Jessica Barker

Technically, anyone who has a social media account and has published a post could be considered a social media content creator. But when we’re talking about content creators, we’re usually referring to people who post with a purpose.

If that sounds like you, here are some best practices to follow.

Are you a social media content creator?

A lot of people create social media content, and for a variety of reasons. For example, a content creator might be:

  • An Instagram influencer, showcasing their personal style while also promoting the clothing brands that sponsor them.
  • A digital marketer generating tweets and Facebook posts for their hospitality company to build brand awareness and respond to customers.
  • A small business owner promoting their wedding planning services across several social media channels.

In all of these situations, social media content is being produced and shared for a specific reason. In many cases, there’s a business goal in mind, too.

But what does it take to be a really successful content creator? Well, that depends on how you define success.

What does ‘getting results’ mean to you?

One all-too-common social media mistake is to post haphazardly without an end goal in mind, then later wonder why you’re not getting results.

Well, what results were you hoping for? And how did you expect to achieve them without a plan in place? Even if you are seeing growth in followers or engagement, it’s hard to recognize that progress without any benchmarks to reference.

The only way you can expect to generate results from your social media activity is to define what you want those results to be. For instance, you might want to see an increase in:

  • Post engagement.
  • Number of followers.
  • Website traffic.
  • Newsletter subscriptions.
  • Commercial conversions.

We’ll talk more about turning these growth targets into actionable goals a little later. But once you’ve figured out what quest you’re on, consider these tips for social media success:

14 tips for generating results as a social media content creator Infographic

1. Take social media seriously

“So, could you just *do* our social media for us?” If content creators had a dollar for every time we heard that!

The problem is, there are a lot of (incorrect) assumptions behind that question, like the idea that social media content creation is effortless, and growing a brand’s social media presence doesn’t take much time or effort. There’s also the misconception that since creating an account is free, there’s no reason to pay for talent or tools.

The reality, as successful content creators know, is that social media can be a full-time job. If you want to get it right, you’ll need to pour a significant amount of creative energy and strategic thinking into your social efforts. In that way, it’s just like any other aspect of running a business.

Starting with this frame of mind — and dedicating time and meaningful resources to your social media operations — will get you that much closer to the results you’re striving for.

2. Know your role

The scope of your role as a social media content creator will depend on the context you’re working within.

If you’re on an internal marketing team, you’ll likely follow direction from the chief marketing officer (CMO) and collaborate with other digital marketers, graphic designers and external partners in implementing the overall content strategy. But there are a lot of key social media tasks to divvy up, such as:

  • Planning the content strategy.
  • Producing individual pieces of content.
  • Publishing that content.
  • Responding to comments and direct messages (DMs).
  • Monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Conducting social listening.
  • Managing collaborations with brand ambassadors or influencers.

And the list goes on. All of these tasks might fall to you, or you may share responsibilities with other team members and partners.

For instance, you might take existing product photos and campaign messages and repurpose them for social. But your team may also count on you to keep up with social trends and make recommendations for how to insert your brand’s voice into the conversation.

Regardless of how the tasks are divvied up, it’s important to define the scope of what you do, and where the boundaries are between your role and those of other digital marketers. Homing in on your key responsibilities will give you a greater chance of success in the areas within your control.

3. Develop a well-rounded skill set

Mastering the art and science of social media marketing can be demanding, and even intimidating, since it requires such a diverse set of skills. It’s important to avoid a lopsided approach. After all, there’s no point in putting a lot of effort into making your feed look nice if your brand is falling flat when it comes to customer service and conversions.

By tapping into a range of skills, you can strengthen all dimensions of your brand’s social media presence:

  • Marketing fundamentals: If your end goal is selling products or services, you must be able to apply marketing and sales techniques to your social media content creation.
  • Writing: Getting key messages across requires strong written communication skills.
  • (Virtual) public speaking: With more and more brands embracing video, content creators also need the verbal communication skills and confidence to get in front of the camera.
  • Creativity: Producing eye-catching content requires an artistic sensibility and outside-the-box perspectives.
  • Tech savviness: You’ll need to know how to do things like edit photos, design graphics and maximize the many capabilities of different social media platforms to bring your brand vision to life.
  • Customer service: Keeping customers and followers happy requires a customer service approach.
  • Data analysis: To generate results, you’ll need to dig into the data to understand how your content is performing and where you can improve.

If any of these feel like weak points, add some social media marketing books to your reading list to brush up on the basics.

4. Define your target audience

Social media is social for a reason. The content you create is shared with and consumed by other people — your followers. You might reach a wide or varied audience, but you can’t make everyone happy, and you can’t sell to everyone. Instead, decide who you want your messages to reach and resonate with.

