How to Create a Messaging Map for Social Media Engagement - dummies

How to Create a Messaging Map for Social Media Engagement

By Aliza Sherman, Danielle Elliott Smith

As a business, you should have already established your brand and defined your voice and personality outside of social media. Having a clear brand identity that informs all your messaging is part of both traditional marketing and online marketing.

With social media engagement, a distinct character and an intrinsic understanding of the qualities of your brand guide the way you present yourself online.

If you represent a brand, clearly specify the “personality” you use online. In most instances, companies use a brand personality that expresses a unified voice. Everyone on a company’s social media team adopts that same identity for consistency. In some cases, however, allowing individual team members to be identified or to stand out is part of an overarching strategy to convey the brand’s image.

A social media messaging map differs a little from other documents or tools that may be referred to as message maps. The document known as a social media messaging map is based on your brand qualities but also maps out these elements:

  • Who you’re trying to reach

  • What you want to say to them

  • How to attract their attention and engage them in conversation

  • What actions you want to drive

A messaging map that’s thoughtfully developed and clearly organized encourages conversations between your brand and your audience while acting as the North Star to keep your messaging on track.

Rather than rehash PR messages, look for ways to be conversational, share valuable information, tell stories, and inspire followers to respond because what you’re saying in social networks is relevant to them. You can include marketing messages, but serve up more than commercials.

How to develop a messaging map for social media engagement

Follow these steps to develop a social media messaging map:

  1. Describe your target market, audience, and tribe.

    Specify who you’re trying to reach.

  2. Break out the segments of your target audience.

    Social networks have multilayered audiences. If they’re relevant to you, be sure to address them or at least acknowledge them. Vendors, the media, and other stakeholders are all separate categories, for example.

  3. Get granular, by spelling out the demographics and psychographics of your core audiences.

    Describe the market segments in detail. (What do they like? How do they spend their days? What are their personality characteristics?)

  4. Identify the key interests of people in your market segments — the topics that resonate with them.

Taking a closer look at your target market is the first step in developing your social media messaging map.

Avoid making biased assumptions about your audience. You’re not trying to stereotype as you develop your social media messaging map. Instead, flesh out your version of the ideal customer.

How to craft social media messages to achieve your goals

After you identify your audience and the topics they’re interested in, the next step in developing your social media messaging map is to craft some sample messaging, to refine its tone and wording. Follow these steps:

  1. Circle back to your goals.

    Knowing and serving the audience is useful, but staying close to your goals is also important as you craft messages. Suppose that you’re a personal chef targeting moms in their 40s. You want customers to hire you to prepare healthy, custom meals for themselves and their families. You also want satisfied customers to encourage their friends to hire you.

  2. Establish what types of posts to use.

    You can develop many types of messages based on the audience and on your goals. A mix of the following elements maintains fresh and relevant content: Announcements, Events, News, Special offers, Inspiration, and How to.

  3. Come up with specific topic themes for messages that serve both your audience and your goals.

    Combine everything that you’ve already considered, and then get more creative. Review your message types to home in on content themes geared toward moms in their 40s, such as

    a. Announcements: This weeks menu

    b. Events: Healthy food and wine tasting

    c. News: Online articles about women and their health issues

    d. Special offers: Refer-a-friend discounts

    e. Inspiration: Inspiring quotes

    f. How to: Quick time-savers

  4. Craft sample messages geared toward each audience and goal.

    a. Announcements: Pinterest Menu Plan: 7 Meals in 30 Minutes or Less

    b. Events: Tweet: Join us for a Healthy food and wine tasting Thursday Evening from 6-8 (Include link to Facebook Event)

    c. News: Blog Post: 3 On-the-Go Breakfasts To Start Your Day Off Right (Can link from Facebook and Twitter)

    d. Special offers: VIP Refer-a-friend discounts for Facebook Friends only

    e. Inspiration: Quote: Life is not merely being alive, but being well. ~ Marcus Valerius Martialis

    f. How to: Video: Prepare healthy Snacks for your Kids Lunches (link on Blog, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest)

The content that results forms a grid specifying who you’re trying to reach and the types of messaging you’ll develop and post to reach them. Detail themes and topics that you’ll incorporate each week in order to show consistency.

When you’re consistent, your audience knows what to expect and becomes more inclined to participate. In fact, they’ll look forward to upcoming content. The sample messaging should indicate tone and voice, down to specific wording.


Tie your messaging to your goals. Flexibility (rather than rigidity) is important, and being responsive to conversations in real-time is critical. Just don’t lose your overall focus.

A messaging map helps you build out a framework for an editorial calendar that includes specific types of messages — and the messages themselves. This calendar is the foundation of (and your guide to) communicating in your social networks.

Embracing the core themes of your social media messaging map gives you the perfect place to start when crafting the messages you share every day or week. Listening plays a major role in your daily engagement activities as well. Find a balance between marketing messages, responses, outreach, and interactions.