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2024 Social Media Content Creation: Tips, Tools & Templates

Find out how to build an effective social media content creation process and learn about the tools that will make creating content easier.

Alyssa Hirose July 17, 2024
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Billions of people worldwide participate in social media content creation, but here’s a hot take: not everyone is good at it. It seems like some people have a knack for creating social media posts that are engaging, interesting, funny or useful, and some people are destined to be cringe.

Not you, of course. You stay up-to-date on the latest trends, tools and tips that top digital marketing blogs have to offer. And when it comes to building a brand, captivating an audience and setting yourself apart, you know that it’s all about strategy.

So the content of this post, then, is exactly what you need. You’re welcome.

Bonus: Download our free, customizable social media calendar template to easily plan and schedule all your content in advance.

What is content creation?

What is social media content creation?

Social media content creation is the process of producing written content, photography, videos, or graphics for various social media platforms (think Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, X, and more).

When you scroll through social media, the content is what you see and hear. It’s what users like, comment on and send to each other.

Yup, even this “not content” Reel, is content.

Content creation is really at the core of all social platforms, but each platform requires different content styles, character counts, image sizes and video lengths.

The main kinds of social media content are:

  • Photos: Apps like Instagram and Pinterest are very image-forward, and all social media platforms use some kind of photography or visual element.
  • Videos: Videos capture attention, and often, keep it: platforms old and new (we’re looking at you, Youtube and TikTok) champion videos as their main form of content.
  • Graphics: Not all visuals are created using a camera, and graphics are an excellent tool to communicate information that is clear and engaging. If you’re not an expert graphic designer, no sweat—there are lots of apps that can help you.
  • Text: Don’t forget about the power of the written word. Many of the posts on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram Threads are text-based, and the copy written for the captions on your photos and videos counts as content, too.
  • Audio: Like text, audio is sometimes left out of the content creation conversation, but it should never be underestimated: platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels are built, in part, on sound.
  • Carousels: A carousel is technically just a collection of two or more photos, but in 2024, it has become a form of content in its own right (don’t even get us started on the art of the photo dump). Carousels are best known as a feature of Instagram, but every app is getting in on the scrollable action (even Linkedin).

Who does social media content creation?

Social media managers

Social media managers are hired by businesses and brands to plan, create and post content for them.

Well-resourced brands who make social presence a priority often have social media teams, with many people working together to reach the company’s digital and content marketing goals. Smaller brands may have just one (usually very caffeinated) individual handling all social media duties.

Content creators

In general, the term content creator applies to anyone who creates a piece of content—yes, that includes influencers— but in this case, we mean individuals who put serious strategy behind their social media

Many influential social users prefer “content creator” or “creator” over influencer, as the title of influencer doesn’t have a great reputation.

But make no mistake, it isn’t an easy gig: content creators are a powerful presence on the internet, with a knack for selling a product or service. And many turn their aptitude for marketing and ability to build an audience into a career.

Freelancers

Brands may choose to outsource their social media content creation; they’ll hire an individual to handle their social content. Freelancers are usually contractors, working on specific projects for specific time frames.

A freelance content creator generally has more than one client at a time, so they’ll make effective content for multiple brands on a day-to-day basis.

Agencies

Agencies also generate content, sometimes collaborating with influencers or content creators. A business might outsource its social media to an agency if it doesn’t have an internal marketing team or have the capacity for a high volume of deliverables.

Agencies are generally made up of industry experts who keep up with current social media trends and technology. Plus, they can also help connect brands to creators and facilitate the content creation process when it comes to partnerships.

13 tips for a smart content creation strategy

1. Start with audience research

Who are you creating your content for? Knowing your target market is the first step to any great social media strategy. At a minimum, audience research will tell you which social platforms to focus on.

If your target audience is American women in their 20s, for example, Pinterest may be the way to go. If your customer base is made up of teenagers, do some digging on Tiktok and Youtube.

Psstt: For all the deep data on social media demographics, look over these 109 stats.

2. Determine your content mix

There may be a finite number of types of content—photo, text, video, audio—but the potential for your brand’s content is only limited by your imagination.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the possibilities, and determining what kinds of content you want to focus on will help you stay on track.

Take Instagram, for example. You can post Reels, giveaways, a case study , long form tutorials, behind-the-scenes content, and so much more. Deciding which sorts of content are best for your brand’s needs is essential.

3. Set goals

Some content can be made just for fun, but most of your brand’s social media presence should be geared towards engaging an audience, building community, or making money.

If your goal is to increase your follower count, try hosting a contest or giveaway. If you want to expand your TikTok reach, maybe it’s time to hop on a trend.

Once you’ve determined the goals for your content, you’ll have a central idea to create around.

4. Choose your aesthetic

This one’s fun. Your company may already have a standard brand colour palette, font, and general vibe, but if not, now is the time to make some artistic decisions.

Furniture and home decor company West Elm has a really beautiful (and consistent!) social media aesthetic.

