Dana Sullivan Kilroy is a communications professional with more than 20 years of experience delivering compelling content. Her work has appeared in national, award-winning publications and sites, including: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Fast Company, Inc.
Marketers often approach content marketing and social media marketing as two different entities, creating separate strategies for both of them. This happens when social media is considered as a platform for simply sharing content. The reality is to the contrary. Content is at the heart of any successful social media marketing campaign and social media marketing cannot function nor deliver results without presence of targeted and quality content. Unlike traditional content marketing, content created for social media must be created for the purpose generating discussion and an open dialogue for customers. This requires that marketers combine their content creation efforts with social media marketing. Below are some tips for social media marketing that can be used to optimize your content (existing and new) and make it work for you on social media — boosting your content marketing efforts while increasing customer engagement and hence brand visibility and awareness.
#1 Optimize Your Content for Different Social Media Platforms
All of the major social media platforms have differentiated themselves by offering unique user experience through features, specific type of content, and level of interactivity. This makes it nearly impossible for a single piece of content to derive similar results across all social media platforms you’re targeting. Your target audience prefers interacting on different social media platforms because they are familiar with the norms of using that platform and hence expect a level of interactivity with specific type and form of content.
- Users on twitter are focused on crisp, to-the-point, newsy, and shareable content. They are searching for trends where they can contribute and hence content that is contributing to an ongoing trend;
- Facebook users like discussion openers where they can extensively share and discuss their opinions with others. However, the content requires strong and relevant images or videos to gain traction;
- Users on Pinterest are interested in visual content more than text, etc.
Unless your content is optimized to leverage the unique features of the platform and hence meet the expected level of interactivity and share acceptable type of content, your content marketing will fail. Take the time to understand the advantage each social platform offers and publish content after optimizing it for that platform. This will significantly increase your chances of connecting the audience compared to simply sharing the same piece of content and messaging tactic across all social channels.
#2 Perform A/B Testing On Social Media
Multivariate and A/B testing are powerful techniques that content marketers have long used for testing different content and messaging (headlines, Call-to-actions, CTA button placement and colors, etc.) and optimizing their content so that it resonates with its target audience. However, marketers don’t use A/B testing on social media. They often publish and promote a single piece of content and message across all social platforms/channels. This prevents them from measuring and assessing why they have received the response and how it could have been better. A/B testing allows you to test different messaging for different platforms and find which messaging tactic derives the best response (qualified traffic, leads, comments, re-tweets, shares, pins, etc.). This allows you to observe patterns in your target audience’s preferences and hence create content that resonates the most with them.
#3 Turn Your Audience into Idea Generators for Your Content
Marketers often flounder when researching for topic ideas that will interest and resonate with their target audience. They take great pains in researching their competitors’ top ranking content, and trending topics in their niche. Most don’t take the time to actually ask their fans/followers for suggestions on the content that they want. No one can give you better ideas for content than your audience. They know what they are looking for, what they’ve found and haven’t found, and what they’ve like and didn’t like. You can easily transform your audience into your best contributors for ideas. All it takes is to either directly ask them for suggestions or to engage with them through comments on social media.Additionally, you can leverage different social media management tools to determine the topics that are currently trending and types of content where your fans/followers are discussing.
#4 Always Make a Social Media Plan
A social media plan makes your content sharing predictable. Predictability creates a pattern and hence keeps people waiting for the next piece of content on your blog — as long as your content continues to add value for them. Your social media plan (SMP) is an overview of how you will share fresh content on different social media platforms over a specified period. For instance, your SMP will define the days and timings for sharing a specific type of content (e.g. sharing a blog post on Tuesday at 1:00 pm, and an image based content every Thursday at 8:00 am). The theme for your SMP can be distributed over a month, a week, and daily (in case you will be creating and sharing content regularly).
#5 Curate and Share Content from Influential Marketers on Social Media
The only sure-shot way of using social media for building an online community around your brand and business is to consistently deliver value to your target audience. One way of doing that is by curating and sharing content from established marketers and influencers in your niche. Influencers are people who have built their authority and a huge following in the niche by consistently creating valuable content. There are two ways you can leverage their following for increasing your business visibility and following:
- Directly share their content — Share their content by adding a short, relevant and engaging social blurb, while taking care to fully credit the source (e.g. not clicking the “remove source” on Facebook).
- Curate their content — Find the most valuable pieces of content in your niche for a specific topic. Summarize the value that each piece offers, and add a proper anchor text with a link to the original piece.
In both cases, your fans/followers will gain valuable information from your social media page. The process of sharing quality and valuable content builds your authority and boosts your reputation as an information hub. Additionally, it sets your brand on the radar for social influencers, who in time will reciprocate by sharing your content (as long as it can add value for their audience). James E. Hein is a web developer with 10 years of experience. He is also working as a strategist in projects related to business and technology. You can follow him on Twitter.
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