Juggling multiple social channels can be stressful, particularly as social media content management has evolved beyond the administration of just a few social media profiles. Looking around us now, there are multiple online social channels and platforms available for a range of industries and purposes.
In my decade of experience in content marketing, I’ve watched social media evolve—and sometimes regress—to become the tool it is today. According to Statista, social media usage is one of the most popular online activities. In 2022, over 4.59 billion people were using social media worldwide, a number projected to increase to almost six billion in 2027.
As for usage, the Pew Research Center found that seven in 10 Americans use social media “to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information and entertain themselves,” and in every communications and marketing position I’ve been in, it’s always a challenge to coordinate content for the different social channels, audiences, and messaging.
However, as you will read below, it is very doable if you follow certain practices and professional habits.
In this article, I’ll cover the most common types of social media content and management strategies, providing a step-by-step guide and some software recommendations that will solidify your social media marketing strategy.
With mass amounts of online information, smart social media management is essential in order to maintain brand awareness and effective content creation for your intended audience. As you will see, even simple planning and regular practices can create significant, positive impact on your marketing campaigns and organization.
Introduction to Social Media Management
Sprout social defines social media content management as “the ongoing process of creating and scheduling content designed to grow and nurture an audience across social media platforms.”
This includes the strategic planning of social media content in advance using a content calendar, and scheduling posts for the best times according to your audience behavior and marketing and organizational objectives.
It also includes online reputation and community management, using social listening tools to monitor the sentiment of your social media campaigns with potential customers or partners. Social media management software is an important facet of any successful communications, public relations, or media team who are constantly exploring new means to connect with their audiences.
Understanding the Social Media Landscape
Even having lived through the dawn and rise of social media, its actual evolution and growth can be shocking.
According to Our World in Data, The percentage of US adults who use social media increased from 5% in 2005 to 79% in 2019. Facebook alone surged from covering around 1.5% of the world population in 2008 to around 30% in 2018.
The Evolution of Social Channels
As mentioned above, social media has grown incredibly fast, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down. While certain social platforms may rise and fall, interactive technology is stronger than ever. Let’s take a look ten key points in the timeline:
- 1997: one of the first true social media sites, SixDegrees.com, is born
- 2003-2005: Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Reddit, and more enter the scene
- 2006: Twitter emerges, and LinkedIn offers the first paid premium packages
- 2007: Tumblr sparks the age of the microblog, and hashtags arrive
- 2010-2011: Instagram Pinterest, and Snapchat are all launched
- 2012: Facebook celebrates one billion users and acquires Instagram
- 2017: TikTok is born and Twitter doubles its character limit
- 2018-2021: Instagram forays into video with Reels, Video, Stories, and Lives.
- 2020: Social commerce emerges with Facebook and Instagram Shops
- 2020-2022: New platforms like Clubhouse and BeReal break ground
Current Trends and User Behaviors
Considering how much is already behind us, it begs the question: What’s coming next? While no one has the crystal ball to say exactly what will emerge on the social media marketing scene or in algorithms in coming years, there are predictions based on current trends and user behaviors:
- Major platforms will continue to grow. Smart Insights says data indicates that Instagram is predicted to increase its users by 50 million in 2024, to 1.4 billion. TikTok is expected to increase its user base by 8%, to 900 million.
- Social media will become King of the advertising world. Exploding Topics says more than $521 billion was spent on digital ads in 2021, and experts say that number could reach $876 billion in 2026.
- Audio content will gain more ground. Pew Research Center says the share of Americans who listen to podcasts has substantially increased over the last decade. As of 2023, 42% of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to a podcast in the past month, up from 12% in 2013.
- Social platforms will rival search engines. According to HubSpot’s 2023 Consumer Trends Report, 24% of consumers between the ages of 18-54 search for brands using social media instead of a search engine. This number jumps to 36% among Gen Z consumers.
- User privacy will be the key to sustainable growth. Forbes says that right now, 74% of internet users in the US are more concerned with their online privacy than they’ve ever been. This will need to be addressed by current and emerging platforms in order to stay relevant.
Common Types of Social Media Content
Researching and creating social media content in all its forms can be an incredibly time-consuming job. With a growing number of new formats and platforms available, it’s no wonder social teams everywhere are growing in numbers with new job titles appearing all the time.
It’s thanks to major innovation in communications and marketing software that we are able to consistently manage content in all its forms. These include:
One valuable marketing tool is the short-form video, a simple clip that’s typically 30 to 90 seconds long. With the popularity of TikTok, Instagram Reels and high-quality camera phones, short-form videos are fantastic for delivering brief-but-powerful messages and content. Here’s a great example by ActiveCampaign explaining how to write emails with AI in three simple steps:
Unlike short-form video, real-time, live video streams can continue for hours, allowing the viewer to experience the content as it’s taking place. It is also a very engaging marketing tool, allowing customers to provide real-time feedback and questions.
