A Modern Guide to Social Media Content Marketing, Part 1: Introduction

Personalized experiences are practically gospel now, and content marketing should be no different.

This is the first installment in a five-part series of articles focusing on best practices to up your content marketing game on the “big four” platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Stay tuned for future installments and share your own favorite tips in the comments.

Today’s consumer has the luxury of an abundance of choice, but it wasn’t that long ago when options were limited. Even in recent memory, there was a time when there were only three television networks, one phone company and one type of coffee (it was called “coffee”).

To today’s younger consumers, this may sound like some bleak, dystopian past. There is no longer any cultural or economic cue telling people to accept a one-size-fits-all format. And the more choices consumers have, the harder it is to be loyal to one brand. So why are businesses still offering only one content strategy to reach their diverse audience of consumers?

Social media’s mark on marketing

Consumer habits are always evolving, but the advent of social media has transformed the marketing landscape in its relatively short existence faster and more drastically than any time before. Personalized experiences are practically gospel now, and content marketing should be no different.

The good news is that when you deliver customized advertising content, consumers are willing to respond. According to research conducted by Forrester Research, 51 percent of retailers surveyed said that investment in personalization led to an increase in site conversion.

It’s not that marketers didn’t see the value in personalization in the past, but before social media, the channels available to marketers were simply too inflexible to develop a truly personalized campaign.

If you advertised in a newspaper, for example, you may have been able to choose between a city and suburban edition, but that was the extent of it. Now, marketers have a direct line to practically every one of their consumers across multiple different platforms.

Real personalization is about evoking a positive, emotional reaction, which helps build brand loyalty. Every customer interaction is an opportunity to build and strengthen this relationship.

In an age of instant gratification where everything is at our fingertips, consumers also expect this when it comes to customer service. Today’s consumers aren’t picking up the phone to call a customer-service hotline; they’re on social and they expect brands to be there, too. It’s quickly becoming the go-to spot for fast, personalized customer service.

Chat bots such as those for Alexa, Facebook Messenger and countless others are here to stay and poised to play a major role in customer engagement going forward, thanks to their ability to handle a deluge of customer interactions in a snap.

Understanding the modern consumer

All stakeholders, from marketing to sales to customer service, need to understand the diverse needs of the modern consumer. Millennials often get a bad rap about being antisocial and unable to make eye contact because they’re too busy playing on their phones.

But just because life is being lived on a screen to an extent more than ever doesn’t mean this generation is disengaged. Everything from casual chat to crucial conversations takes place on social media, and it happens quickly and spreads exponentially.

As millennials get older and gain greater buying power, they’re teaching other generations a few things about using technology throughout the customer journey. In fact, 83 percent of millennials sleep with cell phones nearby, according to Pew Research, so the start of a potential customer’s journey is rarely more than an arm’s length away. And a recent BI Intelligence report projects that mobile commerce will make up 45 percent of total e-commerce by 2020.

The modern consumer does their own research on their own terms before deciding to buy, and they’re using tools like social media, Google, blogs, ebooks, e-newsletters, online reviews and more to learn about brands. They may have a short attention span (Microsoft found that the average human attention span has fallen to around eight seconds–less than that of a goldfish), but they’re willing to do the research and are open to new ideas.

The future installments in this series will dive deeper into best practices for getting the most out of your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram content marketing strategies and shed some light on what the future of these platforms may hold.

In the long term, effective social media teams build an infrastructure that is greater than the sum of its parts. Continued social listening offers advanced warning on market changes and new trends. Personalized content allows for experiments and texting. A better understanding of the entire customer lifecycle helps maximize value over the entire relationship.

Next up: Twitter.

Ulrik Bo Larsen is founder and CEO of social media management software-as-a-service platform Falcon.io.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock.