Welcome back to our series on content marketing and social media shareability. In our last instalment we learned the basics; how to make content that is shareable and digestible. Now we are going to move on to three key aspects of creating content and making your content marketing a winning aspect of your daily business routine: Trust, Interactivity, and Consistency.
In Part 1 we discussed how getting your face on camera instils a certain trust in your expertise. Your face is out there, so you are immediately accountable. Logic dictates that you wouldn’t do that if you were no good at what you do. Not looking to create a video? That’s fine. You can still include a headshot of yourself, and then a pictorial guide of you carrying out the task at hand. We talked about how images work well; even if you are creating a text-only piece such as a blog post, you need to include at least one image. An okdork.com/BuzzSumo study found that including one or more images improved the number of shares on Twitter by over 110% and on Facebook by over 130%! If you are serious about social media sharing and content marketing, I strongly suggest you go and read that article, it has some fantastic statistics that can help you out from day 1 of your foray into social media presence.
Don’t forget that professional looking logos, bylines, a sleek website and social presence all instil a sense of trust that you are an established source that knows what they are doing, both on and offline.
You may benefit from using your content to prove your skill by producing a step-by-step guide; this works especially well for tradespeople. Think a “how-to” related to your job will cause you to lose custom because people will be doing it for themselves? Think again. Yes, it’s best not to give all of your secrets away, but I like to use the example of a hair salon:
Say the majority of the salon’s customers come for cuts and dyes that they simply cannot do for themselves at home to an acceptable quality. The salon can release a series of videos on how to do certain simple updos, decorative plaits and the like that people can use everyday or for a special occasion. The salon gets to show its expertise; the audience gets to learn a few tricks; and the shareability of the videos mean that more people are aware of their brand and are more likely to visit either their website or the salon in person. There is the added bonus that hair still grows at the end of the day, so trims and root touch-ups will still be required.
This sort of model can be applied to all sorts of trades. Decorator? “How to calculate how much wallpaper you will need for any given project.” Nail technician? “How to do your own acrylic infills at home on a shoestring budget.” People will still go to those people to put the wallpaper up, or to get the acrylic nails done in the first place, but will grab some handy tips along the way when following you online. They may even know someone else who needs that information and share it with them on a public feed. This furthers your reach, and more people are likely to see you as trustworthy and accountable. As I posited in the first article – you need to think how it is going to affect people’s offline lives too!
One point of utmost importance with any social media is to interact with your following on all platforms. If you are a complete novice with regards to social media, you may need to do a little research with regards to the different styles and features of language that are used on each platform. My advice? Set up a personal account on any social media platforms you are unsure with and learn by getting involved. This won’t be the account you use for your business so it may be a good way to get up to speed and learn by any mistakes before your business takes the plunge. For those of us who are more savvy; remember – respond to comments and don’t be afraid to post small status updates in between.
You have to be aware that when you are out there on social media that any unhappy customers may come out of the woodwork and complain to you over social media. It is important to mentally acknowledge how visible this is and to remain understanding, sincere, and polite at all times. Address all issues head on and with respect.
Once you have a small following, you may find it in your best interest to engage with them directly about what they want to see. I’m going to use a bit of a strange example when we are talking about small-to-medium businesses here, but stick with me. Epic Rap Battles of History. Two dudes making funny videos where characters from history, pop culture or fiction duke it out via the medium of rap. They have a huge following, well deserved in my opinion, and end every video with: “Who won? Who’s next? You decide!” This encourages engagement, and the fact that it is snappy and omnipresent at the end of each video makes it almost a catchphrase of sorts. Don’t be afraid of inviting involvement like this once your crowd grows.
It can’t be denied that sharers appear as advocates for your company amongst their friends. Their friends will see that that person has shared a certain piece of content from your company or that they have liked your page and think, even in some small way, “So-and-so likes them, so they must be ok!” Remember to thank people for sharing and interacting wherever you can, don’t forget to mention them using the “@” sign where possible so they are made aware of your message and so they may hopefully benefit by getting a few new followers too.
Consistency of your online look and feel is as important as the content itself. Use the same tone of voice, formats and branding throughout your shareable pieces so your readers/viewers know what to expect. It’s important to maintain a set tone in order to be perceived as a cohesive and professional brand.
You may also want to make your content releases a regular thing so your followers know to expect something at a set time every week, or you may not. Both are a double-edged sword, and suit different types of people and industries. Here’s why.
You need to be able to fit any regular content creation around your schedule. It’s all well and good saying you can release something every other Tuesday, but if you promise and then can’t deliver you will look unprofessional. Try it for a while without any promises with regards to time, and see how much you can fit it around your work and home life. You have the chance of growing an avid following who know to expect something every so often. However you don’t get the chance to explore releasing content at different times to investigate when and how people interact. For some, you may well find that you end up fitting into a certain pace as you go along, for others it may need a little more effort. This approach can prove tricky, but you’ll get there. Don’t rush yourself. Stay realistic.
That being said, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t achieve regularity or simply don’t want it. You have the freedom to reach new people because you are posting at different times and on different days, maybe when people are more responsive to certain types of content. You have the freedom to take a look at your social media analytics and see when people are more likely to interact, like, or share your content. You have the freedom to move your content creation around to days when work is quiet. However, don’t leave it too long between two pieces of content or people will lose interest.
If you’re concerned about loss of interest, but have no time to create something, sharing an older piece of content here and there never hurt anybody; especially if it is something that people can still use. Going back to our examples of a plumber and a hair stylist; even if they were originally posted 6 months ago, people are still going to need to know how to properly clear a U-bend, or how to create a fishtail braid (hopefully not at the same time). This works well if you have a small back-catalogue of content, but you are working towards achieving a regular schedule. You can splice older content into your feeds along with your newer stuff until you can get into a routine, hence keeping your followers engaged. Don’t be tempted to make your feeds all about the older content, just a liberal sprinkling here and there as a flashback for your newer followers.
One source of inspiration for content that works well is a series of articles, videos or other content. People can follow the series all the way through, following your brand and increasing its recognition in their minds. However good series are always based around a simple and easily defined concept that is simple to fathom for the new readers that may join you well after the series has started. For example, don’t you hate it when you join a TV, film or book series part way through and none of the core concepts are revisited, forcing you to hunt down the previous instalments just to find out what is actually going on? The same is true of any series of content on the web, only people are far less likely to go to that effort of tracking it down. One bonus to a series is that you have a solid idea to work around, removing one of the creative blocks you may experience.
But wait, there’s more!
Yes I know it was going to be a two-parter, but social media shareability is such a fascinating topic with a lot of ground to cover, not to mention something I love writing about! In part 3, we’ll discuss titles that pop, relevance and use of emotion in your content to make the most of your social reach. In the meantime you can always take a look at part 1 if you missed it. Happy sharing!
Edit: Want to read more? The third and final part has landed!Shareable Content for the Uninitiated Part 2 - Trust, Interactivity and Consistency. Click To Tweet