Last week, we shared with you the results of the Online Marketing Institute, Forrester Research, and Business Marketing Association Content Marketing Survey, indicating that B2B content marketing has a long way to go.

Today, we are diving deeper into the content marketing debate with an interview with Jay Ivey from Software Advice, an online review firm for social CRM systems, to answer a few questions on the first ever Social Media Content Optimization Survey done in partnership with Adobe. The survey was taken to better understand the strategies marketers are using to currently optimize their social media content and to gauge the overall effectiveness of these strategies.

1. According to your survey, 65 percent of marketers schedule their social content at least one day in advance. What’s the benefit of creating a social plan like that?

Having a structured social content timeline encourages you to post consistently and to be thoughtful about what it is you’re posting. For instance, when you plan in advance, you do a better job ensuring that you’re posting a good variety of content to keep all of your various target audience segments engaged.

Related Class: Tips and Tricks for Making Your Content Marketing Work

2. Are there any drawbacks or possible conflicts marketers should be aware of when scheduling social posts several weeks or a month in advance?

When you’re posting that far in advance, timeliness can definitely be an issue. For better or worse, social media is all about keeping up with the hottest, most current topics and trends, so if your posts are consistently stale, that’s going to have a negative effect on engagement.

3. Your survey shows that nearly half of all marketers are managing their social media accounts without any software or services, such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite. Could this be negatively affecting those marketers’ overall social media strategy? How?

Managing your social media accounts without tools will absolutely have a negative effect. If marketers want to achieve real, measurable success through social media, they need to treat it like they treat any other channel: thoughtfully and methodically. You come in with a clear, overarching strategy; you develop specific tactics as part of that strategy; and you measure the results of those tactics to see what works best. But without the visibility provided by social media tools, you can’t measure your success, which means you can’t optimize your tactics. If you’re going on gut instinct and “Likes” alone, you’re flying almost completely blind. Unfortunately, this isn’t Star Wars, and you don’t have mystical powers. So you might as well turn on your targeting computer. Not everyone can afford a fancy comprehensive marketing cloud solution with advanced social analytics. But there are a lot of free and affordable options out there. So, why not?

4. Of your respondents, 67 percent said using images or photos is “very important” to their social media strategy. How can marketers know exactly what kind of images will attract not just any audience, but the right audience?

I tend to agree with our expert, Liz Strauss, that prioritizing the use of images over targeting specific audiences seems to reflect a misunderstanding of how social media marketing works. You have to start with the top-down strategy before you focus on specific tactics, which is to say that you need to spend a lot of time thinking about who “the right audience” is before you worry about which images will attract them. For most companies this means putting real thought, energy, and resources into developing distinct, targetable buyer personas. Then those little tactical decisions are easy. You know what kind of content your closest friends will respond positively to, right? Once you know understand your subsegments as well as you understand your friends (i.e., as humans) you will know intuitively which kinds of images will attract them.

Looking for ways to optimize your social media content? In this class, Content Marketing + Social Media = Success, you will learn how to amplify existing content with social media to maximize customer acquisition. Enroll today!