The step-by-step guide to building a successful social media strategy

Andy Lambert, Senior Manager, Product at Adobe
Understanding the Six C’s Andy Lambert’s concept of the six C’s in social media strategy is a masterclass in comprehensive planning. The first C, Customer, is about getting to know who you’re talking to. It’s about understanding their likes, dislikes, and what keeps them up at night. This deep dive into the customer’s world sets […]

Table of Contents

Understanding the Six C’s

Andy Lambert’s concept of the six C’s in social media strategy is a masterclass in comprehensive planning. The first C, Customer, is about getting to know who you’re talking to. It’s about understanding their likes, dislikes, and what keeps them up at night. This deep dive into the customer’s world sets the stage for everything else.

Moving on, Context is the setting of your story. It’s about where and how your customers interact with social media. Are they scrolling through Instagram while commuting? Or are they searching LinkedIn during their lunch break? Understanding this context is crucial in crafting messages that resonate.

Creativity then comes into play. In a world where everyone is vying for attention, how does your content stand out? It’s not just about being different; it’s about being relevant and striking a chord with your audience. Creativity in social media isn’t just art; it’s strategic art.

Next, Community is about building that space where your customers feel they belong. It’s creating an environment where they can engage, share, and feel a part of the brand’s journey. This is where brands transform from being just a logo to a living, breathing entity in the minds of the audience.

Channels are the conduits for your message. Each social media platform has its unique language and etiquette. Understanding these nuances is key to ensuring your message isn’t just seen but is also heard and appreciated.

Lastly, Calculation is about the metrics. But it’s not just numbers for the sake of numbers. It’s about understanding what these numbers mean for your brand. Are you reaching the right people? Are they engaging with your content? This is where data transforms into insights.

Implementing the Four Pillars

The four pillars – Bond, Educate, Showcase, and Tell – form the backbone of Andy’s strategic approach. Bonding is about creating a connection that goes beyond transactions. It’s about making your audience feel seen, heard, and valued. This emotional investment is what turns customers into loyal fans.

Educating your audience is the next pillar. It’s about sharing knowledge, insights, and valuable information. This is where a brand can establish itself as an authority in its field. It’s not just about selling a product; it’s about imparting knowledge that enriches the audience’s life.

Showcasing is the art of demonstrating your brand’s value. It’s about sharing success stories, customer testimonials, and the impact of your products or services. This pillar is about building credibility and trust through proof.

Telling is where the magic of storytelling comes in. Every brand has a story – a reason why it exists. This pillar is about sharing that story in a way that’s compelling, engaging, and memorable. It’s about turning your brand narrative into a captivating saga that your audience follows with interest.

Deep Diving into Customer Understanding and Storytelling

In-depth customer understanding is more than just knowing demographics. It’s about getting into the psyche of your audience. What motivates them? What are their fears? Understanding these nuances is key to crafting messages that don’t just speak to your audience but speak for them.

Storytelling then takes this understanding and weaves it into a narrative. It’s not just about what you’re selling; it’s about the story behind it. Why does your product exist? What problem does it solve? These stories make your brand relatable and human.

The consistency in storytelling is vital. It’s about maintaining a thread that runs through all your communications. Whether it’s a tweet, a blog post, or an Instagram story, each piece should feel like part of a larger narrative. This consistency builds familiarity and trust.

Bringing the Strategy to Life and Amplifying It

Bringing the strategy to life is about making these plans actionable. It’s about turning concepts into campaigns, ideas into posts, and strategies into stories. This is where the theoretical meets the practical.

Choosing the right channels is crucial in this stage. It’s not just about being everywhere; it’s about being where your audience is. Whether it’s TikTok, LinkedIn, or Instagram, understanding the strengths of each platform is key to maximizing your impact.

Finally, measuring success is about understanding the effectiveness of your strategy. It’s not just about likes and shares; it’s about engagement, conversion, and impact. This measurement helps in fine-tuning the strategy, ensuring that it’s not just resonating with the audience but also driving tangible results.


Andy: Let’s do it. Thank you so much, James, and thank you everyone for giving me a bit of your likely very busy afternoon. I really hope that this will be valuable for everyone and of course, happy to take any questions offline that I don’t get a chance to address today. I’ll share contact details. I’ll share the slides in the chat. A bit of a note, just try and remind me not to forget to share the slides because there’s quite a lot of detail on these. They are designed as a bit of a takeaway too.

I want to start today with a bit of a confession if I’m honest. The confession is that I don’t really perceive myself as an expert in social media or do I perceive what I’m about to walk you through, which is a step-by-step social media strategy, as the only way of doing it. Because the reality is, everyone’s context and experience of social media is so uniquely different that we all should be in learning mode.

As much as everyone would say they’re an expert, this is the only way to do it, the three steps to do X, it doesn’t really exist on social media. It’s ever-changing. It just serves us all just to have that humility to say we’re all learning from each other and I have a lot to learn from everyone that’s on this call too. Whilst I’ll share all of my experiences openly and as widely as I possibly can, just be aware.

Just take whatever you’d see as appropriate for you from what I’ll talk about today. Don’t feel for a moment you have to do this, this is the only way of doing it. I just want to start with that because a very wise man called Joe Glover once told me, I think it was some advice from his grandfather that, share your experiences, not your opinions. That is what I’ll do today.

Already done the intro. I don’t really need to talk about the boring stuff about me, but just to give you a bit of context, my experience in social media spans 15 years really through the context of using it as the primary tool to grow businesses. I’ve always been in small businesses and startups. That really is my context and the lens that I typically see social media through.

