In a world of overwhelming, instantaneous updates, how do you get your valuable social media content noticed?
There are hundreds of thousands of new social media posts added every second.
Take today for instance. There have already been over 31 million new Instagram and 51 million new Tumblr posts created, and it’s not even noon yet.
In order to have your social media content seen, engaged with, and acted upon, you need a strategy that works.
As you can see, if you just post random updates, they will get lost in the noise.
The good news is that there are ways to stand out and engage your desired audience. I will walk you through seven essential tips on how to create more valuable content that will achieve engagement from your target audience.
However, before we get into the actionable tips, let’s take a minute to understand better why focusing on social media content is worth your time, even in such a competitive environment.
Why you should create valuable social media content
There are over 3 billion people active on social media today. Chances are high your customers are on there.
Research shows that interaction with your customers on social media can encourage them to purchase from you.
Which means that if you’re not present on social media platforms, and your competitors are, then you’re at a disadvantage.
However, social media is a pretty noisy place so you can’t simply create a profile, set up some auto-posted content, and have that be enough.
You want to create social media content with the intention of engaging your target market. Your focus should always be on grabbing their attention and getting them talking.
The more your customers and prospects talk to you, and about you, the more word of mouth referrals and business you will gain.
Why is word of mouth so important?
There are a number of reasons your business should focus on word of mouth marketing (WOMM):
- It builds trust in your brand and your business. 92% of people trust referrals from people they know.
- People are looking for referrals before making purchasing decisions. 82% of consumers will seek out a referral before making a purchase. This means that if they cannot find any referrals for your business, they will likely choose to purchase from someone else.
- Word of mouth referrals convert. In fact, conversion rates are 3-5 times higher for prospects who were referred, versus those who were not.
- Word of mouth can be directly tied to sales. This means it’s a cost-effective way to directly boost your sales and bottom line.
Now let’s look at how to make sure this type of social media content strategy pays off.
1. Start a conversation
As we just discussed, our goal for social media content is to boost word of mouth referrals.
The most straightforward way to do this is to focus on generating a discussion, to get your target market talking.
Remember, the goal here is to get consumers to talk to you and about you.
Social media can be used to do this in a variety of ways.
Host an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit
Reddit has over 330 million users. In 2014, it launched Ask Me Anything (AMA), which allows readers to ask questions in a live interview format.
There are a number of different AMA subreddits. The largest and most popular one is currently https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/, which has over 18 million subscribers.
Reddit AMA is a growing community of users that will ask you honest, earnest and thought-provoking questions about you, your brand, and what you’re trying to promote.
The most popular AMAs ever held have been with celebrities and politicians such as the one held with Barack Obama back in 2012.
However, you don’t have to be famous to host an AMA or gain a significant user interaction.
Create a Poll
Another great way to start a conversation is to poll your audience.
This allows them to provide their opinions and feedback; it can also help you improve your target marketing.
For example, you could create a poll asking your followers what type of content they would like to see more of from you on social media.
You can also ask for ideas on new products, services, or website functionality.
If you’re considering launching something new, this is a great way to get early market feedback.
You can choose a survey, a list of simple questions, or an automated poll.
If you use Facebook, they have an app to help you create and customize polls for your brand and audience.
Respond to Mentions
A third option is to go to your customers instead of trying to bring them to you.
You can find where customers are already talking about you, your brand, or even something relevant to your business and join in on the conversation.
The obvious example is to look for where people mention your brand or your company directly. You can then like, comment on, and share their content. It boosts engagement with them, and it can potentially help their content be seen by a much wider audience, which can encourage others to mention you as well.
An alternative is to find people mentioning something related to your business, values, or practices. For example, has someone mentioned an event you are going to be sponsoring or engaging in? Did they reference a charity you donate to? What about a cause you support?
As long as the content genuinely aligns with your business and values, you can use it as a means of engaging in the conversation.
If you have followers who are advocates for a cause you support, sharing their posts or tweets can be a win-win for both of you.
2. Make it visual
Do you recall the saying, “an image is worth a thousand words?”
People are visual creatures. In order to make your social media content valuable and engaging, it’s critical to include images.
Even on Twitter, a platform initially created for short posts, images boost engagement.
In fact, tweets with images get 150% more retweets.
You have two options for adding visuals to tweets.
One study found that Twitter Cards resulted in less overall organic impressions (fewer people saw them), but that the engagement rate was almost 40% higher.
The catch is that everyone seems to understand the importance of visuals now.
According to Social Media Examiner, 85% of marketers now use visuals in their content.