West Elm Instagram page

Source: Instagram

A consistent aesthetic isn’t essential, but it makes the content you create look more visually pleasing and professional. It signals to your audience that you know your niche, and helps with brand recognition.

5. See what the competition is doing

You don’t have to start with a blank slate—no matter your industry or what social media platform you’re using; there are brands with kickass strategies that you can learn from.

Completing a competitor analysis (finding your competitors through search engines and gathering intel on their success) is an inspiration hack.

You don’t want to copy other brands, of course, but you can use their content to guide your content creation.

If you use Facebook, Instagram, or X, Hootsuite can do a competitor analysis for you. Keep your friends close, and your competitors close.Hootsuite Analytics Settings Competitive analysis

6. Work with influencers and content creators

Why not partner with the pros? Influencers and content creators know what it takes to build engaged, active social followings, and working with them can help bring your online presence to the next level.

When collaborating with an influencer or a content creator, it’s important to choose wisely and make sure their goals and values align with yours. Take this example from clothing brand Marimekko and a pair of stylish senior creators.

Or check out this collab between Olympian Suni Lee and a dry shampoo brand.

@sunisalee_

#ad It’s been a blast partnering with @Batiste as their 2024 Ambassador! Check out this behind the scenes look from our recent photoshoot for the NEW Sweat & Touch dry shampoos! #BatistePartner #Batiste

♬ original sound – suni

Pro tip: For more follow-worthy advice on working with influencers, read our step-by-step guide.

7. Use photo and video editing apps

Almost all social platforms have native photo and video editing tools… but that doesn’t mean you need to use them.

The editing ability within the apps themselves is usually limited, and it’s often hard to save your work (and losing a video you’ve been painstakingly captioning is heartbreaking, we’ve all been there).

If your content requires more complicated editing than filters or cropping (like the cool video above from triathlete, Leoni Perio), you’ll likely want to use a photo or video editing app to get the job done.

8. Experiment with AI

Artificial intelligence is a handy tool for brainstorming content ideas, generating text and coming up with hashtags. If you’re feeling stuck, use AI tools like Hootsuite’s Owlywriter to combat the creator’s block.

Keep in mind, robots haven’t fully taken over the world (yet) and can’t be relied upon to create flawlessly. So make sure you give anything AI-generated a good read, a good edit and then another good read… you don’t want a social media crisis on your hands.

Ready to take Hootsuite’s Owlywriter out for a spin?

Craft perfect posts in seconds

OwlyWriter AI instantly generates captions and content ideas for every social media network. It’s seriously easy.

Start free 30-day trial

9. Use accessibility features

Not every social media user experiences a platform in the same way, and making your content as accessible as possible will help you reach the maximum number of people.

We’ve created a list of inclusive design tips to improve your brand’s accessibility, but we’ll go over a few key elements here.

  1. Add alternative text (alt text) whenever you can, describing your images for folks who may not be able to see them.
  2. Use captions in your videos so that the audio can be read.
  3. Stay up-to-date with accessibility features on all of the platforms you use—as the online world improves itself to be more inclusive, you should improve, too.

10. Include curated content in your strategy

Psst, you don’t have to create all of your content yourself.

Thanks to features like sharing, retweeting, stitching and reposting, you can present content that other creators or brands have made while still giving credit to the original poster.

This is called content curation—like a museum or art gallery curator, you’re picking the very best of the best from the internet and showcasingit to your followers.

Accounts like Instagram’s @Veryasian.co consist almost entirely of curated content. They gather news, ideas, and stories relevant to their audience and repost them.

While it’s not required, asking permission before you share is best practice when it comes to curated content (especially if you’re a larger brand sharing the work of a smaller creator).

Just like influencer partnerships, it’s best to do some digging on the original creator before sharing their content. You’ll want to make sure you’re not accidentally amplifying a message or person who doesn’t align with your brand.

11. Look ahead and plan proactively

The digital world moves fast, and it can be very hard to keep up with trends. To make sure that you’re creating content that is timely (and valuable) to your audience, be sure to look ahead in the calendar and work backwards.

For example, if you need an Instagram Reel to advertise a Black Friday sale,you’ll want to plan, create, and edit your content well before that day.

12. Schedule your content

Scheduling your social media content will help you stay organized (and, frankly, sane).

Publishing is the last step in content creation, but it still requires strategy: on every platform, there are ideal days and times to post for maximum engagement.

You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste, and a scheduling app like Hootsuite will tell you the optimal time to post according to your specific goals.

hootsuite best time to post on instagram heatmap feature

Batch-scheduling content ahead of time will also allow you to designate a chunk of time to post and better manage those precious content creation hours. Win-win!

13. Study your analytics

Did we say publishing was the last step in content creation? Oops. Everybody makes mistakes. What’s important is that we learn from them. Not unlike you can learn from your social media analytics (see what we did there?).

