Social media marketing seems easy, right? Post a few comments, whip up a blog, launch a quick Facebook page. But as with any good marketing it’s not just about being seen, but where, when and in what light.

Most importantly it’s about keeping people coming back for more real insights into what you do and what you offer. It’s about offering real value to people. And make no mistake, the key to keeping your audience engaged is creating great content.

But how do you create the perfect content for social media? How do you know that it’s going to be shared by the people that follow you, liked, retweeted? Is there a formula for this?

Step 1 – Know Your Brand

Social media marketing is about knowing your brand and where you should be seen, heard and actively contributing. It also means having your game face on regardless of where that story’s being told.

Before you go on the voyage of social sharing you have to hone in your brand and your story to ensure it’s consistent across all your platforms. Similar to your company boilerplate, this brand story is a brief of what your business stands for and what it does, along with a recognizable logo and contact information.

Too many people are wishing who they are instead of understanding who they are – Gary Vaynerchuk

Step 2 – Choose the Right Social Media

You can’t be everywhere at once, and you can blow some great opportunities by trying. Instead, start with the mediums you understand best and the ones that are most relevant to you. Use Instagram if you have a physical product and have a lot of images. Use Snapchat and Youtube for videos if you want to videos or how-to tutorials. Use SoundCloud and Itunes if you have a podcast or if you are making music.

Step 3 – Tell Your Story

A great social media content strategy is personable and relatable, so you have to tell your story and what is going on in your business. It involves sharing what’s new, what’s timely and simply what’s happening in your business, including events, awards, innovations and commentary.

Topics to keep your social media content fresh include responding to current news, using relevant dates in the year like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and answering the most important questions your clients ask.

Importantly, it also involves telling the ‘why’ behind your brand. You have to sprinkle that in and translate that to your audience through the content that you share. Here are some great ideas to get you started.

Today’s paper – What’s making the news today? Topical blogs, posts and commentary are great a great opportunity to respond to an issue, comment on it or use your authority to weigh into the debate. These opportunities help build your brand as a credible source that’s up to speed with the latest events of the world.

What are you planning – Is there something happening within your business? An event, change of premises, new staff member, fresh product line or expansion? These plans you’re making could be the basis of your next post when the time is right.

What are you telling your clients – The story you tell your clients is often social media material, you just haven’t framed it that way yet. From a well written blog to a quick Facebook keeping people up to date and providing advice is great content that’s tailored to your audience, providing them with essential information in a more casual and personal way.

Your newsletter – Similarly, your newsletter often reveals interesting and new facts or stories about your business. So how about sharing on a social level in snippets, full posts or tweets?

Your competitors – It’s just good business sense to keep a watchful eye on your competitors and the same goes for what they’re talking about in social media. You can gain great inspiration from watching the way they respond to everyday issues or the information they’re releasing.

What’s trending? What are your staff members talking about?  – Gossip, whether online or in the break room, is prime fodder for social media. Why is something piquing people’s interest so much? Ideally it’s the word on everyone’s lips that pertains to your industry, but sometimes broader topics provide the opportunity to comment as well. So ride the trending wave.

The questions your clients are asking – As PR is all about communication, sometimes the questions your clients ask reveals a whole lot about what people want to hear. So why not answer them through posts, via infographics or images, or through a quick informative tweet?

Step 4 – Encourage the Conversation

The best thing about social media is that unlike traditional press, it’s a two-way street. That means you have the opportunity to engage with your audience and to roll with topics based on feedback and trends.

It’s a conversation where you have the opportunity to educate your market, and this potential goes beyond just the occasional blog. It can include tips, advice, how-to videos, activities for your clientele, and more.

Step 5 – Automate Your Social Media Content

You’ve created it, now use it. Effectively handling social media is about posting regular and informative content, but that doesn’t mean hours laboring away at a desk. Content is 20 per cent creation, and 80 per cent how, when and where you share it.

That means re-purposing your content across channels and re-posting it again when necessary. You can highlight slightly different angles for different media, but don’t forget to back link to other relevant posts.