From sharing updates with friends and family to using social media at a powerful platform for our brands or businesses to even a political platform, social media is no longer just a way to reconnect with friends from middle school. And content marketing is no exception.

Social media can also be a powerful tool for customer service and in your content marketing toolkit and should be treated as such. In short: From a content standpoint, investing in social media is not optional; it’s a necessity one cannot afford to ignore.

Social Media Consumption

LinkedIn ranked the top 15 social networking sites and apps as:

Vine (now Twitter’s Vine Camera)

With different sites offering different reasons for use, there is no universal social media strategy when it comes to content. Market leader Facebook still reigns supreme among social media users, so one might argue that all content should be tailored for that platform, since it has the widest reach.

Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access the platform on a daily basis. Another top contender? Seventy-three percent of those polled say they use YouTube.

Yet users now have a variety of platforms in their social media surfing repertoires: 35% use Instagram, 29% use Pinterest, 27% use Snapchat, 25% use LinkedIn, and 24% are Twitter users. Pew Research Center

According to GlobalWebIndex, internet users have an average of 7.76, while 98% has at least one social media account.

So make no mistake: ignoring the impacts of social media could prove to be deadly for content marketers.

Using Promoted Content

For many businesses, the fourth-most popular network, Twitter, (with 330 million monthly active accounts), is the most powerful asset in their social media toolkit. Targeting millennials? It rings even truer, since 36% of Americans aged 18-29 use Twitter, more than any other age group.

85% of Twitter users who follow small- and medium-sized business (SMB) on the platform said that Promoted Accounts helped them discover new businesses, while 68% have followed an SMB after seeing their Promoted Account.

41% of people using Twitter purchased products after exposure to an ad in the last 30 days. More than 80% of Instagram users follow a business account on the platform.  Instagram revenue is expected to reach over $10 billion by 2019.

More than 70% of companies in the U.S. will use the platform for marketing, surpassing Twitter for the first time. -eMarketer

$40 billion – amount spent on social network advertising in 2016.

While statistics are helpful, above all, content must fit within each platform’s context and it is imperative for it to make sense for your brand.

Customer Interaction is Key

Brandwatch notes that only 20 Fortune 500 companies actually engage with their customers on Facebook, but 83% have a presence on Twitter. But the interaction is important.

15 years ago the average consumer typically used two touch-points when buying an item, and only 7% regularly used more than four. Today consumers use an average of almost six touch-points with nearly 50% regularly using more than four. — Marketing Week

Social Media Storytelling

Yet it comes down to influential content. In other words, not advertising for advertising’s sake. And within those ads, whether it’s branded content, sponsored content, or native advertising, the content has to include compelling storytelling. To achieve this, social media advertisers must not only hit their audience where they are, but with something that resonates with their life. Well-crafted content that’s relevant is the best way to gain the most impact — no matter the platform.

In an article titled “13 Lessons from Upworthy & BuzzFeed: Viral Content’s Secret Sauce,” key audiences are at play. Whether it’s those bored at work looking for entertainment, or content that pulls at emotional triggers, there is a psychology to what content works and why.

MediaScience research measured consumers’ emotional responses to mobile video ads among four social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat — and found that Snapchat video ads delivered a significantly higher emotional response than Facebook and Instagram.

Instagram stories also command attention, surpassing the competition with 250 million daily users.

Post Frequency and Audience Matter

Not only is there a science to what platform you use and why, but also the right frequency between posts. Social media is different across industries, from healthcare to travel and hospitality to marketing and retail. All must find their voice and fill with relevant content to boost their brand.

Some raw data findings relating to links posted on social media prove interesting: Times articles earned an average of 39 retweets on Twitter and 445 shares on Facebook, while Guardian articles saw an average of 50 retweets and 190 Facebook shares. — Neiman Lab

In her book “Clout,” Content Science CEO Colleen Jones writes:

“Social networking compensates for the many drawbacks of portals,” (like Yahoo! used to be). “When someone’s friends and colleagues share content, it’s more likely to be relevant.” With that theory in mind, this particularly relates to news stories. When a friend shares a news story, one might be more inclined to read it. Social media is no doubt shaping journalism. Even the second royal baby birth was first announced on Twitter.”

Potential Pitfalls

In some senses, social media is taking the place of traditional journalism. With that, however, comes the inevitable risk.

Controversies such as data privacy and social media unfairly affecting political outcomes are top of mind. With the rise of the “fake news” phenomenon, truth and accuracy are no longer a given when it comes to sharing news stories – or really, any information – on social media.

In fact, 23% of adults say they have shared a “fake news” story on social media, whether knowingly or not.

Social media has also made celebrities, also known as influencers, out of everyday people, another powerful marketing tool.

Yet it’s also grown brands through excellent content in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. While social media can generate leads, grow your audience, introduce your brand — its content must be done right because one wrong misstep and you could be virally shamed.

The stakes are high in this space known for its shareability, and all social media content can’t fit into a one-size-fits-all package. Choosing the right channel that fits your overall content goals, presenting a uniform, brand-on voice, and most importantly, sharing content that is both accurate and true, are important pieces of the social media marketing puzzle.

The Author

Content Science is a growing content strategy and intelligence company and the publisher of Content Science Review. We empower digital enterprises for the content era by taking their content approach to the next level. Customers of our professional services and one-of-a-kind products (such as ContentWRX and Content Science Academy) include the Fortune 50, the world’s largest nonprofits, and the most trusted government agencies.

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