Know Who Your Audience Is
You're probably familiar with this first step, but as always, it's the best place to start when planning out a strategy for your marketing efforts. Inbound marketing is all about producing valuable content for the right people, at the right time, in the right ways. But if you don't know who the “right” people are, then your content—no matter how valuable it is—could get lost in the crowd.
Before you even begin a content strategy on social media, make sure you have a secure and consistent view of who your buyer personas are, what they value, and what kinds of content they're going to want from you. Not everyone is going to want exactly what your brand is offering, so the more precise your targeting is, the more effective your content will be in finding the right people.
Ultimately, you want your brand to be “customer-centric,” and there are few places better for emphasizing this than social media. Producing valuable and relevant content is key to inbound marketing success, and when you pair that with a customer-centric social media presence, you can maximize the visibility of that content and reach the largest variety of people at the right time and in the right ways.
Use Visuals to Capture Their Attention
According to a study conducted by Microsoft Corp., and reported on by Time, people engaging with social media and other digital mediums tend to lose their concentration after eight seconds. The report also says that the rise of smartphones and digital media has lead to an increase in our ability to multi-task, but the need to regularly jump from one screen to another has made “it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli.” As a result, we now tend to be “more easily distracted by multiple streams of media.”
Not only do audiences tend to disengage with a piece of content faster, but according to a study from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, it usually takes an online user less than two-tenths of a second to decide if a piece of content is worth their time or not. Competition in the content marketing world has always been fierce, but your brand is no longer simply competing with other brands, it's also competing with the fleeting attention span of your audience.
For your brand to be relevant, it has to be visible. And for your brand to be visible, it has to offer content that an audience wants to invest in. This is where the value of multi-media content comes into play.
Whether you're on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or even LinkedIn, you're going to want to find new and inventive ways to get your content into the hands of consumers. One of the better ways to do this is by incorporating visuals into what may have otherwise been purely text-based content.
In an article on Canva, Shayla Price is quoted saying it's “important for visual creators to produce content tailored to specific audiences. Social media is becoming noisier as platforms mature. To reach your desired fans, you must create unique designs that match their interests.”
This means that, as you create content for an audience, try and tap into that audience's visual sensibilities. As an additional boost, strive to align your written material with a visual component that will help your content speak to its target audience in a way that's unique and meaningful to them.
Whether you use photos on Twitter, utilize your Instagram Story to live stream fun company culture events, or use videos on Facebook to tap into the 55% of people who watch videos online every day, visuals are one of the most effective ways to catch someone's attention and incentivize them to stick around.
Take Advantage of Hashtags
Hashtags are incredibly useful and versatile tools that you should absolutely take advantage of in your social media marketing. If you have yet to utilize hashtags, here are just a few of the major benefits they can offer you and your brand:
They increase the visibility of your social media content
They build conversation
They let you track audience engagement
They help you publicize events or promotions
They include you in broader discussions
On top of all that, it's not uncommon for Twitter content that uses 1-2 hashtags to perform exponentially better than content without hashtags. Like Meliss Jakubovic says in an article on Forbes, “I highly recommend you build a library of Hashtags for your business, and make sure you include both industry tags and tags that appeal to your specific audience. However, don't overkill.”
Ultimately, when you include popular—or customizable branded hashtags—in your social media content, people will be more likely to find your content over your competitors. Every social media platform uses hashtags a bit differently though, so make sure you know the “do's” and “do not's” of hashtags for a given platform before fully relying on them.
Link to Your Existing Content
If you want to boost your brand's relevance and improve web traffic, then using your social media to link to your website's existing content is one way to do it. Your social media should be a resource for customer engagement and interaction, but it can also be a great way to broadcast your website's blog content.
Forbes says it like this: “Your content...is going to serve as bait, and your social channels are going to serve as fishing poles, putting the bait in front of the right eyes. Use hashtags to gain visibility for your initial rounds of syndication, and don't hesitate to bring your content into existing threads and discussions.”
When you spotlight your content on social media, you're effectively bridging a gap between two mediums, as it plugs your social media audience into the wealth of content that already exists on your website. This can help you turn visitors into leads, prospects into clients, and broaden your brand's visibility by showing the right people the right kinds of content.
However, as valuable as linking to your existing content can be, you always need to be wary of oversharing. If we go back to Jakubovic's advice on Forbes again, we'll see how social media content with links tends to perform less than content that does not use links. Like Jakubovic says, “When you limit the links you share, you bring more weight and value to the ones you occasionally include.”
Embrace the Trends
Social media is an ever-evolving and adaptive creature. As more people flock to the various platforms, and the technology behind those platforms continues to grow more advanced, it's inevitable that a plethora of new and flexible trends will surface. As an inbound marketer, then, it's important that you're not only aware of the new trends that surface, but also that you're quick to assess and embrace them in your social media content marketing.
The trick is knowing what trends are right for your brand and which ones are not. While some brands, like Denny's and their now (in)famous online persona, have found success by embracing the “absurdist” sense of humor often found online, it's certainly not for every brand. Knowing what trends align with your brand's ideals and target audience means taking time to assess, research, and then implement the right trends at the right time and for the right reasons.
For example, one potential trend a brand could embrace is the “selfie video,” which Entrepreneur defines as allowing “users to capture a moment in time, but the video format allows users to communicate in a deeper and more personal way than a photo ever could.” Younger audiences are often wary of traditional marketing, so the more human your brand comes across as, the easier it'll be for this younger demographic to embrace the content your brand offers.
This is just one example of many though. There is a multitude of trends to filter through, and they'll often look different depending on who your audience is, what social media platform you're focusing on, and what kind of persona your brand possesses.
Boosting your brand's relevance is always going to be an ongoing task. Just like the social media trends you encounter online, relevancy is an ever-fluctuating beast that requires attention, perseverance, and insight to fully take advantage of. With the right tools and tips, however, you can equip your social media with everything it'll need to be consistently relevant and valuable to your target audience.
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