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7 Insider Tips to Jump Social Media Hurdles

In the B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America report, CMI and MarketingProfs found that 61% of B2B marketers increased their use of social media for content marketing purposes in the previous year:

For B2C marketers, the growth was higher: 69% increased their use of social media for content marketing purposes in the previous year.

On one hand, these increases are expected: Social media is an effective way to promote and distribute content. On the other hand, social media is a challenging space to make an impact given the growing competition for your audience’s attention.

#Socialmedia is a challenging space to make an impact given growing competition for attention. @dshiao Click To Tweet

Bethany Chambers, director of audience engagement at North Coast Media, shared many social media marketing tactics in her Content Marketing World presentation. And I’ll share seven tactics she covered in these categories:

  • Shareworthy content.
  • Content structure and keywords.
  • Platforms and tools.
  • Data-driven strategy.

Shareworthy content

Bethany approaches shareable content from two angles: (1) finding the right content mix by blending original and third-party content, and (2) content types and topics that work for the intended audience.

1. Mix your media

Brands mistakenly make their social media feeds about them, Bethany says. They share content published on their owned media channels and rarely mention anything else – including their customers’ challenges.

Brands mistakenly make their #socialmedia feeds about them, says @writegirl1215. Click To Tweet

Instead, Bethany recommends an equal mix of:

Original content is what’s published on the brand’s owned media channels; shared content is content published by others. (Bethany includes retweets in the “shared content” category.)

The third leg of the stool is personality. If you’re lucky enough to have industry experts or celebrities in the organization, you can leverage them to create personality content. A perfect opportunity is to have them cover industry events.

Bethany gives the example of Golfdom Magazine’s Seth Jones, who has made a name for himself in the 20 years he’s covered the industry. As a result, his access to top players at the PGA Championship results in content that’s a big draw for the magazine’s audience.

John Deere sponsored Seth’s coverage of the tournament, and the magazine ran a contest to guess the tournament winner (the prize was a John Deere cooler). The contest generated several hundred social media engagements for Golfdom.

Here are a few tweets around the PGA Championship event:

TIP: Your brand and your industry experts can both publish content about the same event – just make sure each post is unique content.

2. Follow the formula

For Bethany, the formula for success follows these time-tested content types:

On North Coast Media’s Pest Management Professional site, “3 Places to Inspect for Stinging Insects this Spring” is an example of a how-to article that would perform well on social media.

Fun facts and people content can be combined. For example, Golfdom shared a fun fact about a Golfdom audience member who had volunteered at two previous U.S. Open tournaments.

For creative content, Bethany offers an example from the team at Pest Management Professional. Its article An Interview with a Bald-Faced Hornet imagined what a bald-faced hornet might say when interviewed by an exterminator.

The article made it into the site’s top 10 page views of all time. “It’s just something that’s totally different. Something you would not expect.”

Content structure and compliance

Bethany offers two miscellaneous tips: The first focuses on how to structure keywords and content for easy sharing and the second covers compliance to rules and regulations.

3. Chunk it up

Social media users operate in skim mode – scrolling feeds until something catches their attention. Even when you catch their interest, they may move on and look for something more interesting.

“Plenty of people who visit our websites and engage with us are really just scanners. They’re not really going deep into it. If they get one takeaway from our post, we’ve been successful,” Bethany says.

To increase the chances that your content is read and shared, make it skim-friendly by chunking it up – use headers or h-tags, block quotes, line breaks, or images to break up text.

Use keywords or phrases that will catch your audience’s attention in your content and in more visible areas such as the title and headings.

Want to increase chance your #content is read and shared on #social? Chunk it up, says @writegirl1215. Click To Tweet

Here’s an example – the target phrases are “tech-enabled’ and “shake up”:

4. Comply with laws and regulations

To be successful, a brand’s social media marketing must be done in compliance with local and federal laws. Bethany’s compliance advice based on the EU’s rollout of GDPR is smart for all marketers wherever you operate:

  • Distinguish editorial from advertising – commercial messages have stricter rules.
  • Get a signed model release for every original image or mention you use on social.
  • Include attribution for images sourced from third-party sites and cite original sources for images shared on your social channels.
  • Remove any content for which you can’t identify the source.
Remove any #content for which you can’t identify the source, says @writegirl1215. Click To Tweet

Platforms and tools

Given the differences among social media platforms, Bethany suggests leaning in to what makes each one unique. Her go-to tools help you quickly create assets for social posts.

