You know that billions of people use social media every day. And every day, content marketers post a deluge of content to their brands’ social channels.
Social media can do so much for brands – offer a place to distribute original content, promote published content, grow communities, provide referral traffic, attract conversions, etc. But it can’t be all that to all brands all the time.
That’s probably why articles about social media attract readers on the CMI blog. It ranks high among the topics we cover. Now, as part of our top content series, I share five lessons gleaned from our top five social media articles.
(Not surprisingly, given that Instagram boasts over 1 billion active monthly users globally, the social media platform celebrating its 10th birthday this year was discussed in three of the top five articles.)
1. Make the most of paid social media
Popularity rank: 1
Almost three-fourths (72%) of B2B marketers and 89% of B2C marketers use social media advertising, according to our 2020 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research.
That’s why Dennis Shiao included these two tips in his piece curating the best social media marketing ideas published in 2019. They both center on the idea that you should do some homework before you invest dollars in promotion on social media. The first comes from an article I wrote.
Take a data-driven approach to social advertising:Evaluate what website traffic is driven from organic (i.e., free) social media. Pay to promote those organic posts driving traffic.
The result? Your budget is focused on what’s most likely to drive results and not spent on a little bit of everything.
But that’s not the only smart move in effective paid social media campaigns. Dennis shares Brad Smith’s good advice: Select ad placements on Facebook that align with your campaign objectives.
For example, if the objective is to drive traffic to a blog post (i.e., a low-value conversion), the premium priced ad placements in a Facebook News Feed don’t make much sense. But if you’re doing a conversion-based campaign, the front-and-center placement is more likely worth the cost.
2. Develop an SEO strategy for YouTube
Popularity rank: 2
YouTube is the second most popular search engine. That’s why Aleh Barysevich crafted this piece on how to optimize your video content for YouTube.
While video involves a different format than text-based content, the SEO ranking factors remain similar, thus the advice is similar: Research and use the right keywords. Recognize recent trends. Analyze your competition.
His most helpful advice comes in the form of 21 YouTube SEO tools – what they are, how they help, and how much they cost – to aid in the planning and execution of your strategy. While he includes some standards like Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, and YouTube Analytics, he also offers up a bunch with which I was less familiar. Here is a sampling:Tags for YouTube shows the tags for each opened YouTube video, providing an overview of any video ranking for your topic. TubeBuddy is the most feature-rich app for running and optimizing your channel on the market. vidIQ gives tips on publishing times, suggests niche influencers, and more. Rival IQ provides full profiles of your competitors’ YouTube presence.
3. Automate your Instagram
Popularity ranking: 3
Managing your Instagram account could be a 24/7 job, but it doesn’t need to be. Since Instagram opened its API (application programming interface) to third parties, multiple apps let you schedule your posts, as Olga Rabo writes in this article.
She delves into seven Instagram scheduling tools, identifying the basic how-tos and benefits of each. From Iconosquare, the pioneer of Instagram analytics, and its valuable add-ons to its automated scheduler, to Later, a drag-and-drop scheduler that Olga calls amazing.
I especially appreciate that she not only describes each tool but also shares their differentiators. That’s helpful when you have so many great options because, as she says, the trick is to find the one that fits your needs – keeping your Instagram profile up to date while avoiding those annoying smartphone reminders.
4. Even non-visual brands have a place on Instagram
Popularity ranking: 4
To Instagram or not? The answer is one of the tips shared by Jodi Harris, who curated advice from social media experts on how to make the most of your Instagram presence.
As she writes, you should give serious thought to how your Instagram activities contribute to your marketing goals. After all, even though 1 billion people are using Instagram, are they using it in a way that will attract them to engage with your brand? If not, you don’t need to read any more advice – your brand doesn’t need to be on Instagram.
Now, what if your audience is there and using it in a relevant way, but your brand isn’t visually oriented? That’s a common challenge, particularly for B2B brands, that you can overcome. As Jodi points out, “Even if your content team is photo-phobic, you have lots of creative options.”
She shares this great example (and inspiration) from software company Salesforce. The compelling and visually successful post conveys its value message using the illustrated cover of a tip-driven e-book:
Yes, non-visual brands can be successful on Instagram, but it requires incorporating visual thinking into your original content creation planning. That way your visuals for Instagram (and elsewhere) are a seamless part of your audience’s content experience.
5. Transform existing content into Instagram content
Popularity ranking: 5
Of course, not all content teams will think about visuals when creating the original content. That’s where Tailwind’s Susan Moeller’s advice comes in handy.
She offers a framework to take your non-Instagram content and make it Instagram-worthy. It lets you create a five-week Instagram post plan. “It also ensures your followers find something worthwhile in their feed, so they click to your blog for more valuable content,” Susan writes.
And it’s an appropriately memorable acronym – VISUAL:Valuable: Helpful or educational content from which your audience can learn Aspirational: Idealized, tangible content to help attain a vision or a goal Lifecycle: Content that builds awareness, nurtures relationships, or encourages action Unique: Proprietary and branded content focused on your business Evergreen: Timely, relevant, and useful content for years to come
She even provides this helpful visual so you can see how to map out your VISUAL framework to your posting calendar:
Want to dig deeper and see how it works in real life? Check out the full article, which includes more how-to information and real-life examples.
One more thing …
Though it didn’t make the top five, Erika Heald’s popular post, How to Write Social Media Guidelines That Help Employees and Protect Your Brand, is a must-read. While HR and legal may focus on the restrictive aspects – what’s allowed and what’s not – content teams should focus their input on the helpful ways employees can use social media on behalf of the brand.
And, at a minimum, Erika advises, those social media tools should include (1) brand’s purpose on social media generally and on each platform (i.e., recruitment, content amplification, customer advocacy), (2) company style guide, and (3) access to shared brand asset folders.
What social media advice do you have to share? What worked? What didn’t? I’d love to hear in the comments.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute