This could give you some helpful notes and inspiration for your social media strategy.
Last year, Facebook launched a new brand tips series called ‘Social Skills’ in which it interviewed social media leads from several big brands to get their key advice on generating engagement.
Social Skills is now back for season 2, with the first two episodes now available online. The second episode in the new season looks at Bark – the makers of ‘BarkBox’ – and how it’s driven huge numbers with its social posts.
There are some great tips – here are three of the key notes from Bark’s Alexis Nelson.
Tailor content for each platform
This should really go without saying by now, but every social platform is different, and the audience on each will open that specific app with a different intent. In general, people may be looking to be entertained or informed, but the actual delivery, via content style, trends and approach is different. People don’t come to TikTok with the same mindset as Facebook.
As an example, Facebook says that the Bark team use Facebook to dive deeper into topics through blog-style posts, while on Instagram, they focus more on “sharing visuals that excite and inspire with short, but sweet, post captions”.
Leverage user-generated content
UGC can be a key tool in building community, generating engagement, and activating your social media presence in a range of ways.
Used well, UGC enables you to acknowledge your most passionate and dedicated fans, which can help to strengthen their connection to your brand and products, and see them advocate on your behalf to their own network. That can have a compounding effect, and it’s worth considering how you can acknowledge your most enthusiastic supporters to build on your efforts.
Facebook notes that Bark has established a system to help them easily identify and share their customers’ most engaging posts.
“Behind this system is a hashtag strategy that encourages customers to include the #barkbox hashtag when posting content. Since starting the hashtag, it’s been mentioned over 4 million times on Instagram alone.”
That provides a constant flow of new, brand-aligned posts and content, which Bark can re-purpose as needed, fulfilling both content and community-building purpose.
Of course, Bark is at an advantage here, given its popularity and subject matter (Nelson notes that the #BarkBox hashtag sees thousands of posts each month). But still, it’s worth considering how you can make the most of UGC to boost your presence.
Create memorable moments
This is one of the areas that Bark has truly excelled in – and its idea is not some big-budget, high-concept strategy that can only be executed by big brands.
As explained by Facebook:
“Every year, the company launches a social campaign to make it seem as if their Facebook and Instagram accounts have been hacked by every dog’s biggest enemy: the neighborhood squirrel. Between the engaging content and playful messaging, this year’s campaign helped generate over 6 million impressions on Instagram and a bump in subscriptions.”
As you can see here, for a set period of time each year, Bark posts a series of updates from seemingly aggressive squirrels, who demand food via the Bark social accounts.
It’s simple, funny – and importantly, it’s repeatable, giving Bark ongoing content, year after year, iterating on the theme.
Of course, Bark, again, benefits from being a brand that’s already aligned with something that brings joy – this approach wouldn’t work for, say, a bank. But the idea is that through even a simple, playful thematic shift, you can generate buzz about your brand, and inspire engagement and sharing.
It’s not necessarily easy to come up with something so shareable, but maybe, by thinking through common elements, you could come up with a similar campaign approach for your business.
These are some good notes, and while they won’t all work for every business right away, they do provide some food for thought for your strategic thinking.
Meta Announces WhatsApp Cloud API to Provide Hosting Support for SMBs
After previewing the option back in 2020, today, at its first-ever ‘Conversations’ messaging conference, Meta has announced that it’s launching the WhatsApp Cloud API, which will provide free, secure cloud hosting services for businesses.
As it sounds, the WhatsApp Cloud API will essentially host your conversation data on Meta’s servers, which will improve connection and speed, but will come with a degree of privacy trade-off.
The main benefits will be improved speed in messaging response, while it’ll also help to eliminate server expenses, which could be a big benefit to smaller businesses, in particular. It’ll also facilitate faster access to new WhatsApp business features as they become available.
The downside is that it will mean more reliance on Meta, while you’ll also need to dilute WhatsApp’s messaging security measures:
As Meta described in its original announcement:
“If a business chooses to use a third-party vendor to operate the WhatsApp Business API on their behalf, we do not consider that to be end-to-end encrypted since the business you are messaging has chosen to give a third-party vendor access to those messages. This will also be the case if that third-party vendor is Facebook.”
As such, WhatsApp will include new notifications on consumer-to-business exchanges conducted through Meta hosting.
How you feel about such trade-offs will come down to your personal perspective, but the offering could be highly valuable for smaller businesses looking to build out their tech stack, without having to sign on to a third-party hosting vendor, or buy their own hardware.
But again, that does also mean increasing your reliance on Meta, which has notoriously changed the rules on businesses in the past, leaving many in the lurch.
The real benefit, however, will likely be in developing regions, where WhatsApp is the dominant messaging platform, and many small businesses are looking for ways to maximize their reach and transactions in-app. If Meta can assist them in building their business, that could be a big step in making WhatsApp a more critical utility, for many more users, while also, eventually, providing a direct revenue pathway for the messaging platform.
Though it does feel like a bit of a honey trap. Meta has already flagged that it will eventually introduce charges for these additional elements, without specifically outlining what those costs will be. Once businesses are reliant on such, it’ll be too late to back out, and Meta could ensnare them via incremental increases, that may eventually become a big earner for the company.
On another front, Meta also announced Recurring Notifications on Messenger, which will enable businesses to re-engage people within a messaging thread. The feature is only available to premium users at present, which doesn’t cost more to be part of right now, but will in future as Meta looks to incorporate new charges for its messaging and hosting tools.
You can check out replays of the Conversations conference presentations here.
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