Social Media Content Creation Process

Many folks ask how to go about creating social media for their company. As a service to the industry, find here an open source version of a draft social media content development process.

This process is general enough to guide development of specific initiatives. It does not recommend blogging or video, per say. Rather the process allows content creation to move towards the market’s needs, and within the company’s resources. There are 14 steps in all:

1) Clearly articulate who your stakeholders are before you begin.

2) Clearly articulate the key issues these stakeholders care about as it relates to your offering. Use a bulleted list with no more than three or four words per item.

3) Begin by researching which, if any, top bloggers are discussing these issues. Use your bulleted list to search. The following are good places to start…

4) Inevitably, any substantial subject matter area has a back channel where top bloggers and influencers chat. For example, PR and marketing bloggers and tend to connect on Facebook, Twitter, and to some extent, LinkedIn. This back channel can yield powerful connections to highly influential minds who may not have blogs with top statistical ranking.

Marketers looking to find their subject area’s back channel should start with a basic search. Once your initial search yields important blogs, please visit them and note which social networks the bloggers use to connect. Join their communities. And learn what your stakeholders really care about.

5) Don’t just observe, participate. Comment on blogs and social networks in a non-promotional way. Become part of the community.

6) Note several things in your research:

  1. Top industry issues
  2. Top bloggers/thought leaders that write about your issues (you will need these for marketing purposes after your content creation process is done)
  3. Preferred content forms (video, white papers, blogs, podcasts)
  4. Ideal places to connect with the larger industry (social networks, etc.)
  5. Other companies playing in the space: Who’s successful, who isn’t? Why?
  6. Behavioral norms.

Write this information down in a formal analysis.

7) Using the analysis of your social media marketplace, identify the outcomes the organization would like to achieve. These outcomes will determine the measurement benchmarks once the company decides on its preferred communication tools. Possibilities include:

  • Influence
  • Awareness/changed perception on a particular issue
  • Third party credibility through Word of mouth
  • Brand awareness
  • Return on investment (sales)

8 ) Identify the company’s value for the marketplace. Specifically, the organization’s subject matter expertise as it relates to the top industry issues currently being discussed amongst bloggers and thought leaders.

  • Can the company provide enough information to add to the conversation?
  • If so, is it enough to consistently be a part of the conversation, or is it limited in nature? Will it only be valuable for a short time?
  • Can the organization afford to give away this information or does the information comprise trade secrets?

9) Based on the company/organization’s value offering and the marketplace’s issues and needs, draft an editorial mission to serve the community/stakeholders. For example, here is the Now Is Gone blog editorial mission:

Continue serving as a primer for those business executives new to social media or considering engaging with these new communications tools. The conversation should be educational, pragmatic and weigh the pros and cons of social media to provide an authentic, genuine viewpoint of social media marketing. We believe in social media’s potential to better communications, but do not think it will replace traditional tactics. Instead we believe social media will be integrated into the larger marketing mix and may influence change in other disciplines.

10) Now examine the company’s resources:

  • Time
  • Thought leaders
  • Technical capability and savoir faire: Blog, audio, video, social networking
  • Financial resources for some of the above, plus graphic design, SEO, web hosting, application development

11) Select the outreach mechanism(s) that best fits the industry’s preferred content needs (#6), can achieve outcomes (#7) the ability to convey the company’s ability to deliver value through it’s editorial mission (#8 and 9), and that the company can afford to invest in (#10).

There are Many, Many mechanisms. Each has its assets and detriments. And blogging is not a cure all silver bullet solution. Consider these more popular initiatives:

  • Launch a blog
  • Execute a blogger relations program
  • Podcast
  • Create video(s)
  • Develop social network community
  • Create social network application
  • Build your own social network
  • Build a widget

12) Determine who will create the content. Group efforts can help distribute load as well as protect the company from an individual departure. Assign a schedule and make the person responsible. Participation in larger networks should be part of your content development plan and resource allocations.

