July 18, 2023

How to Create a Social Media Content Strategy in 2023

READ Time -

Social media — we all know it, and we all use it.

But few know how to unlock its full potential to drive real results.

Gaining 750K+ followers online in four years has taught me this:

Social media mastery doesn't require esoteric knowledge or a secret formula. It boils down to crafting an unstoppable content strategy.

In this guide, I'll unpack my 10-step framework for crafting an effective social media marketing strategy — a proven path to transforming your casual followers into loyal fans and great customers.

My social media content strategy

I've built my social media content strategy around consistent posting and engagement:

I publish a couple of LinkedIn posts and Tweets every day, an insightful thread every week, and a newsletter issue every Saturday.

And I spend about 45 minutes a day connecting with my audience.

New to social media?

I challenge you to go where your target audience hangs out, publish a few times a week, and engage thoughtfully with your community.

It takes time to get traction. But six months to a year later, you'll be glad you started.

But before you begin, let's get into the nitty-gritty of designing your own winning strategy.

How to create your own social media content strategy

  1. Identify your business goals
  2. Get to know your target audience
  3. Study your competition
  4. Pick the right social platform
  5. Find content inspiration
  6. Reverse engineer what works
  7. Create a content plan you can commit to
  8. Produce and share valuable, high-quality social content
  9. Track content performance and adjust as needed
  10. Repurpose top-performing posts

Step #1: Identify your business goals

Before diving into your social media content strategy, let's pinpoint your business goals. These two things are intrinsically linked.

The big question to answer: Why are you using social media?

In other words, what value do you want to extract from it?

You might want to:

  • Drive more direct sales
  • Amplify your brand's presence
  • Funnel more traffic to your website
  • Establish yourself as an industry expert
  • Cultivate a community around your brand

There's no one-size-fits-all here, and your goals might encompass some combination of these things.

Defining your goals will give you direction for crafting your social media content strategy and help you measure performance later.

Remember: Every piece of content you publish and every interaction you create on social media should be purpose-driven and align with your business objectives. The more specific you are with your goals, the easier it will be to develop a strategy that hits the mark.

Step #2: Get to know your target audience

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make on social media is trying to cater to everyone.

Harsh truth: When you speak to everyone, you resonate with no one.

Not everyone on social media will be interested in what you have to say or offer. And that's okay.

Your mission is to:

  • Identify who your ideal audience is
  • Understand their needs, interests, and pain points
  • Tailor your content to meet those needs

With this in mind, here are some questions to ponder as you focus on your buyer persona:

  • Who does your content serve?
  • How old are they?
  • Where are they located?
  • What are their interests?
  • What do they struggle with?
  • How will your offer solve their problems?

There are a few ways you can gather data and answers to these questions:

  • Run online surveys or polls
  • Engage in conversations with your followers
  • Dive into existing customer data if you have any

2/ Discover Your Mission:

Part of Ikigai is helping other people succeed.

What problems can you solve?

Talk to your target audience about their needs, & match them with your passion to create a mission that fulfills you.

I do this by helping folks build one-person businesses.
— Justin Welsh (@thejustinwelsh) May 11, 2023

TLDR: The only way to provide real value is to understand who you're providing it to. Knowing your target audience involves understanding who they are and what they want to see on their feeds.

With this information, you can craft content that grabs their attention and encourages them to interact, engage, and convert.

Step #3: Study your competition

When I say "study your competition," I don't mean copy and paste their every move.

What I mean is keep a keen eye on what people in your field are doing, and learning from it.

What are they doing well? Where could they improve? Is there anything that's been overdone?

First, identify your competitors on social media.

Look at:

  • Social media channels they're most active on
  • The type of content they're posting
  • How often they're posting content
  • The engagement they're getting
  • What time(s) they're posting
  • Hashtags they're using

Your competitors' most successful posts can tell you a lot.

What kind of content is it? How are their audiences reacting to it?

By analyzing this stuff, you can get a good idea of your shared target audience's interests and preferences.

On top of studying what's working well, examine what your competitors aren't doing or where they're falling short. These gaps in their strategy can present opportunities for you to differentiate yourself and offer something unique to your audience.

