How do you make social media content less boring?

Our mantra is “Breaking the Social Boring”, so when we heard Onalytica was hosting a webinar on just that, we had to take part.

As part of an Onalytica expert community series, we joined a group of social media experts to explore how to create less boring content. Our own CEO Katy Howell joined Stephen Hunton, Vice President, Social Strategy & Content Experience at IBM and Anita Veszeli, Director of Social Media and Advocacy at Ericsson, with the session moderated by Tim Williams, CEO, Onalytica.

Let’s check out the major takeaways from the discussion:

Setting the scene

Tim quickly outlined the major issues with the current social media content landscape. He revealed that while social media is critically important, creative content is often not being used, and a major portion of our audience feels the content they are being shown is… inadequate, to say the least.

In fact, Tech Register recently stated that 57% of millennial buyers consider marketing content to be useless. That’s a harsh stat, but when it’s combined with the fact that 60-70% of content produced by marketers goes unused (according to the Content Marketing Suite), we start to paint a pretty bleak picture.

So, what can we do? Well, we first have to understand what’s going wrong.

The best of intentions

No company sets out to create boring content. Anita kicked us off with her theory: that businesses are often too big for their own good. A business is so many different moving parts. It is a cacophony of messaging. Diversity and inclusion, hiring, talent, IT, sustainability; every move a company makes is shouted about on social media. The problem is that this content is often created in siloes by vastly different parts of the business.

The result is that, for most businesses, social media is like ticking a box. “Let’s create some social copy and scripts and aaaaah here are some visuals we don’t have time for, it’s all super urgent.” Then, social media managers are bombarded with all the content, and everything is pressing. With so many different stakeholders clamoring for their content to go out, a social media team isn’t empowered to say no. They don’t feel confident to say that they are the experts, and that they know what is best for the channel.

In summary, the business is pushing too much different content, and social media is the end point of all this messaging, completely at the whim of the company.

Everything, all the time

But the simple truth is that the audience doesn’t like this content.

Stephen said, “We’re wasting an awful lot of time because we’re creating things that the organisation thinks our audience wants, but our audience is consistently signaling that they don’t really want that.”

While IBM (and a lot of large enterprises) have become experts in being omnichannel, pushing their messaging on every channel, all the time, they are falling short in meeting the needs of the medium. Should the messaging for Instagram Stories be the same as what goes out over e-mail, over TikTok? Probably not, but many businesses don’t even ask the question. Once an organisation can answer it accurately, it’ll be able to produce content per channel that actually meets the needs of the audience.

Audience first

Katy took this a step further, stating, “I think in a way, social is a victim of its own operations.”

The low barrier to entry for social media means that it’s treated with less appreciation for a strategy, or a plan. Siloed teams create content that is very much at the demand-gen end. They want people for tradeshows, or webinars. Logos are provided, details are given, and it’s up to social media teams to make this content approachable.

The problem is in-house social media teams are often not dedicated to social media at all. They’re squeezing social in between answering e-mails and moving projects forward. And that leads to the boring content we see on social. It almost feels like we need to take a deep breath, and ask ourselves, why are we doing this?

Change comes from within

Tim then opened the floor to the panelists to give their examples of interesting content, of un-boring content, if you will, and how to achieve it.

Stephen has seen IBM go through a massive change by asking itself, “What social media channels do we actually like to follow?” One of the answers was Nike. The brand’s approach to organic is to convince you that Nike loves running, training, or any other aspect of sport it is involved in, as much as the audience does. They aren’t peddling the shoes (though you’ll notice them everywhere in their content). But it’s the stories, and the celebrations of their athletes, that they really emphasize.

Another company he mentioned was Slack, who focus largely on User-Generated Content (UGC). They build on their audience, adding their thoughts or re-sharing it, and what better way to show to your audience that you care than by pointing to the audience directly? It’s a great way of quickly building a community, and after all, that’s what we’re here to do.

People first

Anita felt that valuing people should be the focus. Using people from the company to advocate for the organisation does more to create genuine and convincing content than anything the business itself can say. Does anyone care that you landed a new deal, or partnership? Or do they care that an employee is having a fantastic time at the company, learning exciting new things, and working towards incredible goals? The latter sounds more exciting to us, that’s for sure.

So, how do you tell that story? You need to enable your team members to speak confidently about the company on social media. They need to know what they can say and can’t. Or better yet, they need the full approval to say anything they want to. That requires trust, built by having your people break out of their siloes and more directly work with social media teams. They need to be educated on what works on social media, and what doesn’t. Only then can they break the social boring and help their organisation reach new heights on social media.

There were so many more insights from the webinar that we haven’t covered here. You owe it to yourself to see the full video. For more tips, and the full webinar, uncover how to create better content, here 👇

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