Content marketing and social media make a great team. Think Laurel and Hardy. Woodward and Bernstein. Jordan and Pippen.
No content marketing strategy is complete without a strong social media strategy. As Jay Baer says, social media is the fuel to set your content on fire.
According to 2013 research from CMI and MarketingProfs, B2B marketers use an average of five social media channels to distribute content, whereas B2C marketers use four. Whether you’re just getting started with social media or looking to fine-tune your plan, this guide is for you.
This eBook includes a collection of best practices for the top social media channels that content marketers use to reach their audiences, including examples of brands that have found social media success. Over the course of this book, we’ll cover:
- Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn
- Video channels like YouTube and Vimeo
- Photo sharing sites like Instagram and Flickr
- Online communities like Pinterest, Foursquare, and Quora
- Niche content sharing sites like Tumblr, StumbleUpon, and SlideShare
First, let’s take a look at the social networks we all hold near and dear.
You need more than just an interesting subject.
Even if your product category is naturally interesting, execution is very important. Spend time posting
well-edited photos and well-written copy. Volume certainly isn’t everything on Facebook; consistent quality is much more significant.
It’s good to be brief, but it’s better to be good.
Short messages stand out on Facebook — but long messages work if they’re compelling. Communicate your message succinctly unless you absolutely need the extra words.
Use smarter targeting.
Page Post Targeting (PPT) is a new service from Facebook that allows you to handpick your audience,
allowing you to deliver a clear message to a smaller group. For instance, you can direct your message to reach women between the ages of 25-35 who have “liked” your page. (Learn how to use PPT.)
Measure fan engagement.
Finding your Facebook impact means measuring how fans interact with your content. That way, you can figure out which messages inspire action — and create more like them.
(Here are five engagement benchmarks.)
Who uses Facebook well?
Pet brand PurinaOne represents Facebook marketing that uses phenomenal storytelling to stand out.
Longer posts, supplemented with a picture, tell compelling stories.
Posts are well written and inspire hundreds of comments from fans.
Each piece of content is highly relevant to the brand’s audience.
Tell a story through your tweets.
Present a consistent voice to tell the story of your industry and your brand. Each post should be compelling in its own right, but an inconsistent tone confuses the audience.
(Learn how to make your social media voice consistent.)
Make use of hashtags.
Including 1-3 relevant hashtags with your tweet makes it simple for people to find your content. Creating an original hashtag and linking it to a specific campaign is an even better use of the tactic.
Use it as a testing ground.
Tweet your original content, and keep tabs on which pieces of content get more shares. Use this information to direct your future content efforts.
Cover industry events.
To offer insights in real time, live tweet coverage of events that are significant for your audience. That way, your brand can act as the eyes and ears for individuals who can’t make it to the event.
Who uses Twitter well?
With 270,000+ followers, food chain Taco Bell has found a great social media niche for its nationwide brand.
Even followers with small influence get retweets and responses. The brand’s voice is down-to-earth and (at times) hilarious.
Events and promotions get great visibility.
Hashtags, especially trending topics, ensure even non-followers can find the brand’s tweets.
YouTube and Vimeo
Enable video embedding.
Make sure embedding is enabled, allowing other users to post your videos to their websites.
Mix professional and homegrown videos.
Just because you don’t always have a professional videographer at your disposal doesn’t mean you can’t make great videos. Showcase professional videos alongside homegrown ones to help humanize your brand.
Show, don’t tell.
Demonstrating your products or services in action is a much more effective way to create compelling videos than talking about what you do.
Keep it short.Your audience’s attention span can be measured in seconds, even for video content. Keep your content short — less than a minute long, if possible — to deliver a succinct message.
Think compilations, not long shots.
If you do create long-form video, give your audience little snippets of content that piece together a coherent narrative. Developing a video with a single shot (like a speaker presenting for five minutes) can easily fatigue your audience. (Take a look at some video tips and examples.)
Who uses YouTube and Vimeo well?
Major insurance brand Allstate maintains a fully branded YouTube channel that capitalizes on the brand’s multiple video campaigns.
- Quick videos that show, instead of just telling, have contributed to more than 26 million views.
- Videos range from professionally shot commercials (Mayhem campaign) to homegrown compilations
(John Riggins’ Hometown Hall of Famer video).
Spruce up your company page.
Company pages offer a platform to share diverse types of content, yet many brands are notably absent on
the professional network. Rope your page in, update the cover photo, add boilerplate information, and start sharing. (Here are tips on creating your company page.)
Encourage staff members to stay plugged in.
People who work at your organization (especially execs) can connect their personal profiles to your brand, creating a new source of content that your audience can follow.
Think quality, not quantity.
LinkedIn users tend to be overwhelmed when brands and individuals over-share. Make sure you’re only sharing the highest quality content you create for your brand.
Participate in groups.
Participating in LinkedIn group discussions is a great way to demonstrate thought leadership and strike up conversations that could lead to new business. Share your content and interact with other group members to establish a strong rapport.