5. Know your platforms

Content can perform differently on each social media platform, so Bethany says it’s important to understand what works well where.

The team at Pit & Quarry, a North Coast Media property, determined that LinkedIn posts work well first thing Monday morning and first thing Friday evening. The team also learned that people read its blog at lunchtime and on Saturdays. They created a publishing schedule to follow those optimal times and it works.

.@pitandquarry designed its publishing schedule to follow when people are most likely to read it, says @writegirl1215. Click To Tweet

Among the other platform observations, the Pest Management media team discovered that its Twitter posts drive traffic to its Facebook videos. An analysis of the Instagram account of Pit & Quarry, a publication about the aggregate mining industry, revealed that its top nine posts were Flashback Fridays. One post received 335,000 impressions, 2,183 shares, and 43 comments.

TIP: Don’t follow expert advice until you see whether your content results reflect what they’re saying. If Pit & Quarry believed what social media experts say about doing away with Flashback Fridays on Instagram, it wouldn’t have seen those big results, Bethany says.

6. Use the tools

Bethany highlights a few software tools essential to her social media marketing:

Canva is a design tool that has free and paid options. Using the Canva app on her phone, Bethany creates custom quote cards and shares them at conferences – she did this at Content Marketing World with a quote from Ruth Carter. Back at her desk, Bethany uses Canva to create images for social posts.

ThingLink is an annotation tool with free and paid options. Users upload a background image and overlay text and multimedia elements. Bethany used it to upload a golf course image, then annotate spots to place deer repellent on the course.

Infogram is a data visualization and infographics tool with free and paid options. Bethany uses it on several sites to show bar and pie charts. The text overlays render detailed information when a user rolls over a chart.

StoryMapJS is a free tool to help tell stories by highlighting locations. One of Bethany’s editors used StoryMapJS to visualize the travels taken by the editorial team — they published the visualization in an article on the GPS World website.

RiteTag is a tool that has free and paid options that offer hashtag suggestions based on real-time engagement.

.@RiteTag is a free tool that offers hashtag suggestions based on real-time engagement. @writegirl1215 #tools Click To Tweet

Data-driven strategy

As with most digital marketing, use results to guide future decisions. In the examples that follow, Bethany shows how data helped her better understand the audience.

7. Find your benchmarks

If engagement is your most important metric, make that your benchmark. To illustrate, Bethany shared an example of three brands with three engagement rates on Facebook and Twitter:

Brand A posts the least to social media but gets the most engagement. Brand C posts most frequently but gets mediocre engagement. So a high number of posts doesn’t guarantee engagement.

Without a benchmark, common-sense thinking might be, “Let’s post more often, so that we have more chances to be seen,” Bethany said. However, Brand A gets better results with fewer posts. But before you follow that approach, conduct some experiments. Remember Bethany’s tip to find out whether your data supports the change.

What to do next

Phew. OK, that was a lot of material to digest. Though you’ve likely increased the use of social media for content marketing purposes this past year, more isn’t necessarily better. So ask yourself, “Are we doing social media better this year?”

Rather than jumping into a tactic, such as chunking your content, review your social media strategy to see which tip would help the best. (And if you don’t have a documented strategy, put one together and weave in these tips.)

If you’re inclined, use social media to let me know how it’s going. I’m @dshiao on Twitter.

Here’s an excerpt from Bethany’s talk:

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Get more content marketing lessons in person. Hear from experts. Converse with thousands of your fellow content marketers. Plan today to attend Content Marketing World. Register by May 31 to take advantage of early-bird rates. Use code CMIBLOG100 to save $100. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute