How To Create Engaging Social Media Content

Written by Matthew Parker
Print Industry Consultant

When was the last time you talked to a client about something other than work?
You’ve probably talked to several clients in the last 24 hours. Maybe you were selling to them. Maybe you had some production issues to discuss. But when was the last time to you talked to a customer about them?
Talking to customers in this way is a vital part of building an effective social media strategy.
Creating engaging social media content
Good social media content depends on conversations like this
It’s the best way to find out the sort of information that your prospects and customers want to hear about. I make a point of speaking to at least one customer a month. One of the things I ask them is what sort of information they want or are regularly looking for.
The most common subject that I see on print companies’ social media streams revolves around technical print jargon. But does this really interest your customers and prospects? Most of your customers aren’t interested in reading about that!
Here’s a case study
I did some social media work with a magazine printer. We talked to a number of their clients. The subjects they most wanted to read about were:

  • How to make their lives easier when producing print
  • How to push advertising deadlines
  • How to increase page yield
  • How to recruit good sales people

None of this is about technical print. And a good amount of this content has nothing to do with print at all. However, it is what their clients wanted to read about. So if the printer provided this sort of material, they would engage their prospects. They would show that they were in their customers’ world.
Some people may find the idea of providing this sort of content scary.
How do you create engaging content like this?
There are three ways to produce the content for your social media streams. Firstly, you can provide original content. You can either write it yourself or engage someone else to write it. This will equate to high quality, original content for you. Others might find it interesting and start to distribute it within their own circles, meaning even more visibility for you. However, it can be both time consuming and costly to go down this route.
A cheaper alternative is to use other peoples’ content. There is a lot of relevant content already on the web. The best way to find this efficiently is to set up a social listening system using tools such as Google Alerts. You can find more information about social listening in this blog.
If you feature content from others, it is good practice to begin by writing a few sentences of your own to explain why you are sharing this content or what you found to be valuable. You will engage more personally with your readers if you write a few lines about why you are featuring this content. Regardless, always make sure to acknowledge the original source.
If you are in a hurry, you can also share other peoples’ social media streams. This would take the forms of Twitter retweets, or LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ update shares.  If you monitor the social media streams of good content providers, you will find plenty to share.
Some people may have some concerns after reading this.
Doesn’t this all take time?
If you set up the right systems, this sort of activity need only take 2-3 hours a week.  Make sure you have the right social listening and that you use a post scheduling system such as buffer.
However, it’s important to make sure that you leave some time in your social media schedule for engagement. Responding to comments from your followers and reaching out to new connections is time well spent.
Here’s an action plan to get you going

  1. Highlight your ideal clients
  2. Ask for 20-30 minutes of their time so you can better understand what type of content they would find valuable and why
  3. Decide how you will produce the content that will engage your readers. Ideally, a mix of original content and shared content is best

Make sure you spend plenty of time on your customer interview. Remember that everything starts, or ends, with what is important to them.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on effectively using social media to deliver results for your business:

Matthew Parker has been buying print for over 20 years. He’s had over 1,400 sales pitches from printers. Now he’s using that experience to help printing companies engage with their customers and sell print more profitably.  Find out more about Matthew on his site. Download his e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them” for free here

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