For starters, dive into your existing audience and glean insights from your most highly engaged followers. Tools like Facebook Audience Insights can help you understand what age brackets, geographic areas and interest groups you’re attracting.

Turn to customer data, too. If you know who buys from your business already, you can find ways to attract people with similar characteristics on social media.

Creating audience personas is another great way to get to know your target audience, from their top challenges or desires to their likes and dislikes, and even their sense of humor.

This in-depth knowledge about your target audience will inform how you produce content for social media. When you’re brainstorming new post ideas, consider if your ideal customer would find value in that content. Would that person be engaged enough to leave a comment or share with a friend? Does the post provide information they could use to learn more about your brand or make a buying decision? If not, keep playing around with the idea until it fits.

5. Provide actual value to your followers

Not all social media posts are created equal — and different types of followers are looking for different things from your social media content. It’s essential to understand what type of content will actually deliver value to your target audience.

In a December 2019 study, social media researchers categorized branded posts into five distinct categories:

  • Relational: Encouraging connections between the viewer and a larger community.
  • Intellectual: Engaging the viewer in problem-solving or a creative thought process.
  • Behavioral: Demonstrating interactions with the brand’s product or service.
  • Sensory: Activating the senses, for example with music or visuals.
  • Emotional: Drawing out a specific mood or feeling from the viewer.

The results of the study revealed that relational and intellectual posts performed best in converting loyal followers (rewards program members). These highly engaged customers enjoyed content that supported a sense of belonging. Plus, with their existing knowledge of the brand, they also preferred detailed, information-rich posts they could really sink their teeth into.

Behavioral posts, on the other hand, were the most successful at converting followers who were not as connected to the brand (not part of the loyalty program). These posts were easy to process quickly and helped new audience members visualize what interacting with that brand’s offerings might look like.

6. Choose your channel(s) wisely

Getting up and running on all the social platforms won’t guarantee success. Spreading your social media efforts too thin means you won’t be able to fine-tune your content and build meaningful relationships with the communities on each platform.

Where does your target social media audience hang out? Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn or TikTok, that’s where you need to be, too.

If you’re a B2C brand and your ideal customer is a woman in her 30s from a high-income household who spends about $100 on beauty products each month, you’ll probably find her on Pinterest. If you’re in the B2B space and your customer persona is a decision-making VP in the real estate industry, look to LinkedIn.

If you’re just getting started and want to drive results, focus your energies on just one or two social networks.

7. Make it easy for people to find you on social media

One underrated strategy for growing your social media presence is promoting it offline and outside the app.

A customer who visits your website, hears a good word-of-mouth review or has a positive brand experience may want to track you down on their social media platform of choice. But if you don’t give them an easy way to find you, it will only create dissatisfaction.

Print your social media handle on branded materials like business cards and flyers. Include links to your accounts on your website and in your email signature, too, so would-be followers can easily connect with you. If you’re hosting an event or webinar, include your handle in the presentation deck so attendees can tag and mention you.

Another way to help folks find you on social media is to use relevant hashtags. On most platforms, adding popular hashtags to your posts can improve your account’s discoverability.

8. Craft a detailed social media strategy

By this point, you know your audience and you have the skills to create killer content they’ll love. You’ll also need to put together a road map that outlines your big-picture goals and how you’ll reach them. That’s known as your social media strategy.

Chances are, your social media strategy will be a smaller component of your overarching marketing strategy. It will also fall under your content marketing strategy, which covers other initiatives like writing blogs and sharing gated content on your website to draw in leads.

Let’s zoom in on your social media content strategy. It should be a master plan covering the five W’s:

  • Who your target audience is.
  • What content you’re posting.
  • When you’ll be publishing content.
  • Where you will have a social media presence.
  • Why you’re using social media (i.e., your goals).

We’ve already covered the “who” and “where.” Let’s take a closer look at the “what” and “when,” since these components will each need smaller-scale plans of their own.

Planning out what to post will require identifying your key marketing messages, gathering images and writing out captions. Developing and following a content calendar is a great way to stay on top of planned content.

Knowing when to post will depend on factors like:

  • The times of day your audience members are active on social.
  • How your efforts fit into the timeline of a particular marketing campaign, such as a product launch or seasonal offer.

As a social media content creator who works deliberately and intentionally in this manner, you’re more likely to align each action with your key goals and overarching strategies. This approach will likely generate significantly faster results than simply winging it.

9. Establish SMART goals

When it comes time for setting goals — the “why” — the best way to generate results is to define clear, realistic and actionable goals for yourself. Importantly, these should support overarching business objectives.

