So how do you create a social media post? Easy, pull out your phone, dash off a few sentences, and hit send. But as a social media manager, you don't necessarily want easy or quick, you want to create thoughtful and deliberate content for your audience. We've already talked a bit about why it's important to engage on social media. Now, let's look at the element that makes up the most important piece of your social media strategy, a social media post. Before we start creating, there's some prep work that we need to do. If you completed course one of this specialization, you will have all the preparation you need. Here's what you need. First, we need to have a solid understanding of our brand. Knowing your brand's values, identity, and voice, will help you determine what kind of content you want to create, that will align with your brand. Make sure that your business has done the work of establishing its brand first, and our previous lesson on branding can help you with that. Second, we need to establish some goals for our social media posts. Even though it may just be a one-off post, any piece of content is always part of a greater strategy. Do you want to let people know about a new product? Do you want to get followers to sign up for a newsletter? Do you want to educate your followers about something in your industry? Even a simple posts that comments on an event or something in pop culture, is still working to engage your audience, and raise awareness for your brand. Ideally, you've written down the SMART goal for your campaign. That means a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. If you need a refresher on how you can formulate your SMART goal, we covered it extensively in our first course. Next, who's your target audience? You should know your target audience already. So ask yourself, who's the audience for your post? Finally, which social media platforms do you want to post on, and how will you approach this? Platforms have different requirements for posts, like character limits or video only, and generally have different cultures. While it's a great idea to re-purpose content on multiple platforms, you may need to rewrite or rethink it based on the platform. Now that you've all the prep work done, you can begin to create a post. Let's take a look at the key elements that make up a great social media post. Even though we just said that no two social media platforms are alike, social media posts across most platforms generally have the same basic elements: text, images or video, hashtags or mentions, and a call to action with a link. In later lessons, we'll go deeper into each of these, but for now, let's look at how they work together to create a social media post. Regardless of the social media platform, text is probably going to be a necessary and important piece of your social media post. It'll be how you tell your origin story, how you talk about your new product, how you state your values, how you respond to a follower, or how you make a call to action. Remember, don't just list facts, tell a story as your follower is much more likely to remember it. Even on more image-heavy social media platforms like Instagram, you still need to use your text as a caption. A social media post with an image or a video is a great way to catch someone's attention as they're scrolling. In fact, content with a visual image with it, gets more engagement, more shares, and is remembered longer than content that's text alone. Images or videos are another way to tell the stories about your business, and are also a great way to create brand awareness by showing off some of the brands visual identity, like a logo or color palette. A social media post often contains hashtags, which are words or phrases proceeded by a hashtag that associate posts to specific subject matter categories, so that the post is easily findable within that hashtag category. You might also use a mention, which is a user's name proceeded by an at that tags them in a post, or lets them know you've mentioned them. These simple additions provide a lot of leverage to your content, getting found, and getting shared. A great use of social media is a call to action, which usually consist of pointing followers toward content on your website, like a product page, a blog post or an article. Social media posts should include an obvious link where there needs to be one, so that customers can follow where you're leading them. You now know what the core elements of a social media post are. Now, let's take a look at how this works in practice on Facebook.