Learn from the media for engaging social content

Published: 06 January 2016

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Learn From the Media

Learn from the media for engaging social content

Take a look at the social engagement scores from the media industry versus those from brands and businesses and there is just no comparison. Time and time again the media industry trumps the engagement charts, leaving the rest of the world flagging sorely behind.

It's no surprise that the latest on Kim and Kayne, politicians or breaking news is going to fly on social media. Content that gets likes, comments, shares and retweets is the forte of the media industry. They have the advantage because the industry lends itself very well to the kind social media content that gets traction.

And, while trying to keep up with the media and attain the same kind of engagement levels would be one mean feat you can nevertheless learn from some of the methods the media uses to boost your social reach.

Be in it for the long game

Think about a recent news story you followed. Did you simply read about it and hear nothing on it again? Or did the story build over time, drip feeding you more and more information? Did it peak your interest and make you want to find out what happened next?

Whether it's a mysterious crime story or the antics of your favourite celebrity, when you hear an interesting story you want to know more, the mere mention of the topic will make you stop and read an article about it and often you actively search for the next chapter in the story.

When it comes to building and maintaining engagement on social media, telling a story that not only captures your audience's interest but keeps their interest peaked in the long term is key.

A one-hit campaign may be successful and generate new leads or new business in the short term but a week or two after the launch and the campaign has been forgotten.

Tell a story through your campaign, make it resonate with your audience and let it build over weeks, months or even years. Let your audience become familiar with your campaign message, give them something new each time you communicate and make them want to read your next post.

Be authentic

We know that finding a link to a topical event, news story or the latest trend everyone is talking about is a great way to get your brand infront of more people in the social arena. But when that link is tenuous and orchestrated to get a brand mention it really shows to the audience at large.

The media wins here because of the authenticity they demonstrate. They choose a cause or a topic or an angle and stick to it throughout. They are there for the lifetime of the story, they commit to it and when the story concludes it's their coverage of the events its followers will look for.

This is far more of a challenge for businesses because backing the 'wrong' cause or taking the wrong stance on a topical issue can damage brand reputation. Many brands only come out to support a cause when they know it is 'safe' to do so, but this lacks the authenticity.

The answer? Choose your causes wisely and stick to them. Avoid commenting on contentious issues that could damage your brand if the mood changes and you're seen to be supporting the wrong side. Instead pick a charity or good cause to support. Choose something local to your community, that is non-contentious and that your followers will resonate with.

By choosing a 'safe' cause and sticking to it you can demonstrate authenticity. You're not perceived as jumping on the bandwagon when you post about the cause or use its hashtag because you've followed it from the start. And, in addition to that, you have a story you can build on in the long term.

Commit to your campaign

Aleksandr the Meerkat is now a household name thanks to CompareTheMarket.com's long standing campaign. When the online comparison site hit on the idea of Compare The Meerkat for their marketing initiative they didn't just run one standalone campaign, they kept the story going and they built on it. They introduced new characters and back stories, they created a recognisable character that people would quickly associate with their brand.

They committed to their idea, they even created a website for comparing meerkats to support the story of the campaign and to reinforce the authenticity.

When Oreo saw a link between their brand and the solar eclipse they didn't simply put out a few tweets and posts on the topic, they created a whole campaign centred around the concept of Oreo eclipsing the sun. They committed to the idea, they created a story they could drip feed to their followers and build on throughout the day and they added authenticity to their campaign.

Build a long term relationship

Long term relationships are central to effective social media. If you approach social media in the same vein as more traditional digital marketing techniques and look for direct ROI from your marketing spend you're likely to achieve limited success. Social media can produce direct sales but its value lies in building and maintaining long term relationships with the audience.

Make your social media profile the go-to place for information on your local community, be the one who shares the latest news stories from local news outlets, who provides information on transport disruption in the area, who posts which schools are closed when it snows or helps a local resident find their missing cat be sharing a picture. In short, make your social profile a key part of your local community.

When shoe company Zappos spread their customer service offering to Twitter, they not only answered questions on enquiries on their shoes - they answered questions on any topic they were tweeted about. Want to know the best train route from Edinburgh to Bath? Zappos customer services representatives would find out the answer and tweet it to you.

Those answers didn't always lead directly to the sale of a pair of shoes but it made Zappos the go-to Twitter feed and put that brand top of mind for all its followers when they came to purchasing shoes.

While you do not need to go to the extremes of Zappos, by providing useful information on your local community and helping residents to find the information they need on the location allows you to build up a wider following, who engage with your posts because the information you give is both interesting and useful. And when they come to move home, you've already built the engagement, created a relationship with them and reinforced your brand's reputation, so you will be top of their mind.

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