We’ve got three things to cover today. It’s going to be high energy, it’s going to be pretty fast-paced, but we’re going to make sure, and James, keep me honest here, that we’ll spend a good amount of time for Q&A as well because I tend to talk lots if you’ve seen me talk before, which a few of you have, so hello to a lot of familiar names in the chat. I tend to get carried away because I do like this topic somewhat. I get rather excited and animated and passionate. I’ll try and contain it somewhat as we go through it.

Anyway, let’s start with the most important thing, why social media strategy matters. I’ve only got three slides for this, but my words, they are the things that I just want to batter every senior stakeholder over the head with because social media is still criminally undervalued in most businesses that I speak to. I said I was going to share experiences, not opinions, there’s something I’m deeply opinionated on, which is this. Businesses not taking social media seriously enough because really, at its root, social media is all about psychology and how brands are built.

Let me explain a little bit more. We know this, search and social and the dynamics of them are changing. More people are going to social first rather than search to discover new products and services. This is a change we’ve seen happening over the last five to six years, and really now only has it gone over the tipping point where more people are defaulting to social rather than search to discover products for the first time.

That has serious ramifications for our broader marketing strategy. Social media should not be seen as the bolt-on as to, oh, we’ve got an event to promote. Let’s bang it out on social. That is completely misunderstanding and doing a disservice to the impact and power that social has. Everyone on this call, I’m preaching to the choir here, you all already know this. The thing about this, and it’s even so unique, TikTok is really accelerating this trend as well. 40% of consumers go to TikTok first, just TikTok alone, to discover new products and services.

People are turning to social first. There’s a couple of reasons for this. Getting a bit psychological here, but there’s two real things that are driving this. One, search costs. I don’t mean monetary costs, I mean the cost of time and resources. For us to find the best product, whether it’s in our consumer lives or business, requires a heap of effort in searching right as we pour through Google or social or whatever.

It’s very quickly become, and when we look at Google, that many people that have engineered SEO doesn’t really give us the best possible experience when we’re trying to search for the best product. Typically, we’re trying to find a way to shortcut search costs. We want to find the best product quickly. That’s search costs, but you’ve also got opportunity costs. The cost of making the wrong decision, whether it’s, again, something you’re buying in your own personal life or within a business construct, the opportunity costs are big of making the wrong decisions.

Naturally, we as consumers and humans need to shortcut this. We need to make sure we’re making the right decision, but we don’t want to spend too much time making the decision. That creates a very interesting dynamic, which therefore plays into social’s hands because naturally, the consumer and the trusted element that exists on social, where I’m friends with James, if James recommended me something to use, I would likely take his recommendation as gold and will end up using that product. That’s what exists on social.

Then when you think that 85% of people trust peers over ads, to be honest, I question the friendship group of the other 15% here, because realistically, that is the way decisions are made. Trust is the thing that builds a brand. It sits at the cornerstone of it. The thing that’s helping these search and opportunity costs of searching for the right product and service, that’s what is driving people away from Google and more towards social media to try and find those products and services. Because we need to shortcut making the right decision, so we’re deferring and defaulting to peers, not just in the social media feed, but in dms and in our private communities. Naturally, the way that we’re getting influenced to buy and discover new products is changing, is orientating more social.

This then goes on to the main thing that I’m opinionated about. The thing that I will die on the hill of is that social media is a business strategy, not a channel. The way that we’ve always built businesses and the way that I built ContentCal as well, was seeing social media strategy as a central point of the business. It isn’t a bolt-on. It is the business strategy because it makes perfect sense. Surely you want to build your business on the tool that’s going to allow word of mouth to spread, that’s going to allow trust to grow because really, that’s what a brand is. A brand is your promise, a brand is your trust, and it’s your trust at scale. That word of mouth helps us grow.

With those three dynamics and dimensions to look at social media strategy, these are the things that I end up talking to senior stakeholders, our investors when we’re at ContentCal about, this is why social media and the investment that you make in growing a business with social media at the core is so, so essential. Decisions are happening on social media. We’re deferring to peers to shortcut trust. Ultimately, to do that, we need to think about social media as more of a central tenet to our business.

That is what we’re going to talk about throughout the whole of today, how do we make that happen? All right, before we’re going to go into the framework and how we build social media as a central defining function for our business strategy, not just our marketing strategy, we want to look at these six golden rules as well. If you take nothing else away from this session, I’ve shared these numerous times before, so sorry if I’m repeating myself, but honestly, these are, as far as I’m concerned, the non-changing elements of social.

Number one, scaling word of mouth is our ultimate ambition. As we’ve just been speaking about, it’s the way decisions are made, it’s the way that a brand and trust is built. Our whole job on social is not to go viral or build followers or anything like that. It’s about getting as many people to talk about us as possible. That is our only thing that we should care about.

The way to get as many people talking about us as possible is through collaborations. Finding people to work with is the best way I’ve ever found to grow a brand quickly because collaboration is the best way to build trust. Five, nearly six years ago, I stalked Joe and James from the marketing meetup to try and make them be friends with me. That became a wonderful friendship and a fantastic collaboration that still exists today. Those collaborations and the time and effort you invest in those relationships with people that are very important and influential in the industry will make a huge difference to how you grow your brand.

Participation increases engagement. Thinking a little bit more tactical in this comment is every piece of content that we create should have, how will our audience interact with it at its core, right? I’m sure if you joined Sophie’s webinar last week, Sophie talked lots about this kind of stuff. Sophie’s content is absolutely brilliant. If you didn’t see that, definitely go and watch it.

Engagement drives reach. That’s one of the nice truisms about social media. Algorithms change. We all look at the latest hacks and latest tricks of, what’s happening with the algorithm. I’m going to touch on that a little bit. To be honest, we can get rid of all of that noise with a simple three-word sentence. Really, the more engagement that you’ll drive in your content, whether it’s comments predominantly, or whether it’s watch time, that will drive reach no matter what social platform you’re on.

