In 2017, it was calculated that 90 percent of U.S. businesses were using social media for marketing purposes, which was projected to increase. Gone are the days where business owners, company presidents, and CEO’s don’t value social media. Fortunately for marketers, we don’t have to sell upper management on why social proof is important for our business. On the other hand, how does your company stand out enough to build a presence as social media channels are getting more saturated or the algorithms change?
Growing your page follower count can build your digital presence, but follower counts are not the only valuable key performance indicators in the social media realm. Here are six proven ways to reach digital marketing success by leveraging content marketing and social media, plus bonus tips at the end.
6 Ways to Leverage Content Marketing
Where do you even start? First, you need to figure out what content to create for the social media channels you are managing. Does your company already have videos, blogs, or other content you can share? Are you starting from scratch?
It is also important to decide your social media objective. Do you want to gain followers, create brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, or another goal?
- Create Shareable Content
As a financial services marketer, there are heavy regulations on what my company can and can’t say to the public, as for many other industries, such as healthcare. With so many legal limits, your content can get generic and boring very quickly. Shareable content is pretty simple– a blog, photo, video, or a GIF that a person or company will engage with and share your company’s social post or post it natively to their own page.
Here’s an example:
Our financial planning firm targets a niche audience- physicians and dentists. How do you tie financial planning and doctors together? You obviously want to create content about your products and services, but it is also important to think outside the box to connect your target audience with your business and their interests. My favorite type of shareable content is showcasing your target market in a curated list, addressing a somewhat related topic.
Let me explain… Very few dentists have truly mastered social media. After seeing the viral Dancing Dentist video, I knew I needed to highlight other dentists who have a strong social media presence. This led to hours of researching dentists who are killing the social media game. From there I curated a list of the best dentists in a blog post to showcase their successes on social media and motivate other dentists to leverage the powerful platforms.
- Find the Right People or Companies to Share Your Content
After publishing a blog, you can’t sit and wait, expecting the world to see your content, even if you post it on your company’s social pages and send it out via email. Continuing with the dentist blog post example, each of those 6 dentists presented an opportunity. If 50% of those dentists shared the blog on their own pages, there could be at least 9 posts that could be published if they each shared it on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. To take it even further, each dentist also has their own affinity or are part of associations, who could be interested in sharing the piece on their social media accounts. The Dancing Dentist is one of the two dentists that didn’t respond and share the blog. Fortunately, his alma mater was excited about the blog post when I reached out and they shared it on their alumni website.
- Don’t be afraid to ask
I can’t tell you how many emails I receive from content specialists asking me to share their article on my company’s channel that are mostly unrelated financial topics. The Dancing Dentist’s alma mater was one of the only people that have responded to my content outreach via email. Not to worry, social media can be handy when you want to reach the right people directly.
Who usually runs the social media accounts for a business? Someone on the marketing team. Leverage your fellow marketers by reaching out to their company Facebook page through messenger. Use a brief message to share a link to the blog, why it relates to them, and if they respond, ask them to share the piece. Not every company uses the Facebook messenger. If not, try another platform.
Do your research and find companies who have a similar audience and would value your blog, podcast, or video. Alma maters and associations are often very excited to share content about their alumni or members. Social media managers are always looking for more content to share, so give it to them. If they think their audience would like the piece, they will likely add it to their social media calendar. This is such a small ask for you to make and it can be a solid way to drive traffic to your website. If they say yes, be sure to add a shameless plug for your company by asking them to tag your social accounts when they share your piece.
- Share Other Peoples’ Content
Creating original content can be quite time-consuming and still difficult to motivate people to share it. Kill two birds with one stone. If you want more people to know you exist on social media and you need more content, share others’ work and be sure to tag them. This gives a head nod to those people who created the content and they are likely to share your post and follow you, which will give your company page more exposure.
