We regularly discuss social media content and its role in a company’s online strategy. Sharing great content is your way to impress your fans and grow your audience, but where does all that content come from?Blogs, graphics, memes, and videos all take time and money to create so how often should we be sharing great third party content instead of creating our own?
Naturally, there are pros and cons to both options and a blend of each is likely to represent your brand most effectively – but what should that blend look like?
Content is the cornerstone of your social presence
…but where does it come from?
Did you know that you need to post content to your LinkedIn company page every working day of the month to reach just 60% of your followers? Did you know the lifespan of a tweet is a mere few minutes? What about the range of content you see some big brands posting on Facebook? It’s new, original, and engaging, and they’re posting fresh content several times a day.
That’s a serious amount of content for one company to share across its social networks. Knowing exactly what to share in order to resonate with your audience is challenging, not least when you’re looking for brand new content to share every single day!
Sharing third-party content on social media
There are some great benefits to sharing content from elsewhere on the internet. First of all, your audience can see that you’re not solely using social media to promote your own business; you’re bringing them content that they will find interesting. The second great benefit is that you’ve not had to spend time crafting a blog post or spend thousands of pounds on an entertaining video or gripping infographics.
Even though you’ve not produced the content yourself, you’re still demonstrating to your audience that:
a) you stay abreast of news in your industry and are genuinely interested in it
b) you understand your audience and know they will be interested in this content, and
c) you’re not just trying to sell to them – you’re adding value to them in some way.
Check out the content matrix if you’re not sure what value-adding content looks like.
Make sure you’re not sharing your competitors’ content! Putting their awesome content in front of their ideal audience is not a good idea (more on the relationship you should have with your competitors on social media here). Always make sure content is sourced from a reliable, non-competing website or company.
But isn’t sharing other people’s content just lazy?
This depends on how you do it and what proportion of the content is from a third party. If everything you share is ‘click of a button’-type distribution (the kind you can do with social share widgets), it can look lazy, but if it’s relevant to you audience, where’s the problem?
There are many well-followed accounts that are primarily ‘content aggregators’ that pride themselves on scouring the web for great content for their audience. You absolutely do not need to create original content 100% of the time!
Creating your own content is a way of demonstrating your own knowledge, skills, and creativity. It is also far more shareable amongst your network because it is first-hand social content – a rare commodity in 2017!
Naturally, if you’re in a creative sector, this should a) be less time-consuming and b) be more important for your brand. However, creating content, in general, is very time-consuming and if you haven’t the required skills to have the desired effect, your social media accounts can be left looking amateurish and can undermine your genuine qualities.
So what can you do? The key is to play to your strengths. Let’s have a look at your options.
Creating your own social media content:
Whilst you won’t be sharing the entire blog itself over social media, you can share and promote links to it. Depending on how easily and fluently you write, this can be relatively straightforward and enjoyable. It’s a great way of sharing your passion, views and expertise as well as getting hits back to your website. Learn more about blogging.
Updates including photos of you, your team or your products are far more likely to get shared and initiate conversation. The better quality the photo, the better and the happier and smilier you are, the better. Photos, in general, are better engaged with than text over social media and are a pretty simple piece of content to create.
Graphics, including memes and infographics
The next level up from a simple photograph but benefits from all of the same principles. This is a major benefit of having an in-house graphic designer or some of your own skills on Photoshop or alike. Photoshopped images and memes are a great way to make something funny and make your audience laugh. Useful and interesting infographics are very shareable and show off your knowledge and skill set perfectly.
Videos can be a mixed blessing. We know the viral capacity of videos so sharing a great video can gain some great reach and engagement. However, the vast majority of videos companies share are not doing them any favours. Why? They often too long, too self-promotional and of poor quality. In 90% of circumstances, you can convey the message of a video in an image so there really needs to be a reason why something is a video especially if the video is purely for social media purposes.
Applications like simple games are a great way to generate interest in a certain project and build brand affinity. We don’t need to explain the explosion in web and mobile applications to you; you know how powerful a marketing tool they can be. They’re perfect to use in competitions and in set-period social media campaigns to cause a boom in reach and engagement. Once again, this may be something which falls within your team’s skill-set, however, if not, these can be relatively expensive to put together.
Competitions are a perfect way to increase the reach of your Facebook page or increase followers on Twitter or Instagram etc. Social media competitions do qualify as social content although they can be as simple as asking for a suggestion for the name of the new office hamster. In general, there are three major factors which govern the success of a Facebook competition:1. How much it gives your audience a chance to show off (either by knowing the answer, getting a high score or making a clever suggestion), 2. how desirable the prize is and 3. how much budget you are willing to put behind the promotion of the post. There are, of course, lots of other ways to increase awareness of a competition such as sharing it over Twitter and
1. How much it gives your audience a chance to show off (either by knowing the answer, getting a high score or making a clever suggestion),
2. how desirable the prize is, and
3. how much budget you are willing to put behind the promotion of the post.
There are, of course, lots of other ways to increase awareness of a competition such as sharing it over Twitter and even finding people to enter using conversation drivers.
But remember this!
Social networks are full of content (seriously full). More content is produced every day than can be consumed in a person’s lifetime. This means your content needs to resonate powerfully with your audience if you’re likely to gain any traction. Here’s the best way to do it.
So what’s the bottom line?
Overall, you’re likely to receive more engagement with content that you create yourself but you have to weigh up the value to your brand and the time and resources it will require. Relying on other people’s content is obviously a far more passive strategy but this does not mean it is an inferior one. In fact, there are thousands of Twitter accounts that act almost like content directories and they build huge followings of their own.
Thinking about outsourcing social media management? Check out our blog on outsourcing vs keeping social media in-house!