How To Build A Successful Social Media Strategy: Why Great Content Alone Isn’t Enough
As marketers, we’ve all heard that “content is king.” Perhaps you’ve even made content creation and distribution a core part of your marketing strategy. So, when it comes to using social media to boost your company’s visibility, all you need to do is post great content, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. To utilize social media as a powerful communications and marketing tool, you need to have a balanced strategy that includes both compelling content and a robust paid campaign across channels.
Why isn’t great organic content enough, you ask? Social media has seen significant changes over the past few years, resulting in brands seeing a steady decline in organic reach (the number of people who see your content without paid distribution). In the past, brands could post on their social pages and a significant number of their followers would see the post. But that’s no longer true. Most major social networks (including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn) have moved or are moving to a pay-for-play model for business accounts, making it harder and harder for companies to reach their followers through organic posts.
For example, in 2012, a brand could easily reach 15% of its Facebook fans with a single post. By 2014, that reach fell to about 6%. Today, the average organic reach of a brand on Facebook is less than 2%.
Social networks use algorithms to prioritize content in news feeds, meaning that instead of chronologically showing users every piece of content from every person and brand they follow, posts are shown to the user based on preferences and past behaviors.
From a consumer’s standpoint, algorithms are great because they put friends, family and relevant content first. Brands, on the other hand, have seen a steep decline in organic reach due to algorithms hiding their content. It’s no longer possible to reach large numbers of people through organic content alone. The solution is to create a balanced social media strategy that leverages both paid and organic social media tactics.
Why both paid and organic?
A question we frequently hear from many of our Maccabee agency clients is, “If organic posts don’t reach our audience, why should we put effort into creating good content for our pages? Shouldn’t we only do paid social media instead?”
While organic reach on social media channels continues to trend downward, it’s still important for brands to sustain a strong presence on social media. After all, your social pages are among the first places customers go for updates and information, so it’s important that your pages are active and up-to-date.
In other words, while your organic content is becoming less impactful without a paid strategy to support it, your paid efforts will fall flat without strong organic content and channels behind it.
Tips for achieving a balanced social media strategy
There’s no magic social media strategy that’s right for every company, which is why it’s important to create a plan that drives you toward your business objectives. With that in mind, below are general tips for using both organic and paid social media to your advantage.
Organic Social Media
- Follow the 80/20 rule – While all of your content should be relevant and informative to youraudience, no more than 20% should be directly about your brand or company.
- Be an industry thought leader – Position your leaders as knowledgeable resources and comment as a brand on relevant topics and discussions happening not only on your page, but other pages as well.
- Engage and interact, be responsive – Studies show that consumers are more loyal to brands that they feel are listening. Personify your brand with social interactions and have authentic conversations with customers to create brand advocates.
- Encourage comments and shares – Social algorithms prioritize content with higher engagement, leading to a larger organic reach. Get your social followers to interact with your brand’s content by asking questions, directing them to click a specific link, etc.
- Have a strong social presence – Be active and consistent on your chosen social channels. If your followers think your channels are dormant, they’ll stop paying attention.
Paid Social Media
- Set goals and define success at the beginning – Social media success is subjective, so have a clear understanding of what you hope to achieve, whether it’s increasing social followers, raising engagement rates, driving traffic to your website or another metric.
- Boost organic posts that are doing well – Expand the reach of your social content by paying to place it on more of your followers’ newsfeeds. As a general rule, only boost content that is performing well organically, before adding any paid support.
- Leverage the right paid targeting options – In addition to targeting your ads using interest and demographics data, many social channels allow you to build customized audiences using more advanced tools. Know all of your options before spending your precious ad dollars.
- Think beyond traditional social ads – Paid campaigns are for more than just online promotions. You can use paid social for promoting content, building new audiences, driving website traffic and much more.
- Monitor and adjust – Paid social media is never ‘set it and forget it.’ Monitor your ad campaign results in real time and continually adjust as needed to reach your goals.
If you’re still not sure where to start with building your brand’s balanced social media strategy, begin small. Focus on making one social channel great, then expand from there. Finding the right balance between paid and organic social media will take time and practice. And if you still have questions, give Maccabee Public Relations a call. Our social team loves helping our clients set themselves up for social media success.
Jessica Petrie is the director of digital communications at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations, content marketing and online communications agency.