How to Optimize Content for Social Media Live
By Leah Betancourt
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Content marketing isn’t just about writing stories or blog posts, creating videos or shooting photos. The content needs the right audience, which means smart distribution.
So how do you get your content in front of the right audience for the most visibility and engagement? ScribbleLive talked to Shannon Kinney, Founder and Client Success Officer at Dream Local Digital Inc.; and Evan James, U.S. Marketing Manager at SocialBakers; about maximizing content potential with the right crowds.
LB: What’s the best time of day to social networks and why?
Shannon Kinney: This is actually a very tough question to answer because it truly depends on the client, and who their target audiences are. You have to think about who you are speaking to, and when they are available, much more so than the specific channel. At Dream Local Digital, we monitor best practices, engagement and results of all of the content we post on these channels. While we see patterns in some cities, they are different in others. And we see patterns with specific general audience types (busy moms, for example), there are no hard and fast rules here. The key is to monitor your post activity and engagement, test new timing, and see what performs the best.
Click here to view a larger image of the infographic on when to post to social media channels.
LB: Where applicable, should social media posts have specific wording? Should there always be a call to action?
SK: Again, it depends on who you’re targeting. Always comes back to that. Like any other personal interaction, you don’t want every conversation you have to be just about sales. We try hard to create a strong mix of posts to build brand awareness (encouraging people to identify with and share your content is the strongest play here), build sales (calls to action are critical here – think what do I want my reader to do most?), educate and/or inform consumers (anytime you can make someone’s life easier or empower them is a winner), and the personal touch (information about your business, the faces behind your company, your customers, or lighthearted posts).
LB: Are there specific types of posts that work better on specific social channels than others?
SK: The human brain can process images or video 60,000 times faster than text, so any time you can utilize an image or video link you will receive upwards of 65% better lift on your post, and this is true across all social networks. When you work on your content planning, think about the channel, the audience, and tailor your posts for it – short for Twitter, longer for Facebook or LinkedIn, hashtag strategies for all. The most important piece is to have a plan that reflects the voice and marketing goals of the business or client, and make sure that you listen on all networks and respond to what consumers are saying. Each channel you start is like adding a phone line, and they need to be answered. For one of our clients, we’re answering more than 12,000 inquiries or comments each year. Do you answer when people mention you, leave a review, or an inquiry? If you can’t do it on your own, find someone who can help you and has the experience and know how to do it right.
Shannon Kinney, founder and client success officer at Dream Local Digital Inc.
LB: Do some social networks have some strengths over other social platforms?
SK: It depends on your goals and your target audience as outlined above. For most businesses to get started, we focus on Facebook and establishing their identity on Google+, we then move to either LinkedIn, Twitter or Pinterest as our next steps depending on the marketing goals of the client.
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LB: When is the best time to LinkedIn and what type of content fits best there?
SK: It’s more about the target audience than just the post, so I’ll tackle both here. LinkedIn is an excellent tool for three types of content:
1. Business to business -- Out of the more than 300 million users, more than half are the decision maker at their company. Content about your business and what you do, your industry, or your field works well here whether posted on your personal profile, your Company Page or in Groups.
2. Managing your career, hiring or checking references -- I haven’t had a printed resume in more than 13 years. With LinkedIn there is so much opportunity to create a more well-rounded view of yourself. Your background is in your profile, and you can also receive recommendations and endorsements from people you’ve worked with and for. This is a powerful tool. There are advanced recruiting tools available as well.
3. Sales — You can target messages by company, industry or job title -- and by using LinkedIn to prep for sales calls, you can learn more about your prospects. It is an invaluable tool.Also, in my meetings with them there last month, they revealed that they have new sales tools coming, we are excited about how to apply them for our clients!
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LB: What type of content works best on Facebook?
SK: Facebook offers the broadest demographics and highest reach for many small businesses, and we like to mix up posts with strong calls to action, the personal touch (about your team, your customers, your work, or your ideas), and establishing expertise. Like most social networks, visual content is critical to building engagement, and as the algorithms on the platform evolve, we’ve also found a mix of using boosted posts and/or PPC is an important strategy to reach more people and gain results.
Evan James: Determining the best time for companies to post content is very dependent on when their fans are most active. Socialbakers has analyzed posting times throughout many different industries and have found that there is generally ideal posting times for an industry. For example, fans of automobile companies are very active on Sundays. However, our analysis has revealed that pages should use an analytics solution to look into their fan activity to determine which times of the day and the day of the week will generate the highest level of interactions.
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LB: With all the changes to Facebook's News Feed, how do brands handle increasing their organic reach?
EJ: Generally what we found as the contributing factors for decreasing reach was:
1. On average, fans like more pages.
2. Pages are posting more content (40 times per month at the end of 2013 compared to 7 in 2011).
3. Facebook now optimizes highly performing content in the News Feed and have decreased spam from showing up in the News Feed. For pages with call to actions, I’d recommend looking running A/B testing on different types of content that include (or not) include direct calls to action in the post. It is also important to know exactly what you are trying to achieve with each Facebook campaign (e.g. website traffic) and we would recommend using paid advertising for enhancing reach.
