Social media marketing is an elusive concept to many business owners around the world. Some brands accumulate thousands of likes within minutes.
Others fall far short of high expectations and give up on social media altogether. Statistics show that 90 percent of young adults use social media, with one-third of Millennials saying it’s one of their preferred methods of communicating with brands.
As the new generation of purchasers quickly outnumbers the Baby Boomers, these statistics display the inevitable future of content marketing.
Related Article: How to Integrate Social Media into Your Content Strategy
Understanding Social Media as a Content Marketing Platform
Social media campaigns are all about content text, videos, and photos just like typical website search engine optimization. However, social media requires a few key changes in the content marketing thought process:
- Content. To win at social media, you must first understand the platform you’re using. Unlike your website, where you can post virtually anything you want, each social media platform has its own rules, regulations, and expectations. Twitter limits your content to 140 characters per post. Instagram is for photos and videos with short captions. Vine is for mastering the six-second video.
- Objectives. Social media content marketing typically has two objectives: brand awareness and customer retention. Social media is ideal for generating discussions about your brand and connecting with customers on their turf. It may not mesh with the same goals as regular content marketing.
- Tone. The biggest difference between social media content and other content is the tone of voice. Social media is used to communicate with users in a friendly, conversational tone engaging with them in a natural way that’s appropriate for the platform. Social media is a place to humanize your brand, not clinch a sale. However, the former will lead to the latter naturally with the right strategy.
Getting returns from social media for your brand takes mastering a different form of content than what marketers are traditionally used to. Instead of optimizing content on your website once or twice per year to stay relevant, you must update your social media profiles almost every day to avoid falling off the map. Social media is a constant stream of content that demands an expert grasp on hot topics, trends, and social media etiquette.
Mastering Content Marketing for Social
Once you have a firm grasp on the nature of the social media beast, you can begin to optimize your content marketing strategy for the biggest returns. A smart content marketing strategy is the only way you can begin to hope for success on social media—not just increasing likes, but increasing conversions. Building social media into your content marketing process takes time, patience, and the right resources, but the returns are well worth the effort. Here’s how to get started:
- Figure out which social media platforms are right for targeting your ideal audience. The Pew Research Center has a fantastic resource for identifying who uses which social media platforms the most.
- Define your goals. Once you decide which platforms to use (it should be more than one to maximize outreach), identify a specific goal for each channel. A goal may be something like: “To gain Facebook followers and generate traffic back to our website.”
- Create content. Come up with content that’s suitable for your chosen channel and geared toward achieving your goal. For the above example, content might be a Facebook post with a photo of a product and a call to action to your site for a 25 percent discount.
- Measure your success. The best way to master social media is to measure the impact of these efforts on your business.
Many brands don’t know how to measure social media’s returns or vanity metrics (such as likes, shares, and followers) distract them from the important measurements. According to a study by Webbiquity, 80 percent of marketers use vanity metrics as their primary success measurement for social media, compared with only 56 percent who look at website traffic. While vanity metrics are excellent for boosting your ego, they don’t tell you whether this “success” translates into profits.
Best Brands on Social Media Today
One example of a brand that’s winning at social media content marketing today is General Electric (GE). GE puts out a ton of TV shows, web series, podcasts, and images to captivate its audiences’ attention. The brand has built an impressive following on social media, humanizing the company through positive consumer engagement.
GE posts new content on social media every day features innovative campaigns and jumps on exciting new platforms every chance it gets. It posted to Vine the day after the site launched. GE understands the importance of putting the consumer first and optimizes its content marketing for its audience on each social media platform, not for the brand. In doing so, GE enjoys sizable returns on consumer engagement, brand recognition, and lasting customer loyalty.
Optimize your content with a few best practices to enjoy the plentiful returns of effective social media marketing. It may take some content strategy reevaluating and reorganizing, but every brand can become a social media success story with the right mindset. Focus on connecting with the consumer instead of making a sale. Shoppers will appreciate your savvy social media use and reward your efforts with conversions.