Social media is becoming an indispensable part of marketing, especially for small businesses. Unlike traditional marketing, social media has created avenues for low-budget businesses to promote and engage with potential customers without spending an arm and a leg. It is now easier for businesses to set up their accounts and get the ball rolling.
With the solutions that come with social media marketing, there are also problems. Much of the complaints I hear from business owners is around what content they should post. This is a common dilemma. Business owners get confused with what to post and where to get inspiration. Finding content is the last thing on their minds as they juggle different tasks in managing and running the business. Often, they resort to posting personal content which isn’t suitable for business pages. Other times, they end up posting overly promotional content.
Social media content is effective in drawing people to your business and in turning followers into paying customers. However, there can also be good content and bad content. If you’re a business owner, you need to think about how the content you are posting is being received by your followers.
Is it content they want to be seeing?
How do you differentiate between the 2 major types of content?
Which is better than the other?
What is promotional content?
Promotional content is any content that only provides information about your business and product offers. Promotional content can either be self-promotion or direct promotion. The previous pertains to blogs, mentions, or articles while the latter could mean sales specials or purchase links. In a sense, this content directly promotes your business. This type of content sells your brand to your audience. This leads them to consider making a purchase or using your business.
It can be tempting to keep on pushing promotional content on social media, especially if you want to sell. However, this can be counterintuitive if it’s all that you do. It can come off as too “salesy.” Pushy promotions tend to come off as annoying and it’s something we all know firsthand. Customers today are savvy enough to identify content that’s just trying to sell. It can be easy for them to tune out when all that you do is promote your business and your services.
Posting promotional content isn’t bad when done in small doses. However, this is not the content that will keep your audience connected to your brand. There is a right time and place for promotions. You need to build relationships in order to lead these audiences down to the sales funnel and make them into repeat customers. Pushing sales content down their throats isn’t the best way to nurture these relationships.
Even if you want to make the sale, you also need to consider other objectives that your business might have such as improving brand loyalty, increasing engagement, and nurturing leads. These are the other goals that you need to keep in mind when creating content for social media.
What is value-added content?
Value-added content should inform, educate, or entertain your audience. This content is used to build trust and connect with your audience at a deeper level. It tells the story of your brand, takes the audience behind the scenes, or educates them about the industry. It also entertains them and makes them ‘feel’ something. This should make them emotional. Oftentimes, this is the human side of your business where you make people laugh, cry, or agree with you. This can also be a reflection of your brand’s personality. This is where you show your brand’s humorous or serious side.
Creating and posting content that is useful and evergreen is important to attract customers and keep them engaged. If it adds value to the lives of your audience, then you make your brand indispensable. You showcase your expertise in the industry through this content. With this, you educate and entertain them. When your audience engages, you are getting their attention and gaining trust, and loyalty in turn.
Consider that value-added content will vary depending on your business’ target audience and objectives. Content will never be the same for varying industries and businesses. For a travel agency with a younger market, it might seem fit to post travel destinations and tips as value-added content. However, this content might be slightly different to a travel agency who is targeting the older travellers. And what might be great content for one type of business will not be for others. Despite the differences, the end goal is the same: to add value to the audience. So, adjust your value-added content depending on the type of market that you’re targeting.
This should be the core of your content marketing strategy. Value-added content is the bridge that connects your market’s needs to what you’re offering. You provide them valuable content that will help them solve their concerns in some way. Having this type of content keeps everything fresh so you’re not just selling to your audience.
One brand that stands out in providing high-quality valuable content is Hubspot (www.facebook.com/hubspot). They provide a lot of valuable content, such as templates, white papers, and samples that all link to the different services that they offer. Another service-based business that posts a lot of great valued-added content is H&R Block (www.facebook.com/hrblockau) who have made the topic of tax a little less boring with their updates, tips, and advice.
How to create a balance between the two?
To get the most out of your social media, there needs to be a good mix of content. Think about it, as a reader would you prefer constant bragging content or useful, insightful and sometimes emotional?
When using social media as a business, you need to keep in mind that you’re building relationships. Every relationship is a two-way street. Sometimes, you need to give a little to get a little. The goal is to create meaningful conversations and engage with an audience who are still prospects in order to turn them into customers.
The key here is to know when to post your promotional content and your valuable content. This is where I promote the 80/20 Rule. Eighty percent of your content should be value-added while the 20 percent should be promotional. This should be something to prioritise when creating content for your social media accounts.
With the 80/20 Rule, you are not just selling to your audience. You are entertaining them and engaging with them. Think of posting valuable content 80 percent of the time and only actively promoting your products or services for the remainder of the time. Both types of content, when used properly, complement each other. Having the right balance of promotional content and valuable content will strengthen your customer base and in doing so keeps your audience coming back for more.
When you have an audience that’s in tune and engaged with your value-added content, your promotional posts will have higher conversion rates. Once you’ve established yourself as a leader in your industry and the go-to brand for information, then your audience would start coming to you for help. This is the perfect time to showcase solutions through your promotional content. This strategy often creates a huge difference in the bottom-line.
Once you’ve set up a good balance of valuable and promotional content in your social media account, figure out how your audience is engaging to your content. Take into account that different audiences respond differently. You need to constantly test out your content and find which ones your market tend to respond best. Test, analyze, and adjust. Take a look at the trends and the performance of your previous posts to know which worked for you. Ask yourself questions based on the data. Do they prefer inspirational content? Do they like how-to? Do they enjoy memes? How are they responding to your promotional content? Regularly do this kind of check to ensure that you have relevant content that your audience is interested in. This helps you achieve the perfect content mix for your social media platforms that fit your audience and your brand.
It's all about the balance.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all rule to success on social media, these guidelines are important points to remember to make the most out of your content. Striking a balance between promotional and value-added content is a must to keep the audience engaged.
If you’re planning your social media content (which I highly recommend), ensure that you have a balanced mix. Make sure that you’re not selling too much. Educate and entertain your followers. Find content that resonates well with them. You might need to do some testing, but it’s all about providing value. When you don’t give anything of value to your audience, they can easily look for someone else to supply them with what they need. This is the reality that businesses have to face today.
At the end of the day, it’s about getting good results without compromising your brand and the relationships that you have. Remember that your goal is to nurture a genuine relationship with your audience and offer them something of value. Nothing beats authenticity in building customer relationships. Always keep your customers in mind and create an environment that allows your relationship with them to grow.