By Ida Vallo Morris
Social Media & Content Manager
At this stage in the digital game, there is little to no debate over the value of social media. Facebook users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on their properties, with the other platforms not far behind. Video has seen a renaissance within the digital space, led by the expansion of social capabilities such as Facebook Live, Snapchat, and InstaStories. Current events and political influence are inseparable from the platforms that promote them. In short, social is more impactful than ever.
Value of Social Media for Business
Social is taking center stage within daily media usage, and as user behavior shifts, advertisers are not far behind. Social media spending will top $18 billion in 2019, with ad spend expected to see a 26% increase from last year. Social media allows us to reach target audiences with a level of sophistication that we’ve never had access to before. Users proactively weave a narrative of their behaviors, interests, and intentions by the simple act of using social media platforms, which enables targeted online advertising to be that much more customized and precise.
Popular Social Media Platforms for Business
Given the influence of social in targeted marketing, the big question for businesses is which social networks should they be using? As each platform has its own voice and audiences utilize them differently, it’s essential to understand each one to build a successful social media marketing strategy.
Which Social Platform Allows for the Right Strategy for Your Business?
Facebook is the most popular social network in the world, with 2 billion users. People come to Facebook to connect with content and the volume of what Facebook hosts is truly all-encompassing. A single newsfeed scroll can include updates from family and friends, a recipe video, a New York Times article, a promotional offer for a weekend sale, and a podcast.
This provides businesses with incredible opportunity for leveraging unique and granular targeting as well as maximizing user engagement. Facebook offers a wide range of marketing objectives and creative options that apply to every stage of the consumer journey, allowing businesses to test and optimize against numerous campaign initiatives.
Instagram is the destination for engaging images and videos from both personal contacts and public figures/brands. Instagram is seeing incredible growth, with 1 billion monthly users. And Instagram continues to attract a younger audience, with 72% of teens using the platform. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, businesses can tap into its micro-targeting capabilities as well as run cross-platform campaigns more seamlessly.
Twitter is the most specific of the social networks, and it’s the go-to source for any real-time event. From commentary on red carpet fashion to breaking news reporting, audiences seek the platform out for information and to make their voice heard. And the brands component provides businesses the opportunity to address consumer concerns directly, as well as communicate in a different tone.
Many brands have gained favor with well-timed jokes or alignment with current events. With 326 million monthly active users, Twitter has leveraged its position in the space and extended it to their targeting. Some of the more specialized segments brands can tap into include event and TV targeting as well as moment analytics.
Pinterest is extremely unique in that audiences seek the network out with intent but are equally looking to be inspired by the content. They know they are there for a dinner recipe but have yet to decide on what, exactly, that will be. Users—250 million of them every month— are there to both share and discover new ideas, giving businesses several valuable opportunities to connect with their audience. Targeting is available at the audience, interest/topic, and keyword level. The platform is fantastic for awareness campaigns but is also a search powerhouse.
Pinterest is the third most popular search engine in the world, behind only Google and YouTube. Many businesses mistakenly assume that Pinterest is only full of wedding, crafts, and food content, and if their brand doesn't fit within those boxes, then they'll be wasting their dollars. These assumptions only lead to missed opportunities, because Pinterest reaches 83% of U.S. women ages 25-54, AND 50% of new sign-ups in 2018 were men.
YouTube remains the undisputed destination for video content, even as videos are showing up more and more across each of the social platforms. The scope of the platform is unmatched—it reaches more 18-49-year-olds than any broadcast or cable network and is an ideal way for brands to target Millennials. It has evolved into a true content destination that will be further amplified by their set-top box partnership with Comcast.
Beyond their own reach, being owned by Google allows advertisers the advantage of the platform’s targeting capabilities. The ability to explore the searchability of the YouTube platform leads to higher view rates over longer periods. The average session per user on YouTube is 40 minutes, and, the audience is more receptive to long-form video than across the other social networks. As the demand for video continues to grow, YouTube’s expertise in the space and innovative expansions indicate that it will remain a titan within digital.
Discover the Benefits of a Social Media Marketing Strategy
In short: a cohesive social strategy is an essential component for an advertising campaign's success. With media consumption growing across the board and this being the year that digital media finally surpasses TV spending, it is more important than ever to understand which social networks to leverage. Focusing on the platforms that allow you to most effectively target and communicate with your audience in a meaningful way is the key to building brand loyalty and delivering on campaign goals.
Stay on Track With A Content Calendar
Whether you’re managing content for a scrappy little startup or a Fortune 500 goliath, you need to have a plan. A comprehensive content calendar will keep your social media strategy stay on track. It will help you plan relevant content around important industry events so you can have a voice in what everyone is talking about. Using something easy like a Google doc or Excel spreadsheet—or a good old-fashioned desk calendar—take some time to plan out your content across platforms for at least a month in advance (for the tech-savvy, there are lots of great apps).
Scheduling different types of content (like blog posts, videos, etc.) and then promoting them on various social media platforms will ultimately increase overall internet and social media presence. It will also boost brand awareness and aid in creating content, helping you meet your social media goals. In fact, 72% of B2B marketers attribute the success of their content strategy to the development of a formal content strategy.
The Benefits of a Content Calendar
- It will help you stay organized. Creating and posting content on-the-fly can be stressful and confusing. Not to mention ineffective and a roadblock to creativity. This is also how you’ll plan to have something to say about the important things people are talking about, from industry events to the 4th of July to national orange cat day.
- It will save you time. Since you can plan out content for weeks or months in advance (using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite)—including all the necessary assets—you’ll free up time in the rest of the week and avoid any last-minute scrambling.
- It will help you be more strategic. A content calendar will help you plan and create the kind of content that your audience will find valuable, and that will support and complement your business objectives. It’s also a great way to track what posts are the most successful, from specific topics to different times of day.
So, make sure you have a content calendar to plan and organize your social media content. But remember to be flexible—no matter how much you plan ahead, there’s always something—technology issues, breaking news, missed deadlines—that will try to throw you off your game. But stay calm, stay organized, and stay focused, and your social media strategy will pay off long term.