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.
The top social networking sites and apps worldwide are:
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.
As of February 2021, 69% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook, 40% use Instagram, 31% use Pinterest, 28% use LinkedIn, and 23% use Twitter. And 70% of U.S. adults who use Facebook say they visit it at least once a day. — Pew Research
It’s still a close call though: 14.8 percent of global internet users identify Instagram as their favorite platform, compared with 14.5 percent for Facebook. – DataReportal
The amount of time spent by adult users per platform on social media is 46 minutes on TikTok and YouTube, 35 minutes on Twitter, 30 minutes on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, and 24 minutes on Reddit. – eMarketer
So make no mistake: ignoring the impacts of social media could prove to be deadly for content marketers.
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.
US social network video ad spending will grow by 20.1% year over year in 2022 to $24.35 billion, making up over a third of total US social network ad spending. – eMarketer
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.
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.
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.
“When customers or followers share your content, they essentially introduce you to their own social networks. So people who aren’t following or connected to you directly, get to see your content and come exposed to your brand. If they like your content, they might just become your new followers or fans.”
“To make the most of social network advertising, promote content you already know is performing well with your core audience. Chances are it will interest more of the right people. If your email and social network subscribers click on the content or make positive comments, it’s probably a good candidate for advertising.” – Colleen Jones, Content Marketing for Social Media
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
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 4.65 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
In some senses, social media is taking the place of traditional journalism. With that, however, comes the inevitable risk. As we’ve moved away from news articles written by journalists who take pride in fact checking, to platforms that have little to no oversight on posted content, unverified claims abound.
Roughly a third of U.S. adults (31%) say they regularly get news from Facebook. A quarter of U.S. adults regularly get news from YouTube, while smaller shares get news from Twitter (14%), Instagram (13%), TikTok (10%) or Reddit (8%). Fewer Americans regularly get news from LinkedIn (4%), Snapchat (4%), Nextdoor (4%), WhatsApp (3%) or Twitch (1%). — Pew Research Center
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.
According to a Pew Research Service study from January, more than eight-in-ten U.S. adults (86 percent) said they get their news from a smartphone. It is easy to see why misinformation continues to spread. — Forbes.com
In fact, 23% of adults say they have shared a “fake news” story on social media, whether knowingly or not. — Pew Research
It’s also been found that extreme content produces more engagement and has higher odds of going viral. Combine this with the fact that false news travels faster on platforms like Twitter and it’s easy to see how social media is a mighty tool to behold–and respect.
As we’ve seen, social media has grown brands through excellent content in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. It 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.
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