Not all social media platforms are created equal. They’ve got different purposes, different audiences and different engagement models. Of cause most people would be able to tell you this, but it’s suprising how many content strategies overlook these fundamental differences. Considering many content strategies focus on one or two types of content it’s easy to see why engagement levels can start off looking great but quickly tail off as audiences get bored of the same formats despite varying subjects and topics.
Keep your content strategy engaging by taking advantage of various content formats;
Infographics have become increasingly popular across the search marketing industry over the last couple of years for their natural ability to unearth multiple inbound links. This popularity makes publicizing infographics more difficult than before as consumers are likely already saturated with similar content articles. This level of content competition has lead to animated and interactive infographics, the natural evolution of the static infographic.
Infographics are perfect for displaying large data-sets in useful and attractive ways, and are often shared more than other content peices. The content type is largely hinged on the graphical beauty of the peice, and so hiring a graphic designer can be a costly but rewarding approach.
Videos can be a lot more varied than other content types, but should always convey their message in succinct and memorable way. The video format is not a new concept, but platforms such as YouTube are driving ways of increasing engagement wi thin the format. Coupling persuasiveness with ease of engagement can be a sure-fire way to capture an audience. Videos are great for organic search too, with Google including video in SERPs and YouTube officially holding the title of ‘the second biggest search engine’!
Office tours, time-lapses, on-screen reviews, unboxings and pretty much anything else that can be shot with a camera are great starting points for video. But remember that as the quality of video increases (film crews, post-production, etc) so does the total bill, so consider your ROI before starting larger projects.
Guides & How-Tos
Compared to infographics and videos, Instructional content such as a guide or how-to can be helpful to a smaller, but more direct audience. The format can be varied (a how-to video or PDF guide) but is generally longer (in length or time) than the traditional format. Listing each step in a clear and concice way will help the content be followed more easily. A great tip is to ask your audience to share their attempts at following the guide or how-to (thus increasing engagement in a nice, natural way).
B2B guides and how-tos take a slightly different angle, and are often used as lead generation material. For example, many guides are offered to consumers in return for an email address or personal information.
Reviews are commonly split into several smaller sections (eg. Functionality, Cost, Design) which makes for a more engaging read than many standard blog posts and articles. Reviews also lend themselves to the video format, allowing the audience to see products in greater detail. Engagement is often more difficult with reivew style content which can make it more difficult to use for SEO benefits.
Sharing what you do (and don’t) like about a product or peice of media is likely to evoke emotion amongst your audience. Capitalising on this (through comments, feedback and contrasting reviews) is one way of increasing content engagement and expressing your authority on a perticular subject.
Everyone loves a good list, and it’s one of my own personal favourites to write about. It’s difficult to go wrong with a list article, allowing as much or as little content as required to poppulate a relelvant number of points. Much like reviews, lists can be a difficult type of content to resonate with an audience, so asking questions or opinions based on list content is essential to keeping readers from simply bouncing after they’re done.
Lists often work best when accompanied by an introduction, some detail behind each point and a conclusion. Keep this formula in mind when creating your own lists. Many sites have also started listing each point on a seperate page (accompanied by a ‘next’ button) to make readers work for the content. Whilst I’m not a fan of this format it can work when accompanying each point with a lot of detail and content.
Case studies were pretty popular amongst B2B companies in perticular a few years ago. Whilst they still have their place in modern digital marketing the landscape is rapidly changing. Case studies now need to tell a story, hence the growing popularity of ‘success stories’. Success stories are much the same as case studies but tell the story of a journey before, during and after a method, program or product was applied. Case studies done in this way can be very engaging if orientated at the right readership base.
Case studies are naturally sharable between people in similar situations as the person or company being discussed, but are of little interest to anyone else. It’s important to find the right demographics when distributing content – LinkedIn groups are often a great place to start. Don’t forget to target influencers as well as the end user.
Interviews can be a great way to capitalise on other people’s authority on a perticular topic or subject. With the negative attention that guest posts have received from Google over the last few years Interviews can be a useful type of content to expand readership beyond your direct audience. Interviews are almost always unique too, and pulling out key points can be great for microblogging sites such as Twitter where outreach real-estate is limited.
Asking readers for questions before hand can be a great way of engaging with your audience prior to publishing content and can help increase your audience base dramatically with relatively little work. Of cause interviews themselves require a lot of preperation, and as such aren’t all that common. Make sure you capitalise on these oppotunities across social media.
Research / Survey results
Numbers, metrics and statistics can be valuable data in most subjects, and they can often make nice little soundbites for social media too. Creating content around research or survey results is a great way to utilise numbers and stats in order to pull in audiences. Whilst this information can be used for infographic style content, having a thesis styled article which is ‘in depth’ (Don’t forget your Schema mark-up!) is a great way of showing your social audiences you understand complex areas of your desired topic.
It’s usually better if you get the data yourself rather than relying on third party information. Be critical about the data you gather and discuss any limiting factors of caveats that may lead to further research. This not only shows you understand your own data but also allows others to build on your content (and usually drop over an all-important backlink!).