- Create Finger Stopping Content
Blogs and educational content are great ways to build trust and drive traffic to your website, but this type of content is static and does not get as much engagement as dynamic content– AKA videos or GIFs. Don’t get me wrong, people will likely still click on your blog and go to your website, but may get distracted when they get to your awesome blog. This can result in less engagement on the actual post in the social media channel, which is vital for more page views and followers. Balancing the amount of static and dynamic content will help you solve this engagement problem. With the immense amount of posts in our timeline every day, you need finger stopping content to get users’ attention. Video can be quite time consuming to create and not everyone has the talent or time to share consistently funny posts like Wendy’s or Moonpie.
Try creating GIFs from videos you already have or from images. This Ultimate GIF guide from buffer breaks down the creation process, when and how to use them. If you are like me and struggle to come up with clever copy in your posts, phone a friend and crowdsource captions. Send a group text to your friends, family, or colleagues with the image or GIF and simply say, “caption this.” Have some fun and pick the best one.
Pro tip: Instagram does not accept GIFs, so if you create one yourself, you’ll have to download the GIF as an MP4 or other video file. You can also post directly from the Giphy app on your phone, so you can upload your GIF to your own Giphy account or use GIFs already in the app.
- Clear and Concise Copy
For either type, dynamic or static pieces, clear and concise copy is a must. Do you want to read a news story when all of the main bullets are in the headline? If you give too much away in your social media posts, your audience will have no reason to click on the link and read further. Give them just enough to make them want to click on it. If you break each blog topic into bite sized pieces, you end up with three benefits:
(1) More posts to publish
(2) Posts with a clear focus
(3) High quality teasers to reach your ultimate goal of sending people to your website or downloading an e-book.
Number two is so important as I often see people selling and promoting multiple things in one post. Do you want your audience to come to your upcoming event or purchase a Brazilian wax? Avoid watering down the objective of your post by making the call to action unclear and giving too many options to the user.
I know I said there are six ways to leverage content marketing on social media, but we all know there are many more. As promised, I’d like to leave you with a few more tips to get your social media and content calendar off the ground.
More Social Media Tips
Here are some bonus tips for optimal social media engagement:
- When people like your content on Facebook, you are given the opportunity to send them an invite to follow your page. Take advantage of this.
- Use relevant hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, but not too many, focus is key!
- Use Gary Vaynerchuk’s $1.80 strategy to gain Instagram followers – find 10 of the most relevant hashtags in your niche and follow them, then reach out and comment on the top nine posts for each of the 10, then continue linking and commenting on posts each day. (this can also be used on Twitter)
- Leverage your colleagues- your co-works also want your company to grow and succeed. Make sure your team is posting your content and tagging your company accounts- if they don’t have the time or know what to say, feed it to them!
- Share content about or created by your team- build their personal brand and leverage their friends and family who will be excited to engage.
- Meet your audience where they are- posting similar pieces across channels may feel redundant at first, but most people seem to favor one channel and won’t be offended if they see something twice. They can easily scroll to the next thing and they say consumers need seven touches to make a decision.
Once you recognize follower counts are not the only indicator of success as a social media manager, you can start researching your audience, create shareable content, and curate other articles/videos to share. Even if you think your content is shareable, your work won’t be shared unless people know about it. Reach out to marketers or other people and tell them about your creation.
The dentist blog example I shared was a topic completely unrelated to my company’s services, but it was a way to enter the conversation among dentists. I ultimately chose those six dentists because they practice across the country (my firm provides services nationwide), within different specialties, and obviously had a decent following. Over a year later, one of those dentists is a guest on our podcast, which has helped us strengthen our relationship with her and gives me more content for our website and social media posts.
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Molly Holbert is the Marketing Director for Spaugh Dameron Tenny, LLC and Secretary of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Young Alumni Board of Directors. During her tenure in the financial services industry, she has also served on the Charlotte American Marketing Association board and is a member of Social Media Charlotte. Molly is currently involved in two local non-profits, serving on the marketing committee of America’s Toothfairy and helps execute fundraising events for Bless Back Worldwide.
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