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The Best Ways To Use Social Media in Content Marketing

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The Best Ways To Use Social Media in Content Marketing

More than half the world’s population (58.4%) uses social media. And, on any given day, people spend an average of two hours and 27 minutes on the platforms, according to research by Global WebIndex referenced by Smart Insights.

Given all those people and all that time, there’s no chance brands would ignore social media. And the experts presenting at Content Marketing World 2022 (mostly) agree they shouldn’t.

But, while the experts give a resounding yes to participating in social media, their explanations of how best to use these platforms speak volumes.

Explore these reasoned and nuanced approaches to social media to reinforce (or justify altering) your social media strategies.

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Build your brand

It’s important to recognize social media as the brand-building tool it is rather than regard it solely as a revenue-generating channel.

It can be both, but not recognizing the relationship-building power leads many companies to understaff and underinvest in it. That leads to tepid results, which leads to less investment, and so on. Setting KPIs appropriately and using the networks properly can help. – Jacqueline Baxter, senior digital strategist, DX, Sitecore

Communicate strategically

Social media is just a communication channel. There are no obligatory channels for any form of marketing (including content marketing). There are just channels better or worse suited to support your communication strategy. It all depends on your strategy. (Check out Apple’s social profiles!)

In content marketing, owned media are better-suited channels over social media or “rented land” because they allow for direct relationships with the audience, first-party data, and control over the communication. But still, social media – depending on the strategy – might be useful.

Strategy absence often induces the need to be everywhere to calm the fear of missing out: “I am not sure about strategy; therefore, I am not able to defend the decision of not using the channel.” If you cannot clearly answer why your brand should or should not be on a given social media, that’s most likely a strategy formulation problem. – Igor Bielobadek, digital marketing senior manager, Deloitte

If you can’t clearly answer why your brand should or should not be on a given #SocialMedia channel, that’s most likely a strategy formulation problem, says @igorbielo via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Develop fans

Yes, to social media for brands as long as they have the mindset of being in the market of making evangelists, not sales. But most (brands) can’t get out of their own way enough to achieve that.” – Kate Bradley Chernis, co-founder and CEO, Lately

Invest with care for B2B and B2C

Social media has much less influence on the buying decisions in B2B than people realize. It probably also has much more influence on buying decisions in consumer categories than people realize. – Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group

Join the conversations

Should brands still be involved in the daily conversation around popular culture? Ten thousand “heck yesses” and “hell yeahs,” please.

I used the term “newsjacking” in 2012 and wrote a book about it, so this topic is close to my heart. It’s important for brands to first know what’s going on. Then, they must engage with their fans in a natural way on the most appropriate channels.

I want to engage with certain brands and not others, so I get that cultural relevance’ is mission-critical. But every brand should at least have one channel where they engage in a public dialog with fans. Do it and do it well. Find out what’s working and do more of that. – Jon Burkhart, founder, TBC Global Limited

Every brand should engage with fans on at least one #SocialMedia channel, says @jonburkhart via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Prep a strategy and crisis plan

Brands need to have a solid social media strategy and crisis communication plan. Not all brands need to be on social media, and brands don’t need to post or comment on everything.

I see a lot of “national day” posts from brands trying to shoehorn into a trending hashtag. On International Women’s Day 2022, two women created a bot that replied to brands’ #InternationalWomensDay posts with publicly available gender pay disparity details. Many brands scrambled to react to the bot, causing more damage.

Posts need to align with the brand, not with what’s trending. – Penny Gralewski, senior director, product and portfolio marketing, DataRobot 

Choose the right ones

It’s essential to partner with the right social media networks for the right reasons to reach the right audiences. – Michael Bordieri, senior content solutions consultant, LinkedIn

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Create brand connections

Individuals regularly change companies (as they change jobs), which impacts the content they create and post. When the audience is connected to the brand, they are more likely to stay connected when the person behind the keyboard changes. – Ruth Carter, evil genius, Geek Law Firm

Make it personal

The people behind the brand should undoubtedly be on social media. Social media is about building a personal relationship with the people you follow (and those who follow you). It’s almost impossible to build a relationship with a brand.