Reach is always driven when you encourage more people to interact with your content. When I say interact with your content, might be simply asking a question at the end of your post. It might be doing some collab posts on Insta or using the ‘add your sticker’ if we’re thinking about it more tactically, just to bring it to life a little bit.

Then number five, reach drives awareness. With more people seeing our content, they become aware. Typical marketing law is that people need to see our message seven times before they become cognitively aware of it. That’s typically what we’re looking for. We’re looking at driving mass reach. That’s where social media and the power of working with others allows us to infiltrate other communities and build trust and influence and word of mouth at scale.

Just to keep it really simple at number six, because we often overcomplicate the process of marketing. Realistically, us as humans, because until AI and we have machines buying products, right now it’s still squishy things that sit in seats that are purchasing products. Unfortunately, or fortunately, whichever way you look at it, we are flawed individuals. We are susceptible to all kinds of biases. Of course, because we talked about those search and opportunity costs as well, will typically defer to the best product being the one that they know. That’s why and I’m going to talk about how we can make that work in reality and how we can put some practical approaches to all of these six.

These are the golden rules. They’re never changing and ultimately, these give us some foundations as to how we then consider social media as the core tenet of our business strategy and how we grow our brand. All right then, let’s go on to the content framework that will allow us to walk through this step by step. In each of these steps, we’re going to bring it to life. Seems kind of complex here, but I’m going to walk through at a high level.

Essentially, we can break it down into the six C’s. This is something that I’ve been using for the last eight years, I would say, as a main way that we think about how we build a business from scratch. Like I say, when I’m building a business from scratch, I’m thinking social media first. This doesn’t apply just if you’re a startup or brand new business. This can apply retroactively into any organization that you work within.

Anyway, number one. Firstly it’s all about customer. I’m going to go more into that but naturally, you’ve got three steps related to, how can we understand the customer, the problems that they’re solving. How can we be absolutely certain that it means something to them? I’m going to talk in a bit more detail about that in a second.

Second C is context. With the understanding of our audience, what’s the story we’re going to tell and what do we want to achieve through all of this? Of course, goals are always going to be important in strategy creation.

Then the final four Cs, as you can see they’re a cycle because they are continuing. Those first two Cs really we do them once as we start the strategy but these four Cs are the ones that will be consistent and perpetual as how do we tell that story creatively? How do we bring it to life within a community? How do we then amplify that through a bunch of different channels? Then how can we understand our metrics and how can we demonstrate success? We’re going to walk through those six different steps one by one. These are the six C content. This is the six C content strategy. We’re going to walk through this one by one.

All right. It starts with customers as it always should do. Firstly, customer, the persona and the problem statement, like who do I want to care? This is where any business I would encourage them to think about who is their minimum viable audience right at the core? Because we all have lots of people we want to target. If we had to strip away all of that noise and target and focus only on one very high-value individual, who would that be? That’s what I define as the minimum viable audience. Who are we going to target and what’s their problem statement? What are the challenges they face so which is why should they care?

These three circles can easily be answered by these three simple questions, but kind of complex at the same time. Who do I want to care? Why should they care? What do we hypothesize are the problems that our audience faces? If we go back to the ContentCal days, as we were building that business, who do I want to care? Social media managers. Why should they care? They care because organization or keeping organized is very, very hard, stakeholder management and approvals is a nightmare and a whole load of other things. We had some strong hypothesis as to why they would care.

Then customer research and discovery. I cannot tell you how many businesses skip this step because marketing is typically something, in social media in particular is something that’s one, given to the most junior person in the business, which one, is a massive, massive problem. Two, we don’t spend enough time talking with actual customers. We look at spreadsheets, we try and look at data, but actually getting out of our home office or office or wherever and going to speak to people and understanding directly what they’re facing.

We did this at the early days. I’ve done this every time that I’ve either built a marketing strategy or built a business from scratch, it’s always spending as much time with a customer at the earliest stage so you can truly understand, here’s my hypothesis of your problems, does that actually resonate? Once you’ve got that, because you’ll need to pivot a few times, but once you’ve got that, the true understanding of the audience you want to serve and what they really care about, everything else becomes so much easier. We can’t skip this step, and we need some fidelity here. That fidelity takes us into context.

Context is all about story. I always really like this question because I think it prompts some interesting answers. The story you tell related to the problems that your customer faces, what do I want to be known for? If we think of your brand as what people say about you when you’re not around, which is essentially what it is, your brand is your reputation, your brand is your promise. What would you want to be known for? If someone was talking about you to someone else, how would you want to be described? That really helps us understand the story in a way we want to tell it.

This is something that Seth Godin talks about a lot and I absolutely adore it. What change do we seek to make? All good marketing seeks to move someone from point A to point B, so what change are we seeking to make? Now we know the problems and the context of the users that we seek to serve and make a difference to the lives of, what changes that we want to make. What do we want to be known for? Then finally, this is probably the easier one, but this is often where most people start with a strategy, is like, what do I want to achieve? All I would like really think a little bit more about, going into a bit more detail around, who our audiences are and the stories we want to tell.

I’ll give you an example. In each of these steps I’m going to give you an example. This is a business called SymTerra. They are a business I advise but not affiliated with in any other way. They’re a construction software company, so it doesn’t really get much more boring than that, to be honest. The idea of this business, they’re a startup. They’re trying to grow, and naturally, if we think about the context and the story they want to tell, they got very crisp on who their audiences are so project managers working in construction; the problems that they face, which is they spend their whole life doing manual paperwork or trying to communicate on WhatsApp, which just creates absolute chaos. Now they want to tell a story. Their story is all about living the lives of their customers by talking their language so they can really feel their pain.

