With social media engagement hovering below 0.1%, networks showing more ads than ever, and organic social visibility in a continuous decline, social media does not seem like the lucrative marketing channel it once was.
However, user bases are growing, customers are using social to interact with brands, and most importantly, social is having an impact on purchasing decisions.
What does this tell us?
While social media reach may be declining, your customers are still relying on these platforms to help them find information and connect with brands.
It tells us we have to figure out how to reach them in a landscape that’s working against us. We have to make social work for us in a different way.
Part of this starts with the content itself.
How do we give our audience something that interests them, that stands out, that captures their attention, all while adhering to character limits?
How to Add More Context to Your Social Media Content
We add context.
As a user, one of my biggest frustrations is clicking on a link only to feel disappointed by the content itself.
Because of that, I’m more reluctant to click on links.
However, if I have an understanding of what the content entails before I actually open it, that’s immensely helpful.
The great thing is this can be done through imagery, expanded updates, videos, formatting, and more.
Let’s dive in.
1. Go Beyond the Headline
It’s simple – copy the post title and throw it into a social update. Easy enough right?
The problem with this is it can be so boring! In most cases, it doesn’t sell the post and it certainly doesn’t encourage people to click.
Instead of just sharing the headline, consider the following.
Whether it’s a quote shared within the piece or a sentence that captured your attention, use call outs in your update.
Statistics are a great way to make a point and/or support an idea. On top of that, they tend to draw people’s attention.
Have a stat within your content that is intriguing? Use that in your social updates.
Challenges / Solutions
Is your content solving someone’s problem? Then lead with that.
Tell your audience what the challenge is and how your content is helping to solve it.
One of my favorite content tactics, especially in longer form content, is to include a key takeaway for your readers. It calls out important points for the reader and ensures even the laziest readers can walk away with something.
The same thing applies to social updates. Don’t hesitate to focus on the key takeaways.
Want more tips on writing the perfect social media update?
I’d recommend this piece from Post Planner which looks at everything from optimal length to passive voice and audience messaging.
2. Make Better Use of Imagery
This one might seem obvious.
However, in my opinion, images are the key to success in social.
After all, we know users remember images over words and colors can grab attention much better than black and white.
The problem I see, is we are often lazy in our image selection. I know I am certainly guilty of this.
We grab a stock image or the featured blog image and call it a day. How helpful is that really?
How can we use images to add context to our social updates?
Here are a few ideas.
Use Your Words
Remember how I just said to use quotes/takeaways/stats in your updates? Take those and make them into images.
It’s a great way to catch people’s attention and provide some additional information to your update.
A few months ago I came across a Cotapaxi Instagram ad that I absolutely loved. Of course, I can’t find the exact ad, but it looked very much like this:
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How can you show your audience those variations in one update?
With a GIF!
GIFs are fun, they grab attention, and with technology, creating them has never been easier.
Tools like Gifox, ezGif, and Giphy are free and simple to use.
Add a Voice
Want to give your users a preview of what they are going to get?
Why not talk directly to them?
Brie Anderson, a Program Director of Digital Marketing at WSU Tech recently posted a conference recap…as a video:
What I love about this post is it excites me. It tells me about the conference and what takeaways I should know.
The reality is, this could be done for any type of content and it can be done directly from your phone.
Just like GIFs, video doesn’t have to be hard and even subtitles can be done for free.
Tell a Story
Images allow us to tell a story that we might not otherwise be able to tell. Take for example these Facebook ads Chanel ran during Mother’s Day:
No words would be able to capture the feeling these ads bring. They are cute. They tell a story. And we know exactly what they are for.
Use your images to go beyond the normal. Use them to tell the story you want told.
Know Your Meme
The web moves quick and so do memes. From None of My Business Kermit to Sad Keanu, you never know what you might come across.
While silly, memes can be a great way to add context to your social updates. But just like anything else, don’t jump on a meme for the sake of jumping on it. Make sure it works for your brand.
3. Use Your Whitespace
One thing I’ve noticed more lately is expanded social updates – updates that take up more space but don’t necessarily include more words.
What I love about these expanded updates is they allow you to give your followers more information about what you are sharing without overcrowding. They feel purposeful.
A few tips for creating expanded updates:
Emojis can help you make a point much easier than words. They also stand out.
Let’s say you are going to list 3 items. Use the emoji numerals instead of simply writing the numbers 1,2,3. It makes the same point but grabs the eye a bit more.
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Know the Network
If you are going to create expanded updates, remember that Facebook and LinkedIn will both cut off your update. Put your most important info at the beginning and be mindful of length.
End with Hashtags
Regardless of which network you are posting to, if you are going to create an expanded update, move your hashtags to the end.
While hashtags can be beneficial to search and add context, they can make an update appear crowded.
Go Get Moving!
Social media is becoming more and more difficult but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value.
As you start planning your next round of updates, think about how you can use some of the tips mentioned above to add more context and drive engagement.
Remember, you don’t have to do everything on this list but try testing different elements to find which works best for your audience. You never know what you might discover.