So, should brands be on social media? Only if you treat the brand’s social channel like a receptionist that points you to the right people behind the brand.” – Andrew Davis, author and keynote speaker, Monumental Shift

Treat your brand’s #Social channels as the receptionist that points your audience to the people behind the brand, says @DrewDavisHere via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Be seen (strategically)

An absence on social media is noticeably suspicious. Brands should be strategic about where and how they engage. Social media is still a top channel to build and strengthen a community. – Jacquie Chakirelis, chief digital strategy officer, Quest Digital/ Great Lakes Publishing

Get discovered

Brands should absolutely be on social media from a listing standpoint. If someone is searching for your brand on social media, you want to appear legitimate by having your business data up to date. – Jane Marie Barnes, account manager, GPO

Brands should be on #SocialMedia from a listing standpoint to appear legitimate to searchers, says @the_mktg_jmb via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Do it for search

While I’m no social media pro, I view social media as important for two reasons: Google and links. From an organic search perspective, a brand’s social media posts still show up in traditional search results. Google crawls those sites like it does any other. Link to your blog and other on-site content from your social media accounts to increase the number of backlinks (one of Google’s many ranking factors). – Haley Collins, director of operations and content, GPO

Consider the platform

You can’t lump all the platforms together and call it social media. Each platform has its own intricacies, algorithm, and audience. Look at what you’re trying to achieve, where the audience you want hangs out, and then reach them in a way they want to be reached. A Twitter ad on TikTok ain’t gonna work at all. – Meg Coffey, managing director, Coffey & Tea

Tailor to the channel

Social media is important as long as the posts align with the purpose, voice, and audience of the individual channels. Too often, brands post the same content on LinkedIn as they do on Instagram. And the formal, business-like text appropriate for the former has all the appeal of someone’s parent descending the stairs to the basement rec room to join in the fun on the latter. – Diane di Costanzo, chief content officer, Foundry 360, Dotdash Meredith

Create separate strategies

Focus on the platforms where your audience is – it’s not about being everywhere. Create content that respects each platform individually. There is no such thing as a catch-all social media strategy anymore. You need a TikTok strategy, a Twitter strategy, a Facebook strategy, and so on. – Amy Woods, founder and CEO, Content 10x

There’s no such thing as a catch-all #SocialMedia strategy anymore, says @content10x via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Be where your buyers are

Your social media strategy should follow your buyer. For B2B technical companies, research shows YouTube, LinkedIn, and GitHub are go-to sources for information on technology trends, how-to information, and networking. At the same time, few engineers and technical buyers look to Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit for information.

As social channels continue to morph, marketers should stay on top of buyer behavior and constantly evaluate performance. – Wendy Covey, CEO and co-founder, TREW Marketing

Appreciate this caveat

Nearly all brands should be on social media, but only if they can effectively maintain their presence at a level that’s agreed on throughout the organization. For some, it’s a placeholder; for others, it is a constant aggressive campaign and community management vehicle. Starting the latter but not maintaining it is the main thing to avoid. – Jeff Coyle, co-founder, CSO, MarketMuse

Be human

Brands must be authentic, human, emotional, and even vulnerable. Social media is a great way to humanize your brand and engage in a two-way dialogue that builds trust and relationships.

Social media is also an essential communication channel for brands championing the social issues they care about, contributing to a dialog that improves their communities. – Mark Emond, president, Demand Spring

Tell stories

Brands should still be on social media, but people don’t connect with brands. They connect with stories and with people. The brand must tell stories that resonate, not just focus on their products. – Tim Schmoyer, founder/CEO, Video Creators

Be picky and think PR, too

Brands should absolutely be present and active on social media. The mistake is trying to be active on every social media platform. That can be overwhelming and unnecessary. Where is your audience spending time? Answer that question first, then make every effort to be active there. And by “active,” I don’t mean simply posting. Engage with your followers. Answer questions. Participate in discussions.