Step #4: Pick the right social platform

The key to building a robust online presence isn't about being everywhere, it's about showing up in the right place.

So master one platform first. Understand its intricacies. Generate brand awareness there. And then, after building your tight-knit community in one place, you can slowly expand your digital footprint on other social networks.

Why is this approach effective?

Every social media platform has its own unique culture, audience demographics, and content preferences. Trying to figure out the dynamics of multiple platforms can be overwhelming and dilute your strategy's efficacy.

Instead, focusing your energy on one platform allows you to gain a deep understanding of its algorithms, audience behavior, and content types. This helps you build a solid foundation and get momentum.

"But Justin, how do I pick the 'right' platform, what makes it 'right’?'"

It all goes back to step #2 — understanding your target audience.

Do some digging:

Where does your target audience spend most of their online time? Are they professionals engaging on LinkedIn? Or are they younger people scrolling through Instagram reels or TikTok?

Let's say you're a freelance writer looking for writing clients. It would probably make the most sense for you to focus your efforts on LinkedIn. Content managers often scout freelance talent there, but not so much on video platforms like TikTok or YouTube.

Step #5: Find content inspiration

Inspiration isn't something that just happens. More often than not, it's the result of active searching, observing, and experimenting.

When it comes to creating social media content, it's not uncommon to get into a creative rut every now and then. And that's why it's important to always be looking for inspiration.

Here are some ways I find inspiration:

  • Keep an eye on industry trends
  • Stay updated with the latest happenings in my field
  • Reflect on recent life happenings and tie them into lessons
  • See what other creators are sharing and put my own spin on it
  • Use Google Trends to find trending topics relevant to my industry
  • Think about how I could turn these events into engaging content
  • Ask my audience questions and listen to them (what questions are they asking?)

Just observe what's going on in your life each day.

Do a 10-minute brain dump.

Or scroll your favorite YouTube, Twitter folks for inspiration.
— Justin Welsh (@thejustinwelsh) December 29, 2022

Like studying your competition, finding content inspiration isn't about mindlessly copying what others are doing. It's about learning from diverse sources and synthesizing those ideas into something valuable to your audience and unique to your brand.

Finding inspiration for content is an ongoing process, so stay curious, be receptive to new ideas, and don't be afraid to experiment.

If you haven't already, I recommend starting a Notion board or a place where you can keep a running list of ideas as they come. Then when it's time to sit down and start creating, you have an idea bank to pick from instead of a blank screen.

Step #6: Reverse engineer what works

Let's talk about an incredibly powerful method for creating high-impact content: Reverse engineering what works.

This involves examining what's working in either your successful posts or those of other creators. Then figure out why it worked.

Was it the content type? The presentation style? The timing? The topic?

On LinkedIn, for example, I've learned that posts get high engagement if:

  • They are scannable
  • They start with "How I…"
  • They have irresistible hooks
  • They tell unique, compelling stories
  • They include well-designed carousels

Keep in mind that what works well on one platform may not work well on another. So wherever you publish, you'll need to experiment to find what moves the needle for you.

But the process of reverse engineering can save you a ton of time and energy on hit-or-miss tactics. When you rely on what's been proven to work, you can make more informed decisions about your digital marketing strategy and what types of content it should include.

Step #7: Create a content plan you can commit to

Social media rewards consistency. And a well-laid-out social media content plan helps ensure consistent output.

But giving yourself the mounting pressure to post daily (without building momentum) can lead to burnout. In the beginning, it's reasonable to post 2-3x a week.

Over time, you can ramp up your frequency. The key here is to find a rhythm you can sustain.

A content plan isn't just good for maintaining consistency. It also aids in diversifying your content.

Let's say you're a graphic designer. Your content plan may look something like this:

  • Monday: X favorite tool(s) for designing Y
  • Tuesday: X actionable design tip(s) for Y
  • Wednesday: "How I" post showing how you do something (ideate, design, refine, etc.)
  • Thursday: Contrarian thought about something in your niche
  • Friday: A before and after transformation of a recent graphic design project

As you can see, having this kind of structure gives you a clear roadmap of what to post and when.

