Social media is, of course, an essential part of any content marketing strategy.
But what’s the best way to use it in your content marketing to get the optimal results?
What exactly are the best practices you should be aiming to follow?
This post gives you five social media best practices to start using today, starting with a key question …
When sharing your content on social media, it makes sense to share it at times when your audience are most likely to respond.
Chances are, people in your social audiences will only see your posts if they’re on the network when you post. Otherwise they’ll simply be buried under the daily deluge and go unnoticed.
Not what you want.
So how can you follow best practice and optimize when you share?
Unfortunately there’s no simple answer, and is likely to be individual for your own business. It depends on a number of factors, such as:
- The platform used
- Where your audience is predominantly based, and what their predominant time zones are
- The type of content you’re posting—video content can have a completely different optimal posting time to other content. The same goes for light-hearted content versus more serious.
- Any gender bias within your audience
- When they tend to interact with it.
Knowing the optimal times to share your content also depends to some extent on what your goals are.
For example, are you predominantly wanting shares, clicks or perhaps followers for your brand?
Let’s say you market primarily in the United States. Did you know that:
- Around 80% of the US population are in the Eastern or Central time zones?
- Nearly 50% of the US population are in the Eastern time zone?
So with most of your audience on Eastern time, it makes sense to share at times most suitable for them.
In brief, knowing the best time to share is a big topic, and there’s a post coming up soon on just that.
When that’s available, I’ll add a link here. Until then here are some key questions to help guide you:
- What social platforms are most used by your audience? There’s some key demographic information in this post on social media advertising. Or get this free cheatsheet on which social media networks are right for your business.
- When do they tend to be online? Don’t just rely on generalized answers from online research. Examine your individual market. If you’re marketing to young mothers in the UK, perhaps 8pm UK time is when they’re most likely to be flicking through their feed.
- What do your analytics tell you? Look at your own data for the platform in question (e.g. Facebook Page Insights, Twitter Analytics, Pinterest Analytics). What does it tell you about when your own audience is most likely to engage—and the type of content they’re most likely to engage with?
Optimise Your Content For Each Channel
Many marketers and business owners make the mistake of treating each social media channel the same. So you’ll see exactly the same message for example on both Twitter and Facebook.
They’re often posted at the same time too.
Yet each channel has very different characteristics:
- The demographics of their audience
- Acceptable content length
- The times when people use them
- The content people best respond to and engage with
- What they are used for—e.g. business networking and information on LinkedIn, catching up with friends and relatives on Facebook, shopping on Pinterest.
In other words, by posting the same content across multiple channels, you’re doing your business a disservice.
Instead, social media best practice is to create posts with the specific characteristics of the platform you’re posting to in mind.
Here’s a quick key-point guide to 5 different networks, with examples of businesses using each effectively.
- Be conversational, accessible and friendly
- Add the personal touch where you can—Facebook’s where people connect with people.
- Aim to fit in with other updates people see in their feed from family and friends
For example, Cisco could be fairly staid and boring on Facebook, but look how they connect use of their technology with sport and leisure time:
In B2B and think your customers aren’t on Facebook? Think again.
- Short content summaries and one-liners
- Depending on your market, a more professional or business-type tone is fine
- Use hashtags to help drive conversation and attract attention to your Tweets
Can you get any shorter and more succinct than Tesla’s Tweet here?
Click here for multiple ways you can use Twitter to benefit your business.
- Professional, business-related content—a distinct business feel compared to other platforms
- Increase engagement by creating posts that invite discussion
- Audience responds well to useful, valuable information of relevance to their work and business
Many people of course use LinkedIn to seek new opportunities, with companies also using the network for their recruitment activities. This is clearly reflected in McDonald’s own posts on LinkedIn, such as in this example:
Click here for effective content strategies you can use on LinkedIn.
- Instagram has a primary focus on visuals, so images and videos are it!
- Use hashtags liberally—the network love them, and they help users find your content and engage in conversation
- Think about their audience—content should be fun, entertaining and engaging.
