Social Media Strategy
Crafting an organic social media marketing strategy that consistently drives high engagement is challenging – especially for brands.
As a brand, you're already at a disadvantage because social networks are incentivized to limit organic reach for brands so that they run social ads.
However, some brands still manage to produce excellent engagement rates consistently.
For example, the engagement on this post is pretty average for this company:
So in this post, we’ll outline the organic social media strategy that top performing companies (like the one above) use to consistently produce high engagement on organic posts.
Part of the reason brands don't receive as much organic attention as individual accounts is because social platforms are incentivized to make them pay to play.
However, it's a two-way street.
Brands that just post links to their recent blog posts or an inspirational quote aren't incentivizing social networks to give them more reach.
Well, the goal of a social network is to keep users engaged on their platform, and a blog post link or generic quote isn't particularly engaging.
So just by creating engaging content that your target audience wants to read, you can significantly increase your organic reach.
So what does outstanding social media content look like?
While this depends largely on your brand/industry, here are a few common themes across top performing content:
We've found that different types of content can work for different brand personas and target audiences, so experiment with different content styles (infographics, user generated content, videos, text, etc.).
In addition, there are a few optimizations you can make to your posts to give them an extra boost:
Here are a few examples of organic content that performed exceptionally well across different platforms and generated plenty of brand awareness.
Glossier is a B2C beauty brand that has built an incredibly loyal following across multiple social accounts. Their content marketing strategy is retweeting funny memes and posts from their customers:
Building a following loyal enough to consistently create memes of your product requires an outstanding brand (product quality, customer support, story, compelling vision, etc.). Though once you've built a strong customer base, one of the best things you can do is simply share posts your customers created.
Even if customers don't create the memes, you can create them yourself. This content style works well as it's humorous (which makes the brand feel more personal), and the visual grabs a scroller's attention.
Stryker is a medical device company that does an excellent job creating humanistic content. In a recent video, they covered the story of a patient that recovered from leukemia and then needed hip resurfacing surgery.
It showed off the product, but the main focus of the post was the patient's journey. So think about how you can create content around your customer's story.
Brumate is an eCommerce company that has created an outstanding organic social strategy. Like Glossier, it has an advantage as many of its customers are die-hard fans, but they're also very tactful at promoting their products. For example, this post shows how their new product works, but instead of just advertising it, they make the content a video recipe.
Recipe videos are organically popular social content, so rather than trying to blatantly promote their product (buy this product on sale!), Brumate took a popular video format from a parallel industry (cooking) and adapted it to their product.
Brumate also regularly posts pictures of their product with dogs, which has the same effect as humanistic content (it makes it easier to connect with the brand).
Shopify is excellent at creating engaging Instagram content, with most of its posts generating over 1,000 likes and plenty of engagement. In this post, Shopify showcased one of its users' success stories (a medical worker that used Shopify to start an eCommerce store selling medical-grade hijabs).
The customer story gives it a humanistic element, and the story is also aspirational for its target audience.
While those are a few ideas to help you create great content, you'll probably realize that great content with no traction can only produce limited results. So here are a few different ways you can help your content get some initial traction.
Social media algorithms are incentivized to show posts with traction as engagement is a clear indication to social algorithms that people enjoy that content (and if people like the content, they won't leave the platform).
So one simple tactic to get some initial traction to your posts is to ask your employees to engage with your posts.
This tactic, known as employee advocacy, not only signals to social media algorithms that the content is high quality, but it also gives the post more immediate reach as your employee's network will also see the post.
In fact, the aerospace company mentioned at the beginning of this post, Archer, uses employee advocacy to help their content gain traction:
However, if you've ever tried to execute an employee advocacy strategy, you've probably discovered that it can be difficult to organize a large group of people to engage with the right posts at the right time.
First, employees in your organization have their own tasks and assignments to do. So asking them to:
...is a tall ask. In addition, to make your employee advocacy strategy truly effective, you'll probably have to ask them to engage several times per week.
As a result, most employees eventually stop engaging, and your employee engagement strategy ultimately fails.
We realized that the key to making an employee engagement strategy successful is to remove as much friction as possible for the employee.
That's why we created GaggleAMP.
GaggleAMP is an employee advocacy platform that makes it easy for managers to assign posts and employees to execute the requested engagement actions. In fact, Archer uses GaggleAMP to execute their employee advocacy strategy.
Specifically, here's a brief overview of how it works.
Reminding your employees to engage with the brand's content several times per week is annoying, and the notifications quickly become noise. Instead, GaggleAMP offers engagement activities that you can assign to specific employees or groups of employees.
Each engagement activity is a specific engagement action (like, comment, share) for a specific platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). You can even paste a link to a specific post you want the employee to engage with or provide specific instructions.
When creating the activity you can assign the engagement action to a specific employee or a group of employees.
Telling employees to "find a piece of content to engage with on a social platform" often paralyzes them. Should they choose LinkedIn or Twitter? Which post should they engage with? And then what should they say?
To eliminate this friction, GaggleAMP provides them with a curated list of the engagements you assigned in Step 1.
Specifically, once you assign an engagement activity, the employee receives a notification via Slack, Microsoft Teams, or email. If you're assigning a lot of engagement activities, you can program notifications to only send at a set frequency (i.e., daily or weekly rather than immediately). This way, your notifications never become noisy.
After receiving the notification, employees can go into the Gaggle to view their engagement activities. To make it as convenient as possible, employees can complete all of the assignments directly inside the Gaggle and publish them. This way, they rarely need to jump into their social media account to complete an activity (which we all know can quickly become distracting!)
