Let’s kick off this next post in our content marketing 101 series with the definition of one of my most loathed words:
Bandwagon - a particular activity or cause that has suddenly become fashionable or popular.
Marketers have been jumping on the social media marketing bandwagon for years now, and why wouldn’t they? Their clients don’t understand it but everyone tells them they need it, regurgitating curated content doesn’t require much thinking or a special skill set, and my personal favourite, the belief that social activities don’t need to be tied to ROI because the true value of social can’t be measured.
You’re probably already doing social yourself to some degree, but what’s the meaning behind it?
Do you know who your audience is? Do you understand what kind of content they are interested in? Do you have clear, measurable goals for your social media content marketing strategy that are tied back to your overall business objectives?
Integrating a savvy social media strategy into your content marketing plan can open up huge opportunities. It can help you grow a base of loyal followers, greatly extend your brand’s reach, be the difference maker in attracting top talent, and even result in more business.
However, in a recent 2018 survey by Our Social Times, it was discovered 58% of B2B marketers fail when it comes to measuring their social marketing well (not surprising after reading paragraph #2 of this post).
Just because activity is happening on your social platforms doesn’t mean anything real is being achieved. Just like every other channel, there needs to be a plan in place. In this post we’ll walk through everything you need to know about how to create a content strategy for social media that is effective and measurable.
It’s Not Just a Distribution Channel
Doing social is about much more than just cross promoting your blog posts or company news in as many places as possible. If you tend to look at your company’s social accounts as merely “distribution channels”, you’d do well to correct that way of thinking.
The opportunity in social content marketing is much bigger than your audience seeing the odd blog snippet, or the conference you just attended. In fact, the magic happens when you start focusing on your audience, NOT your business.
Create a social strategy for each platform your business is on, dive deep into the interests of your followers and create content that is truly designed for them. Post engagement is the success metric, and the more interactions, the more exposure you’ll receive.
Building a thriving community isn’t easy, but it’s more than worth the effort. Read on to learn about 4 top strategies to get traction with your social media content marketing.
Before a company grows a massive following of their own, a common tactic is to “borrow” audiences. This can be accomplished in many ways such as guest blogging, cross promotions, sponsorships, and so on. An effective way to borrow an audience on social media is to leverage relationships with leading influencers in your field, which can lead to quick growth for your own social community.
A great example of this is Forbes letting supermodel and coder Karlie Kloss post on their Instagram Account regarding her 30 under 30 cover. They benefit greatly from this, since Karlie has her own massive following and is sure to tell her audience to check out her feature on Forbes.
Obviously most people don’t have access to the movers and shakers like Forbes does, so how do you leverage influencers when you’re starting out with your small scrappy startup? Luckily there are a few effective ways to go about this:
Do Something Noteworthy
What have you done recently that might give an influencer a reason to tell their audience about you? Have you built something that would be useful to them? Accomplished something that their followers could benefit from knowing? Currently running a contest or event they may be interested in?
Consider what you have done that would bring an influencers audience value, and then pitch it to them. Interactions and engagement are vital in building and maintaining social communities, so if they think your pitch will get a positive reaction, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to give you a feature.
Leverage Your Current Relationships
Who in your circle has a strong following? Use the relationships you currently have to boost your social exposure. Relevancy is key, so only target those who have followers that are likely to be interested in your social content. This could be colleagues, friends, family members, industry vendors, clients, mentors, students and so on.
It’s easier than you think to build relationships online.
Stop being a loner and identify a list of industry leaders or popular bloggers you’d like to connect with, and start following them on the social platforms they are most active on. Engage with them through questions and comments on their posts, attend their webinars and show your appreciation for the content they produce, and stay up to date on their activities on twitter.
Over time they’ll start to recognize you, and the more engagement that happens, the stronger the relationship you will build. Wait until you have a decent pitch, and feel the relationship has developed enough where you are comfortable asking them to collaborate with you on a social media content marketing strategy or initiative.
Increase Engagement with Rich Content
What’s more important than your number of social followers? The number of interactions with your posts!
It might sound obvious that these two go hand-in-hand, but often times people will build (or buy) a large social audience, and then find the interaction rate is poor. This can be a very bad thing, as Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm will view your content as low quality, and greatly limit the amount of people who see it, even if they’re following you.
If you’re constantly publishing low quality content, you’ll have a difficult time maintaining your audience or getting much value from it. However, creating rich content that people love and want to comment, share and interact with will help you quickly create a buzzing community that will ultimately lead to increased brand exposure and sales.
So how do you create interaction worthy content? The short answer is to stop talking about yourself, your products and your services. Start by learning about who your current followers are, and what kinds of things they are interested in. Once you have an understanding of this, you can get started with the following ideas:
Video Content Marketing
So here’s a crazy stat, over 500 million people watch Facebook videos everyday. Video also demands far more attention with viewers retaining 95% of the content when viewing a video, compared to 10% when reading text.
