We all know that content on websites is important, but what about content on social media sites? There are countless companies that have amazing, well-written websites, but when it comes to content strategy on social media… they fall a bit short.
Simply posting the link and letting the link preview on Facebook do all the work isn’t always working anymore.
Social media users are getting smarter and know how to decipher and sift through the content that company pages have posted on Facebook. This is especially true with the introduction of promoted posts and sponsored stories on Facebook (the court case against sponsored stories was just settled in the beginning of December).
More than ever, users are more wary of links, not wanting to waste their time reading content that is heavy on the sales copy and light on anything worthwhile.
There is a way to publish your content via social media that can help you stand out and prove yourself as a resource. However, this doesn’t meant that it’s OK to use well-crafted words to trick users into clicking on your posted links. Social Media content — as well as the external content the links point to — needs to be consistent and dedicated toward providing a service to the target user who may be clicking on it.
Ask A Question
This might be the easiest way to shape your social media content strategy. Ask an engaging question that relates to the content, but is also easy enough that users can answer it without having to read the entire article (this isn’t a quiz from your most challengine college professor).
For instance, if a tech company posted a link to a “2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Geeks” in the social media post, they could ask users what geeky gift they want most this year. Or the company could ask users what they think should top the list as the geekiest gift of 2012. Make sure it is written in the company’s voice, but a little bit more casual.
“Regular” users on Facebook or other social media sites — that is, those that are there for social reasons, not marketing ones — are relaxing. They are using social media to pass the time. Therefore, most users are more receptive to casual or clever questions or content posted via social media.
Summarize Or Lift A Quote Or Excerpt
Including an important excerpt or really interesting (even controversial) quote in the same post as the link to the content can help entice users to interact by posting their opinions about the preview that has been posted. For serious articles, a quote or summary of the article’s key points could also be combined with a question such as, “This expert says that we will be out of domestic oil reserves by 2075. Do you agree?”
Quotes shared via social media should reflect the main points in the article. For instance, quoting a local storage owner as saying “We are open 9 to 7 for the holidays” will not be as engaging as featuring his comment about how the holidays are big business for his storage property.
Figure out which quote, excerpt or summary sentence will make the most users interested (either in a positive or negative way) and drive discussion. The post it with your link.
It’s OK To Post Your Competitors’ Content
I have had many clients that look at me like I’m crazy when I suggest re-tweeting a competitors’ tweet. As long as they haven’t tried to sabotage your business or there’s any kind of legal issue, how is re-tweeting or sharing a competitor’s content going to hurt your business?
This is especially the case on Twitter, because the stream moves so fast. If a rival design firm has a link to an external post about the top online illustrators of the year, why not share it, especially if it isn’t promoting their business?
Trying to protect your social media streams by only posting content that can directly influence your bottom line is only going to come back to haunt you. The online community is one that helps one another. Need proof? Check out The Oatmeal’s Tesla Museum fundraiser.
Let’s say a rival to The Oatmeal refused to link to the fundraiser, even though Tesla was one of his favorite scientists. How is that going to help his business? Or furthermore, hurt The Oatmeal in some way? When it comes to great content and initiatives that have no ulterior motive, all social media posters (including individual users and companies) should feel OK with sharing.
Use Other Media
Social media posts that include videos and photos have a higher engagement and click-through rate than pure text content or text with a link to more content. Besides the potential higher engagement and click-through rate, mixing up your content strategy by including different types of media can help give users more options to interact with your content.
If your company isn’t utilizing videos or images, it should be. For instance, if I wanted to create a tutorial on my website about creating a WordPress plugin from scratch, I could write a 1000+-word tutorial about it on my website.
But, I could also create a video tutorial that shows the designer going through the actual steps on the screen, with the user watching it happen. My lengthy written tutorial could instead be broken down into image slides of each step, with an option to view a more detailed version.
Publishing content in different media can help reach more of your target audience, as people learn and like to consume content in different ways.
No matter how your company shapes its content strategy, it is important to create a content strategy in the first place. Going into social media marketing without a plan, much like going into any type of marketing or advertising without a plan, is sure to result in more setbacks and less community engagement.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.