Real-time live streams are a unique opportunity for the company, brand or influencer to interact with viewers. While the below example is a recording from a live, you’ll notice how Salesforce has an entire section of their website dedicated to live video.
Images and Memes
Not all effective imagery needs to be moving or animated–sometimes a good picture can be worth a thousand words. And while some of the most powerful images don’t require much of a caption in order to satisfy its intended marketing objectives, we do still feel an accompanying social caption that’s helpful or relatable can resonate with even more people.
If you’re looking to infuse a little humor into your social media content strategy, graphical interchange formats (or GIFs), and memes are also good options, as shown in Hootsuite’s example below.
Like video, audio clips can make more of an impact when it is shorter and a powerful quote/sound is chosen. Audio clips can easily be incorporated into blogs and GIFs, adding another dimension to your content and making it more interesting.
Audiograms are short excerpts from podcasts that can be uploaded onto social media platforms as video (usually with a static image) and are used quite widely. Make sure the audio clip is to-the-point and communicates your intended message clearly, like this example by Mailchimp.
There’s a lot of online discussion around the optimal number of words for social media posts. Hootsuite recommends resisting the urge to use Facebook’s large word count: “While you have enough space to craft a short novella on FB, the truth is, shorter posts usually receive more likes, comments, and shares.” (They also recommend short, 30 to 60-second videos.)
With Twitter and tweets, you’re forced to be concise, being limited to 280 characters. These words have even more impact when strategically and creatively accompanied with video and audio, images, GIFs and memes.
On Instagram and LinkedIn, you are allowed 2,200 and 3,000 characters, respectively. However, Hootsuite, again, encourages restraint, recommending 138 to 150 characters on Instagram and 1,900 to 2,000 on LinkedIn.
Comment with your Twitter (X) handle, and we will tell you the top five influencers that your audience follows!— Semrush (@semrush) November 8, 2023
First 10 only, be quick 👇
User-Generated Content (UGC)
UGC has been on the rise in recent years, particularly with the inception of influencer marketing. According to statistics, UGC is 20% more influential in affecting purchasing decisions than all other media types, with 84% of people more likely to trust brands if they use UGC in their digital marketing efforts.
But where does this UGC come from? The key is your existing users or customers who can share their positive testimonials through content. UGC can be rounded up in various ways, either organically, through the incentivization of a contest, or the use of a followed and promoted hashtag. Just check out this example from Apple’s #ShotoniPhone campaign.
Step-by-Step Social Media Management
Having looked at what social media content types we have at our disposal, let’s examine how to manage all of the content across your numerous social media networks and social media profiles.
With recent statistics reporting an increase in accounts per user (internet users in 2018 had an average of 8.5 social media channels, an increase from 4.8 in 2014), organization and effective social media content management is more important than ever. Let’s get into it:
Conducting a Social Media Audit
To begin, a helpful first step (and then regularly ongoing thereafter) is to perform a thorough audit of your social networks. For some, social media accounts may go dormant and unused, creating more harm than benefit with pending queries, unanswered comments, and missed public relations. When auditing each account, ask questions such as:
- Does this social network reach the audience we’re targeting our social media content towards?
- Does this content help achieve marketing or organizational goals and objectives?
- Does this content answer our target audience’s questions and add value to their lives?
From there, you can get more granular in your audit, noting which content types perform the best in terms of likes, saves, and shares, and which may not be worth the time they take to create.
Setting Goals + KPIs
If you haven’t established and documented your goals and key performance indicators yet, late is better than never. In order to help you measure your progress towards a marketing goal, KPIs will provide quantifiable metrics that can help you throughout the activity.
Four KPIs that every organization should track include:
- Reach, which simply monitors how many people see your content, but can also show how many of those people are followers and non-followers of your channel.
- Engagement rate, which measures the number of interactions people have with your content like shares, comments, saves, and likes.
- Conversion rate, which measures how much your marketing content results in a conversion such as a sales lead or subscription.
- Click-through rate, which shows how many readers clip on your links to access other pages and were curious to learn more - it means your content is working.
Don’t forget, when setting your campaign goals you should ensure you have the right social media analytics tools in place. This will help you to monitor the results and track whether you achieved your goals, or not.
In-Depth Audience Research
Before you even begin to create social media content, you need to know who you intend to speak with/are targeting, as well as where that audience is spending their time. Research the audiences on each platform, determining which social media channels have your targeted audiences and people you want to reach. For example:
- The largest demographic among monthly active TikTok users is users between 18 and 24
- Millennials make up the majority of LinkedIn's user base worldwide, with the 18-24 age group coming in second at 21.7%
- The age group with the highest number of Facebook users is 25 to 34 (29.4%)
A good place to start would be the audience insights or analytics tools on each platform. For example, Facebook’s Audience Insights tool can help you find potential customers, as can LinkedIn’s Audience Insights.
Defining Your Social Media Budget
One of the great things about social media is that it has leveled out the communication and online community playing field, allowing any person or company to create their own social accounts for free. There are also a number of tools that offer free plans to get you started.
