If you don’t like a particular social media platform, just wait a few weeks. Things will change.
The speed with which popular platforms (think Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube) evolve is part of why social media strategy is so difficult. One week Twitter might be dropping story–like content tools. The next, TikTok video lengths could be different, or Instagram could be ditching swipe-up features. Like living languages, social media platforms keep shifting to stay current.
How do marketers and business leaders shift to keep their social media strategies relevant?
Here are two simple but powerful steps to do this, steps with validated success across virtually all social media platforms. These principles work for big platforms and niche ones alike, and they won’t go out of style anytime soon.
1. Be genuinely social.
Being social is just as easy as it sounds in theory and just as difficult as it sounds in practice.
You’ve probably encountered social media accounts that aren’t particularly social. Think about the brand that faithfully shares content but only talks about itself, the relative who doesn’t post at all but complains when they can’t find new pictures of your pet turtle, or the interest group that hasn’t seen an update in three years.
Whether you’re using social media to build brand awareness, get web traffic, provide better support or attract prospective customers, it pays to interact socially. Here are some examples of what socializing might look like across various platforms:
- Don’t just post your own content and leave the platform. Go out looking for what others have posted, too, and let them know what you think about it.
- Liking/reacting to content is a start to being social. Even better, respond with a comment (not written by a bot, please), a GIF or anything else that shows you spent a few seconds caring.
- Invite others to interact socially with your profile. Some accounts do this simply by posting good questions and engaging with the comments or responses their content elicits.
- Going out and following new accounts is an oft-abused but potentially powerful way to invite social interaction, as long as you follow out of an actual desire to engage with another person or organization and not just in hopes of a follow-back.
- Respond to social invitations from others: Reply to questions, comments or messages. Listen to what people say. If your account models how you want other accounts to interact with you, you might just find more engagement circling back to you.
With these ideas in mind, consider just a small sample of data on being social:
- According to 65% of Americans, Facebook Stories help them feel closer to their friends and family.
- Individual tweets are four times as likely to be retweeted if the author simply asks for a retweet.
- Over 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories each day, and 58% of Stories users say they are more interested in learning about a product or service after seeing a story centered on it.
- One small business reported achieving a 70-80% increase in revenue from social media “simply by engaging people more” proactively.
A good way to sum this up is with some classic Winnie-the-Pooh wisdom: “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
When you put yourself out there in a social way, you’re a lot more likely to find that others return in kind.
2. Share quality media.
Go figure that social media principle No. 1 is about being social and principle No. 2 is about media.
It’s surprising how often organizations want to build a social media following or pursue social goals without investing the time to create or even share existing media, but the media aspect is half of what social media means. As an added plus, it works.
In practice, sharing media is similar across social platforms, no matter what type of content you’re dealing with. Whether you’re a content creator or curator—or both, as is often the case—your content should be platform-appropriate and should benefit the community of users who have a chance to come across it. If your content contributes real value, you’re probably well on your way to reaching your social media goals.
Adding value can still take various forms, and some of those forms will be unique to individual social platforms. However, there are platform-proof tactics to consider here all the same:
- Powerful storytelling leads to powerful engagement. Not only are effective stories enjoyable, they’re memorable and persuasive too.
- Keep it short and sweet for social. Length isn’t a requirement for good content.
- Video, infographics and other visual content still dominate across nearly all social channels, but this doesn’t mean they’re the only content that works. Facebook’s list of top-seen content for the quarter features mostly video in its most recent update, but it included up to 70% text-focused content across the past few quarters.
- Everyone likes humor.
- If your brand of humor doesn’t always play nice with others, don’t despair (or disparage). Nostalgia and joy elicit powerful responses too.
- Educational content does well across all social media platforms—as long as it’s geared toward answering real questions from real people. For instance, one-third of internet users and more than 50% of Gen Z users watch how-to/tutorial content weekly.
- Figure out a rhythm that works for you and for your friends and followers. If you say you’ll post weekly, stick to it. Your followers most likely hop on-platform at routine times too, and your engagement rates are much more likely to climb if you can work with those routines.
A few figures to help make the case for media/content across the board:
- About 80% of consumers find information about a brand through that brand’s own content.
- Facebook users spend an average of 33 minutes consuming content on the platform daily.
- TikTok users spend between $300 million and $500 million per quarter within the app itself.
- Instagram posts featuring people’s faces accrue 38% more likes than posts without faces.
- Employees are 14 times as likely to share LinkedIn content posted by their own employer than to share any other content.
TLDR: High-quality content—the media part of social media—drives awareness, engagement for new and old audiences alike, positive brand sentiment, in-app purchases, and conversions of all kinds.
Putting Things Together
There are no magic bullets for reaching your social media goals. It will still take effort since socializing and sharing media still take energy and time at the very least. The brands and individuals who consistently tie socialization and media together, however, are the ones who reap the rewards. As a takeaway, you might look closely at social media profiles you like and think of in a positive light. You’ll probably find them winning in either the social or the media game, if not both.
Wondering how to get more eyes on your brand new social media content strategy? Be sure to read our article “Real Ways to Increase Followers on Instagram and Twitter.”