Content marketing and social media go hand-in-hand, and sometimes the two disciplines seem interchangeable. For many smaller marketing teams, content and social media marketing are owned and operated by the same person/function, while larger marketing teams separate the two functions entirely.

Whether social media is owned by a content team or a specialized social unit, the relationship between the two marketing functions breaks down most simply like this:

  • Content fuels social media with, well, content (copy, visuals, links, etc.)
  • And social media provides content creators with listening capabilities and a delivery mechanism

Content and social planning should be done together to ensure that both functions are helping each other execute effectively. Below are some tips to unite content and social media.

Content = Horse, Social = Cart

As in, content should come before social. For most organizations, a successful social media strategy starts with a strong library of content assets. Before making plans to launch or optimize a social strategy, social media managers should have access to a resource that houses all existing content available for sharing. This includes all blog posts, videos, infographics, whitepapers, on-demand webinars, etc.

If a piece of content isn’t visible or accessible, it likely won’t get shared after the initial social push when it first goes live. It will be forgotten. A digital asset management tool that organizes content based on tags, format and other parameters will help ensure that social managers share content more than once over an extended amount of time. This is important because blog posts and bigger rock content assets tend to remain relevant for a while. Reposting this type of content six months into its shelf life will get it in front of new followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. that will be seeing it for the first time.

Next, Create a Content Marketing/Social Media Plan

A social media content plan is based on identifying which types of content get shared on each social channel, why and how. You shouldn’t share every piece of content on every channel just because you can. Each channel has its own unique audience and user behaviors. To optimize how content is shared on each channel, consider the following:

The Goal and Desired User Actions of Each Channel
Collectively, content and social teams should figure out why content should be shared on each channel. A goal like “gaining Twitter followers” isn’t sufficient and fails to give the social media manager any context into how each channel should be used in terms of content sharing. A more helpful goal would be “drive followers interested in “Topic X” to our website from Facebook” or “increase video views for our new how-to series on Facebook by X amount.” These goals provide the context that the channel will serve as a step in getting the Facebook user to complete the path to conversion by taking a specific action.

The Type of Content that Performs Best on Each Channel
People maintain different social presences and user accounts because each channel serves a unique purpose. The content that performs well on LinkedIn likely will not work on Facebook. The former is more appropriate for professional development content and business news (like acquisition and growth announcements). The latter is more suited for entertainment, social commentary, etc. Although, sometimes the same piece of content will perform equally well on both channels if they are positioned differently and tailored to their respective audiences – and it’s important to identify that. Plan your social content strategy based on where video makes sense, where infographics, and even GIFs, perform best.

The Language of Each Channel’s User Base
Similar to content type, tone changes from channel to channel. A humorous approach for one channel may work, while an educational approach is more appropriate for another. Infographics and GIFs that have a lighter edge will probably gain more links and click-throughs on Twitter then they would on LinkedIn, for example.

In Conclusion

Getting content marketing and social media to work together requires identifying the purpose of each channel and their respective audiences – but it’s a strategy that has room for experimentation and fluidity – given the ever-evolving way social is used.

Once you have a good grip on the types of objectives, content, and tone that work for each channel, don’t be afraid to experiment with A/B copy that accompanies a piece of content, sharing times, velocity, the types of visuals used, etc.