support expect a response within 60 minutes.
3 Instagram content strategy tips
1) Switch to an Instagram Business account – Switching to a business account is fast, free and will provide numerous benefits for your brand – including access to Instagram Insights, swipe up links for Stories, as well as contact links for your profile (phone number, email address, and directions). Check out our blog on the topic here for full insights.
2) Share more video content – Although Instagram started out as an image-driven platform – in 2021, video is more than dominating. The options for where to share video to Instagram include Stories, Feed, IGTV, Live and the newest addition, Reels. Here are 3 easy ways to get started with video on Instagram, no matter what your level of experience is.
3) Focus on engagement – On Instagram, it’s better to have 1,000 engaged followers than 100,000 silent followers who don’t interact with your content. A brand can have the most thought-out, impressive Instagram content plan – but without engagement, the strategy will prove to be ineffective.
For optimal engagement, respond daily to: Feed post comments, DMs & Story reactions. Also be sure to engage with others – comment valuable thoughts & insights on posts from accounts you follow & admire. For more tips on how to increase your Instagram engagement, here are 3 Daily Habits you can easily implement.
Keep in mind: While Facebook and Instagram stand as the world’s biggest social media platforms in 2021, TikTok is very much on the rise. Below you’ll find insights about the platform, and you can check out our guide here for tips as you build out your TikTok content marketing strategy.
15 content ideas for your social media strategy
By now you understand the value of creating a social media content plan – but what types of content should you be filling your days with? Here are 15 ideas that you can incorporate into your social media content calendar:
1. Seasonal holidays – there’s a holiday on every day of the calendar year. Obviously there are the big ones like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, but there are also fun niche ones like National Spaghetti Day (January 4th). To find today’s unique and engagement-boosting holidays, visit a site like Days of The Year or Time and Date. Find the days relevant to your brand and create content for them.
There are a number of Boosted templates you can use to celebrate seasonal holidays, such as this template for International Women’s Day:
2. Weekly hashtags – these include: #MondayMood, #TuesdayTips, #WednesdayWisdom, #ThrowbackThursday, #FridayFeeling etc. Two perks of creating a weekly content series using one of these hashtags: 1) consistency 2) if you create compelling content, your audience will continually look forward to the next weekly installment.
3. Regularly share deals & promotions – Try to advertise your sales creatively – for example, create an engaging Boosted video to notify your audience about your upcoming holiday sale, like the following:
You don’t want your entire social page to be self-promotional, so brainstorm how to incorporate your promotions in exciting, eye-catching ways.
4. Plan a live session – At least once a month, try to host a live session for your brand on social media, either on Instagram or Facebook. Remember that live videos are meant to be “raw” and unpolished. Live sessions are also a great way to build social media engagement. For more insights on the topic, check out our blog here.
5. Blog content – Sharing your blog content across your social platforms is a great way to drive traffic to your site. The insights from your blogs can be continually repurposed on social media. Two ideas for how to achieve this include: creating an infographic of interesting stats from one of your blogs or creating a quote graphic of a meaningful saying from one of your blog posts.
6. Create a tutorial – Tutorials are a great medium for content marketing. They showcase your product or service and have the potential to position you as an expert in your field. Check out our guide here to learn how to create a tutorial with Instagram Stories.
7. Share customer testimonials/reviews – Set a time once or twice a month to share positive reviews on your social media accounts. Doing so enhances social proof and builds trust with your audience. This can be a screenshot of a review from a different social platform, a share of a Story you were tagged in or a DM.
Here’s some Instagram inspiration from realtor @maegan_sold_it:
8. User generated content – Share some UGC, whether that’s a Story you were tagged in or a photo or video of someone utilizing your product or service. For more insights on how to incorporate UGC into your social media marketing content strategy, check out our guide here.
9. Run a contest or giveaway – Giveaways on social media are a great way to boost brand awareness, increase engagement, and build your following. In fact, an Instagram contest or giveaway can help you grow your followers 70% faster in 3 months (compared to holding no contest at all). For insights on how to run a successful giveaway, check out our blog here.
10. Inspirational quotes – #MondayMotivation and other types of inspirational content are continually trending on social. Pick once or twice a week to provide your audience with a #qotd. Monday works best; as it provides an opportunity to fuel your followers with inspiring words to kickstart their workweek. Also, try to avoid quotes that are either overused or irrelevant to your brand.
