If you own a business and want to stay even remotely competitive, having a presence online is a must nowadays. Using social platforms has become almost required as part of a company's comprehensive marketing strategy.
Every platform is unique in its own way, and being active on all of them may not be the best use of resources. Instagram may be great for B2C brands, but probably not the best use of time for B2B companies.
First, it's important to understand that each platform is a representation of your ideal customer. Your target audience has their preferred platforms, and, by now, most businesses are pretty good about staying active in the spaces that matter most. Having a heightened sense of your brand's perceived value and understanding why your clients want to do business with you is critical in mastering social media.
But beyond that, there are several questions that will plague marketers that want to go beyond just their social presence. These questions center on best practices, the types of content that need to be created and how to stay ahead of the curve.
Moving beyond the status quo
There is a lot of information circulating out there. Between the never-ending horde of social "gurus" making the rounds on your Twitter feed, and the hundreds of blog posts being published daily, there is so much to take in.
Unfortunately, most of what’s out there are the same ideas repurposed or citing examples from big brand giants that will never make sense for smaller businesses. But, fear not, here are a few unique ideas you may want to try if you want to shake things up.
"Exploiting" Facebook's algorithm with video
As you probably already know, Facebook’s reign as the king of social media continues and will probably do so for the foreseeable future. Considering that 72 percent of all adult users on the internet are on Facebook, it’s still the largest platform because of the sheer size of its user base.
This is no mystery since many brands and businesses are already on Facebook and even go as far as treating the platform as their social media priority.
But with constant changes to its newsfeed algorithm, the value from posting organically (meaning no ad dollars or "boosted" posts) is decreasing every day. That is, if you don't have a basic understanding of the algorithm and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage.
Boiling it down to its simplest function, the algorithm is constantly trying to judge what type of content to serve to its users in their feeds. For the most part, user engagement and how often they engage with the content of a person or page they follow will have the biggest impact on what content is shown to them. So because your posts are not shown to all of your users in a timeline fashion, engagement will always be the primary goal of your posts.
Beyond pure engagement, it can be helpful to know that the algorithm favors some content types over others. For example, image posts are favored more than external links, but video is favored more than images. The reason for this is because Facebook wants to do whatever it can to keep you on the platform for as long as it can.
The major takeaway here is that video will always perform better than any other content type. Creating videos can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor if you have limited resources so this may not seem feasible at first glance.
But here are the top tips for using Facebook video:
1. Always post natively
For those who already make video content regularly, you may be utilizing your website or YouTube as your main depository for your videos. You should still do this, but if you want to maximize the value from posting on social, upload video directly to Facebook.
Facebook will prefer these posts over shared YouTube links, and you can get more in-depth engagement data in comparison to YouTube or other external video platforms.
2. Explore cheap video production shortcuts
You may be apprehensive to dive into creating video content because you want high production value, but that can be too expensive if you set your standards too high. There are tons of free or cheap video creation tools that can make video shot on an iPhone look like it was done by a professional video editor.
Using Snapchat and Instagram identically
If there's one social platform that could feasibly dethrone Facebook, it would be Instagram. With 250 million users of Instagram stories just last month, the image sharing platform has certainly evolved beyond being the best place to share delectable images of food.
But Instagram has stiff competition from Snapchat, the newcomer that was the most talked about social platform in 2016. Snapchat became so prominent that Facebook and Instagram flat out copied some of the features that made Snapchat so unique. The future of Snapchat is up in the air until they figure out a way to differentiate themselves from Instagram, but for now, it's still worth your time.
Simply because there is so much overlap between Snapchat and Instagram, there is no reason why you shouldn't repeat your efforts on both. You will come across some challenges when it comes to growing your followers on Snapchat, but there are a few ways around that. And because Instagram has better discovery options with hashtags, your follower counts will matter less.
Telling a single narrative
You may often hear the cliche that social media is about “telling your brand's story.” The problem is that so many marketers rely on that principle solely for their overall content strategy but don't interpret it literally.
What you may have noticed is that many brands are using Snapchat as a way to give their audience a behind-the-scenes look. Because this approach to Snapchat and Instagram Stories is so common, it can be hard to stand out.
For those creative types who have always wanted to be a director and screenwriter, now is your chance. Instead of showing the human side of your brand on Snapchat or Instagram, try brainstorming ideas for telling actual stories. Develop concise narratives that take your audience on a journey with a beginning, middle and end. If you do, you'll increase engagement rates and foster a deeper connection to your followers.
Take advantage of Snapchat while you can
As mentioned earlier, Snapchat has a tough road ahead to gain wider acceptance among older users and even advertisers are weary since the cost is too expensive currently.
But if there’s one thing that Snapchat has that Instagram has yet to roll out is custom geofilters. Starting at just $5, geofilters are a great way to gain wide exposure at a particular time and place among people who use Snapchat.
For example, say there's a big event happening where you know a large number of your target audience will be attending. You own a local burger restaurant located in a college town and you want more college students as customers. College game day is coming and an important football game is about to unfold. You could target the entire football stadium on the day of the game and potentially reach tens of thousands of people attending. If you can create a filter centered around specials for the game, you’d be hard-pressed to find the same amount of exposure for the cost.
No one knows how popular Snapchat will be in three years, but while it’s here, you might as well get as much out of it as you can.
Embrace the future
The best advice you can ever take to heart when it comes to using social media to market your business is this: embrace change.
What works right now may not be true a month from now. Technology and social media are always shifting, so there are no constants. The worst thing you can do is become complacent with your efforts and fear change. Always try new things and don't be afraid to test things that might not yield the results you were hoping for.