No marketing channel lets you connect with prospective customers like social media does.
And because of that, there’s quite a bit of social media noise.
It’s a digital two-way street that’s been designed for engagement. Everything about social media is based on the concept of interaction. Between likes, comments, retweets, shares, and a plethora of other actions, your target audience has more ways to show appreciation (or distaste) for your marketing efforts than on any other channel.
It’s the brands that base their strategies on this knowledge that are nailing it on social media. These brands have built fiercely loyal followings. And it’s followings like these that can be mined for fiercely loyal customers and advocates.
Visibility Is Your Biggest Challenge in Battling Social Media Noise
The bad news is that your brand isn’t the only one using social media. Your posts are subject to algorithms that mix them in with an unimaginably massive amount of content posted by other brands, groups, pages, and people.
Bluntly put, there is an insane amount of noise out there – a virtual ocean of text, links, pictures, and videos. All of this content has been purpose-built to do one thing – absorb as much of your audience’s attention as possible. To distract them from what you want them to see and interact with.
Sadly, there’s no hack for this problem, no guaranteed way to ensure that your content is prioritized and seen by your target audience. You’re at the mercy of invisible moving parts that you have no control over.
What you do control, however, is the quality of your social media content and interactions.
I can’t overstate how important this realization is.
If your strategy is based on creating genuinely engaging content and authentic, meaningful interactions that take your audience’s needs seriously, you will rise above the social media noise. You will be seen, you will be engaged with, and you will build a dedicated following.
Here are some tips for getting this right.
Choose the Right Platforms for Your Brand
First things first: not all social media platforms are going to be a good fit for your product or service. Before developing a social media strategy, ensure that your efforts won’t be wasted (or have counterproductive results) because you’re on the wrong platforms.
Here are two of your main considerations:
Where Is Your Target Audience?
Focus your social marketing efforts on platforms where you’re most likely to gain a loyal following.
Take a look at a boutique investment firm like Lincoln International. The company has an active presence on LinkedIn and Twitter but none on Facebook or Instagram.
Like most companies, Lincoln International will have a very clear understanding of their buyer personas; their marketing team would have built these before developing any marketing strategies.
By cross-referencing your company’s buyer personas against what’s known about social media platforms’ respective demographics, you’re more likely to get your content noticed and engaged with.
What Is Your Ideal Content and Interaction Type?
Twitter is great for short, public interactions. LinkedIn is perfect for publishing thought pieces. Instagram is where you go to share visual content. Facebook is ideal for video and curated links.
Understand what type of content best suits your brand before committing to a specific social media platform.
Fashion retailers, like Orizaba Original, want to communicate visually with their audience, so they focus their social media efforts on Instagram and Pinterest over Twitter.
image source: orizabaoriginal.com
Information “sellers,” like Search Engine Journal, have an incredibly powerful presence on Twitter and Facebook but don’t use Instagram at all.
These brands know what kind of content is best to package their messaging in. And they don’t waste their efforts on platforms where this content simply doesn’t work.
One thing that virtually all the major social media platforms have in common is their users’ appetite for video content.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn – all of the biggest social media platforms are reporting a massive increase in engagement with video content. Established video-centric platforms like YouTube remain incredibly popular while newcomers like TikTok are showing unprecedented levels of growth.
Social media platforms are fast becoming digital entertainment destinations. Users don’t just expect to see their friends’ status updates or find cool blog links anymore. No, they’re there to be amused! They want to scroll through their feeds to see stuff that grabs their attention – and nothing does that better than video.
Evidence is also emerging that video content is being prioritized by some social media algorithms. This is great news for marketing teams with the budget and skills to produce video content. Higher priority means more exposure, and more exposure means rising above the social media noise your competitors are making.
For an inspiring example of how a brand has embraced video on social media, look no further than Chipotle’s recent TikTok challenges. The company was one of the first brands to use the new social media platform’s unique interface and interaction mechanics to generate incredible user engagement in an award-winning campaign.
Another example of a company adopting video to great effect is Chanel. On Instagram, the fashion brand scored big with a low-budget short film titled Over the Moon. The video has been watched over half a million times, resulting in an astonishing number of comments and likes.
image source: instagram.com
The French company, one of the most influential voices in fashion, has made this strategy a very prominent part of their social media efforts, with almost half of their Instagram content consisting of video.
Promote UGC and Social Proof Using Instagram Story Highlights
Social proof in your feed is super valuable. Your followers are, mostly, either customers or prospective customers. Showing the latter group evidence that your brand is trusted is a no-brainer play. Do it as frequently as you can without being repetitive and annoying.
User-generated content in your feed is equally awesome for very similar reasons. Many social media experts feel that posts originating from followers create a sense of goodwill towards your brand, resulting in a valuable emotional connection between you and your potential customers.