LB: Basically, how do make sure your posts don’t get buried in someone’s News Feed?
EJ: For the majority of industries photos are typically gain the most amount of interactions. One of the few exceptions is for media pages, which typically work better with links.
LB: When is the best time to post to Twitter and what works best there?
SK: You want to keep things short and sweet on Twitter, each tweet needs to be 140 characters or less. Hashtags to help categorize the content and target searchers is an important strategy and why for many businesses it’s easier to get assistance with Twitter than tackle it on their own. It is an excellent tool for sharing content, establishing your expertise and quick conversations. In all of our work with Twitter, we also view it as a strong tool for listening for purchase intent and responding to current and potential customer inquiries. For many small businesses we work with, it has become a primary customer service channel.
EJ: The same applies to Twitter as does Facebook. We’ve seen quite a varying degree of times that are optimal to post. Companies should look at analytics of their profiles to determine the times of day and days of the week that will drive the most amount of interactions.
LB: What trends are you seeing with successful tweets?
EJ: Speaking strictly for brands, generally tweets with content embedded into the tweet typically gain the most amount of interactions. For example, tweeting something that promotes a campaign, event, whitepaper, etc.
LB: Who is the audience on Twitter or is it pretty general?
EJ: The audience is fairly general on Twitter. There is quite a wide range of demographics and interests in a way similar to Facebook. Where you do see a difference is on the country level. The U.S. has the highest Twitter penetration rates, but you don’t necessarily see the same levels of adoption as Facebook in all markets. However, there has been significant growth on many markets during the last year, and I would expect it to continue to increase.
LB: When is the best time to post on Google+ and what works best there?
SK: Google+ is less of a social network and more of a place for a business to claim and manage their business identity online. We work directly with Google to maximize the power of Google+ and the rest of the platform (including YouTube) to our clients’ advantage. It’s important to have strong branding, accurate information, and populated content. Also, all content you post here goes directly into the Google database and helps you show up better on search engines. This is a critical success factor for the organic search engine optimization of any business, and we leverage strong content marketing planning to help our businesses perform well. They also have an increased focus on reviews -- and good reviews about your business here perform very well on search engines. They key is to manage this channel carefully or get help from someone to do it for you to make sure that you can be found well. More than 97% of consumers in the U.S. search for local business information online. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and owned by Google, if your business has video, it can be a very compelling selling tool.
LB: When is the best time to pin to Pinterest and what works best there?
SK: Pinterest offers one of the highest conversion rates to retail sales of any of the social networks that we use. The audience skews heavily female, and what’s important here is that Pinterest users aren’t price sensitive. Rather, they are aspiring to something -- this is the kitchen I wish I had, the haircut I wish I had, the outfit I want to buy, the vacation I want to go on, the recipe I’d like to make my family, and so on.
We’ve also found that posts have the longest shelf life here based on that use case of aspiration. Many months after the original post-date we see conversions coming in. The content needs a very strong visual and good headline to entice people to pin and share.
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LB: When is the best time to post videos or photos to Instagram?
SK: Instagram skews younger and is still in the fledgling stages of allowing small businesses to really leverage it. It requires a strong hashtag strategy and compelling visual content. In our tests with businesses, we have found a strong opportunity for brand building with Instagram.
EJ: We have seen that brands are posting slightly more often during the week. However, there is evidence that content that is posted on the weekend receive slightly higher levels of interactions. On average, photos by brands have by 17% higher engagement rate than videos.
LB: What is the best type of audience to reach on Instagram to get engagement around a photo?
EJ: Photos are being posted 95% of the time and they have 17% higher levels of engagement. One thing to note here is that they are being promoted at a much more frequent rate than videos. The strategy behind promotion of content is just as important and creating the content itself. Doing the front-end research on what types of content work best and how to craft that message will go further in the long run on social and other digital channels that blanketing those channels with any old post.
LB: When is the best time to post to Tumblr or blogs and what works best there?
SK: Blogs (i.e. Tumblr, WordPress) are an excellent tool to establish expertise and thought leadership, share news about your company, links to articles that have been published about you, and add a personal point of view to the work you do. We work with small businesses to develop their content marketing strategies and utilize blogging, email and social posts to reach new customers, educate and serve current customers and grow their businesses.
LB: What types of video work best on Vine?
SK: Catchy and memorable works best here and the platform skews younger. Early adopters are a smaller base that use it heavily, and it’s still developing in terms of opportunities to market small businesses heavily.
When it comes to creating content for social media channels, knowing the audience, the types of posts that work best there and when to post to get the most eyeballs and engagement is key.
How do you know if your content is accomplishing business goals? Sign up for an email reminder for our chat at 11 AM EDT Wednesday on Content Marketing ROI with Jeff Marcoux, CMO Lead, Worldwide Enterprise Marketing at Microsoft; and Michele Linn, Content Development Director at the Content Marketing Institute. Follow Engage on Twitter for more information on upcoming chats.
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