There’s one unfortunate trend that keeps social media managers up at night: Organic reach is declining for brands, as most platforms shift attention to pay-to-play. However, the best way to reduce your reliance on paid social is to learn how to play the game of social first content.
Developing a social first strategy enables you to focus on creating content with your social audience in mind, rather than trying to force existing content to work within the constraints of each social channel. This gives you a better chance of increasing your reach and engagement, attracting followers, and, ultimately, influencing leads and sales. So yes, if your current content calendar is filled with off-platform content (think blogs, articles, press releases and product announcements) this means you may have a social content problem.
The solution? Make the algorithm work for you. While the algorithm is meant to filter out irrelevant content, the sheer amount of content being posted – we’re talking 9281 tweets a second – means you run the risk of posting something that doesn’t get seen. We recommend harnessing the power of the algorithm by prioritizing content that keeps audience time and attention on the social platform, which, theoretically, will lead to social platforms prioritizing your content so your audience will actually see it.
Let’s check in on the priorities of two of the most important platforms for B2B brands — Twitter and LinkedIn – so you can start playing nice with the algorithms.
While all social platforms use machine learning to rank content, Twitter admits that its reliance on machine learning has made its algorithm a mystery, even to the folks at Twitter. What they can share is that an individual’s top Tweets are based on the accounts they interact with most and the content they engage with. Twitter has also shared that content is ranked based on recency such as timely events and trends, relevancy like accounts the individual has engaged with before, and engagement based on people in the individual’s network.
To take advantage of these factors, we recommend that our clients include:
Polls: Widely debated topics that speak to your entire audience rather than a select portion are most likely to perform well since they are inclusive of what interests the widest potential audience.
Text Only Posts: Think standalone statements, as well as “call and response” posts that encourage engagement.
Images: Images are like billboards on the highway — they offer visual and easy-to-digest opportunities to grab attention mid-scroll.
Threads: Threads are a great way to repurpose long-form content like blog posts to make it social first, or to tell a story/convey a bigger idea.
LinkedIn’s algorithm ranks content based on three factors:
Personal connections and those an individual has interacted with in the past
Interest relevance such as the language of the post, affinity groups, hashtags, and people an individual follows
Engagement likely through AI evaluation and posts that saw quick engagement
We also know that relevance trumps recency on LinkedIn, which is why the default homepage feed is set to “top” posts (with the ability to switch to “recent” posts). Using hashtags, optimizing your post days and times based on when your followers are online, proactively encouraging engagement from followers, and using the “My Company” features for employees can all help get your posts seen.
It’s also a good idea to create a content strategy that aligns to the needs of your specific audience, prioritizes timely content, and utilizes the platform features (polls, documents, videos, etc). And remember — keep content on the platform whenever you can rather than driving traffic away with external links.
Video: Since video has the power to convey emotions, it’s a great tool to tell customer stories, repurpose content from webinars or live events, or to demonstrate how a new product or feature works.
Polls: Just like with Twitter Polls, LinkedIn Polls work best if you select a widely debated topic that speaks to your whole audience rather than a small subset. A handy engagement feature exclusive to LinkedIn Polls is that everyone who voted gets a notification prompting them to return to the poll to see the results after the polls close. This is where you could direct voters to a longer piece of off-platform content by commenting on the poll with a link.
Text Only: Use a short thought or sentence that packs a punch to encourage engagement.
Carousels: We have some serious carousel devotees on our social team because it is an incredibly effective tool to drive clicks and engagements, while also presenting information or telling a story in a visually appealing way. While we’ve been advocates for posting images as a PDF to hack the system and create makeshift carousels, LinkedIn is currently testing full Carousel functionality for some users. This is a great tactic to test if you are pulling information from multiple sources, or as a way to present blog content in a social first format.
Photos: Photos are a great way to elevate employees, share brand news, or highlight company culture – but avoid stock images at all costs! A personal or branded approach is much more effective and authentic.
Articles: LinkedIn Articles are blog posts that are hosted on LinkedIn instead of your website. While Articles are mostly used by personal pages, when done effectively by brands, they can be powerful thought leadership tools.
The bottom line is to work with the algorithms, not against them, to improve social performance. An organic social media strategy should focus on building community, spreading ideas and driving awareness, while your paid social media strategy can lean more heavily on demand generation goals. You will also get to know your audience better by seeing what they respond to, which will help feed your ongoing content engine.