Here’s a Boosted template featuring a motivational quote that you can customize for your brand:
11. Ask me anything – Invite your followers to ask you any question that’s on their mind. If you have a large following, set a specific time period where you will be responding to comments. AMAs work especially well on Instagram Stories, utilizing the question sticker, or on Twitter:
It's time for another #AskMartinMonday!
— Martin Roberts (@TVMartinRoberts) June 29, 2020
12. Behind the scenes – Regularly give your audience sneak peeks into your day-to-day life. Show them your workspace, your favorite coffee shop; whatever you think will help them get to know you better. This content style works especially well for Instagram Stories.
13. Provide regular updates – Introducing a new product? Business changing locations? Update your audience on social regularly, as these changes occur. This will help your audience feel ‘in-the-know’ and connected with your brand.
14. Instagram ideas (both feed & Stories) – Here are 50 Instagram Story ideas you can use for your brand, anytime, as well as 37 engaging feed post ideas. Many of these content ideas can be adapted for your Facebook content strategy, and for your other social media platforms as well.
15. TikTok content ideas – if you are working to build up your brand’s presence on TikTok, here are 41 ideas to help get you started.
Pro tip: As you move forward with your content schedule and chart out your ideas, you may want to try out content batching. This process involves planning out all of your content in one sitting. Block out a day (or a solid section of one) and plan out your copy, along with your accompanying visuals. Then, use a social media scheduler to schedule out your content for your selected amount of time (generally 1 week, 2 weeks or 1 month). Many marketers & small business owners find this to be a much more productive system than trying to create content every day or ‘when they find the time to get around to it.’
Thinking ahead: 4 social media content strategy tips for 2021 & beyond
While it’s impossible to know exactly what will happen in the realm of social media marketing in 2021, there are a number of predictions that can be made, based upon current social media trends. It is key to keep these trends in mind as you brainstorm your social media marketing content strategy for the year ahead. Here are 5 social media content strategy tips for 2021:
1. TikTok will dominate
With 800 million active users a day, TikTok is on track to reach the 1 billion user mark in 2021. At this pace, TikTok is set to have as many users as Instagram! To paint a picture of this rising platform, here are a few eye-catching TikTok statistics you should know about (source):
- TikTok has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times on the App Store and Google Play.
- TikTok ranked as the most downloaded app in the App Store for Q1 2019, with more than 33 million downloads.
- TikTok users spend an average of 52 minutes a day on the app.
90% of all TikTok users access the app on a daily basis.
- TikTok is available in 155 countries.
Still not sure if you should be using TikTok for your business? 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24. If your target audience is on the younger side — teenagers and young adults — TikTok should be at the center of your social media content plan. TikTok has the potential to provide your business with a great ROI. You could start your own channel & create content, work with influencers or advertise on the platform.
Even if Gen Z only makes up a small portion of your target audience – or perhaps you aren’t targeting this demographic at all – our recommendation is that it’s still worthwhile to grow your presence on the platform. While it probably shouldn’t be the main social media platform you focus on for your brand, creating an account and producing weekly content will give you an opportunity to establish yourself in your niche as the platform grows.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider growing on this rapidly rising platform as we head towards 2021:
- It’s fun and casual – Unlike other social platforms, TikTok content is casual and spontaneous (think: lower production costs!)
- Content can be easily repurposed – Any content you create on TikTok can be easily shared across different platforms right from the app, or you can download your content as a video or GIF to use however you like. This means more video content that you’ll be able to add to your overall social media marketing content strategy.
- Drive traffic to Instagram and YouTube – You can link to your Instagram and YouTube accounts directly from your TikTok profile. That means that anyone who visits your TikTok page will instantly be able to follow you on those other platforms.
TikTok is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and is on track to continue dominating in 2021.
2. Instagram will continue heating up
In addition to TikTok, we predict that Instagram will continue to be one of the hottest social media platforms in 2021.
Although it’s been a popular platform since 2010, Instagram continues to gain momentum – and users. Instagram currently sees 1 billion monthly active users, and this amount is expected to steadily rise. One of the reasons behind this is that Instagram is continually evolving. In 2020 alone, they have released countless updates to the platform. Here are a few new features that have been added:
- “Support Small Business” Sticker for Stories – This sticker makes it easy for users to give a shoutout to their favorite local businesses. When the sticker is added to a photo or video and then shared to Stories, a preview of the small business’ Instagram account appears.
Today we’re launching a “Support Small Business” sticker in stories so you can show love to your favorite small businesses.💓
Use it and your photo or video will be added to a shared story where friends can see which businesses you support. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/D68cAthCtq
— Instagram (@instagram) May 11, 2020
- Co-Watching – Co-Watching allows users to “hang out” with a friend on video chat and scroll through Instagram posts that one person has liked or saved.
