"What Should I Post On My Brand's Social Media Pages?"
I get asked all the time, “what should I post on my brand’s social media Pages?” The answer is simple: make sure your posts inspire goodwill.
Long term, creating posts that inspire goodwill towards your brand are far more valuable than posting frequent advertisements promoting your business. Here’s why: self-promotional content will almost always receive less engagement than content that aligns with your target audience’s causes and interests. Lower engagement leads to reduced reach, and fewer organic followers. (To learn more about how this works, see my article How to Build and Maintain Your Brand’s Social Capital on Facebook and Instagram.) From a product standpoint, the best practice is clear: reserve your promotional messages for paid ads.
Cool, Mike, so how do you inspire goodwill? That answer is community-specific. All brands and businesses exist to serve communities. Auto body shops serve town locals; hotels serve travelers; musicians serve genre-lovers; and gay bars serve the LGBT community.
Here are my top five suggestions for creating goodwill:
Pick a cause or social issue that aligns with your target audience. Wield your brand’s influence to enact change. ‘Mission first, profit second’ is far more attractive to consumers than ‘profit first.’ Cause marketing is highly effective, just ask the folks at RightCause, a cause marketing firm.
Be vulnerable, within limits. People will rally behind a brand or business that is working hard to improve the lives of the community members. When my husband and I were opening a gay bar, we were honest about the obstacles we faced due to homophobia. We received an outpouring of support when we explained how we planned to overcome them.
Be personal: share the stories of your employees, customers (with permission), and community impact. People are more inclined to support people than faceless businesses.
Speak the language of your target audience by using similar etiquette across Facebook and/or Instagram. People want to see cool brands succeed. Social etiquette has evolved significantly over the past two decades.
Post only when it adds value; don’t post simply because you haven’t posted in a while. Social media magnate Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice to Stanford business school students was to post as it feels natural. If it always feels like work coming up with things to say, it’s always going to feel like work. Some people are natural public communicators, and some are not. Don’t force yourself into a schedule; either do what feels natural to you, or designate someone else to post on your behalf.
There is tangible monetary value in building goodwill, though it may be impossible to prove the exact amount of lift, because brand awareness can be so upstream of making a purchase. However, think of it this way: the decision to support with a brand or business is quite similar to how people decide to spend time with an acquaintance. If the acquaintance (read: brand) is off-putting, we avoid that person (or brand). If the acquaintance seems to be aligned with my values and always has something unique, interesting, or entertaining to say, then I’m likely to put in more effort. Give people more reason to put effort into supporting your brand, and you will reap the long-term benefits.
For more insight into what you should post on social media, check out this complementary article: Using Data to Optimize What You Post on Social Media.
Michael Wright is a social media marketing/advertising consultant and former Facebook/Instagram employee. At Facebook, he built and managed the ads and business training curriculum for the internal sales and marketing teams.