Social media marketing is an important part of your marketing strategy, but are you getting the most out of the platforms you market on?
Each social media platform is different and demands consideration of its own merits and drawbacks coupled with a unique strategy to get the best results.
In the first part of this post, which you can find here, I started by looking at some of the original social media platforms that sparked this practice of social media marketing. In this instalment, we’ll be looking at some slightly younger platforms: Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube.
In my brief but conveniently timed life span, I’ve seen Facebook and Twitter explode in popularity at an exponential rate, in a way that had never been seen before. Ten years ago it seemed unthinkable that any other platform would be able to gain a foothold this the market monopolised by the giants. But this is social media and the platforms we use online are not so different from our offline social situations. Imagine you find a cool new bar, it’s exciting in the beginning when there are not too many people around, but we’re keen to seek new experiences after a while and especially once too many people show up.
Although data shows that there’s no slow down for the older platforms, that we covered in the last post, the never-ending search for the novel and the new marches on and younger internet users turn to new platforms that their parents don’t already have an account on.
We’re looking at three more recent platforms that have sprung up and gained a coveted spot on the home-screen of millions of devices. These new platforms bring with them new audiences and new ways of creating content to promote your brand or cause.
Launched in 2010 as a photo-sharing platform, Instagram captured the attention of both the professional and budding photographer demographic. Its simple user interface and religious focus on its user’s images set it apart and enabled it to quickly gain popularity. Instagram’s photo filters allowed anyone with a smartphone to give their snaps a ‘professional’ treatment.
While Instagram’s garish filters have (thankfully) taken a backseat as the app has grown, the platform’s focus on their user’s images remains. Today, users of Instagram open the app to expect lush photography and beautiful graphics.
Creators that succeed on Instagram really do focus on the quality of the imagery they share. Instagram is simply about sharing great pictures and graphics. Image is king. Unless you’re sharing strong visuals, consider a different platform.
For two years after it was first launched, Instagram remained exclusively a mobile application, only adding a functioning desktop website in 2012 after being acquired by Facebook. Even so, the majority of Instagram users today still access the platform via a mobile device. Tailor your content to take full advantage of the medium, think portrait photo and video to maximise screen real estate and use multiple images to tell a story with a swipe.
Instagram doesn’t lend itself to essays in the caption. Remember to focus your attention on the quality of the image and pair it with a snappy one-liner.
When creating content for social media you need to be aware of the weaknesses of the platform. Instagram, for example, will not allow you to hyperlink from the caption of an image. For this reason, it is almost pointless to post a link in your caption, I mean, do you expect someone to type out a hyperlink, manually, into safari?
Due to its minimal design, there are few ways that users of Instagram can interact with your posts beyond liking or commenting. For this reason, any way you can add interest and interactivity to your posts can help it to attract attention. Wherever it’s relevant, you should tag a location or tag other users. This helps your content reach new audiences and makes your post more interactive.
Instagram Television (IGTV) is one of Instagram’s newest features, launched in June 2018. IGTV gives user’s video content it’s own section on their profile along with a new menu in the app that gives users a way of finding and viewing other video content exclusively. This reinforces Instagram’s focus on images as the key aspect of the app, resigning video to a secluded albeit attractive and user-friendly section of the mobile app.
Until IGTV, videos posted on Instagram had been limited to 60 seconds (having been increased from 15 seconds in 2016). IGTV allows users to upload up to 10 mins of video (60 mins if you’re a verified user). Users can still post 60-second videos which will show up in the regular image feed but longer videos will be cut down to 60 seconds and present a link to continue watching inside IGTV.
The popularity of IGTV has been questionable and it remains to be seen whether this will become as important or even more important than the image sharing function of the app
It’s a stretch to call Youtube a ‘more recent’ platform, I know, seeing as it sprung up in 2005, just 1 year after Facebook. But I believe that Youtube is young in terms of lifespan. Youtube has been growing and developing slowly over the last 15 years and, in my view at least, still has a lot to give.
Youtube could be credited with giving birth to the idea of ‘social media influencers’ as we think of them now. It’s really the first platform where regular users have been able to draw massive audiences, gain global acclaim and build their whole careers around creating content. Here are a few tips for creating content that will stand out on Youtube.
