There’s a beautiful saying: The Internet forgets nothing. And that’s true. But the stuff that fails to excite simply lounges around (i.e. in the networks), but doesn’t get any attention. And this is all too often the case with content posted on social media with the declared aim of finding readers. What to do? Add something that’s palatable to the reader. Not just the sprinkles. The chocolate flake, too.
Content, Content – what the hell is it, anyway? You almost want to say: everything that is posted on social media. On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, Youtube and all the countless other platforms and forums that all appeal to their respective and specific target groups and age groups. Content – that’s everything that can be uploaded. And shared. And downloaded. And liked. And commented on. From blog post to live video. It’s e-books and white papers. Content – it’s also what makes one person an influencer and the others fans and followers. Content – and it’s what is used very specifically by companies within the framework of social media content marketing to strengthen brands. Boost sales by targeting people who are far from being the target audience when they were already identified and targeted by social media strategists.
Content marketing, inbound marketing – occasionally used synonymously, and sometimes in a nuanced way – these were the swine that were herded through the communications village in recent years. By now, everyone has heard about it at some point. And many think they’re already implementing it, but the vast majority – at least in Germany – are still in their infancy. Of course, most of us are now on Facebook. But many of them have since moved on. Or have simply let their account languish. If it weren’t for Corona and all the conspiracy theories, probably only half the action would happen on Facebook – and that half is: advertising. Online advertising. Facebook was (and is) one of the social media channels that has been the easiest to use for advertising to date. Accordingly, all businesses made the move to Facebook. Whether that made sense or not. Nevertheless, the Facebook accounts of companies – even B2B companies – were (and still are) a playground. Addressing old and new target groups, collecting data from their existing and new customers and leading them to websites and online shops, in order to offer them content there – which at least provided them with an email address and thus a direct contact possibility. Just how targeted this content marketing is on social media platforms can then be seen in comprehensible Customer Journeys, which, in turn, allow conclusions to be drawn about how the posted content can be played out in an even more targeted manner. How they can be used in a way that not only invites potential customers on a customer journey, but also prompts them to respond. This is because reactions – in the form of comments, likes, dislikes, purchase ratings, etc. – indeed every form of online discussion is user-generated content and thus an expression of community engagement from which companies benefit. Once it’s initiated, it is talked about. However, this does not mean that they themselves have to speak less. In the “really real” world, perhaps – to paraphrase Paul Watzlawick – you can’t not communicate, even if you remain silent. In the digital world, you have to speak out. Otherwise, you’re gone. And faster than expected.
Let’s return to the paraphrases of content provided at the beginning. Content is – as we said above – everything that is posted. It’s posted by all people who have an account on one of these social media channels. And by companies – that is, corporate entities – that try to reach these people. The content must be relevant to someone in some way. And the amazing thing is: in one form or another, it always is (even if it may have sounded above as if it could sometimes be of no interest to anyone and was then there but subsequently overlooked). What exactly is so amazing about that? When I – let’s say we – post a cat photo on Facebook, I leave a trace as a user, as a customer. If a hundred further cat photos are added to this, then it will slowly but surely become a data highway for all cat food suppliers. If, in addition to those cat photos, I also reveal my preferences – what brand of car I love, where I spend my holidays, what films I like to watch and what books I enjoy reading – I’m helping Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram or God-knows-what social media channel to create a profile of me that knows and describes me better than I could describe myself – let alone the best psychoanalyst in the world. And if I choose to disclose all this voluntarily, I don’t really need to be surprised if the feed of the social media I use also displays the corresponding advertising. That means: The content I post as a user is highly relevant to create a clear-cut profile of me. And the more I – or all those who think just like me – reveal about myself, the more that those companies benefit who use the same portals to communicate with their target groups. And all of this is perfectly GDPR-compliant.
Now, the world of social media would be drawn far too simplistically if we wanted to assert that someone posts cat photos and a cat food manufacturer posts its advertisement and a lead is generated and the first batch of Sheba is sold in the blink of an eye. After all, there’s still Felix, or Whiskas, or any other number of options. The competition, right. And, as we all know, it never sleeps. In short: It’s not all done and dusted with just a few posts. It’s not simply about understanding the algorithm, but about harnessing the power of the different algorithms. Social media content ideas are, therefore, not what they are, rather that they endeavour to be better than the competition, the other companies. So they try to distinguish themselves from the others, to differentiate – and not simply to be different, but to be more purposeful. This is because they try to get to know the intended target group, the intended person, better. Involvement is the key word here. Give them contributions. Start competitions. Organise prize draws. Reveal infographics and conduct a survey. Be it one, many, regularly, again and again. All these are the tools, these are the ideas. This is how information flows. That’s how interaction happens. If these tools are not used indiscriminately, but rather in a planned, long-term fashion and linked to campaigns, then the future is without doubt bright, because then there is strategy behind it. A social media strategy that delivers content ideas. A strategy on which successful online marketing can build. A strategy that doesn’t just involve posting a live video because it’d be the cool thing to do, but because the event is planned and the implementation is a real winner.
