Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest post from Jordan Viator Slabaugh, Director of Social Media at Spredfast, a social media management solution provider and SME client.

Using social media for business requires companies to embrace social channels to satisfy the needs of their customers, prospects and networks. This can mean many different tactics for various types of companies, but content is always at the heart of this activity.

On the heels of Community Manager Appreciation Day, it’s worth noting that Social Fresh found “community managers, surprisingly, spend more time on content creation than any other task.” In his latest report on managing social media, Jeremiah Owyang lists developing a content strategy as one of the key steps every social media strategist needs to undertake. And Beth Kanter recently wrote about the debate between creating versus curating content, highlighting a checklist from the Content Marketing Institute on creating valuable content.

Developing and executing a content strategy is one of the most time consuming tasks for most strategists. But with proper planning, this crucial area of focus can ensure better and more relevant content for your network while also making sure your company is sharing the most important messages from a company stand-point. One of the sections of the new whitepaper “The 7 Sessions Every Social Strategists Needs to Have”, a practical framework for how to approach and plan for this includes:

Planning out Content Proactively

You don’t sit down to write and send email messages and new webpage content in real time to send to your entire customer base, so why would you do the same for all of your social content. Using a centralized editorial calendar, strategists should be planning out social content before it’s actually being published. It guarantees your social channels won’t go silent due to team members having a busy day in the office, and it helps multiple people have insight into what is being planned and published.

Repurposing Content for Social Media Channels

You share the same or similar content across all your other communication channels. Why would social media be any different? It’s true that social media shouldn’t be used to spam your network by cramming marketing messages down its throat, but these people are also interested in hearing about company news, discounts, product updates and new content available. If you’re not thinking about what content you already have that can also be shared with your social networks, you’re doing extra work and missing opportunities to provide value.

Centralizing Content to Be Accessed Easily

Equipping team members with pre-made or pre-approved content is one major way to help make social activity more fluid and amplification of messages more common.

If you have more than one person active in social media for your company, you know how complex it can be to stay coordinated. Equipping team members with pre-made or pre-approved content is one major way to help make social activity more fluid and amplification of messages more common. Have you considered creating a content library where all team members can find sample Tweets, Facebook status updates, links to new content or responses to common questions?

Build Social Activity into Campaign Plans

Social doesn’t exist in a vacuum (or at least, it shouldn’t). In the same way you assess what content you have in existence to share in social, you should assess how social media is an integral part of every campaign you launch or run. How can you use social media to launch your new product? What social media elements can be integrated to help amplify your latest marketing campaign? Or what content can help satisfy overarching customer care efforts?

Assess and Adjust Course as Needed

Content strategy is an ever-evolving aspect of social media. Your networks grow, your customer base changes and people’s interests vary. Tracking things like what content receives the most impressions, clicks, engagement and shares can help your social media program flourish over time. It also helps make sure you stay as relevant as possible to your network.

Content is one of the key aspects to a successful social media program. If you’re  not already thinking of this from a higher level, the time is now. Ann Handley of Marketing Profs said it best “In 2012, businesses will rise about the din of mediocrity and retool their content efforts to create a sustainable, workable model that produces stuff that has merit.

How are you planning on creating your model?

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Jordan Viator Slabaugh is the Director of Social Media at Spredfast, a social media management system for enterprise companies and agencies.  She leads the company’s Marketing and social media strategy, as well as consults with clients on using social media to help achieve social business goals. She tweets at @jordanv and writes about social business best practices and trends on the Spredfast Social Business blog. 

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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