In addition to the paid team members required for social media content management and creation, a social budget may be needed for promotional costs such as social media ads, which can be very effective but expensive.
Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, Instagram Ads, and TikTok Ads all offer a range of social media advertising pricing for a range of different budgets. According to LinkedIn, Instagram is currently the undisputed champion for the highest social platform ROI.
Selecting the Right Platforms for Your Brand
With a budget in mind and data gathered from your audience research, you are now more prepared to choose the best social media platform according to your marketing needs and goals.
When making your selection, look at whether your audiences are using the platform, whether the chosen social network will help to increase brand awareness, and if you can keep up with posting best practices. According to Hootsuite, these include:
- Instagram: Post between 3 and 5 times per week.
- Instagram Stories: Post 2 times per day.
- Twitter: Post between 2 and 3 times per day.
- Facebook: Post between 1 to 2 times per day.
- LinkedIn: Post between 1 to 2 times per day.
- TikTok: Post between 3 and 5 times per week.
- Pinterest: Post at least 1 time per week.
- Google My Business: Post at least 1 time per week.
Crafting a Social Media Calendar
In order to schedule content and post it at the best times to connect with your audience, you must plan it in advance. This not only provides you with a roadmap of the content curation and bulk scheduling, but it helps you align your social media marketing with any other corporate activities, initiatives, and external events like holidays and recognition days.
Whether it’s on an office whiteboard or within a specialized software, a social media calendar must be accessible to all so it is a reliable resource they can depend on when planning social media content and implementing your social media strategy.
Here are a few things that your social media calendar should include:
- The date and time a post will go live.
- The social media account or network each post will go live on.
- Materials such as copy, hashtags, links, and graphics.
Creating Engaging Social Content
With ideas planned out on a calendar, the next (and very fun, creative) step is to create the actual social content. A number of different factors come into play when developing engaging content including:
- The use of images, videos, audio, GIFs and memes
- The number of characters or images/videos allowed for each post
- The language and tone of the post
- The value in the post: Why is this useful or interesting to our audience?
What’s particularly exciting about social media content is how multidimensional it is. With different types, hashtags, and account tagging and mentions, great content can be as simple as a flash free day trial for your product or a shoutout to an influencer.
Integrating Automation in Social Media
In the past, it was fairly doable to manually post social media content on a consistent basis, but these days, incorporating marketing automation into your social media content management system is a requirement to be successful.
Automation streamlines workflows and helps eliminate the risk of human error, making sure that content is posted on time and as planned. We all make mistakes, and incorporating automation into your social media strategy can help things feel far more organized. Here are a few things social media marketing automation can help you with:
- Content and template creation
- Quiz, form, and survey development
- Combining social media channels
- Hashtag and content research
- Social media content scheduling
- Data reporting and analysis
- Basic customer service
Essential Tools for Social Media Content Management
The best social media management tools are inclusive of scheduling tools, and can help you automate the publishing of your social media content so that valuable time is not spent doing it manually.
In our article on the 12 Best Social Media Management Software, we explain how it “helps you automate and optimize your social media presence to achieve increased visibility, engagement, and lead generation.” Here are some you can consider, based on functionality:
Social media management software to consider
- HubSpot - Best social media management software for community building
- HootSuite - Best for social media marketing agencies
- Zoho Social - Best social media management software for remote teams
- Sprout Social - Best for identifying emerging social media trends
- Loomly - Best social media management software for audience targeting
There are also social listening tools that will help you access customer feedback, trends, and reputation insights. By tracking mentions, hashtags, and keywords that are relevant to your business, it can help you to gather real-time insights about your customers.
Social listening tools to consider
- Hootsuite - Best tool for ecommerce
- Buffer - Best tool for small businesses
- Brandwatch - Best tool for large enterprises
- Awario - Best tool for solopreneurs
- Digimind - Best tool for growing teams
And as I mentioned in the Goals & KPIs step of the content management process, it all ends with measuring and reporting on your social media campaigns.
Social media analytics software to consider
- Keyhole - Best for real-time tracking and analysis
- Brand24 - Best for social listening
- Brandwatch - Best for market research
- Sprout Social - Best for audience insights
- Agorapulse - Best for measuring ROI
Go Forth: Manage, Create and Connect
Regardless if you are managing 10 social media accounts or just one, every organization’s priority should be to create meaningful, useful content for their online audiences–readers, listeners, viewers, and hopefully, customers.
But social media content management is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Once effective management is in place and in practice, you can then look at advancing your techniques through completion of a social media marketing course. You could even look at additional software for your tech stack, like social listening tools.
At the end of the day, social media platforms are much more than marketing tools for customer support; they’re fertile spaces for content creation and connection for both small businesses and large corporations. It won’t happen all at once. Just focus on creating good work–telling good stories–and the relationships will inevitably follow. Did you enjoy this article or find it useful? Subscribe to The CMO newsletter to stay updated on all things related to marketing and leadership.