If there is one thing I have become increasingly interested in since starting graduate school, it is content marketing through social media. I believe the knowledge of utilizing social media to its fullest potential is one of the greatest advantages for young professionals. There also is an indisputable increase of time and research spent on how to effectively market through social media. According to Nielson’s Global Trust in Advertising report, the percentage of the population who would trust advertisements on social media has increased from 26% in 2011, to 48% in 2013. With technology growing at exponential speeds along with societal dependence on social media, it is no wonder many articles suggest businesses to invest in social media marketing initiatives (mainly because it is free.)
It is exactly because it is free that a lot of small to mid-sized non-profit organizations have turned to social media as a form of marketing and increase the opportunity to make impressions worldwide. However, many tend to overlook that having a following is not a direct result of simply having multiple social networking sites. By joining multiple platforms, organizations are only increasing their accessibility to the public. Public following and feedback must still be generated and developed through content marketing.
I’ve noticed a lot of small to mid-sized non-profit organizations relaying the same message on Facebook and Twitter. While this may be an appropriate action for personal accounts, it is not the best way to market content. It is not particularly taboo and there could be an innumerable amount of reasons why like lack of personnel, technology proficiency, time, or ideas (just to name a few) but in doing so results in missed opportunities.
Missed Opportunity #1: Generating the most impressions per post
To generate the most impressions through social media, peak user activity and lifespan of content must be considered. User activity definitely differs between Facebook and Twitter. Typically Facebook activity peaks at midday on Saturdays whereas Twitter activity peaks at 5 P.M. on Wednesdays. So simply updating once a day with the same message going across both platforms is not going to reach the maximum potential of impressions. However, both platforms provide account-specific analytics that measures when peak activity occurs and the details of your audience demographic. By studying the activity of the audience, you can theoretically post the minimum amount and get the maximum return on investment.
As for lifespan of content, Twitter is better suited to broadcast live events because it inherently has a short-attention span with responses generating for up to an hour. However, by a creating a hashtag specifically for the event encourages participants to tweet. This increases impressions as the topic trends. This was proven effective during the first Arts Leadership Summit in Houston through #UHArts. Facebook is much more timeless with responses that can generate for days. So, in terms of content marketing on Facebook things like post-event photos, press releases, interviews, reviews, and event information would be better suited.
Missed Opportunity #2: Variety of content and increasing transparency
By better understanding the difference between platforms and playing on the strengths, the organization can then produce wider variety of content and even more transparency. The importance of content variety stems from the notion that the majority has more than one social network account. Twitter and Facebook being the most popular pair. By allowing yourself to promote different things on different platforms during different parts of the week, you can experiment more with what you post and generate more opportunities for feedback at a faster pace! This notion is from The Lean Start-Up by Eric Ries: nobody knows what they want. It’s only through experimentation can you deeply understand the difference between what you think your customer wants and what your customer actually wants. From a non-profit standpoint, especially for an organization that has synced posts since day one, it is the perfect opportunity to experiment with the current followers. Post an interesting fun fact on Facebook related to the work you do! Give a public shout out to an artist on their birthday on Twitter! Social media is fantastic in the sense that you do not have to be “professional” all the time. See how your audience reacts! All the while gaining transparency for your organization and eventually a collection of testimonials or reviews. Transparency seems to intimidate most but as Jay Baer, writer of this article that inspired me to blog said, “A list of ingredients doesn’t make someone a chef.” More often times than not I’ve found an organization’s “best kept secret” is the one keeping them from their target audience.
Missed Opportunity #3: Building a relationship with the audience
Finally, by perfecting the content marketing through differentiating posts across platforms you can build a relationship with the audience which is the most important thing. Social media should not be used to create a facade to the public– it is to serve them through accessibility. 84% of a typical brand’s Facebook fans are already existing patrons (36% for Twitter) and the promotion ends once they “follow” or “like” so it should be used as a tool to inform supporters and build a relationship with them. Who interacts a lot on your page? Who has participated within your organization? Who hasn’t, and where did they come from? (Mutual Friend? Word-of-Mouth? Networking?) What’s the geographical spread of the audience?
The process of fostering relationships is going to differ between Facebook and Twitter. For example, the relationships built on Facebook would be more personal. So for a case like fundraising, an invitation to the event and private message may be sent. Twitter with its tendency to gain vaster audience, it would be more appropriate to promote the event on there in advance, and then live-tweet the event with a hashtag and a link to donate. (Photos and Videos produced by patrons are perfect for retweeting, sharing, and “throwback Thursday”-ing too!)
With research and time management, a small to mid-sized organization can effectively use social media as a form of content marketing. This is all, of course, in theory as I have no real-life experience to go off of. Just what I’ve read and what I studied in school so. I really shouldn’t discredit myself at the end of the entry but I am horrible at conclusions. I have been reading a lot of advocacy for content marketing through social media and not enough on the benefits of using Facebook and Twitter as two separate marketing touchpoints with a non-profit perspective. So I hope this will inspire more to think and not sync, and not only use social media effectively but also get more return on investment.
Let me know if you have any questions/comments or a topic you would like me to cover either below or @andreayhuang on Twitter.