I also suggest posting at the same time every day. You can do this manually, or schedule posts in advance. Sticking to a schedule alleviates the stress of last-minute content creation, and with time, your audience will start to anticipate your content.

For example, I post on LinkedIn twice a day. My first post goes live at 8:15 AM EST, and my second post goes live at 1:05 PM EST.

Occasionally, I mention this so my followers know when to expect something new from me.

Step #8: Produce valuable, high-quality social content

Value-packed content is the core of any successful social media strategy.

But what exactly does "valuable content" mean?

Essentially, it's content that informs, educates, entertains, or inspires your audience. It answers their questions, solves their problems, or simply brightens their day.

To write impactful social content, reflect on your target audience's needs, pain points, and desires. Let these guide your content creation. Each piece of content you publish should have a clear purpose and benefit for your audience.

Quality content:

  • Is well-researched
  • Has proper grammar
  • Includes white space
  • Is thought-provoking
  • Tells inspiring stories
  • Has engaging formats
  • Is beautifully presented
  • Incorporates clean visuals
  • Offers unique perspectives

Don't stress about nailing it on the first try. Creating top-notch content involves continuous improvement. Experiment with different content types, track your results, and fine-tune your approach, based on what works.

Pro tip: Quality over quantity. Avoid posting just to post. Quality is what will help you build trust with your audience, gain credibility, and achieve your business goals.

Step #9: Track content performance and adjust as needed

Data is gold in the realm of social media.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) tell you what's working, what isn't, and how to improve. By tracking your posts' performance, you can gauge your strategy's effectiveness and make data-driven adjustments.

Study your engagement rates, shares, likes, comments, and click-through rates.

Understand the why behind the numbers: Why did one post resonate more with your audience? Why did another fail to get traction even though you expected it to perform well?

Use these insights to tweak and refine your strategy. If you find that posts on a specific topic perform well, double down on that. If a particular format engages your audience more, use it often.

Remember, tracking performance is an ongoing task. Social media algorithms are always changing, which means your strategy should too. Stay adaptable, and be ready to pivot based on your audience's feedback.

Step #10: Repurpose top-performing posts

After performing a social media audit and identifying your top-performing posts, don't let them bask in past glory. Breathe new life into them often.

Picture this:

You have a blog post that hits the bullseye. According to Google Analytics, it's racking up views and shares, and your audience can't get enough. You could pat yourself on the back and move on to write something new.

Or… you could repurpose the successful content. After all, the content struck a chord with your audience.

It's proven. It works.

So think about it — can you turn that article into a series of tweets? A LinkedIn carousel? A podcast episode? A YouTube video? An infographic for Instagram? Some live streams?

Get creative. The options are endless.

Get started with your social media content strategy

Starting from scratch with social media can be intimidating. The thought of producing a steady stream of high-quality content and building an engaged following is a lot for most people.

I get it because I've been there. But every successful creator starts at square one.

And now, it's your turn to bring your business vision to life with the framework I've shared.

Let's recap:

  1. Decide what you want from social media
  2. Get to know your buyer persona/audience and what they want
  3. Pick one platform where you'll start establishing yourself as a thought leader
  4. See what your competitors are doing and get inspiration from what's working
  5. Experiment with creating different types of content
  6. Track your content's performance and do more of what's resonating
  7. Repurpose content and never get writer's block again

If you're serious about scaling your content creation, I invite you to check out my course, The Content Operating System. It's designed to help you streamline your writing process and make the most of your marketing efforts.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading.

Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1. ​The LinkedIn Operating System:​ Join 16,000 students and 30 LinkedIn Top Voices inside of The LinkedIn Operating System. This comprehensive course will teach you the system I used to grow from 0 to 465,000+ followers and $4.7M in income.

2. ​The Content Operating System​: A multi-step system for creating a high-quality newsletter and 6-12 pieces of high-performance social media content each week. Join 7,000 students here.

3. ​Promote yourself to 175,000+ subscribers​ by sponsoring this newsletter.

Subscribe to the Newsletter
Join 175k+ subscribers get one tip to launch, grow, and monetize their internet business every Saturday morning.
Share this Article on:
Freedom to

Start here.
I will never spam or sell your info. Ever.