The Illusion of Social Media Content Consumption

By Guest Comment


Have you ever published a piece of content that was meant to inspire, but then angered people? Social media is tricky. And as the platform evolves, so does its users. There is no telling how consumers will react and respond to content, if they react or respond at all.

The truth about content consumption on social media can hurt. Just when you thought your content marketing strategies are working, given that you are publishing consistently, they’re not. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of American adults are active on social media, according to Pew Research Center.

The number cuts across age, gender, and social status. It also cuts across interests, preference, or orientation. Content marketers can control their content, when and what they publish, but they can’t control behavior. This is why audience or market profiling is very important. Marketers must at least know what these behaviors are and what triggers them so that they strategize their digital marketing efforts more efficiently.

Are likes enough? Do they read your blog or browse through them? Does your content inspire them to act? Are they engaged by your content or are you just being seen-zoned? How do your audiences really consume your content?

Here’s a rundown of how consumers behave and consume your content. The way they consume reflects just how efficient and relevant your social media marketing strategies are. Are they consuming your content the way you want them to?

Read vs. Browse

On the average, you only got 15 seconds to capture someone’s attention on the web. A study by Tony Haile of Chartbeat found that 55 percent of visitors just spend 15 seconds in a website. In short, people are not reading content. Most just scroll, browse, and scan. Do not assume that once a person clicked on your link then that person would read everything you produced. Clicks and browsing may be a good first step but it should not end there.

What happens in between clicks is becoming increasingly important. Hook them up with intriguing, emotionally-charged, and timely headlines to get them reading past the title. Engage them with a photo that is both relevant and captivating. Call to action must be present in the first few sentences.

Engagement vs. Seen-zone

We are all going through some sort of data explosion. In Facebook alone, users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content every day. About 220,000 photos are uploaded on Instagram, YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video content, and email users send over 200 million messages. How will you stand out with this incredible explosion of information?

The impact of social media marketing strategy to your brand is undeniable. However, it is not enough to publish content regularly. Users have too many options now and your content could just end up getting seen-zoned. You must be able to engage your audience and make sure that they can actually relate to what you are feeding them. One way to do this is to know who your audience is: what are their interests, what they like, what they need, what gets them to act, etc. Go beyond bio-data information and really get to know them. Your social media marketing strategies must be anchored on the behavior and personality of your audience so that no content ends up seen-zoned.

Action vs. Shares

Shares are a big leap from traffic, clicks, and likes. When someone shares your content, it  means connections of one user also got to see your content. Shareability of content is a main driver towards becoming viral. However, even shares may not be enough.

For example, you are a design company offering layout services of condos or apartments. Some of your content got shared over a hundred times. But is the phone ringing? Are people really taking notice? Are you receiving more inquiries? Are you gaining more clients?

Expanding your client base and improving profit are common goals in content marketing. The difference is maybe on what you sell: traditional marketing sells products, content marketing sells ideas. Like in this case, you don’t sell the designs but the idea of living in a professionally-designed home. It’s basically advertising but much less annoying.

If you are at a golden point of gaining a lot of shares, seize the opportunity. Publish more quality content regularly and consistently. Answer questions and queries faster and more efficiently. Package your content in an easy-to-share and easy-to-consume format. Timing matters, too. This is why it is important that you know who your audience is so that you know what time they are at work, at home, sleeping, or most active on social media. Sponsored posts are a big hit these days and you might also want to explore that possibility.

Relevance vs. Virality


Photo courtesy of Kempton via Flickr

So now, you got the clicks, the shares, and your content has gone viral. Is that enough? For the awareness you want for your brand, maybe. But think long-term. Digital marketing evolves as fast as technology does. Every day, thousands of content go viral. But the question is relevance. Is your content something that can just make people laugh and then forget all about it?

Prioritize value over viral. What is the value of what you are trying to say? What is the value in your content? Make a topic contagious even if it is utterly boring by adding a current events hook. Present it neatly and include relevant visuals. Remember that Oreo viral tweet about “dunking in the dark” during a Super Bowl blackout? Such pieces of content are more than viral but more importantly relevant. Their timing is perfect and their message is clear.

Digital marketing trends may evolve, but the role that social media plays will not change anytime soon. If at all, it will just be more apparent. Social media can make or unmake a brand so do not just treat it as a tool but a partner in sending your messages across.

Kimberly Grimms is a Social Media Today writer. Follow her @KimberlyGrimms.