Another issue with manual employee advocacy strategies is that you can't measure the impact of your efforts. Instead, GaggleAMP gives you a full analytics suite to show exactly how your social posts perform.
You'll be able to track the estimated earned media value (EEMV), total reach, engagement, and more for your program
In addition, you'll be able to see which employees are most engaged and which ones are falling behind.
To reward employees for engaging (and turn your advocacy program into a friendly competition!) GaggleAMP also offers a public leaderboard that shows which employees are most engaged.
The rankings on the leaderboard are calculated based on how many points each employee has earned (you can assign points to each engagement activity, and they earn the points after completing the engagement activity).
This friendly competition is often enough to keep employees engaged, and you can offer a prize to the winner for the week, month, or quarter.
While leveraging all of your employees is one way to help your posts gain traction, your executives probably have the most influence (and potential customers in their networks).
So while asking executives to share relevant content from the brand's page can work, it's often even more effective to have executives post about a company initiative directly to their personal profile.
This is because people naturally trust content from personal accounts more than branded accounts and social algorithms are more likely to give personal accounts more reach.
For example, Rand Fishkin is an influencer in the marketing space and is also the CEO of a tool called SparkToro. So rather than posting about the tool on the branded SparkToro page, he posts about it from his personal LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
As a result, the posts typically get more engagement and don't feel like traditional advertising. Instead, it feels like consuming helpful content from someone you trust:
However, if you’ve ever tried to get executives to post about important company initiatives, you’ve probably found that it’s difficult to ensure the right people say the right thing at the right time.
So we designed GaggleAMP to help you to create an effective executive engagement strategy.
Specifically, you can create an engagement activity and then pre-write a post for the executive. For example, if you’re announcing an acquisition, funding round, or any other newsworthy event, you can create a pre-written post for them to simply approve and publish. This is a great way to get even the busiest executives engaged.
However, if you want it to be written in their own words or have them provide their own original opinion on an event, you can use the ‘Question’ engagement activity.
For example, if you’re an SEO agency and Google just rolled out a new update, you can assign a ‘Question’ engagement activity to your CEO saying something like, “How do you think the new Google update will impact businesses and what are three steps business owners can take to de-risk their business?”
So instead of constantly sending annoying Slack or Microsoft Teams messages to your executives and asking them to engage, they’ll just get one notification with all of their engagement activities, which they can complete at their convenience.
If you're trying to reach new audiences, just collaborate with influencers that already have their attention.
While the most common strategy for B2C brands is paying influencers for a post, most B2B influencers aren't open to traditional paid campaign partnerships. However, there are plenty of other ways to organically collaborate with B2B influencers and acquire new followers.
Here are just a few ideas:
For example, Ahrefs recently published a Tweet calling out the best blog posts they've read recently and then tagged the authors/brands of those blog posts.
These are all genuinely interesting blog posts (not randomly selected), and the shout-out incentivizes the mentioned people/brands to share Ahrefs's post with their audience.
While this is a super easy tactic that might get some exposure, doing a more collaborative engagement (like a joint podcast episode) will probably work even better.
For example, Ross Hudgens is the founder of an SEO agency and has a podcast where he interviews industry experts. After each episode, they chop the video into various social media posts. The interviewee is then incentivized to share it with their social following as it makes them look good. As a result, both brands win.
This post discussing client pushback generated 37 comments (and they were able to repurpose it and create multiple posts from a single podcast episode).
It’s also worth noting that even though the podcast is designed to promote the brand (Siege Media), they chose to publish it on the CEO’s personal social media channels.
This is also an excellent example of how leveraging an executive’s personal brand can help increase reach.
Responding to every person's comment is the easiest way to double your engagement rate. To take it up another notch, answer that person's question with another question to keep the conversation going.
Neil Patel is excellent at engaging with his commenters.
Here's a screenshot of the comments section from a recent video about head terms that he shared on LinkedIn. You can see that each response is conversational and organic – exactly what social media algorithms want.
I’m guessing that Neil Patel probably has someone else monitoring the comments on his social media profile, so even if you don’t have time to answer questions yourself, you can hire an assistant to do it for you.
However, responding to comments on your own posts isn’t the only thing you can do to engage with your audience. You can also use a social listening tool to track relevant keywords and alert you when someone mentions them. Then, you can jump into the conversation and organically add value.
Another great way to skyrocket your organic social media is to participate in groups. While most groups don't welcome blatant promotion, sharing key things you've learned and answering people's questions are great ways to earn new followers from the group.
For example, someone in a design group was asking about a particular font family. In response to the question, this person wrote out a thoughtful comment that answered the question:
So another social media user jumped into the comments and mentioned an article that was recently published on the topic. Depending on the group rules, you could do something similar and direct them to a blog post you've written regarding the topic:
As you can see, an effective social campaign isn’t just about posting more content. Often, achieving your business goals is as simple as engaging organically with other people.
Having an organic social media presence is invaluable. It makes it easier to earn trust with prospects, stay top of mind with existing customers, which has a direct impact on key KPIs like acquiring new customers. In addition, you’ll have a powerful promotion engine whenever you have a new sale, post a new blog post, or need to source more talent.
Of all the tactics mentioned above, we still believe that employee advocacy is the most effective way to grow your organic social media presence. However, the key reason why most people don’t realize it’s so powerful is because they don’t have an effective system to assign content and measure results.
Megan is the CEO and founder of the content marketing agency, Ignite My Site. She is also the host of a content marketing and SEO podcast that breaks down the strategies and tactics of the world's most celebrated content marketers. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.
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Social Media Strategy
Social Media Strategy
Social Media Strategy