Your fans and followers have opted in to your brand’s communications, much like a social mailing list. But this mailing list is hard to reach, and many messages don’t make it through the "spam" filter.
It’s difficult to imagine your wonderful social content ending up on the cutting-room floor of your fans' consciousness or that of some unfeeling social network’s algorithm. But this is exactly what is happening, even to some of the most so-called "social brands." Understanding why certain content hits its mark while other similar pieces fail is critical to effectively navigating social content marketing.
The state of social content engagement: key social brands
We surveyed over 100 marketing and advertising professionals to ask who they thought were the most social brands, creating the list below.
1. Coca-Cola (66,305,722 fans)
2. Red Bull (38,220,777 fans)
3. Starbucks (34,567,289 fans)
4. Oreo (33,401,588 fans)
5. Victoria’s Secret (22,412,768 fans)
6. Burberry (15,184,349 fans)
7. Dove (14,942,153 fans)
8. Nike (12,958,755 fans)
9. American Express (2,705,213 fans)
10. Zappos (687,711 fans)
But Fan Count can be deceiving. The performance data from these 10 brands and their 251 pieces of social content reveals a very different story:
In terms of what worked and what did not, there were a small percentage of posts for each brand driving the majority of all engagement. The top 20% of posts garnered just over 86% of total shares, and 82% of all engagement.
We examined what the top posts did differently, and found that strong performance depended in large part on consistent, strategic content positioning.
Content positioning -- the process of adjusting the structural, semantic and time-related dimensions of content based on data -- is one of the most under-utilized but powerful ways to increase organic (and paid) results.
Consider past social content performance as the world’s largest multivariate test of what matters most to a brand's customers and prospects. Most brands already have the real-time reactions of everyone they could ever hope to reach against a multitude of content-related dimensions. There just isn’t an elegant way to process it all to learn from the past and make better decisions.
Here are a few key takeaways from the top 20% of content for the above brands in May:
- 90% were photos
- 23% were photo-driven, less than 5 words and included an active call to action (such as asking the reader to share, like or comment on the post)
- 25% were offer-driven, including sales by Victoria’s Secret, and Starbucks Frappucino Hour. Offers were most effectively combined with a photo, and with deeper content of at least 15-20 words
- One-third included a question. The top set posts did not lead with -- but rather ended with -- a question
- 8 of the top 25 most-shared posts called social audiences back to the brand’s Web site successfully. "Visit us" was the most successful phrase, with "Shop Now" and "Click Here" the least successful in receiving engagement
- 67% included ‘soft-sell’ promotional language, and the inclusion of brand logos in photos prompted higher percentages of sharing
Note -- these will vary by vertical, over time and by target audience even within verticals.
Integrating strategic, data-driven content positioning is a powerful way to increase the number of unique users who engage with your content. This in turn positively impacts reach, making it more likely to have more people take action on future content. Remember -- most people have already self-identified as hand-raisers for your brand, making them much more likely to take an action with you that leads to increased sharing and increased engagement over time. You just have to find a way to get to them, so the virtuous cycle can begin.