But what you get when you combine these two types of content is something greater than its parts. Content posted into your social media feed by customers in which they validate your product is social media gold. It’s something you don’t want to hide. It’s something you want as visible as possible.
That’s why it’s a great idea to use whatever mechanisms your social media platforms have available to prioritize these posts or make them permanently visible to everyone visiting your profile page.
Instagram offers a terrific way of doing this. Story Highlights were introduced in 2017 and offer a super elegant way to group all posts of a particular category into one sequence of stories. These story highlights are displayed above your feed and are instantly visible to anyone visiting your profile.
Runners Athletics shows us how this is done on their Instagram page. The very first story highlight visible on their profile is one labeled “Runners,” and it features an ongoing series of videos and posts submitted by happy customers in which they talk about how much they love the brand’s range of athletic sunglasses.
image source: instagram.com
Create a Facebook Group Associated With Your Brand
In 2018, Facebook announced that its algorithm would be prioritizing content that generates conversations and triggers “meaningful interactions” amongst its billions of users. In practice, this meant that your newsfeed would be populated with more posts from, amongst other sources, Facebook groups.
As I mentioned earlier, the connection between social media visibility and more love from a platform’s algorithm is obvious. Rising above the noise is much simpler when you’re getting some help from Facebook itself.
Creating, populating, and maintaining a Facebook group isn’t easy, though. It takes a lot of effort and dedication to ensure you’re attracting the right kind of people, kicking off the right kind of discussions, and preventing these discussions from going toxic, among other realistic concerns.
If you’re able to get this right, however, the rewards are significant.
Take a look at what Aura did with their modest but thriving community of Amazon FBA wholesalers. Currently at 13,000 users, the group has very little visual affiliation with the company itself. This allows conversations to be about the greater industry itself, rather than a nice matter like repricing.
image source: goaura.com
Their group’s priority is to educate its members and provide support. Selling their service is a byproduct of engaging with their members and enabling members to engage with each other.
Facebook loves the stimulating, provocative conversations that the group’s members generate. So you can be sure that the group’s posts are given priority over the noise generated by less engaging content.
Develop a Consistent Voice That Resonates With Your Target Audience
There’s not a single article on the topic of social media success that doesn’t mention the importance of making genuine connections with your target audience. Your followers need to feel something when they see you make a post. Emotions need to get involved if you want to rise above the social media noise.
If you manage to evoke the same range of emotions consistently with your followers, you’re connecting with them on a personal level. In the hearts of your customers and prospective customers, your brand gets associated with a familiar set of feelings – feelings loyal followers genuinely enjoy.
Ideally, these feelings and emotions should reflect your brand’s values. However, it doesn’t have to be in a super obvious way. Take Merriam Webster as an example. Social media commentators frequently cite the American dictionary as a brand with one of the most consistent and entertaining voices on Twitter.
The marketing team behind Merriam Webster’s success has become experts at inserting themselves into provocative topics, frequently acting as the “voice of reason” but doing so in a witty, borderline confrontational way.
This is a smart deconstruction of what it means to be a dictionary, which is typically considered a dull, sterile source of truth. Merriam Webster has weaponized this perception of their role in society, regularly taking on conservative media figures proud to be peddling “alternative facts.”
This witty, highly contemporary voice has seen Merriam Webster’s Twitter following reach upwards of 900k – levels unheard of for a publication of its type.
Embrace the Chance to Give Visible Support
Even the most inactive social media accounts are going to get the occasional request for support from a customer. When people see a way to get in touch with you, they’re going to use it – there’s no reason not to embrace this.
In fact, when done correctly, social customer service can be leveraged to your advantage. What better way to show your dedication to customer satisfaction than publicly resolving a legitimate complaint?
Spotify is arguably the leader in this space, even winning a Webby award for their efforts. Scroll through their Twitter feed for a look at how elegantly the streaming music giant deals with complaints and support requests.
Some Final Words About Social Media Noise – Let’s Talk About Analytics
Now that I’ve gotten you sufficiently motivated and inspired to start getting the most out of your social media marketing, it’s time to talk about something a little less exciting but equally important.
Regardless of what strategy you’re currently using on social media or what strategies you’re pivoting toward, you need to be able to gauge your success. Each platform offers in-depth reports on engagement, and it is absolutely vital that a member of your team becomes a legit expert in analyzing these.
Every change in strategy has to be informed by the successes and failures of previous efforts. It’s vital that important decisions requiring time and money to implement aren’t made purely because it’s a trend or because your CMO “feels good” about it.
Acknowledge the importance of information in this space. Don’t be afraid of it. Analytics may seem intimidating at first, but don’t let this prevent you from immersing yourself in it.
Trust me on this, rising above the social media noise depends heavily on understanding the data.