Why Curated Content should be part of your Social Media Strategy

It might sound contradictory to include sharing other people’s content as part of your strategy but it is one of the easiest ways to grow your audience, provide value and engage with other influential people. A study of over 500 leading marketers by Curata found that they were creating 65% of their content, using aggregated content for 10% and curating the rest.

Unlike your website and your PR, your business social media is just that.. social. It’s a way of engaging and connecting with people in places where they’ve already chosen to be to catch up with friends and family or progress their own careers. It’s walking into a party rather than standing on your own shop! There’s the old metaphor that you wouldn’t walk into a party and talk about yourself- social media is not the place to just broadcast your own content.

Including content from others increases trust– research shows that people trust content shared by a third party more than that which is published about themselves. Rand Fishkin from Moz says that ‘The greatest benefit of content curation that I see is to help distill a signal from noise and become a trusted and authoritative resource in your field. If you’re the source of what’s truly important and useful, you can stand out even in crowded markets and earn a significant audience’. It’s the whole basis of Influencer marketing too- we trust recommendations more when they come from other people as we’re not perceiving the same bias as when it’s formal advertising (the ‘well, they would say that!’ element)

It connects you with influential people in your industry and allows you to be seen as a business who are ‘in the know’ about your industry. Want to get on the radar of an influential thought leader- share their content, engage with them, and if you produce something of value to their audience further down the line, they may well return the favour. There’s also massive value in using thought leadership pieces you agree with and which support your brand- you and your team can’t have every new idea yourself.

Curating content adds value– people are not on social media to be sold to- they are there to catch up with friends and family, be educated and be entertained. Unless you have a massive team and invest resources in creating many different content types it’s unlikely that you can cover all of these (you are competing with cat videos, remember!!) Using curated content is a smart way to vary content types. It also allows you to share popular content types that you might not want to produce yourself- if you don’t have the budget for creating your own video, sharing relevant video content can allow you to get noticed on the Facebook feed and again add value to your community.

Sharing content shows that you’re a collaborative kind of business- while you wouldn’t promote your direct competitors, sharing industry news and celebrating success of others again is a differentiator from businesses using social networks to only broadcast what they are doing.

If you’d like to start curating content there are some great resources available from Buffer and Curata on getting started or including more relevant curated content as part of your social media strategy. While these are really comprehensive guides, the easiest way to get started is to think about your target clients, find some content you think they might be interested in and share- then test, measure and review!

This is part of the #backtosocialbasics blog series- looking at the ‘why’ behind the reasons we do things.

What’s the best B2B Social Media Network?

If you’d asked this question 5 years ago the answer probably would have been unanimously LinkedIn, and 94% of B2B marketers do still use LinkedIn as part of their strategy. However, with changes in the way we all consume social media, advances and specialisations in the various platforms, the answer is no longer so straightforward. The simple answer is that you need to be where your customers are and communicating with them in a way which suits your content and time/ resources. Don’t forget that your buyers are still people and when you’re using social media to reach them you’re contacting them in a very personal way, often on their own devices and in their own time. 55% of B2B buyers search for information on social media when making decisions about suppliers- by the time you’re having conversations with them they already have an impression of your business.

LinkedIn is still the powerhouse of B2B networking with over 500 million active users globally and 94% of B2B Marketers using LinkedIn to distribute content (so if you’re not there already, your competitors probably are). Company pages give an effective showcase and there’s a decent ability to advertise based on job title. There are also some really interesting things happening with personal profiles at the time of writing- topics which are conversational are getting huge amounts of interactions.

BUT Company pages have less functionality that personal profiles- you can only post, not engage or follow as your business. Advertising is a minimum of $10 per day, which is significantly more than the Facebook and Twitter minimums.

Twitter also scores highly with 87% of B2B Marketers using Twitter as part of their content strategy. There’s 100m daily users, with 33% following a brand and 79% of users likely to recommend a brand they follow. It’s a great networking tool- the open nature of the platform makes it easy to hold conversations and join relevant ones. Twitter lists give you great listening potential- you can set up private lists of customers, competitors, industry influencers and join relevant hours. It’s a great customer service tool too with large brands often setting up separate handles for this purpose.

BUT the life of a tweet is short and you need to be consistently operating at a high volume to grow your network- you can’t tweet a few times a week and be heard by your customers and prospects. There’s the opportunity to use the speed of Twitter to your advantage for customer care but it can also work to your disadvantage if you aren’t resourced appropriately.

Facebook has historically had a reputation as a B2C network- after all, it is where we all go to catch up with friends and family. However, it really shouldn’t be overlooked as a potential platform for businesses- with over 2BN users, your customers are going to be there, and with over 5 million active advertisers, your competitors probably are too.