Whether that’s through this ChatGPT-orientated meme we’ve got here, which generated I think nearly 8,000,000 views, which is a bit insane. YouTube shorts are performing incredibly for them at the moment, just as a bit of an FYI. Also, how they told the story. Their story doesn’t change. It’s very consistent, less time filling out forms, more time living your life. Really simple, really crisp about the story they want to tell. The way that they tell it through creativity is very, very interesting.

Whether it’s through dressing up as a dinosaur and going to events, the great thing about B2B is that it’s so easy to stand out, if you just want to be a little bit more brave, it becomes a unique brand asset. Everyone out, don’t be a dinosaur, et cetera. That’s the kind of narrative here, but ultimately, the story stays the same. It’s all about, they know the customer problem, they’re living a life of it, and they’re able, because they truly understand it, they’re able to represent that problem in a lot of unique and entertaining ways.

That takes us nicely onto the third step of this, which is creativity. Now, I don’t class myself as a very creative individual. You’ll give me a blank sheet of paper, I won’t really know what to do, but I can think as soon as someone gives me a bit of an outline of something. It gives me a framework to operate within. That’s what I’m going to offer up here. As we now think about where we’re at in the journey, I’ll flip back actually very quickly, where we’re at in the journey, we’ve truly understood our audience. We’ve validated with them, so we have great certainty of the problems and what our audience face, so we feel like we’ve lived the life of our consumer.

We’ve now understood the story we want to tell and we can think about what do we want to be, what do we want to be known for, and the change that we seek to make. Now, with that in mind, we can start telling that story in different ways. Let’s think about this in a way of content pillars. Now, everyone probably on this call will already know about content pillars anyway.

Naturally, you’ll probably have some different content pillars that you work on today. Like I said, if you’ve got a way of working, that’s totally cool. This is my perspective on it. I try and keep things, because I’m a simple guy, I try and keep things very, very simple. I call this the best content strategy, excuse the pun. Essentially, across these four pillars, pretty much all of social media strategy and all of the execution of the strategy can be unleashed.

Bond content is all about building the relationship. It’s about introducing, it’s about engaging. It’s about those things that if we flip back to the SymTerra example, it’s about these, yes, slightly more viral in nature posts, but ones that really say, hey, we hear you. We get your pain. We are the same as you. Essentially getting on the same level as them. That’s the bond-orientated content.

Educate is where personally I’m always happiest creating content in that space. Build trust through providing value. Pretty simple. I don’t need to talk about it too much. You will get it. Then Showcase, that’s how we demonstrate our expertise. All four of these pillars are all the foundations that we’re going to build our content strategy on. One of the best ways to showcase your expertise or your outcomes you create naturally, unleashing that through people that you work with. Whether it’s your customers, ambassadors, affiliates you might work with, whatever it is, encouraging other people to share here will really be a superpower for you.

Of course, social media needs to deliver a business outcome. As much as we’d like to pretend, it’s all about likes, engagements, followers, et cetera, really it needs to drive a business outcome. Of course, there’s going to be some tell elements in that too. We need to define an action that our followers want to take. Really, across these four pillars, as far as I’m concerned for the strategies that I create, everything can always fit, no matter what business I’m advising can always fit within these four personally.

I’ve actually created a whole bunch of prompts and topics across all of these. Excuse the worst-looking slides you’ve ever seen in your life. They will be shared. This isn’t designed for me to work through one by one. You’ll be pleased to note I’m not going to kill you with PowerPoint this afternoon, but we’ll touch on the left-hand side of this, which is the topics that live under each of these pillars.

For example, in bond-orientated content, share your story. It might be your founding story as to why you got here, the purpose why you did what you did. Something like Creator Spotlight, I find a massively underutilized opportunity because one of the best ways to grow on social is by promoting others. If there’s people that you like in your industry, that you respect, show them the appreciation publicly. Talk about their works or the things that you liked about it.

That will honestly, one, give you recognition in the industry, and two, give you fantastic content which talks about others, because that becomes instantly reshareable. A great way in order to build our brand, because if you take away nothing else from today, the thing that I really stand for is that our main job should be encouraging other people to talk about us. We should not overvalue the stuff that we put in our feed. We need to be thinking about, how can we encourage this to go into other people’s feeds.

That means getting as many people involved with our content as possible. I’m going to talk some more tactics around that shortly.

Then Behind the Scenes as well. I don’t need to explain that one because you probably all get it. Educating, building trust by adding value, so it could be your top five tips, tools, trends top mistakes, what I wish I knew, that kind of thing. How-to’s always performed incredibly well. We spent two years solidly creating how-to content at ContentCal. Over the course of two years delivered 30,000 new leads, because it was all about educating on the problems that we knew intrinsically and deeply from living the lives of those audience that we seek to serve.

Across all those problems that we investigated, that we’d spent time sitting with users and understanding all of those problems, we built content to address, whether it’s keeping up with the latest trends and changes, whether it’s how to build a strategy, how to build a content calendar, all of those things. I don’t need to read them off because you all know them all. How-to’s became incredibly powerful.

Then, of course, your Favorite 5’s. Don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be five, it could be three, whatever. Joe Glover does this really well by sharing the resources that he finds particularly valuable, which creates value for everyone else, makes the content instantly shareable because naturally, everyone that’s been tagged in the content is going to likely reshare it because why wouldn’t you? All of that stuff creates such wonderful goodwill in your space as well, adding value to the community that you operate in. This is not all about being philanthropic here either because naturally, it grows your presence within an industry too.

Showcasing, so work in progress, bringing people along for the ride. To give you a bit of an example of what we’re doing here at Adobe, I’m now running a lot of the beta programs for the products that we’re working on and we’ve started to get a lot of community members involved in testing these products before general release. Showing work in progress like this creates so much goodwill around a brand. Creates a really nice atmosphere of like, people have early access, they feel special, et cetera.