Also, if a brand wants to do a PR push, I always suggest making sure their social media presence is up to date. Reporters check that out when considering a company to include in a piece. If they find you haven’t posted or engaged in six months (or longer), that’s a signal there may not be much happening with your brand.

Also, for media relations purposes, brands should be active on Twitter. They can follow journalists and media outlets they’re interested in – and if those media outlets cover them, they can share the coverage and tag the publication and the journalist. – Michelle Garrett, consultant, Garrett Public Relations

For #PR and media relations, follow relevant journalists and media outlets on @Twitter, says @PRisUs via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Help franchisees

Quality social media posts can breed loyalty and trust within your customer base. Plus, as a franchise brand, it gives local franchise owners the opportunity to localize the message for their audience. – Brittany Graff, senior director of marketing, Painting with a Twist

Publish on one, listen to all

Social media channels are still critical for a range of content marketing needs, including content distribution, community engagement, and competitive insights. However, not every brand has the resources or need to invest in every social media channel.

Focus on posting on one or two primary channels for your audience and conduct social listening across all channels to capture insights your customers share. A social media audit is a smart way to learn how you perform on any specific channel and set a strategy to achieve your goals. – Erika Heald, founder, lead consultant, Erika Heald Marketing Consulting

Post on the one or two primary #SocialMedia channels your audience uses the most. But listen across all channels, says @SFerika via @CMIContent #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Do it better

I’d love to see more brands own conversations that matter, not mired in metrics of product nonsense. If you’re a company that knows people are nervous about the recession and change, talk about uncertainty and what that means. Talk about it openly, honestly, with humor.” – Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder, Keeping it Human

Make it drive time

Promote your content on social media and drive viewers to the published content on your site. Also, engage directly with their consumers on social media, monitoring its channels and reacting to user questions and concerns. – Brian Piper, director of content strategy and assessment, University of Rochester

Connect with customers

Having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can provide better customer service and can create a community for the audience. – Katie Tweedy, associate director of content marketing and SEO, Collective Measures

Proceed deliberately and evaluate regularly

We’ll leave this discussion with this concluding thought shared by Nancy Harhut, CCO, HBT Marketing: “If a brand once enjoyed success on social but now finds that their constituents have moved on, it may be time for the brand to do so, too.”

The takeaway from all this great advice is simple: Stay on social media if your audience falls into the 58% of the world’s population who are there.

But being there is not enough. Your brand better have a strategy that considers all the roles social media plays in your organization.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

The world survived the first three months of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

But what are marketers doing now? Did your brand follow the shift Dennis Shiao made for his personal brand? As he recently shared, he switched his primary platform from Twitter to LinkedIn after the 2022 ownership change. (He still uses Twitter but posts less frequently.)

Are those brands that altered their strategy after the new ownership maintaining that plan? What impact do Twitter’s service changes (think Twitter Blue subscriptions) have?

We took those questions to the marketing community. No big surprise? Most still use Twitter. But from there, their responses vary from doing nothing to moving away from the platform.

Lowest points

At the beginning of the Elon era, more than 500 big-name advertisers stopped buying from the platform. Some (like Amazon and Apple) resumed their buys before the end of 2022. Brand accounts’ organic activity seems similar.

In November, Emplifi research found a 26% dip in organic posting behavior by U.S. and Canadian brands the week following a significant spike in the negative sentiment of an Elon tweet. But that drop in posting wasn’t a one-time thing.

Kyle Wong, chief strategy officer at Emplifi, shares a longer analysis of well-known fast-food brands. When comparing December 2021 to December 2022 activity, the brands posted 74% less, and December was the least active month of 2022.

