Anyone who has no profile on social media today does not exist. That is at least the case in the marketing world. And for good reason: profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat help win new customers and retain existing ones. This will not work, however, without regular and careful maintenance of the account. See here what this can look like for Facebook and Instagram.

What is social media marketing?

Companies can work – or pay – for attention in social media. In short, it is possible to advertise via sponsored posts on Instagram or Facebook. This is referred to as paid media. Earned media, on the other hand, refers to the so-called organic reach and attention that companies gain from their fans via conventional posts. If companies want to be present in the social media world, there is no either-or. A good mixture of both variants makes the most sense, especially because the logic is not clear, according to which social media algorithms will deliver content to the followers. Figures published by the media network Zenith show that companies have long recognized the importance of social media in marketing and are aligning their marketing budgets accordingly. According to the advertising experts, social media advertising expenditure will rise from 48 billion US dollars to 76 billion US dollars in 2020.

How do companies retain their customers using social media?

Almost everyone now has a social media account. In September 2018, Facebook had 1.49 billion active users per day. According to Omnicore, there were 400 million people on Instagram during the same period. Therefore, whoever makes it into their customers’ list of friends will have a place in their lives. It should be clear which target group is to be addressed – and which goal (e.g. image building or lead generation) is being pursued in particular. A strategic approach is therefore appropriate.

Social media marketing requires a lot of effort. Companies should therefore ensure that there is sufficient time, money and staff to maintain the channels. Once that has been achieved, they can continuously provide their customers with content. Whether in the form of product news, competitions or (live) videos, there are virtually no limits to the imagination. The important thing is to use the account in a consistent and target-group oriented manner. After all, social media is not static. Content designed for interaction (questions, competitions, visual quotes) brings movement to the platform. And, of course, those who interact have to react. And fast.

But what makes the perfect post?

There is a lot to consider when designing the perfect post. Not only the followers’ wishes matter, but which content Facebook prefers to display on the user’s newsfeed. The network does not disclose these mechanisms. What is clear is that Facebook has for some time preferred the content of private accounts to those of official brand profiles. Nevertheless, brands can optimize their posts. Quintly analysed about 10 million Facebook and Instagram posts at the beginning of 2018. The insights:

  • Text length: The shorter, the better. This applies to both Facebook and Instagram. Posts with between 1 and 50 characters received the most average interactions. Posts without text were ranked 2nd.
  • Type of content (text, image, video): Users interact more with visual content such as images and especially videos.
  • Time of the post (weekdays vs. weekend): In fact, weekend posts on both platforms result in more interaction on average than during the week.
  • Number of emojis used: From exuberant joy or great sadness to nausea, the social media world has the right emoji for almost every feeling. And users like them. Posts with one to three Emojis showed the highest level of interaction on Facebook and a high level of interaction on Instagram.
  • Number of hashtags used: On Instagram, one to three hash tags prove to be a promising dosage. This is different on Facebook: posts without hashtags are more successful there.
Creating shareable content

And what does promising content look like? The New York Times published an interesting report back in 2011 on why people share content online. More than seven years later, these scientific findings are still relevant for Facebook marketing strategies. The reasons for sharing content are as follows – because people want to:

  • make valuable and/or entertaining content available to others.
  • define themselves (reputation and how they are perceived) for others.
  • achieve self-fulfilment/affirmation (via comments, etc.).
  • expand and maintain their own network.
  • participate in the public debate on issues and businesses.

For companies, this means creating content that encourages people to share.

Good examples

The US sporting goods manufacturer Nike seems to understand its social media craft particularly well. For example, the company’s Instagram account has more than 81 million followers. Emotionally charged, visually appealing images of sporting events give users what they are looking for on Instagram: a good feeling. Not to mention that Nike football star Cristiano Ronaldo has signed on as a testimonial with his 145 million subscribers. A fast-food giant is also a success on Facebook. The McDonald’s channel has 78 million subscribers. The fast-food chain manages the balancing act between entertaining engagement with the brand (e.g. visual quotes “365 Reasons for McDonald’s”) and open engagement with critical topics on the subject of fast food.

Developing social media channels is therefore mandatory for almost every company in order to be successful. In another blog post, you will read which criteria determine success in social media – and how you can measure and analyse these criteria.