Social Content –
The Next
Chapter

9 article number 9

The New Era of Social Content

Caitlin Mitchell Elizabeth Weinstein

We’ve been living in a world where social media managers don’t sleep. We are constantly looking for the next real-time trend, pumping out monthly content calendars, and thinking that social media revolves around our brands.

Because of this, a lot of brands have lowered the bar on social content and have not been very strategic. Let’s be honest with ourselves, just because it’s National Puppy Day doesn’t mean that your brand, which has nothing to do with puppies, needs to create a social post with your product and a puppy next to it. The bright side is that 2017 is going to be a much better world where we are going to do more with less, make a bigger impact, put the strategy back into social content, and finally see social media grow up.

With the updated algorithms and the shift to paid posts, we need to change how we approach social content in 2017. How brands and agencies have historically thought of organic content in a monthly calendar will no longer be true. We will start to redefine what it means to create high-quality content with a proper balance of media spend and production budgets. Additionally, community management shouldn’t be overlooked in the content creation process.

The Algorithm Era

Let’s start with the landscape and the facts. Social networks are fundamentally going to protect the user experience first and foremost. It is impossible for them to serve all content to their entire user bases. That business model will not work. Therefore, Facebook and other channels have figured out how to monetize their platforms and protect the user experience by decreasing reach and developing algorithms to serve only the most relevant content to its user bases. In fact, brands are pouring more dollars into paid social to ensure their posts are reaching their desired target audiences. In 2017, social network ad spending will represent 24.4 percent of marketers’ total digital ad spending, up from 19.8 percent in 2016.

We couldn’t live in the golden era forever, could we? So, marketers, let’s take a deep breath and accept it; we live in an algorithm world where paid rules. The average person is eligible to see up to 1,500 pieces of content every single day with the attention span of less than 8 seconds. This means that as brands, we have to break through the clutter, and it’s not going to happen every day. Throw out your monthly content calendars and start planning for breakthrough creative with proper paid support. Be strategic about the “right-time” topics you go after, and make sure you are truly adding value to the social space rather than just adding clutter. We must be responsible marketers and ensure that there is always a balance between the media budget and the production budget. What a shame it would be to produce an awesome piece of content that nobody sees.

Responsible Marketers Creating Organic Content, Why?

Although the landscape has changed and it’s a paid world, some of the best-in-class brands are still churning out their monthly content calendars. We took a look at some of the best-in-class brands in social media and analyzed their monthly cadence. The chart shows that these brands are posting on average 76 times a month on social media, most of which is organic content.

Top brands post organic social content upwards of 76 times a month.

Additionally, a recent study found that 80 percent of the public content on top branded pages on Facebook is posted without paid support.

Sounds like we haven’t really accepted that paid social is the new norm.

Is Organic Content Really Dead?

Yes and no.

First, let’s start with the yes. Organic content cannot help your brand to gain free mass reach, nor will it create a viral real-time moment. The days of the “Oreo Blackout” are long gone. You need to plan for content to take off, not just bet on it to take off. Facebook was the first channel to adopt a pay-to-play approach, and the average brand is reaching just 1-3 percent of its Facebook audience. As other platforms shift to a paid approach, we will continue to see the Facebook model be implemented across the board. Facebook took a winding road to get to where it is today, while frustrating a lot of marketers in the process. Newer and upcoming channels, such as Snapchat, are looking to monetize from the get-go and aren’t playing the organic game.

Now let’s talk about the no: Why organic content might still have a role for your brand. As marketers, we need to ask ourselves some really hard questions about our brands to determine if your time and resources are worth doing organic content:

  • Do people talk about your brand without you first starting the conversation?
  • Do you have an engaged audience on social media?
  • When you look at your monthly content calendars, are people getting value out of everything that you are posting? Or is it just to check a box?
  • If your brand were to go dark on social, would you be missed?

If you answered yes to those questions, you are probably a passion brand and you should be approaching social a little bit differently. Passion brands’ organic content can be reaching a small group of people that matter. These are likely the loyal consumers who have a connection with your brand and want to hear from you. Does this mean you need to churn out monthly content calendars? No. It means that you need to have a strategic approach on how to engage your loyal fans.

Social media is a living, breathing technology platform that changes daily. Organic content also allows for brands to test new opportunities in technology with minimal investment. There’s never been a better platform for taking risks and trying new things. We should encourage the right kind of failures from brands and learn from each other. Over the past year, we have seen updates such as Facebook Live and Instagram Stories that could not have been taken advantage of with paid content. Organically, taking advantage of these moments allows for you to understand what really works for your brand and what doesn’t, before you make a bigger investment.

Community Management Is Not Organic, It’s a Must-Have

The role of social is fundamentally changing to be a media outlet, but we must remember the foundation it was built upon and what it can help brands achieve in their marketing strategies. Social media was the first time in advertising history where consumers could talk back to brands in real time. As we shift to more of a paid approach on social media, we can’t forget that people are in its roots. It’s about being social.

As we shift to this paid-only approach, we have to be careful not to start using social as a microphone similar to the TV model. We must protect that two-way conversation that is such an integral part of social media. Community management is often put in a silo that is separate from content efforts, when in fact it is a key part of creating relevant and impactful content. A community manager is a strategic position, and it is someone who is gaining daily insights from consumers and understanding what they care about. This insight should not be overlooked, and it can help to impact larger strategies and business decisions.

Key Takeaways for Creating Social Content in 2017

In 2017, social media buys are going to look a lot like TV. On the bright side, social media is growing up and deserving of a mass audience and media spend. But let’s keep what we love about social and why it took off. Let’s be honest, we’re all better than national “whatever” day. This year, the quality of content, the strategy behind it, and the media spend are going to make brands better than ever on social media.

When creating social content in 2017, here are three things to keep in mind:

  • Do more with less to make a big splash in social media.
    • What are your big moments this year?
    • Do you have the proper budget for production and media?
    • Is the budget between production and media balanced?
    • Are you adding value or clutter to the social space?
  • Reevaluate the role of organic content in your social media strategy.
    • Are you a passion brand?
    • Are there opportunities for you to test new platform updates?
    • Is there a reason for you to be talking or are you just checking a box?
  • Treat community management as a strategic position to influence content.
    • Are you staying true to the nature of social and engaging in two-way conversations?
    • Is your community manager a strategic thinker who is gathering consumer insights to influence your strategies and content?
  • Caitlin MitchellCaitlin Mitchell

    Digital Strategy/Social Media Strategist
    Caitlin loves making connections. Person A to Person B, Company Y to Audience Z – if two parties need to meet, Caitlin’s ready with introductions. It’s no wonder, then, that she’s excited by social media. Caitlin’s energy serves her well in an online world that never seems to slow. She has put her mark on hashtags for an ever-growing number of brands, but currently focuses most of her time within the Dr Pepper Snapple Group portfolio.

  • Elizabeth WeinsteinElizabeth Weinstein

    Digital Strategy/Social Media Strategist
    Elizabeth came into social media and advertising through her deep love of sports (she’s partial to the Stars and the Rangers). Perhaps that is why she loves using her strategic skill set to create superfans for her brands in the social space. Elizabeth spends most of her time on brands within the Dr Pepper Snapple Group portfolio.

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References

  1. eMarketer.
  2. Facebook.
  3. Social Bakers.
  4. Unmetric.
  5. Watercutter, Angela. “How Oreo Won the Marketing Super Bowl With a Timely Blackout Ad on Twitter.” Wired, February 4, 2013.