With the changes on Facebook algorithm, it has become increasingly difficult for marketers to reach and engage with their target audience.
Since earlier this year, the number of interactions of photos and link posts has been on a decline. In June 2016, Facebook announced a change in their algorithm to favour posts in newsfeeds that come from friends and family members over fan pages by brands and publishers. Two months later, they announced another change to marginalize clickbait stories and keep the newsfeed reader-centric.
However, this doesn’t mean that social-media marketers should give up on organic content strategy. Rather, they should figure out how to get regular users who are many ‘friends and families’ to share and engage with their content.
Here are five useful tips that can help marketers create content that users will share and interact with.
1. Be personable and appeal to emotions
The first important ingredient of great content is that it can create connections and empathy between the content and the content consumer. In general, most people are only interested in things they can relate to. They will share things that make them think, “This is so true and related to my experience”.
A great example of this would be the highly popular posts you see on Thought Catalog, which often achieve virality because others can relate to them.
Besides being relatable, it is also important to evoke strong emotions. For instance, videos that have gone viral all over Asia include the tear-inducing ones created by advertising agencies in Thailand and Petronas' famous holiday films. These videos often tug at the heartstrings of their readers and also relate to the experiences they have in their romantic lives, friendships and family.
Besides sadness and warmth, other emotions that can trigger sharing and interactions include righteous anger, surprise and humour.
2. Help people gain social currency
Social currency is the idea that people who engage on social-media sites do so to enhance their own identity, status, or recognition. In other words, people consciously shape their online persona by the types of things they share. If they wish to look good in front of their peers (which most people do), then they share content which helps them with this.
Marketers can try to create content that helps users to tell others about themselves. For instance, this highly viral post “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy” achieved a total of 803,000 shares on Facebook because it helped many millennials express their perspective, experiences and struggles which they found hard to articulate. Sharing this post gave them a quick way to express the views they agree strongly with. Another way would be for marketers to create quizzes that help users to define who they are and share it with others.
Besides telling others about themselves, users of social media often want to look good and showcase their values or how kind or smart they are. To appeal to this instinct, get your audience involved in a social cause or opinion. People want and expect content they can discuss, and the more this is true, the more your content will get shared.
Another way to help your users with their social currency is to create content that others find useful and valuable to their lives and understanding of the world. One of the tools I use is Quora, which helps me identify questions which many people often ponder and are curious about but do not necessarily voice out.
This helped me craft one of my most successful articles ever, which has more than 24,800 shares and is still contributing significantly to my site traffic today.
3. Focus on your delivery
According to Kissmetrics, the optimal number of words for an article on Facebook is 2000 to 2500. These articles get an average of 7,847 shares, 15 percent greater than articles with 0 to 500 words and 24 percent greater than articles with 500 to 1000 words. Many marketers and publishers know this and often try to generate long-from content.
However, one key aspect they often neglect is delivery. Some actionable tips you can take to improve the reader experience include:
- Subheadings: Remember to use subheadings, especially for long-form articles. And make them larger and bolder to differentiate them from the rest of your text. This is not only great for SEO but also helps you to cater to the short attention span of readers by quickly drawing their attention to the main points of the article.
- Write in simple words to cater to short attention spans: Keep your sentences short and as easy to understand as possible. Always replace a difficult word with a simple one. As Lee Kuan Yew once said “What I want to discuss is the importance of simple, clear, written English. Do not try to impress by big words. Impress by the clarity of your ideas.”
- Beautiful visuals: When writing long-form content, do try to include stunning visuals in every few paragraphs. This helps your audience visualize what you are trying to say and maintain attention on your article. Some websites I use to get great free and stunning visuals include canva; stocksnap.io and Comp Fight.
4. Learn from the best
When it comes to organic content, the best way to learn quickly, besides learning from your own past performance, is to learn from the success of others.
There are several content aggregators that collect top-performing content. At Socialbakers, we use InspirationPRO to help us search and learn from the top performing content for a specific keyword on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This can also be filtered by content type; industry and country.
What I personally find useful when scrolling through Facebook and Instagram for ideas is to keep a library of high-quality content and look back upon these as forms of inspiration when I need to use them again.
5. You don’t lose anything by asking
Last but not least, don’t forget to ask your audience to like and share. In every post, I often ask my readers to like and share my content if it resonates with them. Besides helping in social shares, this also gives me feedback to improve on my posts or replicate what I have done in future posts.
If you prefer to be more subtle, I would recommend you to use floating share buttons. I personally use the ones from Sumo.Me and opt for Facebook and Whatsapp buttons given that these two platforms are the top social networks in Singapore.
I often feel that social media is really a combination of not only an understanding of marketing but also psychology, user experience and knowing what the best tools are. Once you have a good combination of all these, you’re set to succeed in the social-media world.
Jeraldine Phneah is a regional Account Manager at Socialbakers.