Great for a business too because you get to understand audience sentiment before you release products, but those kinds of things that if you can think about some constructs in your own business where you can get people involved, have special unique experiences for individuals, or even just share the things that you’re working on early and often brings people along with the journey. Because that’s what people buy into. They don’t just just buy into you because your product has the right widgets and buttons. They buy into it because they emotionally feel it.

That, honestly, was such a revelation to me over the last 10 years of building brands. It’s like, here I speak a lot about ContentCal, but in our experience at ContentCal, we weren’t the best product. We had some great things going for us, for sure, but we weren’t the most fully featured product in the market. The reality is, is that what we did do is spend a lot of time talking about and delivering value on how you do social media marketing, how to build a content strategy, those kind of things, and enrolling people along with a journey, taking their advice and feedback, building that into the product.

All of that creates a completely unique experience versus more established players. That really means you lean into what you’d class as a marketing advantage. Big established players could not maneuver like that. Smaller players can maneuver that quickly, can be more audience-centered. Those emotional connections are the things that really do build a brand. Of course, reviews, et cetera. I don’t need to talk about that because you all know that but the more that you can encourage others to share here, the better.

Then, of course, we’re going to need to tell our story as well. Whether it’s launching products, driving sales, those kinds of things, there is a place for that on social, but there isn’t a place for that without all of the other three bits that sit before it, Bond, Educate, and Showcase because they’re the fundamentals that will allow us the permission, and this is an important thing, it’s about permission.

People don’t hate ads, they don’t hate buying products. People just don’t like it when there is not an already agreed permission. We haven’t earned the right to market to someone. That’s what jars with people. You’ll see lots of typical narrative like, oh, people hate ads, people hate sales. They don’t really, people just hate bad experiences. That’s what we need to try and do. Even though we do have something, an action we’d like people to take, we need to design the experience of that to make it optimized for that end user.

Let’s then talk about this from a content planning perspective. Now we’ve gone through those three steps of finding our customer. We’ve told the story through the context, and now we’re building, well, we’re using those four pillars, Bond, Educate, and Showcase and Tell, to creatively build our strategy. What might it look like? This is built in Adobe Express

using our content calendar here.

Now, want to caveat this, that even though I’ve said, here’s our four different pillars that we run every single week, and underneath that is each of those topics that we were just talking through. Of course, you could work it just like that. You’ve got a really predefined plan that you could work with every single month if you so desire. For me, I personally find this really empowering because one of the things I hate most, from my personal perspective, is looking at the calendar for the week ahead and going, “I have no idea what I’m going to be talking about.” That is a place that we don’t want to be. We want to have some structure which takes some of the cognitive overhead away from how we plan our content.

Now, I don’t for a minute think everyone should post every single day. Here’s just an example. What I would encourage anyone to do is building content, creating content is a muscle. It’s a muscle that we need to build and grow and develop. That happens through consistency. Whether that’s consistency of posting once a week or twice or three times a week, doesn’t really matter. It’s about creating that muscle to encourage that consistent approach to publishing.

There is no best times to publish, there’s no best amount of posts to publish in a week, et cetera. As much as we’d love to have those simple rules and frameworks, there are some high-level metrics related to it. Realistically, there is no single guiding principle, but ultimately, this can give you a nice structure to work with. It’s worthwhile saying, just as a quick side note, and one of the things I’m particularly pleased about, is that this week we just made all of this content planning stuff and publishing stuff in Adobe Express entirely free. I’ve been campaigning this for a while because I think this should be available to everyone without a cost. Now it is available. Anyway, that is the only plug you’ll hear from me today, and I’m going to continue.

Now, I’m going to continue on the most important part of any strategy, any strategy at all, is about community. Probably it shouldn’t be at number four, it probably should be at the start. Either way, it works better in this framework. Now we know how we want to tell our story, we know who we want to tell it to. Now we need to think about the community side of stuff. Community is a bit of a nebulous, esoteric concept, so let’s try and create some definitions around it and perfect time that we’re actually doing this in the best marketing community on the planet too. Anyway, right at you, James. You know I mean it.

Anyway. Naturally, the creator economy has exploded niche communities. The thing I find particularly fascinating about social media right now is that there is an explosion of niche communities. Really exciting. Because social media is becoming less centralized and more fragmented, which is absolutely brilliant. You can see this in the growth of like Discord, Patreon, Substac, Reddit, they’re all growing double digits every single year. The reason for that is because people are feeling more comfortable working in those smaller, safer spaces.

That really talks of everything we started this session with, with like the power of social over search, why people were trusting peers, et cetera. We all turn to others for recommendation. We want to go to our safe spaces to drive our recommendations of our products. Realistically, how we operate in communities will define the success of our social media strategy.

Let’s think about communities for a second. Let’s try and categorize these a little bit. James, feel free to chime in as well, because you’re community-pro too. I think this is my definition. I’m curious to know others’ take on this too. Anyway, this is the way I think about it. They could be product-based, so they could be focused on a specific product, like Salesforce have a great one. More of a user group. You could be category-based, based around the marketing Discipline, the marketing meetup, for example. That’s product or category. Then you can also look at it from your own construct of like, owned communities. Which are the ones that you own?

We’ve got one at Adobe, a Facebook group called the Adobe Express Insiders, which is fine. It works quite well. There’s 100,000 or so members there, reasonable engagement. There’s also non-owned partner communities, groups of individuals that feature your target audience. This is where a lot of wonderful stuff happens. Now, if I take it back to ContentCal example, we had our own community. It’s on Facebook, didn’t perform that well because it’s very hard to get a community to be super engaged and turn up again and again.

