Social media is no longer just a way to reconnect with friends from middle school. Beyond sharing updates with friends and family, it has evolved into a powerful platform for brands, businesses, and even politics.  

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

The top social networking sites and apps worldwide are:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WeChat
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • QQ
  • QZone
  • Douyin/TikTok
  • Weibo
  • Reddit
  • Twitter

On average, people have 8 social media accounts — Statista.

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.

69% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook, 37% use Instagram, 28% use Pinterest, 27% use LinkedIn, and 22% use Twitter. And 74% of U.S. adults who use Facebook say they visit it at least once a day. — Pew Research 

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

Using Promoted Content

According to CMO, social media advertising budgets are predicted to increase by nearly 90 percent in the next five years. An Adobe study shows Gen Z and Millennials overwhelmingly believe the ads they see on social media are more relevant to them than on any other channel.

An average Facebook user clicks on 11 ads per month, and 94% of Facebook’s advertising revenue comes from mobile. — Hootsuite

Social video advertising spending leapt 130 percent between 2016 and 2017. Given there are now 500 million daily users on Instagram Stories alone, that’s no surprise, and in fact, a third of the top-viewed Stories are made by business accounts. 

Social media has also made celebrities, also known as influencers, out of everyday people, another powerful marketing tool. The influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022

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

Brands respond to only half of their online messages. While a failure to respond on social media can result in a serious blow to customer advocacy, a reply can increase it by 20%.

“If a customer makes the effort to contact you by means of social media, they expect a response. Treat them well, and you’ll have their loyalty. If you ignore them, or treat them badly, you may find yourself dealing with a PR crisis … When angry consumers turn to social media to vent, current and potential customers are watching. They weigh up your response to the complaint and how you treat the customer along with other factors such as price and quality. If you mistreat the person complaining, your customers are likely to switch their allegiance to a competitor.” — Digital Marketing Institute

Social media is inherently interactive. People will naturally turn to social channels to air grievances and reach out directly to brands. It’s crucial to have a plan to respond in a timely and appropriate fashion.

Social Media Storytelling

Success on social media comes down to influential content. To achieve this, social media marketers 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. 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.

“When individuals have a positive emotional association with a specific brand, they are 8.4 times more likely to trust the company, 7.1 times more likely to purchase more and 6.6 times more likely to forgive a company’s mistake.” — Forbes.com

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.

In her book “Clout,” Content Science Founder 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.” 

More than 3.5 billion people are active social media users. Fortunately, you don’t have to reach all of them; you only need to connect with the right people to succeed at social media marketing.  

“When you focus on the right people, not all people, creating and delivering relevant content for them becomes much easier. And your content will be much more likely to influence those people so you can achieve your goals,” says Jones.

Likewise, once you zero in on your target audience, you will develop insights into the best times to post content and how often to do so. Different social networks lend themselves to different cadences. Twitter’s stream is famously fast-moving, while the pace on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn is slower.

Data compiled by CoSchedule indicates that Facebook posts perform best from Thursday to Sunday, while Wednesday is the strongest day for LinkedIn posts. Further, those studies suggest 9am, 12pm, and 4pm are prime times for B2C brands to post on Facebook, while Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter users also tend to be active later into the evenings. But ultimately, the quality of the content you put out must stand on its own.

“Social media content is the ultimate meritocracy. Good content wins. Bad content fails.” — Jay Baer

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.  — Pew Research

Social media has also grown brands through excellent content in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Social media can generate leads, grow your audience, and introduce your brand to new markets. However, one misstep can quickly go viral and rack up headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The stakes are high in this space known for its shareability. Choosing the right channel that fits your overall content goals; presenting a uniform, on-brand voice; and most importantly, sharing content that is relevant and accurate, 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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