Clothing retailer Gap’s Instagram with a lot of engaging video content and imagery promoting their brand:
Click here for more info on how to use Instagram for your business.
- Strong visuals work well on Google+
- Create longer content to engage users and attract conversation and discussion
- Content generally has a more professional feel, though not as business-focused as LinkedIn.
Hosting company Rackspace use Google+ fairly prolifically, with content designed to attract and appeal to professionals on the network:
Repurpose Your Content
Repurposing your content for social media should be a natural part of any content marketing strategy.
Rather than struggling to know what to post on social media like many businesses—often resulting in inappropriate self-promotional content—you’ll have a steady supply of suitable material.
How it works is very simple:
- Regularly publish content to your blog, i.e. your content base. However, it doesn’t have to be a blog. It could just as easily be say a video channel or a podcast, if that’s a more natural fit for you and your business.
- This base or seed content is then repurposed across multiple other content platforms, including social media.
(Out of interest, vWriter was designed with just this type of strategy in mind, helping to facilitate and automate the process).
So as you publish content to your base, a ever-widening network of content spreads across the web, publicising your business and attracting your market.
In other words, you’re offering lead magnets in exchange for email addresses, and converting social media followers into direct business leads.
In fact, I’ve found these can attract more click-throughs and other forms of engagement on social than sharing the original posts themselves.
But don’t just share your base content.
Repurpose your content across other platforms too besides social media—and share that as well.
All in all, by following best practice and repurposing your content—and your repurposed content—across social media, you create a highly efficient content engine that drives a ton of publicity for your business, including increasing your organic traffic over time.
After all, what you’re doing is also best practice for SEO!
So you’ve gone to the trouble of creating another new blog post.
Whether it’s you or someone else doing it, it’s likely taken at least an hour or two to put together (and more likely, several).
Are you really only going to share that content once on social media and then be done with it?
Instead, you need to be sharing it multiple times, and in different ways. This is particularly true for Twitter, but the same is true on most other networks.
Best practice is to simply focus on different aspects of the post each time.
And it’s easy to do. Just pull out different bits of the content—or, do as I do and get someone else to do it—reword it a bit to suit the network in question, and schedule it out.
A quick note on doing this on Facebook…
You’ll find reach on Facebook decreases substantially with subsequent shares of the same link (although organic reach on Facebook is not high anyway).
However, one way to increase it is by sharing the same content repurposed on other content platforms as mentioned above in #3.
The continual supply of fresh content helps your Facebook Page (and other social media profiles) look fresh and active. Your potential new follower won’t have a clue you shared the same link a few weeks before.
And your existing followers won’t remember, even if they happen to have seen it the first time around.
Too many businesses are nervous about sharing content more than once, when there’s no justification for it. Don’t be one of them.
Network With Your Peers
Social networks are of course meant to be social. They’re not just places to dump your content on and then leave.
Best practice for effective content marketing is to actually engage on them more fully.
- Participate in conversations. Share content where relevant to the discussion and where it would add value. But not always!
- Welcome new followers with a personal message. Don’t try to sell to them. Instead, suggest your latest content as something they might find of interest. Personalize your message as much as possible. They’re more likely to respond if it’s clear you’ve taken the time to find out who they are. It provides a personal connection and shows you value them.
- Find people on social who’ve previously shared content like yours. Show them your own. Let them know you thought they might be interested as they shared something similar before. Invite them to share it too.
- Ask your network to contribute to content. Let’s say you have a roundup post coming up on your content calendar. Reach out to people in your network who might want to contribute. For best results, find an actual email address from their website, but mention how you’re connected on social. Those who contribute are also more likely to share the content—it features them and increases their authority. The result can be a potentially big splash on social media as well as numerous inbound links, all increasing your search traffic for longer term benefits too.
Social media is of course part and parcel of content marketing. These best practices show you how to use it effectively within a broader content marketing strategy.
In summary, know the optimal times to share, create posts that suit the channel in question, repurpose content for a continual supply of new posts, share multiple times, and network effectively with others on the platforms.
Put these practices into action, and watch how social media becomes an increasingly valuable asset for your business.