That’s why TMM is quite remarkable and it’s incredible what’s happened with the marketing meetup. It’s very rare to achieve that level of community engagement. Typically, building a community as a business, as exciting and interesting as it sounds, it’s very unlikely that many businesses deliver on it unless you’ve got the scale of Salesforce or Adobe, but then you’ve got non-owned or partner communities.

This is where at ContentCal we had massive success working with every single Facebook group, working with every little Discord channel, Slack community related to social media managers and social media marketing. Spent so much time working with individuals that ran those communities. That is where the opportunity comes because these micro-communities, and it probably won’t sound very nice when I phrase it like this, but they operate like echo chambers because they’re in a trusted sphere. When people recommend products in those spaces, everyone assumes that recommendation and everyone believes in it too.

We saw this playing out within the marketing meetup community where people would ask, what’s the best social media product? Lots of people would say, “ContentCal.” More and more people would chime in and say, “Oh yes, ContentCal.” Because it became the only product that they knew in this space. It was really interesting to see how in that sphere of influence, how a few people start to recommend something, it then just assumes like the go-to product within those spaces. Basically, you can become a very big fish in a small pond and in many, many different small ponds.

James: It was also a really good product. I think the same goes to the fact that if the product had been rubbish, first of all, we wouldn’t have been promoting it. I think also we’ve got a savvy community that knows when something isn’t very good and people hold themselves to pretty high standards in this community and so it’s recommended because it was good. Make sure you got that in there.

Andy: Yes, I appreciate that. I have a level of humility around it, as you know, but anyway. I respect it and I appreciate it. That’s a very interesting thing that happens. Honestly, very few businesses think about social media from that perspective and that just became our marketing advantage. It became the thing that allowed us to grow our content, to grow our brand, and trust to grow, et cetera.

Let’s talk about the impact of people for a moment. I’m going to check time. I’m going to speed through for the next five minutes because I want to get as many questions in. The impact of people, super substantial. Look at the difference. I’m no football fan, so I couldn’t really talk about this. What is very interesting is when you put a human narrative to a story, how much more that grows. We saw that happen in the personal profiles as we were building ContentCal. I’ve seen that happen across other businesses I’ve advised to.

It makes perfect sense because eyes and trust, people believe the stories of individuals and we want to follow the journeys of the people that we truly care about. I’m going to skip over that one actually, because that was just people saying nice things about me and we don’t need that.

Collaborations, there are so many tools. The thing that makes me excited about this is because all the social media channels are leaning into this because they’ve recognized the power of collabs. Whilst there’s lots of different things like TikTok’s branded mission, there’s collabs on Instagram, which I absolutely adore, because as we know, as soon as you tag someone else as a collaborator in the post, it goes to their feed and your feed. You’ve doubled the reach, probably 3X it because the person you’ve collaborated with likely have more followers. All of that is such an incredible way of extending your reach of your brand outside of just thinking about what you post in your own channels.

The other thing I just want to call out here is that when you work with others, whether it’s– think about an interview format. Whether it’s Instagram Live, whether it’s something like we’re doing today on a webinar, whether it’s a podcast, they are the highest leveraged pieces of content you could ever create. Not only can you repurpose that content very easily, and a bit of a tooltip here, I’m not affiliated with it, but I love it. It’s the best tool I’ve seen in social media for years. It’s called Opus Clip. I’m sure many of you know it.

You can put one long-form piece of content into it and it just spits out loads of short-form versions. I think you’ve probably used that as well. I’ve certainly seen something that looks similar, but yes. Shoot, it’s a best-kept secret, but it’s an amazing, amazing product. That’s what I mean, leverage because you can increase the velocity of your content, and of course, because you’ve worked with others, it naturally makes it inherently reshareable.

Big brand example, 7.8 billion views just from this collab across this thing called McDonald’s Menu Hacks, where McDonald’s had this concept of putting together this random assortment of McDonald’s meals and creating their own cocktail of McDonald’s stuff. Sounds interesting. Either way, called it Menu Hacks. It became such a massive thing on TikTok because they accelerated that through partnerships and individuals. We know the impact that has. I can only dream of seeing those kind of numbers. I’m sure most of us can’t, but most of us aren’t McDonald’s, but you get the concept of how powerful this can be and it is not reserved for massive businesses working with others and allowing others to encourage your content to proliferate.

I am going to fire through this because I’ve only got two more things, I think, and then we’re going to go into this. Now, I’m not going to talk through this because this is the nerdiest slide in the world and it is also one of my favorite ones. The point being, I’m going to share these slides and looking at this will really help us to find the channels we want to focus on.

One of the main takeaways here, if we look at LinkedIn users at the end, so few people are unique to a platform. It’s so important to think multi-channel when we’re thinking about our content strategy. If you look at LinkedIn users, only 0.2% are unique to a platform, yet 52% of them are also on TikTok. Thinking more broadly and holistically about our content strategy is super important.

I’m going to actually go through some other– I’m going to forget some of those benchmarks actually because I think Sophie spoke a lot about like trends, what channels are growing. A little quick tip for you just on those channels, YouTube Shorts performing incredibly well for reach. Instagram Reels are beating TikTok in terms of average views. TikTok and LinkedIn are still the best for engagement rates. They’re my four top tips, cut that nice and short.

Now, I’m going to go into calculation, I’ve got two slides, and then we’re going to go into questions and answers. Because looking at metrics, as we’re at the final step of this 6Cs strategy, I only look at metrics through two lenses. I, one, use this to define, and I’ve shared this numerous times before, actually, but it doesn’t change. This is how I define what good content looks like.

