Choosing the Right Format for Your Content (or How to Be More Like Beyoncé)

We’ve all heard the expression ‘content is king’. It’s Digital Marketing 101. What many forget though is that means quality content – and it’s not just Google that’s cracking down on irrelevant noise. The social platforms, of which Facebook is at the forefront, are constantly improving their algorithms to ensure we only see content that’s not just interesting and relevant, but also nicely displayed and easy to access. At the end of the day, Facebook et al want people to use their platforms, and while content may be King, UX is Beyoncé; i.e. way more highly regarded and influential on our day-to-day lives.

Just like Beyoncé, the social networks are constantly innovating to find new ways make people take notice (I’ll stop the analogy here). Formats like Facebook Canvas and Instagram Stories are constantly appearing to help make your content stand out and be heard above the noise. Which is fantastic, and we should all be taking advantage of it. But, like Beyoncé’s  surprise release of Formation (not sorry), the content must fit the delivery.

So, once you’ve got something worth saying, choose a format that will best convey the message.

Facebook Canvas

 Good for: Storytelling, exploring a subject, visual interest

Bad for: Showcasing different elements of your brand

Canvas is fun to use, and there have been some great examples from the likes of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Bentley’s ‘Look Closer’ campaign. What these have in common however is that they’re telling a story. While you can incorporate lots of elements (video, 360 etc), the point of a Canvas is that it’s a whole experience that you move through and explore, not a sum of several parts.

Don’t make a Canvas for the sake of it. If you want to display a gallery, do it another way.

Carousel

 

Good for: Showcasing different products, ranges or elements of your brand, Retargeting

Bad for: Generic brand messages

Again, carousels are visually interesting and stand out from the feed, but they should serve a purpose. While the carousel as a whole should fit together, the individual elements should link to different, relevant pages. If someone clicks on a specific image it’s because that’s what they’re interested in – it shouldn’t go to a generic page where they then have to search again. It’s also great for retargeting. We’ve all had ASOS or someone similar hit us with a carousel of products we added to our basket and never bought – and we’ve probably all gone back for another look because of it.

The exception is if you’re creating a carousel as an awesome, outside-the-box design piece. That exception goes for any format though.

Live Video

Good for: Engagement, Brand Awareness, Injecting some personality into your brand

Bad for: Improv.

Live video gets great reach, but should not be taken on lightly. If something great is happening that’s relevant to your brand, yes! Get it on air! But remember you can’t take it back. Make sure you know where it’s going – you don’t want to be streaming something that suddenly turns offensive or damaging to your brand.

If it’s a planned live broadcast, script and rehearse it. Plan your angles, know what you need and have it ready. Live’s appeal is that it feels more authentic; it’s in the moment and is naturally less polished, but that’s no excuse to be sloppy.

Snapchat

Good for: Building brand personality, Storytelling

Bad for: Anyone over 30

Snapchat is really, really, fun and I see why everyone wants to use it. But, you should consider your audience. Snapchat’s demographic is younger than most, and if your audience doesn’t fit this you may just be wasting content and budget.

Static Image

Good for: CTR, Conversions

Bad for: Storytelling, Engaging your audience

With all the fancy new formats, a single image can seem a little dull. But you know what? Sometimes it’s all you need. For sparking interest and a good click through rate, it pays to keep it simple.

Video

Good for: Engagement, Storytelling, Distracting people from their jobs

Bad for: CTR, My productivity

Video might be eye-catching, but it’s better for engagement than conversions as you can’t click straight though. Ideally it should be over a certain length, and actually tell a story. Remember that people are likely to watch it without sound (at work, we’ve all done it), so add captions if they’re needed to impart the message.

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