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Order and organization are on trend.  Have you noticed this? Marie Kondo and her organization tips are all the rage.  People want to get a handle on life by getting their personal “stuff” in order; However, order and organization are no less important for business marketing. This has always been true, a consistent marketing message throughout all forms of marketing and advertising has always been a characteristic of a successful marketing strategy, but it is even truer today now that promotion is fragmented among a wider array of channels such as print, audio, video, and social media.

The danger, especially when the responsibility for each channel is farmed out to a different person, is that the message can become confused and incoherent. What is more, the right hand might not know what the left is doing.

Below are five tips for keeping your social media marketing efforts organized and on point.

Tip #1: Write Out a Plan Ahead of Time

Every marketing campaign has a desired end. In order for your social media marketing (and all marketing efforts) to work towards achieving that end, you have to first define what that end is. Social media should not be thrown out just off the cuff.  Each of the stage of the development of your overall marketing plan for your business should be in the back of your mind when crafting your social media posts. How does this post reflect the overall mission and culture of your business? What aspect of the problem that your business solves illustrate? Which demographic group does this post speak to?

Often you will see a business assign social media responsibilities to administrative staff or an intern. It’s perfectly fine to give the task of the posting or scheduling of those updates; however, even in updating and monitoring social media, it is important that the responsible person is familiar with your companies overall  mission and values.

My recommendation is to not only have your written corporate mission statement, business branding guidelines, and a defined marketing plan, but to also write out your marketing plan specifically for social media ahead of time.

I know, I know . . . That sounds like so much work!  Yes, it is. But if you’re going to promote your business online, make it worth your time.

Having a framework for your social media updates removes uncertainty about the types of things that should be posted and ensures that all channels of your business’s promotion have a consistent message.

Tip #2: Have Consistent Categorization for Creative Elements

My second tip is to have a consistent categorization for all of your creative elements that go into creating your social media posts. There are a couple of aspects to this.  The first are the elements themselves. There have been so many times when in reviewing a new client’s existing social media presence that I’ve asked if they still have a particular image or video element that is used in an existing image or video and they aren’t sure if they have it or where it came from. If a particular creative asset was designed or developed by a third party agency, you might not have that particular element; however, make a note of where that asset came from.

For example, keep a record of who created a video, when it was designed, how much it cost, and the formats available. If you have raw footage, write that down as well.

If you are creating social media graphics using images from stock photo sites, keep a record of your business membership details for each site as well as the licensing details. For example, there are a number of stock photo sites that have free images, but the licensing agreement for those images may vary from photographer to photographer, even on the same site. Even when you pay for royalty free images, there are often restrictions on types of use.

My recommendation is to create a document to record the details for your digital assets with all of these details.

But maybe you’ve taken images at your place of business. We all know that the best marketing for any business is happy customers; however, if you have photos of customers, make sure that you also have their permission to use that image in your marketing and media. This means getting a model release signed. These releases should be kept on file in your digital assets documentation.

(I am not an attorney. If you want a legal opinion, please consult your attorney. My opinion as a marketing consultant is that a social media post is not worth getting into a legal battle no matter how cute the picture.)

The other issue related to photos taken at your business is the question of who took them and who owns the copyright. The person who creates the work, in this case the photographer, owns exclusive rights to that work.

If an employee took them, this would most likely be considered “work made for hire” and you, as the employer would own the copyright. However, this depends on the terms of the employment contract. If you bring in someone on a contract basis, unless you have a written agreement specifically stating that the resulting images will be considered “work made for hire,” the copyright is owned by the photographer.[1]

Again, I am not an attorney. Please consult a legal advisor and research your own specific situation. My advice to you is that copyright and licensing of digital assets is important . . . important enough to have a system for tracking the elements you invest in.

To recap, when you look at the variety of images and videos that you have posted online, each of those images and design elements could have a different copyright and usage terms behind them. Your social media manager should have a handle on how those items can be used.