Following the SMART goal methodology can provide some structure. Here’s what SMART stands for, and what you should consider when outlining your social media marketing goals:

  • Specific: You’re clearly identifying what result you’re looking for, and what actions you’ll take to get there.
  • Measurable: You know what data points and social media marketing KPIs you’ll measure before, during and after.
  • Achievable: You have the time, skills and resources to realistically accomplish it.
  • Relevant: Your goal aligns with bigger-picture business objectives.
  • Time bound: You’ve set a timeline for accomplishing it.

For instance, say you want to increase follower engagement. Here’s what a SMART goal could look like for you:

  • The specific and measurable details are that you want to increase the average number of comments on each post from 5 to 15.
  • This is relevant to your business goals because you’re aiming to encourage brand loyalty.
  • You’ve given yourself a 3-month timeline to hit this goal.
  • You’re planning to achieve it by sharing posts featuring open-ended questions, plus you’ll promote a giveaway inviting followers to tag a few friends and describe their favorite product from your brand.

After putting that plan into action and tracking your progress over 3 months, you’ll know whether you’ve generated the results you were looking for.

10. Keep your content relevant

When creating content for social media, you aren’t starting with a blank canvas. Instead, any social media content you publish should fit within the framework of your overarching brand.

Great content adheres to your brand guidelines — from the color palette and graphic elements used to the tone of voice your captions emit. Of course, each piece of content will need to stand on its own. But when someone visits your main feed or views several posts, they should see that all of your content supports the same brand message and story.

An industry study found that irrelevant content was the second most cited reason why social media users unfollowed a brand, right behind a general lack of interest in that brand. If 67% of users are ready to unfollow after a smattering of random, off-brand posts, keeping content relevant is essential to social media success.

There are plenty of ways to produce original content that supports your brand, from photos and videos to infographics. Additionally, consider sharing user-generated content (with permission from the original source, of course!) to make your social content even more social.

You can also amplify existing content marketing collateral and draw connections across various aspects of your brand. Conducting a content audit is a great way to discover existing branded material that could perform well on social. For instance, you might create social media posts that promote a recent blog post or downloadable resource. Or, turn styled product photos from your e-commerce platform into engaging posts with compelling captions.

However you go about social media content creation, be sure to back up any claims you make. Smart, skeptical consumers won’t be fooled by flashy ads touting sustainable, ethical products without providing evidence, for instance. Followers aren’t shy about calling out brands in the comments. If you claim to stand by certain values, be transparent about what actions your company takes to uphold them. The more meaningful and relevant this type of content is, the better.

Finally, be mindful of how your message fits into what’s going on in the world and within your community. Even if there’s a witty post waiting in your content calendar, failing to read the room before publishing it can really strike the wrong chord with your audience.

11. Find out what your competition does well

Analyzing some of the best social campaigns and accounts related to your industry not only provides fresh ideas, but it can also show you what you’re up against.

Explore what your competitors are doing, and what they’re doing well, to see how your social media presence stacks up. Say your top rival is posting on Twitter at a significantly higher frequency than your company. They’re also using professional photographs and slick graphics whereas you’re still posting unedited snapshots from your iPhone. And they have more followers, higher engagement and a greater market share. You have a lot to learn from them.

Figuring out where you’re falling behind can help you set targeted goals. Plus, it can be an incentive to dedicate more resources to social media content creation.

12. Stay on top of trends and platform updates

Social media apps are constantly evolving. As platforms roll out new features and functionalities to you and your audience, it’s critical that you stay on top of things.

For instance, Instagram transitioned from a fun photo-sharing app to a powerful e-commerce leader in the blink of an eye. Retailers who set up shoppable catalogs are one step closer to converting browsers into buyers.

The app’s algorithm also tends to favor posts in new formats. For instance, Instagram launched Reels in response to the rise of TikTok. Since the algorithm pushed out these short videos to users as a way to promote that new feature, any social media content creator who published Reels noticed an uptick in exposure and engagement.

Brushing off these types of platform updates unfortunately means losing out on opportunities.

13. Make your life easier with the right tools

Keeping up with all things social media can be daunting. But you can boost your efficiency by embracing certain content creation tools.

Here are just a few popular tools that help social media content creators get a lot done with less effort:

There are countless other tools for photo and video editing, social listening, ad management and more.

Or, if your business really wants results but you don’t have the time and energy to follow through on your content creation goals, consider outsourcing to a team of experts. That way, you can reap the benefits of social media for your business without having to do all the legwork.

14. Keep at it!

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve got what it takes to keep going and growing as a social media content creator.

Creating results-driven content is a full-time job, and mastering social media can be a lifelong learning process. You’ll experience trial and error, successes and setbacks — but if you know what goals you’re aiming for, you’ll have a much better chance of accomplishing them.