Creating Content for Social Media — How to Write Stuff People Want to Read
When I sat down to write about creating content for social media, I thought of a snack I made in my kitchen recently.
I’m a mother of three young and growing children. I’ve made countless meals over the last decade, many of which have consisted of macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’ve been asked many times to make the latter, but one thing I’ve never been asked by any of my kids is to make them a jelly sandwich.
It’s always peanut butter and jelly. While an occasional peanut butter and banana or peanut butter and honey variant may be thrown in, it’s never a meal without the peanut butter.
What does PB&J have to do with creating content for social media, you ask? Let me explain.
Organic content is the peanut butter. Paid social is the jelly and brands need them both to win at social media.
With all the talk these days about social being a pay-to-play game, some marketing managers are concluding that there’s no need for organic social content anymore.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Creating Content for Social Media
Paid social content generates awareness of your brand or business, and…
…Organic social content builds affinity with followers and helps you turn them into loyal advocates. There’s a reason we still need to create content for social media in a pay-to-play online world. Because this content is uniquely able to help you create a community of loyal followers and customers. And you can foster this community by posting relevant content and interacting with these followers.
Organic social content is a great way to show your ideal audiences your core values and identity, while also learning about what your audiences value most. Social media is one of the few places you can have a two-way conversation with consumers. This two-way ability makes organic content efforts irreplaceable.
Paid social, which is paying for social media platforms to show your ads or sponsored messages to their users, is now a necessary reality of communicating with consumers on mature social media channels.
When Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and other channels started, they were free of ads because they were still trying to build their user bases. But, all of that time and money being poured into the platforms by their creators always had to be paid off someday; that day has come and the payment is coming in the form of advertising.
Sponsored content is one of the best ways to keep social media channels free for all to use. Since these social media platforms are for-profit enterprises, they are in the business of making money while keeping their users satisfied. That works to your advantage as a brand.
Many channels have robust paid advertising platforms. These platforms make it possible for brands to focus on creating content and ads based on very specific user profiles and characteristics. If you know your ideal audiences well, you can use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others to promote your content to the exact people you are trying to reach quite effectively.
You see, while organic social media content helps you connect with your followers, paid social efforts help them find you. But your followers will still get to know your brand through your organic content. Which is why both organic and paid efforts are necessary to build a following on social media. Instead of thinking of paid content replacing organic social content (or vice versa), think of them as complementing each other, which they do beautifully well.
If that explanation alone isn’t enough to convince you of the value and need to be creating content for your brand in a pay-to-play social universe, here are four solid reasons why creating content of your own for social media still matters.
4 Reasons to be Creating Content of Your Own on Social Media
1. Organic Social Media Content is Cost-Effective
While time is an incredibly precious commodity, it is still true that generating organic social content only costs your time. Other types of content like TV ads or billboards can be cost-prohibitive from a placement standpoint. But organic social content may reach many consumers within your ideal audiences and costs you nothing from a placement standpoint. That makes the reach and effectiveness of your social content strategy powerful. In fact, it is limited only by your creativity and commitment.
2. Organic Social Media Content Pays Off Your Ads
Once people click on your ad or learn about your brand through a paid post, they will most likely follow up with a visit to your social channels, your blog or website. If you don’t have relevant, engaging content for them to interact with, you’ve lost them. And if you lose their interest, it means you’ve both lost a lead and the money you paid to get it. Instead, you should view organic social content as an effective way to pay off your ads. Because this organic content gives the people who find you more relevant, engaging content to interact with online.
3. Organic Social Media Content Creates Conversation
Think of the content you post on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram account and LinkedIn profile on one side of a two-way conversation. The content you create is meant to evoke a response from your readers. While you may start the conversation, you shouldn’t end it and you shouldn’t be talking to yourself. Rather, you should focus your content creation efforts on posts, videos, tweets, and pictures with which your ideal audiences want to engage.
At this point, you may be wondering what types of content people want to interact with on social media; that’s a great question! While its answer could comprise an entire blog post, here are a few guidelines to consider:
- Polls — it’s no secret that people like sharing their opinion on social media. They also like knowing what other people think. For that reason, polls and probing questions can help drive engagement on your social channels.
- Trivia — as with polls mentioned above, people can’t seem to resist testing their knowledge to see how smart they are. Use that to your advantage by creating trivia questions that get people talking on your pages.
- Contests — get users engaging with your brand online by posting content upload contests. Bonus points when the uploads are of pictures related to products or services you offer!
- Ratings — ratings and reviews are critical to driving sales because increasingly, consumers rely on them to make purchase decisions. Let your audience know you care about their opinions and experiences with your brand by asking them to leave reviews.
- Spotlights — just as you enjoy learning about your customers, they want to learn about you. Employee spotlights help satisfy that desire and build interest in your brand.
- Offers — your customers love getting deals as much as you do. Coupons, discounts and special offers you make available only on your social channels reward people who follow and engage with you online and drive engagement with your brand.
The particular type of content most suited for your ideal audiences will depend on their unique interests, desires, and challenges. Let your knowledge of your audiences and your customer persona research guide your content efforts. You should also monitor your social channels daily and respond to any questions or comments you receive right away. Doing so lets your followers know you’re listening to them and that you value them, which is a critical component of any successful social strategy.
4. Organic Social Content Boosts Word of Mouth Marketing
Believe it or not, an organic social strategy can amplify your word of mouth marketing efforts. As people visit your channels to see what others are saying about your brand on social media, they will consider whether or not they want to do business with you. Since 85% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers and 74% of people say they rely on social networks to make purchasing decisions, having an organic strategy is crucial to building a positive perception of your brand online and funneling more prospects into your sales pipeline.
How Organic Content Fits Into the PESO Model
Finally, it’s important to discuss how organic social content fits within the PESO model of marketing and public relations communications. As we’ve discussed before, we use the PESO model at OBI Creative because it helps us win at PR, and because we’ve found it to be an invaluable aid in delivering integrated, comprehensive campaigns that drive results for our clients.
There are two places in the PESO model for organic social content. The “S” or shared media category and the “O” or organic content category. In the PESO model, the organic content you create can be for your blog, social channels, email campaigns and more. Shared media is all the social channels where you distribute your content. Paid media (“P”), including paid social content, is how you amplify your organic content on social channels and elsewhere; and earned media (“E”) is how you engage journalists and others to lend authority to your content and your brand.
The beauty of the PESO model is its flexibility. It provides a framework for organizing and strategizing your content efforts. This framework gives you the freedom to hone your organic content on social channels. Plus, it can help you decide which pieces to pay to promote so that more members of your ideal audience see it.
The mere fact that the PESO model dedicates an entire category to organic content is another proof for its staying power on social channels and elsewhere across the virtual universe.
Now that you’ve read the rationale for why organic social media content still matters, it’s time for you to get out there and start creating it.
Overwhelmed with the idea of creating content, then sharing and promoting your social media content? Take a deep breath and call us. Our strategic communications team knows how to help you create a winning social strategy.
Connect with us today to discuss your needs!