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Tip #3: Spell Out Your Creative Process

Henry Ford was known for his Model T’s, but the key to  his success was his process. There are many uses for creative elements online: images in articles; social media images for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram; ads for social media, background images on videos, the list goes on and on.

Maybe you wrote an article with an image used as an illustratio and decide you want to use it as part of a Facebook ad. Those two uses will require a different size. Then a few months later, you decide to share it on Twitter, where the ideal size is a different dimension yet again. Luckily, you have categorized your digital elements and know right where to find that image, but have to recreate the styling of the original image to match the other two elements that you already created.

The fastest and easiest easiest way to create multiple version of a particular design is when you first design it. Make a spreadsheet with a column for each format or dimension a social media graphic that you use.  Create templates or actions in Photoshop to quickly generate the base file.  After the initial design is completed for one of the social media networks, that design can be copied over to the different formats and adjusted.

I’ll give you an example using one of our projects. When an article is published, we create the following images.

  • The featured image for the article with a naming format of title_f
  • The image sized for Instagram (title_bl)
  • An Instagram image with a prompt to read the article (title_i)
  • An image sized for Instagram or Facebook stories (title_story)
  • An Image formatted for Twitter (title_tw)
  • An Image formatted for Pinterest (title_pin)
  • An image only graphic sized for a video cover (title_v)

So you see we are up to seven variations for one main graphic design. After the first main design is created, it takes about 10 minutes to create the additional variations and record them instead of having to go back and recreate a design later.

As with your design elements, also have a consistent categorization for your created designs. Unless a client specifiies otherwise, we keep the PSD file of one format, usually the Instagram image.  If another variation needs to be created later on, the design can be quickly adjusted to the new dimensions.

I know a number of people like to use online services such as Canva or Adobe Spark. I personally think that Adobe Photoshop is much easier to create and adjust elements, but it also allows you to better organize your design files. A long list of designs on Adobe Spark quickly becomes a mess.

#4: Keep a Library of Created Assets

The fourth tips is to keep a library of all of your created assets including: images, videos, and articles. In our content strategy workbook, we include a worksheet each for articles, images, and videos. The details recorded will vary a little from client to client depending on their needs, but for articles the title, the date published, keywords or hashtags for the article, and the url are normally included. For images, we list the title of the image, the article it references (if any), keywords or hashtags, as well as noting each format the image is available in.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I just want to post a picture, this sounds like a lot of work.”

Whatever type of social media post you create, it took time and resources. If you have an easily accessible record of all your existing creative assets, you can quickly identify and locate those images (or videos or articles) that will be a good fit for future social media campaigns.

The more content you build up, the easier filling that content calendar in the future becomes. But you can’t do that if you don’t know what you have or where it is.

Tip #5: Stay on Brand, Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Remember that your social media postings are part of your brand. Just as you wouldn’t put out a different version of your logo with every new marketing piece, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and come up with a different style with every image, video, or graphic that you post online.

Decide on a design theme and stick to it. Use the same color values or tones. Be consistent with the fonts you use. Not only does this result in a consistent image for your brand, but it makes the creation and design process much faster. When the pillars of the design are already set, it makes filling in the details much faster.

Those are my five tips for organizing your social media content. What tips have you found useful?

 

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Notes

[1] Thomas Maddrey, “Works for Hire: How Not to Get Bitten – ASMP,” ASMP, last modified January 4, 2017, accessed May 28, 2019, https://www.asmp.org/legal/works-hire-not-get-bitten/.

“As stated previously, the distinction between employee and independent contractor can be significant regarding the doctrine of “works for hire.” If a photographer is acting as an employee, then any works created by an employee within the employee’s scope of employment will be considered Works for Hire. However, even this can be overridden in an employment contract if the contract explicitly states that the employee will retain the copyright in any works they create.

But, if the photographer is acting as an independent contractor, then a work will only be a Work for Hire if (1) there is a written agreement between the parties stating that the work is a work for hire, (2) the agreement is signed by both parties, and (3) and the work falls within one of the nine following categories:”

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