Leverage user-generated content with recommendations.
Bringing in a steady stream of recommendations from clients or customers provides a renewable source of user- generated content. (Need more LinkedIn guidance? Check out tips for using LinkedIn’s follow button.)
Who uses LinkedIn well?
Social enterprise software developer Salesforce maintains a clean LinkedIn company page, to which nearly 10,000 employees have connected.
- Page administrators typically post only 2-3 times a day.
- The company’s 12 products include 914 recommendations.
Offer a healthy mix of content media.
Google+ gives you the ability to create an eye-catching page experience. Take advantage of it by posting more than just links and text. Mix in a variety of photos, videos, and infographics for a healthy-looking page. (Hear from the author of Google+ for Dummies.)
Symbols like # and + are your friends.
Hashtags help your posts get discovered through search, while using the + feature gets the attention of
individuals and brands. Finding ways to use these tools helps your audience find you.
Share individual content from your staff.
Highlight personalities by pulling in posts from individual staff members to create a social-friendly and personalized experience.
Get more mileage from archived content.
Just because content is old doesn’t mean it’s outdated. In addition to brand new content, share old and archived content that may be trending or relevant to a timely topic.
Use longer-form content for commentary.
Experiment with expanded posts that feel like mini blog posts. You may want to do this when you’re sharing third-party content that could benefit from your spin. (Check out more Google+ content marketing tips.)
Who uses Google+ well?
Computer hardware brand Dell produces a solid mix of content including videos, pictures, and infographics with corresponding copy.
- Consistent updates include at least a few tags to enhance searchability.
- Long-form text helps put rich media in perspective by offering some background and commentary
Decide if the platform fits your audience before jumping in.
As an interest-driven community, Pinterest is geared towards 18-34 year old women. If a good portion of
your audience lands in this category, it’s a good fit.
It’s more than just images.
Videos are powerful (and pin-able). If you have a strong repertoire of video content, use Pinterest to drive traffic back to your website or YouTube channel.
Show your customers some love.
Strengthen relationships, highlight success stories, and drive more traffic by creating a board showing off the achievements of your customers. It’s a great way to illustrate your work without much braggadocio.
Share your reading list.
Share book recommendations that are relevant to your audience to establish a stronger bond. Leveraging
books that you’ve actually read helps demonstrate your brand’s commitment to constant improvement.
Show your company personality.
Instead of a lone product image or a posed staff picture, show your product or team in action for an image with more personality. Action shots help your audience imagine themselves as a customer or client. (Find more tips for sharing on Pinterest.)
Who uses Pinterest well?
General Electric’s “From the Factory Floor” board includes tons of behind-the-scenes content about the company’s engineers and technology.
- The board mixes picture and video content with great calls to action to repin content.
- High-quality content points to other branded social media like YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr.
Encourage your staff to check in at the office and company events.
Create incentives for staff members who check in at work. Do the same for company-sponsored events to
highlight your work culture and establish the personal side of your brand.
Do research on your market to fuel content.
Keeping a keen eye on where your audience checks in is a great way to collect data on your target market.
Check in at client and partner meetings.
In addition to company events, encourage executives and other staff members to check in at client and
partner meetings to showcase the brands you work with. Some of them may even repay the favor when they
visit your office.
Create a badge.
For a fee, Foursquare offers brands the ability to create their own badges. Check-ins and achievements —coupled with users following your brand page — unlock your badge for users trying to win it.
Share tips that are relevant to your audience.
After you’ve created a brand page, you can share tips with your audience as they’re out exploring. When users follow you on Foursquare, they’ll have the opportunity to view those tips, creating a compelling
content marketing connection.
Who uses Foursquare well?
With nearly 65,000 followers, the New York Public Library is a very active organization on Foursquare, sharing tips, specials, and more.
- The library shares tips, behind-the-scenes content, and special promotions for events.
- Unlocked by 12,000+ people, the Centennial badge is accessible to library followers.
Instagram and Flickr
Post images that accompany your content with a link to the piece.
Coupling images with blog or other website content adds a call to action to your visual stimuli. In this way, picture sharing sites become viable arrows back to your content.
Share unique behind-the-scenes and personal content.
Get personal with your audience; give followers an insider view of the inner workings of your organization. A “behind-the-scenes” feel comes with an exclusivity factor.
Tie promotions to images.
Add promotions to visual content to help with engagement and conversions, and create a call to action that leads followers toward more content.
Turn followers into sources of content.
Ask your followers for pictures that represent your brand, and reward the best contributors with recognition. Offer them a sense of ownership to strengthen the relationship.
Offer high-quality peripheral content.
Even if a topic isn’t directly related to your product, service, or brand, if your audience finds it interesting, it’s worth sharing. Because Instagram and Flickr are picture-driven, they can open up a whole world of visual possibilities. (Check out more Instagram tips.)