Fast-food brands posted 74% less on @Twitter in December 2022 than they did in December 2021, according to @emplifi_io analysis via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

When Emplifi analyzed brand accounts across industries (2,330 from U.S. and Canada and 6,991 elsewhere in the world), their weekly Twitter activity also fell to low points in November and December. But by the end of the year, their activity was inching up.

“While the percentage of brands posting weekly is on the rise once again, the number is still lower than the consistent posting seen in earlier months,” Kyle says.

Quiet-quitting Twitter

Lacey Reichwald, marketing manager at Aha Media Group, says the company has been quiet-quitting Twitter for two months, simply monitoring and posting the occasional link. “It seems like the turmoil has settled down, but the overall impact of Twitter for brands has not recovered,” she says.

@ahamediagroup quietly quit @Twitter for two months and saw their follower count go up, says Lacey Reichwald via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

She points to their firm’s experience as a potential explanation. Though they haven’t been posting, their follower count has gone up, and many of those new follower accounts don’t seem relevant to their topic or botty. At the same time, Aha Media saw engagement and follows from active accounts in the customer segment drop.

Blue bonus

One change at Twitter has piqued some brands’ interest in the platform, says Dan Gray, CEO of Vendry, a platform for helping companies find agency partners to help them scale.

“Now that getting a blue checkmark is as easy as paying a monthly fee, brands are seeing this as an opportunity to build thought leadership quickly,” he says.

Though it remains to be seen if that strategy is viable in the long term, some companies, particularly those in the SaaS and tech space, are reallocating resources to energize their previously dormant accounts.

Automatic verification for @TwitterBlue subscribers led some brands to renew their interest in the platform, says Dan Gray of Vendry via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

These reenergized accounts also are seeing an increase in followers, though Dan says it’s difficult to tell if it’s an effect of the blue checkmark or their renewed emphasis on content. “Engagement is definitely up, and clients and agencies have both noted the algorithm seems to be favoring their content more,” he says.

New horizon

Faizan Fahim, marketing manager at Breeze, is focused on the future. They’re producing videos for small screens as part of their Twitter strategy. “We are guessing soon Elon Musk is going to turn Twitter into TikTok/YouTube to create more buzz,” he says. “We would get the first moving advantage in our niche.”

He’s not the only one who thinks video is Twitter’s next bet. Bradley Thompson, director of marketing at DigiHype Media and marketing professor at Conestoga College, thinks video content will be the next big thing. Until then, text remains king.

“The approach is the same, which is a focus on creating and sharing high-quality content relevant to the industry,” Bradley says. “Until Twitter comes out with drastically new features, then marketing and managing brands on Twitter will remain the same.

James Coulter, digital marketing director at Sole Strategies, says, “Twitter definitely still has a space in the game. The question is can they keep it, or will they be phased out in favor of a more reliable platform.”

Interestingly given the thoughts of Faizan and Bradley, James sees businesses turning to video as they limit their reliance on Twitter and diversify their social media platforms. They are now willing to invest in the resource-intensive format given the exploding popularity of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other short-form video content.

“We’ve seen a really big push on getting vendors to help curate video content with the help of staff. Requesting so much media requires building a new (social media) infrastructure, but once the expectations and deliverables are in place, it quickly becomes engrained in the weekly workflow,” James says.

What now

“We are waiting to see what happens before making any strong decisions,” says Baruch Labunski, CEO at Rank Secure. But they aren’t sitting idly by. “We’ve moved a lot of our social media efforts to other platforms while some of these things iron themselves out.”

What is your brand doing with Twitter? Are you stepping up, stepping out, or standing still? I’d love to know. Please share in the comments.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.

“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.

“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.

Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.

How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.

In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.

“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.

“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.

The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.

Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms

What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).

Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.

One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.

Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”

Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.

“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.

But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.

“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”

Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”

Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.

“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”

Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”

Dig deeper: Failure to get the most out of data clean rooms is costing marketers money


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