KM 101: Creating Compelling Social Media Content

Welcome to Part 2 of Kahn Media’s KM 101 series, where we provide easy-to-understand information and guidelines for businesses that want to pivot to a “digital-first” model or enhance their online marketing efforts. Click on the links below to read our other KM 101 articles.

Content is part of everyday life. News articles, video tutorials, Instagram feeds and memes are all content. High-quality, engaging content brings new visitors to your site and, ultimately, drives sales for your company. Creating compelling social content is critical if you want to stand out from all of the distractions and noise on the internet.

We’re here to help you do just that by exploring common problems and providing solutions so your social media content works for you, not against you. 

Why don’t people talk about our company on social media?
We’ve all heard this complaint before. While the lack of buzz about your company can occur for many reasons, one central question needs to be answered first: Does your current content strategy provide more value and benefit for your target audience, or for your company? 

The key to a successful content strategy is an audience-first approach. Your audience decides what content it will consume, when it will consume it and where and how it will be consumed. Your brand should be ready to fulfill those needs at the right time and in the right places.

KM 101: Creating Compelling Social Media Content

Follow these 3 Steps to Reach Your Target Audience:

1. Know Your Audience
If you don’t take the time to learn about your audience, then you’re guaranteed to miss the mark when it comes to delivering the type of content they want. Do the market research, dig into the backend analytics and get to know your audience — their demographics, their interests and their activities. Then you can develop content that goes deep and resonates with your audience rather than taking a wide, scattershot approach that falls flat. 

2. Know Their Triggers
Social media insights and digital marketing will reveal the internal and external motivations of your ideal customers. Sometimes they’re driven by external factors like news trends, while at other times they’re driven by internal factors like wants and desires. Once you identify your customers’ triggers, often through keywords, you can identify the types of content they search for. Otherwise you’re just wasting your time.

3. Know Their Aversions
It’s also important to understand why your audience isn’t interacting with your less-successful content. Ask yourself: What is stopping people from interacting in the way we want? Why are they not coming back for more? Analytics can tell you when viewers stop watching, which links perform better than others and other insights.

Why Isn’t Our Content Strategy Working?
If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, then you need to make an honest assessment of your content. Are you creating good content for your audience? Are you providing value? To create compelling content that resonates with your audience, you need to spend time brainstorming and clarifying your content ideas. Ideas need to be hashed out, refined, tested and reworked. The key to creating engaging content is approaching every aspect of the process thoughtfully and critically.

Follow these 3 Tips to Create Compelling Content That Engages Your Audience

1. Prioritize Authentic Content

KM 101: Creating Compelling Social Media Content

Authentic means honest, and your audience knows when content is deceitful. According to HubSpot, 90% of people believe authenticity is important when deciding what brands to support, and 51% say most content produced by brands isn’t authentic. When you prioritize authenticity over advertising, you build trust with your audience. Trust is essential to consumer purchasing behavior, which is driven more by emotion than logic. 

Authenticity Fail: Scott Disick

Celebrity Scott Disick from “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” made the ultimate error when fulfilling a sponsorship request for a feed post on his personal account. Instead of writing his own caption, Disick haphazardly copy-and-pasted the entire email from the sponsor, making his post look like a tacky ad. Within minutes, the post was flooded with hundreds of comments about how fake and inauthentic it was. 

Authenticity Fail: The UPS Store

KM 101: Creating Compelling Social Media Content

While humor from major brands is appreciated on the internet, The UPS Store took it too far in 2018 and paid the price. To promote its paper shredding services during the Christmas season, it posted a tweet offering to shred children’s letters to Santa and it did not go over well. Thousands of followers got angry and called for a boycott of The UPS Store. 

Authenticity Win: Dove

KM 101: Creating Compelling Social Media Content

Dove has gained credibility through authenticity for years with its “Dove Self-Esteem Project” campaign. When the campaign began in 2004, Dove was merely one soap company among many. Since then, Dove has become known as a brand that promotes women’s empowerment and has authentically changed the conversation around beauty. The longevity of the campaign speaks to its incredible success.

Authenticity Win: Patagonia

KM 101: Creating Compelling Social Media Content

Patagonia is the gold standard when it comes to following principles and passions. Since its inception, Patagonia’s mission statement has guided its decisions. From design practices to company culture, Patagonia is committed to “building the best product, causing no unnecessary harm, using business to inspire and implementing solutions to the environmental crisis.” It proves its authenticity by maintaining its commitments and being transparent. Patagonia communicates what it does, such as donating a $10 million tax cut windfall to environmental charities, supporting 1% for the Planet and providing an honest accounting of how the company’s operations impact the environment. And customers reward them with loyalty and sales, especially during recessions.

2. Leverage User-Generated Content (UGC)
User-generated content is produced by everyday people, not by a brand. Typically, UGC creators are followers or fans on social media and their participation can make or break your success. Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to say UGC is authentic compared to brand-created content, and 79% say UGC has a big impact on their purchasing decisions. UGC is free and it works, so leverage it to your advantage. 

UGC Win: Starbucks’ White Cup Contest

KM 101: Creating Compelling Social Media Content

In 2014, Starbucks launched a national campaign calling for submissions of doodles on its cups for a chance to have the winning design become the next cup sold in stores. Nearly 4,000 users submitted entries in less than three weeks, giving Starbucks a treasure trove of UGC that lasted for years. 

3. Create A Community
It used to be said that “content is king.” But when it comes to social media, community is king. Much of the content produced today grabs attention but fails to hold it. Good content creates a community by building an ongoing relationship between a company and its fans. When done right, your community will naturally develop “superfans” — the most vocal advocates for your brand who are also trusted sources among other fans. Superfans generate more engagement with other fans than your brand can do on its own and they’re key to maintaining a loyal audience. 

Community Win: #OptOutside

KM 101: Creating Compelling Social Media Content

REI, the well-known outdoor retailer and co-op, launched its #OptOutside campaign in 2015 to take a stand against the excess consumerism of Black Friday. REI decided to not open its stores or process online payments on the biggest shopping day of the year, and its campaign had an enormous impact. During its first 24 hours, #OptOutside netted a 7000% increase in social impressions and more than 2.7 billion media impressions. In the years since, #OptOutside has become one of the most recognizable social media movements and taken on a life of its own, becoming a worldwide community.

Community Win: Off Road, Overland Expedition and Camping 4wd Vehicles Facebook Group

KM 101: Creating Compelling Social Media Content

Off Road, Overland Expedition and Camping 4wd Vehicles is a private Facebook group with nearly 54,000 members. Several superfans keep the page active and post daily to encourage engagement. Honest, unbiased engagement is the foundation of a strong online community, and it’s something that companies can’t achieve on their own. Supporting superfans and other members of the community without an explicit profit motive is the key to building and growing a vibrant community. 

Trust the Process
At its core, creating compelling social media content is about connecting people to your brand. Once you have the process down, you’ll be able to generate content that resonates with your audience on a personal level and drives more growth for your business. Don’t be complacent. Trust the process, put in the effort and be honest about whether you’re taking an audience-centered or company-centered approach.

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