Who uses Instagram and Flickr well?
With around 450,000 followers, Red Bull takes advantage of its extreme sports sponsorships to keep
- Red Bull posts visually stimulating pictures of skaters, snowboarders, and other athletes, reinforcing its brand with the occasional can of Red Bull.
- Hashtags like #givesyouwings are frequently coupled with pictures for better visibility and trending opportunities.
Only sign up if you have time to stay active.
Staying active on StumbleUpon is the way to gain more authority for your links. To get organic traffic, sign on, and stumble and rate often.
Use the “paid discovery” service.
StumbleUpon’s paid discovery program starts at 10 cents per click, putting your content in front of a targeted audience on the cheap.
Add a StumbleUpon button to each piece of content you create.
Place a Stumble button on your content. A few shares from active users could translate to new, targeted traffic for your content.
Make it easy to share older content, too.
When you add new social channels, it’s easy to think of them as part of a new phase in content marketing. But remember, content in your archives can benefit from sharing buttons, too.
Find inspiration for your own content.
Using StumbleUpon often will deliver more relevant content to your doorstep, introducing you to new websites, channels, and brands. As such, you’ll find new inspiration for your own content around every corner.
Who uses StumbleUpon well?
Financial management software developer Mint.com signed up for paid discovery with great results.
- Mint.com used layered targeting based on gender and topics like financial planning and selfimprovement.
- The company’s paid-discovery campaign returned a 20 percent increase in site traffic, logging
180,000 monthly visits through StumbleUpon.
Use your tags.
Tag content to help with searchability. Include descriptive tags on each piece of content to give your page much stronger visibility.
Post snippets of content.
Snag an eye-catching quote from a popular post on your blog, include the link and tags, and share the preview. Other snippets (like pictures) work well to offer a preview of your content before the viewer makes the jump.
Reblog, comment, and like often.
Use these features to share content from other Tumblr users. That way, you reduce some of the burden of
content creation while still getting the attention of influencers. You can also create relationships that may result in more people sharing your original content.
Link back to your page.
Attach a link to your Tumblr on every piece of content you post. If content goes viral, users can easily trace it back to your page. Without that link, your content may spiral off, giving you very little ability to track sharing.
Focus your content.
Make sure your content fits a tight niche to help you dominate search results and focus in on the top ways your audience finds you.
Who uses Tumblr well?
IBM’s A Smarter Planet Tumblr page is a well-designed, branded feed of how organizations are spurring innovation.
- IBM Tumblr administrators do a lot of reblogging, establishing relationships and reducing the burden of content creation with a curatorial approach.
- Each post includes a handful of tags to get more search visibility, drawing in more visitors and notes.
Share your eBooks.
SlideShare offers simpler viewing than a PDF in Adobe Reader, doesn’t require a download, is easy to track and measure, and offers a better organic search presence that’s independent of your website.
Recycle old content.
Find old PowerPoint presentations and start uploading them. Sales, branding, marketing, and conference
presentations are all fair game here. Just make sure to update any outdated content.
Embed your slides on other sites.
Like YouTube, SlideShare gives you the ability to upload a collection of slides to any website. This can be a great way to enhance a blog post or offer a preview of an executive’s upcoming conference appearance.
Spend time on your title slides.
The first thing users see is your title slide. Take great care in creating eye-catching, valuable ones to keep viewers from bouncing to another website.
Create lengthy, data-driven presentations.
Longer content tends to perform better on SlideShare. This channel targets a select group of professionals, so keep your content on their radar by driving your presentations with data. (Bonus: Check out more on this tip.)
Who uses SlideShare well?
Support desk software developer Help Scout has an active SlideShare presence that uses eBooks to drive traffic back to its website.
- Presentations include sleek title pages with phenomenal design throughout.
- Slides are numerous and include lots of data to whet the appetites of analytical readers.
Create a comprehensive profile.
A complete profile enhances the credibility of your questions and answers. It’s also a tool that helps point visitors in the right direction when they visit your profile for more info about you and your brand.
Follow topics, and find influencers.
Follow the topics that make the most sense for your brand and your audience. Identify major influencers by viewing who has submitted the most answers.
Ask and answer questions.
This is how you create short-form content that could eventually point back toward your website. It’s also a great way to find inspiration for new blog posts, eBooks, videos, or other content topics.
Show your appreciation.
Click the “upvote” and “thank” buttons at the bottom of the post. You’ll stay engaged, make a few friends, and help make your content more valuable by identifying high-quality answers.
Develop a board to showcase Q&As your audience may find useful.
Post content to a board of your favorite questions and answers. You can even invite other users to add content to your board, enhancing relationships by collaborating on content.
Who uses Quora well?
SEOmoz founder Rand Fishkin is an extremely active Quora member who garners attention for his business through the site.
- Rand maintains a complete profile that highlights his achievements.
- He follows topic, answers questions, and upvotes answers he likes, building relationships and
keeping his feed fresh.