Craft an engaging thumbnail
The thumbnail of your Youtube video is as important, if not more important than the video title. It should be carefully crafted to grab attention and create intrigued without making any promises that the video doesn’t deliver on.
‘Click-baiting’ with ridiculously over-dramatic thumbnail images is somewhat of an inside joke within the Youtube community and while this should always be avoided finding a balance between engaging and honest is key.
Keep viewers engaged throughout
Keeping your audience engaged should be a top priority when creating video content for any medium but especially so on Youtube. A key metric that Youtube uses to judge the quality of your content is how much of the video a user watches before clicking away.
Here are some general video editing tips to bear in mind:
- Be ruthless with your cuts – cut your content as short as it can be whilst still communicating effectively.
- Bad video is better than bad audio – Your viewers will tolerate low-resolution video for a lot longer than poor audio quality. Invest in your audio recording equipment.
- Consider content hooks – You need to give a reason for your audience to keep watching so maybe you can tease something at the beginning that hooks the audience for a pay-off at the end.
Don’t be afraid to get started
Youtube has quite an intricate and active community of users and content creators today, which can seem overwhelming to new starters but you shouldn’t be afraid to start publishing on Youtube. The platform is constantly improving its algorithm to ensure that quality content is pushed to new audiences no matter how well-known the author is.
Not always an obvious choice for marketers, Snapchat is one of the youngest platforms on our list having been launched in 2011. Centred around the idea of temporary messages that are deleted once opened and viewed, the app was greeted with caution and scepticism by parents when it first became popular in the younger demographic.
Snapchat has had time to mature over the last 9 years and has earned credibility in that time too. The app has even gone on to influence the big players. The concept of ‘Stories’ was first developed by Snapchat in 2013 and has subsequently been adopted by almost all of the platforms we’ve looked at.
Despite its age, Snapchat has the potential to be a key part of your social media marketing plan. You may think of Snapchat as a niche platform. Snapchat themselves claim that “More than a third of our audience can’t be found on Facebook or Instagram.” The majority of Snapchat’s 218 million active users (at time of writing) are in their late teens, but Snapchat’s functionality has a broad appeal that may make it the ideal choice of platform for your business to market on.
Authenticity can’t be faked
More than any of the platforms we’ve looked at so far, Snapchat has the most intimate atmosphere. No matter your social, political or economic status, a Snapchat story in selfie mode always looks the same. There is very little scope for image or video editing or the use of any extra cinematography equipment to enhance your content on Snapchat. Even if there were, such content would look out of place on the platform.
Snapchat is all about honest communication. Use Instagram to share informal updates and to give a more intimate perspective on your brand.
A real page-turner…
The primary form of marketing that is available to you on Snapchat is in creating stories. These can then either be promoted organically or using paid campaigns. Unlike Instagram’s highly developed Stories functionality, the only interaction you have with a Snapchat story is to flick through it or swipe past it.
Your primary goal should be to ensure users don’t swipe straight past your stories by making sure they’re as engaging as possible. Use the first slide to grab attention and then follow up with some engaging content around your brand. It’s obvious marketing advice that could be given about a brochure or a slide deck, we’re just applying it in a new way.
Geofilters and Lenses
Another major innovation to come out of Snapchat is that of Filters and Lenses. Love them or hate them they’re another tool in the marketer’s utility belt and can be used very effectively to spread brand awareness in a passive way.
Filters – “Frames and artwork friends can apply to their snaps” – Filters are graphic overlays that can be placed over an image or video that don’t interact with the video itself.
Geofilters – Filters that can be designated to a specific geographical location. You can create a geo-fence so that only users within a specific area can access your filter, a great way to bring digital marketing into the real-world.
Lenses – “Augmented reality experiences friends can play with” Lenses are also graphic overlays but they use the selfie camera on your device to track your face and apply the graphics on top of the video. Graphics are often 3D and interactive.
This concludes this instalment of our blog series on creating winning social media content. If you’ve not already read the first part of this blog then click here to view that.