How do we know if our social media content strategy is the right one? We notice it in the click rates. We see it in the likes. We can tell by the leads. And the downloads. And we see it in our Google search. We’re used to simply typing a question or keyword into the search engine and we expect to get the answer that Google spits out, not on page 50, but right up front and at the very top. Or at least on the first page, or at best the second. What does this entail for media content? It’s not just about broadcasting on social media. It’s important to use the right channels. It’s also not about simply broadcasting anything, but rather using topics and working with content and words that the target groups respond to. Things that they are looking for. It’s the search terms that appear at the very top when questions are entered. What we’ve found: The right strategy, a successful strategy, is rooted in knowing exactly when and where to reach whom with the appropriate content: the time (morning, noon or evening, before or after the holidays, at the weekend or on weekdays) in combination with the channel (one of the hundreds of thousands of social media) and the persona (man, woman, old, young, preferences, behaviours) and ensuring that it’s put out there using the appropriate search terms. Plus hashtags, where they are requested. The right strategy spins a web within the web. And those who’ve mastered the algorithm hit their target group with the right keyword that transports precisely the right content that the target audience is looking for. This is how social media content ideas work.
As much as videos and images appeal to users. As much as we’re into moving images: what’s actually experiencing a revival in our society (a place the supposedly detests reading) is the written word. The saying about a picture being worth a thousand words no longer applies in this form. Of course, you can search for images, but all images are keyworded. What counts are words. An infinite number of words. This is because, ultimately, it’s the sheer mass of words that ensures that certain content is found faster and better than others. Text is experiencing a revival. Considering that, here too: It’s not simply a matter of using the terms often. They have to have relevance for the target group. And here we’ve come full circle. User-generated content, contributed piece by piece to the customer’s profile and whose relevance lies precisely in being able to address the customer more clearly, conversely also needs the relevant message from the company. It’s a quid pro quo scenario. Everything that potential customers voluntarily reveal about themselves must find an appropriate response in a relevant message. The message is always relevant, if it offers a potential customer something that appeals to them, something they have been looking for, something that benefits them: a form of added value. If social media content fails to offer this added value, and if the ideas behind social media content don’t serve this relevance, companies’ content will remain ineffective and trapped in an internet wasteland, the Mad Max scenario of network landscapes. They might well be there, but they’re not heeded.
So, social media content cannot do without added value. Added value can only be offered if you know what this means for the target group, i.e. if you have the right information. Only those who understand the habits of their target groups – for example, the places where they spend time and where they look for solutions – can offer this added value. That’s where the content has to be placed. And, at the same time, it’s important to develop ideas that help companies communicate the same content differently than their direct competitors. One example underpinning this point is job advertisements – some choose to post them on Kununu, others on LinkedIn or both, as well as on many other channels, but only those who give their HR campaign a certain creative spin on top of that will gain the attention of their potential applicants. Therefore, it’s not enough to meet the expectations of different target group profiles, but rather to be in the right place at the right time. In the end, creativity and ideas are also required. Not just arguments, but emotions, not just a “one size fits all” message, but one that appeals to the individual, to turn a potential prospect into a real customer and a potential applicant into a new employee.
And where will all this lead to now? Well, to us. We like to state it here, in the final paragraph in our blog posts. You probably entered a search term in Google and came across this article. Or you were on one of the social media channels that we also use. Perhaps the image appealed to you. Or the title. Maybe the topic: social media content. Perhaps because you have to develop, post and evaluate social media content for your company yourself. And now you’re here because we’ve set the right link machine in motion or you’ve entered the keyword for which we offer the solution. We call this solution the Lead Generation Engine – and this engine contains all the components you have read about above. It’s a complex interaction of many factors. This interaction can only be mastered by those who not only know how to use the technical tools, but also understand how to apply good old creativity with conceptual competence. Instruments are one thing. Content the other. Anyone who fires up this engine – the Lead Generation Engine – can provide many customer journeys with the right drive that takes them in the right direction. It can’t be wrong to talk about it.
More information is available from:
Creative consultant / Group Head Text
christoph.siwek (at) schindlerparent.de