Getting started with video content marketing is easier than most think. You don’t need a huge budget, or to be an expert at video editing or production. You just need good ideas and any device that can record video. Rand Fishkin from Moz has seen huge success over the years from his Whiteboard Friday videos, which is literally just him talking with a whiteboard.
If you have great content, and a phone that can record video, that’s all you need to create material that will provide your followers value. Some great types of video to consider include:
- Tutorials / instructional / how-to videos
- Product review videos
- Funny / quirky videos
- News videos - coverage of current topics
- Brand story videos
- Statistics / impact videos
Polls / Quizzes
Leveraging your audiences interests can be an easy way to get more interactions on your posts, and learn about your followers. If done right, they can build interest, start conversations, and even qualify good top of funnel prospects.
Offer polls or quizzes on subjects you know will get their attention. E.g. What type of marketer are you? Is your business idea profitable? etc. As long as it’s relevant to your audience’s interests, it’s highly likely that engagement will be strong.
There are lots of great tools out there, such as Lead Quizzes that can help you easily get setup.
Giving something valuable away for free can be one of the best ways to get interactions and attract new followers, especially if you are just starting out. Contests are powerful content marketing activities that can be highly shareable. However, they’re not cheap so you’ll want to put a good plan in place beforehand. Here are some success tips for holding a contest:
Don’t just throw up a contest on Facebook and expect it to grow out of control. Preparation and strategy is key to make sure your contest achieves the intended results. Make sure you have all of the necessary components in place such as a contest landing page, marketing campaigns, contest criteria clearly explained, etc.
Make sure it’s something that your audience will care about. Offering a bad prize is an easy way to flop a contest.
While there is a lot of room for creativity here, try to make sure the contest is on point with your brand, or at least tied to a current marketing theme you have running. If it’s too random you could run the risk of confusing your audience.
Make it Shareable
Make sure there is a strong focus and benefit to having users share the contest. People might not want to share it otherwise, as they will see more entries as worse odds for them. However, if you increase their odds of winning for each share, they’ll spread it like wildfire!
Here’s a tip that will save money and help borrow a huge audience. Try to find a vendor that will donate the prize in exchange for publicity. Another huge advantage of this is that they will likely cross promote the contest to their own channels!
Okay, so memes might not be classified as “rich content”, but they can do wonders for driving interactions. Remember, the key to a social media content marketing plan is to give your audience something they will want to engage with, and memes can be an easy win.
Successful memes need to be clever, obvious, timely and relevant to your brand. They don’t need to make people LOL in order to be successful, but they do need to resonate with your audience in some way. Try creating memes off of current trends, or timely happenings in your industry.
User Generated Content
People love recognition, and that’s something you can use to your advantage to increase social engagement. Think about ways you can get your audience sharing their own content on your page.
This could be an simple giveaway contest where followers submit an image of themselves using your product in order to be entered into a draw. Or perhaps they can upload something they created using your software, and one gets chosen each month to be featured on your blog.
The key to user-generated content is to give your audience an incentive to share.
For thriving communities, sometimes it’s enough just to ask them to participate, but if you’re starting out, you’re more likely to have success if you offer a motivator such as a giveaway or recognition.
There’s a reason why Snapchat rose to 10M users in just over a year, and why Facebook and Instagram were so quick to jump on the “Story” bandwagon.
The power of high quality content with a short life span can hook your audience for a variety of factors. It brings authenticity to your company. It’s raw, exciting and can personify your brand in a different way than your traditional advertising. It helps brands build an active relationship with prospects, and encourages them to pay attention over a period of time. It drives urgency because it won’t last for very long, and you can leverage the FOMO factor in your audience.
Ephemeral content is the polar opposite of the precious, long lasting evergreen material we strive to create on our blogs, but can be incredibly effective and just might be how you get the edge on your competition.
Try Many Things
It’s important to test the waters before planning the direction of your ephemeral content marketing plan too far in advance. It’s difficult to know what will get the best engagement, so be creative and test as much and as fast as possible. Some ideas can include:
- Product demos
- Host interviews
- Flash promos
- Videos or images of your product or service in action
- New product/service reveal
- How To's
- Q & A sessions
- Funny/clever images or videos
- Insiders look into your company
Tell a Story
Consider the fact that your audience will often view all of your content back to back, so when possible, try to keep it tightly related so it doesn’t come off as random. Engagement is the goal here so try to focus all of the content within a given time frame on the same desired interaction. Similar to website usability, if you give your audience too many calls to action, they might become overwhelmed.
Streaming live is as ephemeral as it gets! Set yourself up for success by notifying your audience in advance that you’ll be live streaming, and include all of the details of what they can expect, and why they should tune in.
So, now you know how to create good social media content that will lead to real results. Remember to test often and measure social activities against ROI. Give us a shout if you need a hand!