Your post’s analytics will tell you how successful the content you created was: how many views, likes, comments, and shares it collected and how many people followed you after seeing it.

You can’t go back in time and change the post in order to make it perform better, but you can use the analytics from your past posts to help you know what kinds of content to create in the future.

#1 Analytics Tool for Growth

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6 free social media content creation templates

1. Social media image sizes

Bookmark this image, print it out and stick it on your fridge. Because even though it’s not technically a template, knowing the proper specs for your social media images is essential for content creation.

Save yourself from disappointment by reviewing the proper sizes and dimensions for each app.Social media image sizes 2024 by Hootsuite

2. Instagram Story templates

Half a billion people worldwide watch Instagram stories daily, so while they may only last 24 hours (unless you turn them into highlights) you shouldn’t leave them out of your content creation plans.

These 72 free Instagram story templates can help get you started.

Hootsuite Instagram story templates by theme

3. TikTok and Instagram Reel templates

You don’t need to be a video pro to make a beautiful, engaging Reel or TikTok—you just need one of these four video templates.

Thanks to Hootsuite’s Canva integration, modifying these videos with your own clips is a breeze.Hootsuite Canva integration Instagram Reels template

Psstt: If you’re scrolling through the ‘gram and see a Reel you’d like to recreate, Instagram offers video templates within the app, too.

4. Instagram Ad templates

If your brand’s budget allows, you can invest in Instagram Ads to target specific audiences.

In need of some marketing inspo? Here are 15 Instagram ad templates.

Spring collection sneak peek Instagram ad template

5. Pinterest templates

Standing out from the crowd is extra important on Pinterest, as users will be able to see your Pins at the same time as a collection of others.

Set your brand apart by using one of these five Pinterest post templates (and edit them to your heart’s desire).Pinterest template preview

6. Youtube Banner templates

Posts, stories, and videos aren’t the only content formats that needs to be created: profile pictures, banners, highlight covers, and other graphics that represent your brand are also in the mix.

If you’re using YouTube, eye-catching banner templates are a must—take a look at these 5 unique templates ready to be customized.

YouTube banner template

4 social media content creation tools

1. Hootsuite

A good content creation tool creates content… but a great onewill also support you with social media strategy, content planning, scheduling, and delivering analytics. That way you can celebrate a job well done and gain valuable insight for your next campaign. Hootsuite does it all.

Let’s start with the content: right from the jump, you can use Hootsuite’s Owlywriter and AI tools to brainstorm ideas.

Once you’ve solidified your plans and shot your content, Hootsuite has a built-in photo editor and video editor, so you can get your assets publish-ready directly in the platform. Hootsuite also offers a Canva integration—it’s like two editing apps in one (but more on that later).

When it’s caption-writing o’clock, AI comes in handy again to draft captivating, informative copy, plus generate relevant hashtags so your post can get maximum engagement.

Then, when it’s time to post, Hootsuite will recommend the best time to post based on your platform, audience and goals.,

Overall best times to post on social media

Plus, you can batch-schedule your posts ahead of time, knowing they’ll publish automatically at exactly the right moment.

Hootsuite Analytics paid vs organic and viral posts

Finally, there’s analytics.

As we mentioned earlier in this blog post, studying your analytics is key for future content creation: learning what works and what doesn’t will help you improve your social media strategy.

Hootsuite’s analytics offer clear insight into your post performance, and a road map on what to focus on next time.

#1 Social Media Tool

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2. Canva

Canva is an intuitive, user-friendly platform with thousands of free photos, icons and text treatments that you can use in your content.

Content creation apps Canva
Source: Canva

If graphic design is your passion, we’ve assembled a list of other helpful (and free) design tools to help you embrace your inner artist.

3. PhotoShop Express

When it comes to photo editing apps, PhotoShop Express is one of the best. It’s a free tool with tons of awesome features such as retouching, dehazing, noise reduction and collages.

Content Creation apps PhotoShop Express

Source: PhotoShop Express

Psstt: For 10 more great photo editing apps you can use to create content, mosey on over to this blog post.

4. Capcut

Capcut is a major player in the video editing game, and its extensive library of templates comes in handy forcreating social media content.

You can filter the library by topic to find the best fit for your brand.

CapCut video content creation apps for business
Source: Capcut

Want to learn more about this tool, plus 13 other video editing apps? Your wish is our command.

And for even more content creation tools that will make your job a little easier, check out this list.

Save time managing your social media presence with Hootsuite. Publish and schedule posts, find relevant conversions, engage your audience, measure results, and more — all from one dashboard. Try it free today.

Do it better with Hootsuite, the all-in-one social media tool. Stay on top of things, grow, and beat the competition.

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By Alyssa Hirose

Alyssa Hirose is a magazine editor, playwright, comedian and comic artist based in Vancouver, B.C. She attributes her great sense of humour to 9 years of braces and good ol' elementary school bullying (unrelated, unfortunately).

Read more by Alyssa Hirose

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