I look at anything within the interception of impression rate and engagement rate. For any posts that delivered significant impressions, i.e. got really far, and then anything that delivered great engagement rates. The magic happens in the middle of those circles. We don’t need to just go viral and that’s why I say, don’t go viral for viral’s sake. Because it doesn’t matter if we get loads of views, but we don’t get depth of engagement because naturally, that doesn’t help anyone.

What we want to do is maximize the reach of our content, i.e. impressions which is calculated just by the number of views we get divided by followers and our engagement rate, so the engagements divided by followers. Anything that hits the middle of that metric is bang on. I would only evaluate content once a month. I try and push out any request to look at performance in less than a month because honestly, to look at social media impact you have to step back, get a broader perspective. Trying to do a microanalysis I find actually not very helpful at all.

The most important thing, bar anything, this defines everything I’ve spoken about today, yhe social media metric that matters more than any other, many of you know this, James, you know this because I’ve spoken about this before, we need to think about Share of Voice. We don’t need to think about it right away, but we absolutely– this is the way I’d look at it every single quarter, which is the impact of all of the things that we’ve spoken about. Because everything I stand for is about getting more people to talk about a brand, so the way that we can evaluate that won’t necessarily be through our follower growth or number of likes, we evaluate that by the impact that we’re having on the market. Share of Voice is simply the number of times that you’re mentioned across the whole internet.

If you compare your Share of Voice to your market share, if your Share of Voice is higher than your market share, you will grow. This is a single chart I show to investors, other stakeholders in ContentCal because I knew we had 5% market share, Hootsuite had 30%, but our Share of Voice was over theirs, was above theirs. So we continued to pick customers from them forever and that’s what allowed us to grow that quickly. It’s what allowed our trust and our brand reputation to grow which ended up, six years later, with us getting acquired by Adobe. It is all built around, how do we build a brand that is adored, a brand that is trusted, and a brand that is recommended consistently.

Just beware, one final note, before we go to question and answers, beware the measurement trap that what we can’t see versus what we see, attribution and trying to measure social and microlens is we will go nowhere. I’ve spoken about this slide numerous times with senior stakeholders, et cetera, people that don’t understand social, it’s because attribution software, whether you use Hootsuite or Salesforce or whatever, won’t tell you the full picture of how people discovered it.

Typically, the way that we get inspired and learn about products and get recommended products or services to buy, as we spoke about right from the beginning, it’s nuanced, it’s messy, it’s not a linear funnel. When you look at that, we can’t really attribute it to a single moment but ultimately, as long as we are looking at this through the big picture, through the lens of Share of Voice, we can truly see the impact that social media is having at a macro level.

Let’s end on this slide. This is the framework that we went through, going deep on our customer, truly understanding from a deep understanding of our customer what the problems that we’re trying to solve are, and how we want to tell that story in a consistent and practical way and the change that we seek to make. Once we understand that deeply, we can then accelerate that through our best content strategy, bond, educate, showcase, and tell the simple four pillars that everything’s built around, building those relationships with the community to amplify that content.

The channels that we’re going to need that are growing right now, which as I said, YouTube Shorts, TikTok, and LinkedIn, and Instagram Reels are the top four that give most bang for buck in terms of reach right now. The single metric that matters more than anything else is understanding how Share of Voice will impact us at a macro level. Good Lord, that’s a lot of talking. I know I meant to have more time for questions than that, but we’re there, we made it.

James: Well done, mate. Don’t worry. It’s all valuable stuff and we really appreciate you going through all of that. There was a point where you said about going viral not being particularly valuable. Joe and I had exactly the same thing late last year where we shared two McDonald’s adverts, one in the UK and one in the United Arab Emirates and it went viral on lots of platforms. Millions, millions and millions of views.

Andy: I remember that.

James: It bord us absolutely no value, absolutely no value at all. We ended up with loads and loads of new followers but they weren’t our people, they weren’t our audience. Ultimately what we’ve seen is loads of people dropping off early part of this year as they realized that they’re not marketers and they’re not part of our community. That’s really, really important and that messy attribution thing I think it’ll be a useful slide to share when they’re being asked to justify spending money on social media. [crosstalk]

We have 29 open questions and 10 minutes. What I’m going to do is I’m going to send you these questions afterwards and maybe you can go through them and share on LinkedIn afterwards. If you dont follow Andy already, Andy pumps out more content than I understand how, and it’s always really, really useful. Is it Andy R Lambert– [crosstalk]

Andy: @andyrlambert on all things. [crosstalk]

James: Let me put it in there. Go and have a follow of Andy, his stuff is really good. Let’s kick off with the first question which is about getting buy-in from senior leadership teams. The person that’s asked this is saying that they want to try and get people involved in social media. I’m guessing this is particularly when coming– well, in fact they say, involved in LinkedIn. Have you got any tips on getting staff members involved in posting on LinkedIn?

Andy: I like to point them in the direction of, there’s some amazing research, and I share this regularly, if you search B2B Institute on LinkedIn, if you search that, amazing, amazing, so many resources there. I would use that as some toolkits to share. There’s no quick and easy answer to this one. I wish employee advocacy in getting people to share was more of a thing on social, but there’s a lot we need to do to help people feel confident to do it.

Because naturally, shame is a thing that prevents people. How will they be perceived by others and the fear of someone that they knew from a few years ago commenting on a post. That’s a really difficult thing to get over. The only thing you can do is point them in the direction of one, there’s some very tactical business B2B research on this. Two, from a personal standpoint, is that you can point them to people, I’m [unintelligible 00:51:04] for other examples. Joe, James, me, are all examples of people that our lives and our careers have been changed by the personal brand that we’ve built. Not everyone’s going to be in for that, but very honestly, my career would not be here without what I’ve done on LinkedIn.