BUT The Facebook algorithm, which protects the user experience by prioritising news from friends and family, means that just because you publish something on your business Facebook page your audience doesn’t see it. This ‘organic’ reach has been declining for years and now means 3% of your audience initially see your posts with further restrictions happening from January 2018. It’s best approached as a low cost advertising platform. The real benefit of Facebook is the advanced targeting options for advertisers- with a variety of custom audiences allowing small businesses to target not only by interest but by who has visited their website, been on their email list or even resembles people who like their page, The deep analytics which give near immediate feedback on what’s working and what’s not also allow small businesses a great insight leading to an ability to make changes.

Owned by Facebook, Instagram has 800 million active monthly users and a highly engaged audience- the average Instagram post has as an engagement rate of 3% as opposed to Facebook or Twitter account with lower engagement rates of only 0.5 – 1.0%. It’s fast growing, supported by Facebook development and investment and has access to similar tools.

BUT It works best with beautiful photos and visual assets. If your business doesn’t produce these consider whether this is the right place to spend your time and effort.

Should we be elsewhere? Key to successful social media is being consistent, present and truly social on whatever platform you choose to be on. It’s better to pick a platform and deliver well against your strategy to build an engaged audience than spread yourself too thin. You Tube, Pinterest, Snapchat, Slideshare and Google+ could all be options for your business- but the key to this is to be on the same platforms as your target customers.

As a summary, don’t assume that platforms are either B2B or B2C- be driven by your own strategic approach, your customers and the time/ resource you have available.

It’s not about the Follower Numbers (well, kind of..)

One of the most easily available metrics on social media is follower or fan numbers and anyone investing their time and effort into social media marketing is rightly going to be focused on them. We’d argue that while numbers are important as you do want your community to grow, it really isn’t the be all and end all and it is a REALLY bad idea to look to increase them by non-traditional ways, like buying followers.

Why numbers are important

Your follower numbers, amongst other things, do act as a form of social proof. They are an easy benchmark for your customers and prospects to view and can also help your SEO. And who doesn’t want to be seen to be popular. However, having the wrong ‘kind’ of followers can damage your social media

Why it’s about the right followers

The quality of your followers- in the context of what is right for your business- is what’s key. The algorithm which sits behind all social media platforms rewards engagement in the terms of likes, shares and comments. If you have many followers who don’t engage your posts will become less visible to your audience.

Why it can be damaging

Part of the power of Facebook and Instagram for businesses is the ability to cleverly slice and dice demographics and run targeted advertising campaigns. Having people who aren’t ‘true’ followers means that your advertising power is compromised- your absolute best audience is one who you can identify as being ‘warm’ to you- whether they are on your email list or have previously visited your website. One of the most powerful functionalities within this is the ability to create a Lookalike audience- Facebook will look at your page followers and choose audiences who are similar to them.

It probably seems quite obvious that ‘buying’ followers isn’t a great things to do strategically, but there are indirect ways you could be inadvertently damaging your engagement rates, like advertising for ‘page likes’ in markets which aren’t your target but are known for having cheaper followers. In short, it’s a really risky thing to do- if you change your mind and want to try and reverse it, you’ve created you and your team a lot of unnecessary work. Just keep on creating great content, aimed at your ideal customers and if they engage with your page, engage right back!

The thrills and spills of finding your ideal client…

We all want that, don’t we? Someone who values you, wants you around and wants you to be ‘happy*’? Of course we do, and I’m not talking life partner stuff but the ideal client/freelancer relationship. People buy people after all.

Many freelance industries are crowded markets with a massive disparity of charging models. In Social Media, my speciality, services you can buy range from packages of 2 tweets a month for £5 to full service agency models charging thousands. The trick is knowing who ‘your people’ are and what they need at the point in time on their own business journey.

Key to this is knowing who you are, your values and what you bring to the table which differentiates you. Would you want to be working for a rock band if your passion was classical music? I have 20 years corporate experience in B2B sales environments so have a distinct skill set which adds most value to certain types of businesses. I’ve learned this myself by working for others outside of this and the truth is that while I was ok at it, others would be so much better. In her book, Personal Branding for Brits, Jennifer Holloway describes getting customer feedback about her own performance that ‘you have a strong style, like double espresso, but sometimes I wanted tea’. She describes how she recognised that she has only ever been double espresso and works on promoting that as part of her brand.

If you are your authentic self, a potential client ‘gets’ you and you can add value to their business, freelancing can be a wonderful thing where everybody ‘wins’ and makes money. Knock backs in the early stages of freelancing can be hard to take and very easy to take personally, but ask yourself- are they really your people (or if you think they are, is the timing right)? If not, it’s likely that you’ve given yourself a bit of breathing space to find someone who is a better fit.

And if you’re interested, I’m an espresso martini!

*I.e. content in work and earning money- there are a few differences between this and personal life!