May 01, 2012

So you’ve created a Facebook Page, a Twitter Account and a Google+ Page. What’s next? Well, the next step is the tough part of creating engaging social media content to encourage online interactions. This may seem overwhelming, but a social media content plan can really help you focus your efforts and set appropriate expectations for your goals to engage patients.

Step #1: Determine your Time Commitment

Social media can be an extremely efficient communication tool, or it can be the source of many hours of wasted time. It’s really up to you. It’s important to create a daily budget for the time you are willing to dedicate to social media. This can be as little as 2 hours per week or quite possibly a 40 hour per week social media manager.

Step #2: Determine your Brand

It is important to define the brand you would like to portray online. Once you start sharing on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, or posting on YouTube, you are creating an online brand for your practice. It is important to determine the brand you would like to portray. Do you want to share fashion content, become a source of eye care content, share local community information, or do you want to communicate the personality of your practice? These are important questions to ask; as the answers will determine the channels and tools for your social media toolkit.

Step #3: Identify Your Social Media Content Sources

With social media, you can play a number of roles as you develop your content plan.

Social Media Content Creator: These people develop and share original content with their followers. These tactics often includes an active blog presence with WordPress, sharing thoughts on Twitter or Facebook, creating original videos to share on YouTube, or sharing photos on Facebook or Pinterest. Content creation tends to add the most value in the social media community, yet also takes the most effort and time to manage.

Social Media Content Curator: Content Curation is a new term to hit the online world. With the overwhelming sources of information on the web, many social media experts have become extremely effective as online curators. These people identify the great sources of data online and share this content via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. These people rarely, if ever, create unique content. However, they develop a following by becoming a valuable filter for their social media constituents. Content Curators utilize search filters such as RSS feeds, Twitter search and Lists, and Social Dashboards such as Hootsuite to quickly find information and share it to multiple platforms.

Social Media Content Engager: Engagers play an important role in the social media ecosystem. These are the people that make the original content more fun to read, and help the content curators find the valuable content. Engagers engage with social media content. These people “Like” Facebook posts, add comments to blogs, answer Facebook Polls, and reply to Tweets. These are often very popular people on social media channels since they provide others with positive reinforcement.

Step #4: Identify the Tools

Depending on your social media content plan, there are multiple tools to help you become more efficient.

Social Media Content Creation

  • WordPress: WordPress is a great tool to develop a blog on your current web page or post content on the wordpress.com platform. This tool has thousands of free templates to choose from to customize your own blog. You can also use the WordPress mobile application to create blogs from your cell phone, and even share pictures.
  • Posterous and Tumblr: These are two very simple blog platforms that make creation of text content and the sharing of photos a piece of cake with your cell phone or laptop.

Social Media Content Curation

  • Hootsuite and Twitter: Hootsuite and Twitter are like the salt and pepper for online curators. Twitter has some great tools for content curation such as Twitter Lists, #Hashtags, and Search. With Hootsuite, you can set up a separate column for each of these categories and rely on other sources to stream real-time content to you. From there you can share content and even schedule the sharing of content to any or all of your social media profiles.
  • Google Reader and RSS: RSS feeds are an incredibly powerful tool for establishing a constant flow of valuable content. Just sign up for Google Reader and subscribe to the RSS feeds of your favorite sites by clicking on the RSS button.
  • Flipboard: If you have an iPad or iPhone, Flipboard is an incredibly valuable content curation tool. You can either stream your Twitter Lists, your Facebook Newsfeed, or rely on the Flipboard sources for content presented in a magazine like format.
  • Scoopit: This is a very powerful content curation tool. This app is a combination of an RSS reader and also a social media dashboard. Basically, you pick your topic and sources and the content starts streaming to you. From here you can post it to your Scoopit Page, share it to your social media channels, and even rescoop content from the Scoopit pages of other curators. CooperVision’s CV+ team has their own Scoopit Pages on topics such as social media, web presence, and online reputation.

Social Media Content Engager

Engaging in content can be accomplished through most of the tools mentioned above. With Hootsuite you can easily share, post, or retweet info from your feed. With the Facebook mobile app, you can Like, or comment. Finally, bloggers always appreciate comments from readers directly on their blogs.

Step #5 Create a Social Media Content Plan and Set Goals

Based on your time constraints, set some goals and continue to adapt. You may realize that you only have time to create one blog per week, yet you can devote about 3 hours per week to sharing, and commenting on online content. If you enjoy taking photos, the Facebook mobile app or WordPress mobile apps may be great tools for you to share original content very quickly. Also, you may enjoy reading Flipboard once a day with a cup of coffee, and this may be the easiest way for you to create engaging content for your fans.

1. How much time will I spend per day?

2. How many posts will I share?

3. How will I interact with content from others?

4. How much original content will I share per week?

It is important to develop a plan as a starting point, and build your online presence from there. Until you start to utilize the various tools, it is very difficult to understand the time involved. Once you create your plan, social media becomes an incredibly effective means of communicating your brand and controlling your online presence.