James: It’s true. I think one of the things– we’ve done some LinkedIn training before and a lot of people are like, “I don’t know what to post.” I think when you’ve got a framework that you can work around, and there’s content pillars and all that sort of thing, ways of generating ideas, that breaks down– I think if you break down a number of the barriers for them, then the final one is about confidence in themselves. If there’s lots of barriers like, “I don’t know what to post,” then it’s a much harder ask.

Patrick asks, “What’s your process of testing different social media platforms? How long do you usually spend on testing specific platforms, let’s take Threads for instance. Maybe we use this before you say this platform doesn’t work for us?”

Andy: Great question. For me personally is I’ve made it a little bit easier on myself because I post the same thing every single Tuesday. I post a round-up of what’s happening in the world of social media. It’s the same consistent thing every single Tuesday, which makes it really easy for me to put the same thing– I put exactly the same content. Some people think I’m a heathen for doing this but, hey, there is no right or wrong in social, we’re all making up as we go along.

I put the same exact thing on every different network I can think of, whether it’s YouTube Shorts, or TikTok, or Reels, whatever. I do that for a month, literally just copy and pasting the same thing. Do that for a month. Did it for a month with Threads just doing that once a week. Turned out that nothing happened so Threads got dropped. I basically use that single content format as my test bed, basically.

What I’d just recommend is that– I’d recommend this anyway, is that every week or at least at some particular frequency, have a consistent piece of content like every Monday you do X, a round-up of something or whatever it might be. Just use that as your basis to perform any test. It’s the closest you can get to a scientific experiment. It will never be truly foolproof because you can’t replicate the same experiences, but hopefully, that will give you an idea.

James: I think there’s something to be said when it comes strategy in terms of deciding what not to do as well and actively not posting on certain channels and focusing on ones where you have got a bit of traction. Taking Joe who’s at 68,000 or 70,000 followers, whatever it is on LinkedIn, he’s been posting every day for years. Six, seven, eight years he’s been doing it. That growth has come in the last two years from maybe 10,000 up, but that’s consistency in learning the platform. I don’t think you can really judge a platform within a week or two as to how it’s going. I think it’s a decision you just have to make, really.

Andy: Yes, exactly.

James: We’ve got an anonymous question here. I don’t see the importance of social strategy in our B2B, but how can I effectively demonstrate the direct financial impact? It can be hard to answer, how much money did social make this month? Yes, a tough one.

Andy: That is where I defer to my Share of Voice question or answer. I would look at wherever your competitor sets are, and we did this in the early days. It got one of our investors hungry straight away because I just put in– I used a tool called Mentionlytics. Cumbersome to say but good product. I’m going to type that. Mentionlytics.

James: This is how you got your Share of Voice?

Andy: Yes, exactly. Did that, put our competitor in, and then showed where our tiny little Share of Voice was at that point. I was like, “The reason we’re not growing as quickly as we want to right now is because everyone’s talking about Hootsuite. We need to change that.” It was that competitive tension that got that particular individual fired up by this to go like, this is what we’re going to need to do. You can also use– hopefully, I can serve as an example. Feel free to use the examples I’ve shared of ContentCal and point them in the direction of me as to the impact that it makes to build a business and ultimately get it sold just because– it wasn’t just because. Because it was a business that a company like Adobe discovered when they were going to market to look for an organization.

That’s the impact it makes. Share of Voice is my go-to on this. Monetary impact that we get ourselves into the attribution trap that I shared before, you won’t ever see a linear. I think we just need to forget it and go, we’re not going to see any form of linear like, oh, we did this on social, it resulted in X pounds unless we’re doing ads, obviously. For organic, for the real juicy stuff that really defines a brand, you can’t. You literally can’t. All you can do is step back and go, at a macro level, this is how businesses grow. So if we want to be on that journey, then this is what we’re going to need to do.

James: Yes, that’s cool. We’ve probably got time for– loads of people asking about the Share of Voice stuff. That’s really useful. I can put that link in the follow-up email. Let’s pick one more, let’s go for the top-rated one. As a B2B marketer where our main channel is LinkedIn, is it right to focus on providing valuable/educational content or would you recommend creating a strategy that has a variety of posts including promotional?

Andy: Great question. I think everything needs to have a balance. How you will weigh it will differ. Great to hear what you’ve done so far. I would still apply that same bond educate, showcase, and tell strategy to it because you still want to drive some form of business outcome off the back of that. It’s just about balancing it really. Just wanted to say as well, somewhere in the chat which has probably got lost now, but I’m going to share it, again, this is a link to the slides we went through which has all of the post ideas that we just went through.

James: I am going to copy that myself. I can’t do it. You can send it to me afterwards. I’ll put that in the follow-up email next week, but thank you, Andy. That was super, super useful. The recording of this will be live on YouTube later on today. Next week we have a chap called Anthony Rose. He’s the CEO of SeedLegals. He’s going to talk about how he has tapped into a content gold mine by building a private social media community. I believe it’s on WhatsApp. I think it’s going to be a really interesting story that’s going to spark some ideas.

Thank you ever so much everybody for coming today. Thanks again to Frontify for being the lead partner on this one and all of our partners. You can sign up for the webinar next week. Joe’s going to be running that one. Andy, you’re a legend, we would love to have you back soon. Go and connect with Andy and ask lots of questions. I’ll send you all the rest of the Q&A so you can have content for days.

Andy: Amazing. Amazing. Happy to answer any questions. I’m sorry we couldn’t get through all of them. I talked far too much, as I said I would. Sorry. Thank you so much, everyone. Thank you for having me, James. Thank you everyone.

James: No worries. Take care everyone.

Andy: Cheers.

James: Cheers, bye.

Andy: Bye.

[00:59:18] [END OF AUDIO]