- Instagram Direct Messages on Desktop – Instagram has recently made it possible to send DMs through desktop computers and web browsers. Traditionally, the ability to send a Direct Message was only possible via Instagram’s mobile app but now, users can read and send messages, share photos and react to responses through desktop
Instagram’s users appreciate that the platform is anything but stagnant and is constantly innovating to keep up with current trends. Looking to the year ahead – it will be more important than ever to focus on your Instagram content strategy.
3. Rise of video
Video content marketing has become an integral part of every successful social media content plan. In 2019, internet users spent 6 hours and 48 minutes per week watching videos online – a staggering 59% increase from 2016. In 2021, the global average of daily video consumption is expected to hit 100 minutes per day (source). That’s the equivalent of watching 25 videos per day!
And internet users aren’t viewing just any type of video content – 54% of consumers would like to see more videos from a brand or business they support. Here are 5 practical tips for implementing more video content into your social media marketing content strategy:
- Video marketing can be cost effective. 20% of marketers don’t utilize video for marketing because it costs too much. If you share a similar concern, it’s time to turn that thought process around: from tools like Boosted to platforms like IGTV and Instagram Live, there are a myriad of ways to create social content in 2021 without breaking the bank. For more inspiration, check out our guide here.
- Know your dimensions. Make sure that you are always optimizing your video content for the platform that you plan on sharing it to. Refer to our Ultimate Guide to Ideal Video Size for Every Social Platform as a resource for video dimensions and sizing, as well as Expert Tips for Optimizing Your Videos for Social Media.
- Keep your content short and sweet. When it comes to video content marketing, less is usually more. In 2021, viewers will want a video that will provide them the information that they need, faster than ever before. Plus, shorter videos can also be shared easily across more social media platforms!
- Add captions! Most social scrollers listen to video without sound (an astounding 85% of people watch Facebook videos on mute!). Add subtitles to ensure that everyone watching will have a seamless viewing experience.
- Don’t get overwhelmed by the need to go “viral.” Remember: Viral is an organic outcome, not a marketing strategy or goal. If content of yours happens to receive millions of views – celebrate the milestone, but don’t bank on it happening again.
Check out our guide here for more video marketing tips as you brainstorm your video content marketing strategy.
4. Stories are the way to go
Social media stories have been skyrocketing in popularity over the past few years, and are expected to continue to do so. Stories show the authentic side of businesses and influencers. Brands are expected now more than ever to have an approachable digital and a relatable voice. When consumers see the day-to-day, real side of your brand, they are more likely to want to build a connection with you.
Looking ahead, it will be greatly beneficial for your business to emphasize stories as part of your social media content plan. In 2021, Instagram will continue to prove to be the most popular platform for stories – the feature is used by 500 million users every day (source: Instagram). While Instagram should be at the center of your strategy, be sure to remember that other social media platforms have robust story features as well, including:
- Whatsapp Stories (Whatsapp Status) – 500 million daily users
- Facebook Stories – 500 million daily users
Experiment and be flexible
Start implementing your plan — but stay flexible! It takes time as well as some trial and error to learn how to create a content strategy that works.
Keep an eye on analytics, and test different practices to see what works best. Sometimes a little tweak to the timing of your posts, their frequency, or the number of hashtags you use (see 7 Quick Tips to Build an Instagram Hashtag Strategy for insights) can make a big difference.
Social media is constantly evolving and your content strategy should evolve with it. If you do your research and stay organized, you will be sure to see social media marketing success! You’ll create a stellar social media content strategy that will grow your digital presence and generate leads as you move forward with your business.
Social Media Content Strategy Action Items:
- Do a short target audience brainstorm. Who are you creating content for? What’s most interesting to them and why?
- Set aside time in your calendar to review your previous content. Jot down some notes: where do you seem to be getting the most social engagement or business results? What are the common threads between your best performing posts?
- Take an hour to browse the competition and influencers in your space. Write down any content ideas that come up as you research.
- Decide which platforms you’ll be focusing on this year. Think: where is your target audience most likely to be?
- Create Goals! What do you want to accomplish with your social media content in 2021? Create 2-3 main goals and make sure that you can measure them along the way.
- Block off time to create your content calendar. Investing the time now means less time later!
Cori Widen is the Product Marketing Lead at Boosted by Lightricks. She has been leading product marketing campaigns and doing qualitative market research in the tech industry for 10 years.