This is part 5 in a 7-part series on the seven pillars of a strong content market strategy. The first pillar in creating a strong foundation for a content marketing strategy was knowing the objective. Pillar #2 was “Be on brand” (and know when it’s okay to be off-brand). Pillar #3 was picking the right content type. Pillar #4 was the importance of distribution. In this post, I will cover social media strategy.
The importance of a strong social media strategy
As I continue my series on the seven pillars of a strong content marketing strategy, I would be remiss not to discuss social media. We all know what “social media” is. It’s the primary way we get our news, reconnect with old friends, get on our respective soapboxes, and share family and vacation photos. It is literally the foundation of communication throughout the world. This May 2020 report by Review 42 had these stats:
- There are 1.3 billion Facebook Messenger users globally.
- Facebook Messenger is expected to grow to 2.4 billion users by 2021.
- More than 20 billion messages are exchanged between business and users monthly on Facebook Messenger.
- Facebook Messenger is one of the leading messaging platforms in the US with more than 2 million monthly downloads.
- In 2018, more than 126 million US mobile users accessed Messenger.
- Messenger marketing leads to 70% better open rate than email marketing.
This report by Statista shows that in addition to Messenger’s 1.3 billion users, WhatsApp (also owned by Facebook) has 2 billion users. Here’s a report by Hootsuite showing the total usage of the top social media sites in the world:
As you can see from the chart, Facebook has nearly 2.5 billion, YouTube about 2 billion, Instagram (another Facebook property) has 1 billion, and TikTok (the new kid on the block) already has 800 million users. I was personally surprised to see that Twitter has a “measly” 386 million users.
The reason I want to start this article mentioning the use of these various social media platforms is to make it clear to you the significance they play in the world. As Glen Close’s character says to Michael Douglas in “Fatal Attraction,” “They will not be ignored.”
Yet, no matter how significant these platforms are, I sometimes still come against some reticence by professional video producers to either adopt some of these platforms, or to take advantage of them to full effect. I’m sure most of you have an Instagram account, but are you getting the most out of it? Are you using IGTV? Are you using IG Live? Are you consistent? Or you effectively using responses and DMs? Instagram is a great way for video producers to use content marketing and should be a must. I love how effectively the music licensing site Artlist.io uses the platform (full disclosure: they are a client of mine, although I do not do any of their Instagram work).
They use their IG account to post short promos for their full videos and tutorials from YouTube. Each one of their videos gets thousands of views and they do a fantastic job having all their social channels work together (e.g. posting clips from their YouTube channel onto IG and Facebook, etc.)
It is beyond the scope of this post to get into the specific details of how to best utilize each of the major social media networks. But understanding them and utilizing them are unequivocally paramount to a strong content marketing foundation. So what I want to do is give you some guidelines for how to strategically choose the best networks, resources I use to learn about them, and insights I’ve garnered over the years.
The “Lucky” 7
Here are the top seven strategic decision making parameters for you to consider when planning a thorough social media strategy.
#1. Tailor the content for the audience
The audience for each of the major social media networks relates to the network differently. You may have many of the same followers on each (e.g. If you have 3,000 followers on IG and 2,000 followers on Facebook, chances are, there’s a lot of cross-over. Between the two, you may only have 3,500 unique followers, vs. 5,000.) However, the way they engage and interact on those platforms differs, and so the content you’ll place will be different. Don’t expect that 5-minute promo video to perform the same on Facebook as it would on Instagram or Twitter. To the extent possible, tailor the content for the platform. Ideally shorter platforms like IG and Twitter where users are used to shorter captions (normally) and quicker videos.
#2. Bow at the altar of the algorithm
There’s no way around the fact that the algorithms for these networks change from time to time. That means what used to work well one period of time, may not work at all another. Facebook, IG, and Twitter will deliver posts to people based on myriad factors, including the kinds of posts they typically click on, the types of accounts they follow, the size of the accounts they follow, etc. In the case of Twitter, people can choose to have posts appear chronologically or based on what the algo deems as most relevant.
One Twitter strategy that I’ve utilized effectively, and which has been born out by research, is posting the same content multiple times in order to increase exposure and engagement. CoSchedule reports that the top three benefits are
- Drive more traffic
- Hit multiple timezones
- Reach new followers
On IG, content that does not get engagement from your audience can affect your overall engagement as the algorithm may deem it as unwanted or low quality. So it’s important to monitor and see what’s working and what isn’t.
And on Facebook, video completion rate has a profound impact on how the algorithm treats it.
#3. Don’t get hung up on “Likes”
It’s natural to want lots of likes. Lots and lots of them. Likes are not just psychologically beneficial (giving you that dopamine hit), but they do help engagement numbers if the algorithm sees that people appreciate that content.
That being said, do not base your social media strategy and execution based solely, or even largely, how many “Likes” something gets. It’s important to know your objective for your channel and how it fits in your overall strategy.
#4. That which is measured improves
This common refrain has a few rumored sources. Regardless, the point is clear: it’s important to measure the results and effectiveness of your endeavors. Whether it’s purely business-related and you’re measuring sales and content marketing campaigns, or it’s creative-related and you’re measuring people’s reaction and understanding to the art you create. When you measure these efforts, you can see what works and what doesn’t work, thereby helping you make adjustments to fix and improve it.
#5. Stay educated
Social media companies are constantly changing and “improving” not only their algorithms, but also their design and interoperability. All of these changes affect how users interact with your content, and thereby could have profound effects (either positive or negative) on engagement. It’s therefore important to stay updated on these changes so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. One of my favorite resources for staying updated on the “pulse” of social media tech is Agourapulse’s Social Media Lab Podcasts and blog posts. Agourapulse is a social media management tool (and one of the best bangs for your buck) used to plan, schedule, post, and monitor content posted to the various social media sites. What I love about their reporting is that it’s based on actual tests they perform. For instance, they’ll spend 3-6 months doing A-B testing on some form of content, then report their findings on the podcast.
#6. Consistency is key
There are few “rules” as important in any content marketing campaign is consistency. Consistent posting and engagement are needed to organically grow your base and build a social media audience. Those who follow you do so because they have an expectation that the content you post will come at some regularity. The less you post, the less effective your social media channel will be.
#7. Put your money where your mouth is
For those of you with larger budgets in your content marketing arsenal, I highly recommend setting aside some amount for paid advertising. Much has been said about the reduction in organic traffic generated by Facebook page posts. It’s important to vary the type of content you post, experiment with cadence, find the best posting time, try live video, and other tactics for increasing organic Facebook engagement.
But at the end of the day, if you have the money, invest in the ad-spend to book traffic, do testing, and get that important content in front of the right people.
No matter what, do something
There is no getting around the fact that social media should be a core part of your content marketing strategy, and/or your client’s if applicable. Be smart, strategic, and stay educated on the trends, and you will be able to steadily grow your base and build a solid outlet for content marketing distribution.