June 20, 2019

Why you’re thinking about social media all wrong.

Emily Mazurek, PR Strategist


If we truly want to drive social results, we need to think “social first” as it relates to content and campaigns and not let the larger creative story drive the format and style of our content.

I headed to Social Media Week New York a few weeks ago to talk social media with industry experts, like-minded agency professionals, and social-platform companies for a few days. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to take a step back from my day-to-day activities and think about best practices, strategies, and future trends for our clients. I came away rejuvenated and extremely excited about the future for brands and social media.

I went to over 25 sessions in three days. To say there were a lot of “aha” moments would be an understatement. But when I left, I came to the realization that so many brands and marketers are thinking about social media all wrong. Frequently, social is a tactic implemented as an afterthought in a campaign. We take the content we use in our TV or print ads and try to retrofit it for social media. I had always learned that storytelling should drive the content strategy of the ads we create. However, if we do that today, we’re missing a huge opportunity on social media. Consumers come to social media to have fun. They don’t care about advertisements, and they certainly don’t want to be sold to.

So, as marketers and advertisers, how do we combat that? If we want to truly drive results, we need to think about social-first content when creating campaigns, instead of letting the overarching story dictate the format.

Here are three takeaways to shift your thinking around creating engaging social content:


1) Mobile First

96% of Facebook users access the platform on a mobile device (Source: Statista). Mobile usage isn’t going away. We must find ways to engage with users in the most meaningful and unobtrusive ways possible on their mobile device. This means when you’re thinking about creating content, square and vertical formats must be taken into consideration for mobile users.

This isn’t how you traditionally view content on any other device – we’re used to seeing things horizontally on our TV screen or billboards. However, if you want to capture attention and take advantage of the largest amount of space for storytelling on mobile devices, you must start creating square and vertical creative.

Think vertical content first and then work backward to understand how to best showcase the story. Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram aren’t the only platforms turning to vertical video. Recently LinkedIn announced vertical video will be coming in 2020. Integration between social and creative teams from the beginning of development will be vital in ensuring successful asset production.


2) Authenticity Trumps Perfection

The average social media user scrolls through 300 feet of content a day. As marketers, we have to create “thumb-stopping” content that authentically fits in. We have to find a way to grab consumers attention, entice them to stop scrolling, and accomplish this without screaming THIS IS AN AD.

Just as we need to shift our thinking to vertical-first content, we should also be considering creating content for social media in the way viewers are consuming it. Think first about the platforms you utilize as a brand. Overly produced videos don’t belong on Instagram stories. This is a platform where users post photos or videos that are gone in 24 hours and offer a raw, unfiltered view into their lives.

So, when brands create highly produced and edited ads for Instagram Stories, it doesn’t seem natural and creates a disconnect with how the user is viewing content on the platform.

Instead, brands need to be thinking about how users are engaging with a platform. For instance, if you are creating content for Instagram Stories, you can still create visually appealing and edited content. But also think about a selfie-style shot or quick five-second videos. Make it feel authentic to your brand and the platform.


3) Create Strong Communities

Communities can be defined in various ways on social media. However, connecting with them is becoming increasingly important as algorithms are ever-changing and making it harder to reach an expanded audience. Brands need to find a way to nurture and engage their organic social community and create ambassadors to help share their brand story. 200 million people are part of a Facebook group – how can brands find a way into these conversations and nurture those engagements?

Another discussion among many social marketers is sustainable influencer relationships. Brands are moving away from project-based relationships with influencers into long-term partnerships and engaging with influencers to figure out how to best develop relationships with their communities. Instead of brands dictating content for influencers to create, brands are turning to influencers to help share the story that their community is most likely to engage with.

We must think of influencers as an ecosystem and not just people creating one-off posts. As ad blocking increases on desktop and mobile devices, we have to think about user-generated content to reach our audiences.

And we must find authentic ways to reach them. From a user perspective, social media is all about engaging with those who provide content you enjoy seeing. Good influencers truly understand what their community likes and dislikes. Use that to your brand’s advantage and put trust in your influencers to create content that will promote your brand and engage with their communities in a genuine way. Release control (to a point) to your influencers and see what happens with your social engagement! 

Are you interested in learning about social best practices or do you need help elevating your next influencer campaign? Contact Emily Mazurek, PR/social strategist, at [email protected].


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