This is likely unsurprising since some of the most popular platforms are entirely visual:
So, when everyone is going visual, how do you stand out?
First of all, don’t stick to one solution. There are many different options today for visual social media, depending on the platform being used.
Statistics show video is on the rise. 85% of businesses intend to increase their usage of video this year. However, if you’re on a platform other than YouTube, making 100% of your content video could be a mistake.
A variety of different media will likely be the most effective.
If you check out any of the top brands on social media, you will find they use multiple types of visual content, including video, stock images, quotes, gifs, memes and real-life images.
For example, check out Nike’s Twitter feed:
GIFs are also growing in popularity among big brands. Since GIFs autoplay, they can be a novel way to stand out in a news feed or stream.
Emojis are another way to add valuable visual content to your social media. They are a popular form of communication for consumers, and in some cases are beginning to replace words.
3. Go live
Another relatively new and popular content format is live video. In fact, it’s growing more rapidly than the other types of video formats.
It helps engage your audience and lets them feel connected with you and with the world.
Through comments and interactivity during the session.
You can choose to create a poll or host a Q&A similar to Reddit’s AMA, except in this instance you incorporate live video for an additional punch.
In fact, live video can be combined with most other suggestions in this article as a method for making your content even more engaging.
Here are a few ideas to use for live videos:
- Behind the scene tours
- Product demos
- Experiments and product testing
- Sharing events
4. Add social credibility
With the algorithm changes that happened earlier this year, it’s becoming harder to get your organic content in front of new prospects.
In some cases, this has led to a greater dependence on paid social media advertising.
However, there is another option. It’s called Influencer Marketing.
Simply put, Influencer Marketing is pairing up with an Influencer and using their influence to help increase engagement, referrals or sales.
Who is an Influencer?
It can be anyone who has the power to impact people’s decisions.
Generally, this is someone with a social media following and a strong level of engagement, related to a specific niche or topic.
There are celebrity and non-celebrity influencers.
There are also Influencers with huge followings and others (called micro-influencers) with fewer than 10,000 followers.
Micro influencers are “real people,” and they are a great way to increase engagement with your brand.
In fact, Coveto’s research shows that users with fewer than 1,000 followers get the highest engagement rates.
However, Social Influencers at all levels can have a huge impact on word of mouth referrals and sales.
For example, look at Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson’s support of Under Armour.
Their partnership with him quickly became their most rewarding social media endeavor.
This one post alone has over 1.3 million likes.
So how do you engage an Influencer?
First, determine your target market and find people who have influence in that area.
Obviously, if you sell wedding dresses, The Rock is not going to be a suitable Influencer, no matter how popular he is.
There are a number of tools you can use to find Influencers in your target market or niche.
If you’re looking for a free way to find Influencers, Google is the best place to start.
Begin by searching for topics and areas of interest that are relevant to your target market, and pay attention to what content comes up and who published it.
Whether it’s blog posts, Facebook pages, or LinkedIn groups, you should be able to easily find content that is popular with your target market and identify key resources and members.
Search Social Media
You can also go to your targeted platforms and search for groups, pages, posts or profiles related to your consumers’ interests.
Maybe you know a huge section of your target market is made up of gamers.
If you search for gaming groups on Facebook, you can find popular ones relevant to your audience.
For example, Epic Gamers has over 712,000 members and has a relatively high level of engagement.
This group happens to be run by the profile, Epic Gamers:
Which means they might be a great Influencer for your audience.
Use a Service
There are several free and paid services that will help you identify Influencers.
Some of the more popular ones are:
Make sure that whichever Influencers you target are well-suited for not only your target market but also your brand image and company.
Once you’ve identified Influencers you want to connect with, the next step is to engage them.
You will need to reach out and see if they are interested in a partnership.
To build a successful relationship, you will need to offer your Influencer something in return for their content creation.
This could be providing free swag or sponsoring them in exchange for them creating posts, tweets, or videos mentioning and promoting your brand and products.
Another option is to suggest a joint venture that will benefit you both.
If you already have your own social media presence and following, an Influencer may be interested in collaborating in a way that increases their own reach.
Some ideas for partnership include:
- Hosting an event together.
- Running a contest together.
- Co-writing or publishing a piece of content.
- Sharing discounts or offers on each other’s social media platforms or websites.
- Co-hosting a podcast or webinar.
5. Amp the emotion
Social media is a form of entertainment for consumers.
Audiences want to be engaged. One of the best ways to do this is with emotional content.
Social media posts that create emotional reactions are the most likely to go viral. Particularly if they evoke awe, laughter, amusement or joy.