13) Select general content categories to provide guidance on a weekly basis (if the effort is ongoing). Remain flexible to allow for larger industry and community events.

14) Determine measurement based on outcomes, social media communication vehicle(s), and dedicated effort the company intends to commit to the effort. Select tools to attain measurement. Tools and measurement can vary greatly. Research what is right for you and your effort. Some are free, some are not.


38 Replies to “Social Media Content Creation Process”

  1. Great post! Too many companies try to be heavy-handed in their approach to Social Media and aren’t willing to give back to the community. They have to remember that they are also part of the community and have to nurture the relationship or they will do more harm than good.

  2. An elegant, comprehensive road map to social media success that even slow-to-innovate companies can digest with ease. This is golden advice in a nutshell. Clients should flock to your team for insightful help in implementing the program you map out in this post. Thanks.

  3. Excellent. Amazing how many just go straight to the bullet-list in step 11. Should seem like commonsense but sometimes the basic questions either don’t get asked or the answers are vague. I’m sure this road map will be appreciated by many.

  4. Geoff,

    Great post! As commented earlier, people do often jump to step 11. Also, another problem I’ve noticed is that people too quickly jump in without even fully understanding the technology involved.

    The number one thing thing that I’m glad you pointed it out is for people to identify what they want to clearly accomplish…setting the mission, or really the message.
    To often the message is an after though. To often people feel the need to just have a presence instead of a purpose.

    Nicely done.

  5. Very helpful information especially for companies that are taking the first steps toward social networking and using social media as a part of their marketing communication programs.

  6. Keith and Michael: No doubt. Understanding stakeholders is so critical to success. Amazing how many people right now just want to have a nice shiny blog. Just to have one.

    Lauren: Great 15th step. Circle back and evaluate.

    Everyone else, thank you for letting me know this was helpful It means something, and I appreciate it.

  7. Geoff, excellent granular advice for agencies working with clients new to social media. As we’ve talked about, all the basics of PR still apply- id your stakeholders and learn about them and what interests them before you start communicating. It’s ready, aim, fire- not the other way around…

  8. Geoff

    Finished your book — very insightful and filled with possibility across many disciplines. Have you ever considered how this might play out in a religious context? I know that there is a lot out there on the religious table but much of it seems to fit the old-way of salesmanship. My experience is that religious communities usually find themselves forced into the catch up mode.

    Should I apply this new social media science as a pastor I would want to follow a spiritual guidance model of enlightenment — e.g. the process looks like this: awakening to the truth before you; being opened to begin to ask the questions about what you are experience; beginning to understand what the sacred texts have to say about the questions you are asking; and discerning courses of action to take by way of purpose in the community’s life …

    It seems this process fits into your scheme of Now Is Gone … does it not? I am hoping you will be willing to comment on this from your experience and offer some insights that might fit the particularity of a religious model where the goal is to create a religious community and not to market a product.

  9. I cannot say exactly, but it does seem like a match! They key is that tangent. If spiritual guideance models offer that tangent, it’s a match it’ll work. Hopefully, the framework is flexible enough to allow for this kind of exploration.

  10. Finally! An article about social media that says something other than “…and then you create good content. And people come to your site in droves!”

  11. Pingback: Homage to Bloggers
  12. Thank you Geoff for the great post. Until recently I was the web editor at a daily newspaper. Now out of work, I am trying to build a business plan to free-lance social media community building to companies in the Toledo, OH area. Compounding the problem is that a lot of companies in this area are very old-school, immediately jumping on ROI and “but, we’ve always done it this way.” They claim that they realize that social media is important but are very wary to spend limited funds on an experiment. Still looking for a way to create an opening.

  13. Great post Geoff. I am a recent ex-journalist in Toledo, OH trying to create a business plan to manage social media for local companies. Many here are very old school. They realize social media is important, but hedge on ROI and “we’ve always done it that way” anchors. Any additional ideas on cracking this nut?

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