So you have your content… now where do you put it? Do you dump it all on your website? Post it “on social media”?
Distributing your content on the right platform is as important as creating the right content in the first place. Here are some tips for the type of content you should consider on the main digital platforms:
For most businesses, your website is your brand hub. This is the one platform where you have full control over what you put out there, and it’s your opportunity to portray your brand exactly as you want it to be. Of course there are the basics that you will need to cover: you need information about your business, your products and services, your contact details, links to social media… (The fact that it’s basic doesn’t mean you can’t add your own brand style and tone of voice – just look at Innocent as one example.) After that, you can drive credibility with product ratings and reviews as well as any press coverage. And, if you have the resources, you might consider a blog to keep your content fresh and optimise for search. Most importantly, don’t just think about your brand but also think about the other side of the equation, your customers. What are they looking for? What questions might they have that will bring them to your site? What is the story you want to tell about your brand?
Facebook is fundamentally about connecting with friends and family, and your brand needs to fit seamlessly into that environment if you don’t want to be seen to be disruptive and unwelcome. Salesy, product-focused messages are just not going to work in this context. At the other end of the spectrum, posting about generic topics like the weather or the upcoming weekend is not going to do anything to build your brand. The trick is to find engaging ways to tap into existing conversations, to make a topical event relevant to your brand, to get people commenting and sharing because they want to. Usually that means that your content is well targeted to your audience, and that it adds value in some way – by informing, by entertaining, by helping… Visual content, impactful images, are most effective, while a short text with a clear call to action will be far more effective than a long paragraph and a link or question hidden away behind a “more” button. Linking to your website is also a visual way to drive visitors to your site where your fans can read more about your brand. Some brands that are good at relevant story telling on Facebook include Heinz, Pimms, and Durex (who are especially good at tying into things like Father’s Day and Earth Day).
Tips for Twitter are to some extent very much like those for Facebook: short posts (enforced by the famous 140 character limit) and images will drive the biggest impact. That’s where the similarities end, though, as Twitter is a very different platform to Facebook, allowing for a much higher frequency and a different level of interaction. Beyond your own content, and linking to your other platforms, you have the opportunity to reply to and re-tweet your followers as well as other relevant influencers, keeping your feed interesting and creating real relationships. Asking questions or including a call to action will encourage interactions with your content, while you can tap into ongoing conversations and trends via hashtags (e.g. #throwbackthursday, #followfriday). You can take this further by tweeting live from events, or maybe arranging a live Q&A with an expert. Sainsbury’s had a much-publicised Twitter conversation, while Oreo‘s Superbowl tweet is legendary in marketing circles, they’re also doing some great Vines…
YouTube is the place for video content. (No, really? Video on a video platform? What a great tip.) You can create a branded channel for free, with playlists to organise your videos. If you embed any videos on your website via YouTube, you can also track video views in one and the same place. Make sure you tag your videos properly so that people will find them when they’re searching for your content. Beyond the basic brand channel, there is also the possibility for larger brands to create a custom brand channel, with interactive “gadgets” that allow you to design little mini-sites within YouTube. Here are some great examples to get inspired: Rolex, Gucci, Hugo Boss.
Although many are sceptical about using this platform, having a presence on Google+ is valuable to your brand from a search perspective, connecting with both your website and your YouTube channel. The easy option, followed by many businesses, is simply to publish the same posts that you do on Facebook. Google+ basics are again very consistent: visual content, engaging with others, asking questions… The platform offers other opportunities, however, by allowing targeting to particular circles of followers, as well as letting you hold live video conferences via hangouts to demonstrate your expertise and interact in real time with your followers. Virgin does a great job of engaging its followers with rich content on entrepreneurialism, including interviews, debates, and general inspiration. NASA posts real-time content from space as well as hosting hangouts with astronauts and scientists. Toyota has taken hangouts further by allowing fans to customise a car via the Corolla Collaborator.
Should you really be posting the same things on LinkedIn that you do on Facebook? LinkedIn is a more professional setting where people are looking to make business connections, read and share articles related to their business, and follow influential people and companies in their industry. Every business should at least have a presence on LinkedIn, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be posting five times a day. Start by sharing company updates and job opportunities, and engaging with your employees and with people in your industry. Some good brand examples are Disney who focus very much on recruitment, IBM who engage computing professionals with relevant articles, and Citi who share financial news as well as careers advice for job seekers. What’s right for your business?
A virtual notice board, Pinterest is a visual social network, with a mostly female user base, offering an easy way to curate content from other people to build an engaging brand platform. Start by pinning your own products, with simple board names that will appeal to your target audience and descriptions that use keywords to optimise for search. Then spend some time browsing other brands and influencers and re-pinning from their boards to create a lifestyle around your brand that is much more than a product. Ask a guest pinner to create a board for you to keep things varied. You can also use rich pins to include more information, making them more useful to your customers. Ben & Jerry’s has a “Flavour Graveyard” board, and another board with photos submitted from fans. Random House goes beyond simply pinning its books with boards on topics from favourite quotes to “What would Jane Austen do?”. Sephora does pro tips, how-to guides, gift ideas, and seasonal make-up looks, for example, for Halloween or New Year’s Eve. Follow some brands and boards to get inspired and go from there.
Instagram lends itself to a more personal, “candid” approach, and here you can afford to be much more informal. Take your fans behind the scenes, introduce them to the real people behind your business, show your office, give them a sneak peek at something that’s launching soon. Be human. Then when you post the photos, make sure you use relevant hashtags to help people find your content, keeping an eye out for what’s trending to tap into ongoing conversations. Instagram is also a great platform for engaging your followers, asking them to submit their own photos, perhaps organising a simple competition. Some strong examples include Sharpie, whose pen is perhaps not so exciting but they instead feature doodles from fans, Samsung who ran a #liveinthemoment photo contest, and Nintendo, who have a very clear idea of who their customer base is and share content that fully resonates with their fans.