Not only does this mean more referrals and increased brand awareness, it can also impact your bottom line.
For instance, the Financial Brand did a three-year study that found emotionally connected customers are six times more valuable.
When it comes to advertising, whether it’s on social media or not, emotion is simply more effective than logic.
How do you create content that causes an emotional reaction?
Humanizing your company and your brand can help create an emotional connection.
It’s easier for your audience to relate and engage if they see you as a real person.
You can use humor to tap into joy, amusement, and laughter.
Some suggested ways to do this are:
- Playful caricatures
- Quirky events or celebrations
- Silly questions and puzzles
- Jokes and riddles
Asos demonstrated their humanity by admitting to a mistake in a funny, tongue-in-cheek way.
Another means of evoking emotion is with storytelling.
Tell the story of your business, your product, or some of your customers can make you relatable and create content that people are eager to share.
Focus on creating a story that is the following:
- Entertaining or thought-provoking
- Visually stunning
- Full of imagery
National Geographic has over 350 million followers due to their success with social media storytelling.
SoulCycle is another example of a brand with a compelling story:
When creating emotional content, be careful with trying to evoke negative emotions such as pain, anger, sadness or fear.
Poor emotional content can significantly damage your brand.
Take the Nationwide commercial below for example. It was first aired during the 2015 Super Bowl, which is generally a celebrational occasion.
The dark tone and surprise ending resulted in a lot of negative reviews and media for the company.
6. Use audience content
Taking advantage of user-generated content can be cost-effective, boost engagement, and increase brand awareness and referrals.
Since user-generated content is voluntarily produced by real-life consumers, it feels more authentic and can, therefore, boost your credibility.
In fact, user-generated photos are five times more likely to convert customers than company generated ones.
How do you get your customers to create valuable social media content for you?
A simple option is to hold a contest or launch a campaign.
You can ask for pictures, stories, or other content in exchange for the chance to win a prize as a way to gather content and grow your following.
In fact, 35% of Facebook fans like a page simply so they can participate in their contest.
In order to boost engagement even further and expand your reach, you can also ask people to do the following:
- First, post a photo and use your branded hashtag.
- Then tag a friend.
- Comment on your contest-related post.
- Share your post.
This ensures that they engage with you and share with a friend in order to enter the contest.
Starbucks is a great example of doing this well, with their Red Cup Contest held every December.
It asks consumers to submit shots of their red seasonal Starbucks cups in exchange for a chance to win a gift card.
There are currently almost 40,000 posts submitted. In addition, just this one post had over 1,800 likes.
7. Tap into trends
Another method for creating valuable social content is to tap into current trends.
This provides an opportunity to support causes you care about or to increase awareness about an event.
It can help humanize you and let your audience relate. It can also help you reach new audiences.
When looking for trends to align with, you can choose to tap into a moment, a milestone or a movement.
A moment may be a big event such as an awards’ show or a sporting event.
A milestone might be a significant birthday. For example, many companies with a Canadian presence took advantage of Canada’s 150th birthday last year.
How do you take advantage of trends?
Make a stand
You can align with a movement, political party, debate or petition if you feel strongly about it and believe that your target market will also feel the same way.
However, be aware that while this may gain you new followers, it can also cause you to lose some current customers who don’t align with your values.
Join in on the fun
Another option is to look for quirkier or silly debates to choose a side on.
One example is the current viral video about whether the word being said is Laurel or Yanny.
You can easily get in on the action of any trend with the use of hashtags.
Some general hashtags that tend to be popular are:
- #FlashbackFriday (#FBF)
- #ThrowbackThursday (#TBT)
Another way to find trending issues and topics is to use Google Trends.
You can search by topic and region to help you find trends that will be relevant to your audience.
Let’s assume once again, that your target market includes gamers.
If I type in gaming, I can find out which topics and queries are trending right now that are related to my audience’s interests.
This can help create timely, relevant content for them by tapping into what they’re already paying attention to.
The seven tips will help you get more people talking about your content and your business. After all the aim of social media content is to increase awareness, engagement, and word of mouth referrals.
However, before you share any content let me ask you this. How well do you know your audience? Just because other organizations have found success with certain types of content does not mean it will give you the same sort of results.
In fact, they may favor something else entirely. So to give your valuable social media content the best chance of success, make sure you know your audience.
Once you start sharing content analyze your data and test different types of social media content. Then build out a powerful social media strategy based on the data you have.
Do you have any tips you use, that weren’t covered here? Share them in the comments below.