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March 3, 2016
The Rise of Quality Content on Social Media

The Topline

  • Organic social content now reaches a remarkably small percent of your audience with each post
  • Paid opportunities must be integrated to achieve the same reach as in the past
  • Quality of content—providing real and relevant value—is the major determinant of the reach of organic content

As social media channels have matured and new algorithms are employed, marketers are facing a new reality. The impact of organic posts and tweets has diminished, making it more difficult for brands to leverage the social media audiences they have worked so hard to build.

This is often lamented as “the decline of organic reach,” but we should really think of it as “the rise of quality content on social media.” Each channel is working toward the ultimate goal of providing the best experience. And they’ve chosen to do that by emphasizing the content that users find the most interesting—measured through engagement such as likes, retweets, comments and shares.

For many businesses, it is difficult to create and curate a large collection of popular content, especially when targeting a smaller audience. To combat this, businesses must begin to include social media advertising in their marketing campaigns. Here’s how the top social media channels distribute content to their users, and how marketers can leverage the powerful advertising tools of these platforms to stay in front of your social followers.

Content Delivery: Facebook delivers content to users through an algorithm that takes into account, among other things, how likely a user is to interact with each post (including likes, shares, comments and clicks). This rule applies to brand pages as well as posts from your high school classmates. This engagement metric is used to increase marketing targeting and drive advertising sales.

Organic Reach: Each post to your Facebook brand page typically reaches anywhere between 2-10% of your audience. The quality of content plays a crucial role in determining the reach of each post, because higher levels of engagement result in greater organic reach compared to posts that do not receive any likes, shares, comments, or clicks.

Advertising Opportunities: The ads that typically provide the most value on Facebook are boosted posts and sponsored content, which appear in the newsfeed. The ads can be adopted for most marketing objectives, including page likes, website visits, downloads, and even conversion. Targeting options include industry, job title, company information, as well as geography and basic demographics. There are issues with fake profiles on Facebook, but the best way to avoid them is to create highly-targeted audiences for your campaigns.

LinkedIn is centered around content engagement, too.

Content Delivery: LinkedIn also leverages an algorithm to control the content appearing in users’ feeds based on engagement. Once regarded as a tool for job searching, LinkedIn has expanded its impact over the last two years with a focus on content. This has included the launch of its proprietary LinkedIn Pulse publishing platform and the acquisition of content platforms Lynda and Slideshare.

Organic Reach: Followers of your brand page who frequent LinkedIn are likely to see your content regularly, and the depth of business audience data is top-of-class for social networks. The true challenge for reach on LinkedIn is that users are visiting far less often than they visit other networks. In some verticals, a great way to expand your reach is to participate in active member groups dedicated to key topics for your industry.

Advertising Opportunities: Sponsored content typically provides the best advertising results on LinkedIn, and business targeting is more sophisticated than any other social network can offer. Costs tend to run higher than Facebook or Twitter, but the segmenting capabilities are often worth it. LinkedIn also offers direct marketing through its InMail program, which works effectively in some highly-competitive verticals, but comes with an extremely high minimum spend.

Content Delivery: Rather than employing an algorithm, Twitter delivers a constant stream of content, and relies on users to judge the value of content and increase brand reach through retweets and likes. Twitter has introduced some algorithm-based content such as a selection of “While You Were Away” tweets, but the primary functionality is still a constantly running flow of posts.

Organic Reach: Each user will see posts from the accounts they follow—whether they are brands or their favorite comedians—only when they are logged into the app at the time of posting. That’s why it’s critical to post engaging content in order to expand brand reach on the platform. Twitter is expected to increase the character count limit for posts from 140 characters up to as many as 10,000 characters this year. This is a major change for the platform, and it will be a great time for brands to experiment with new ways to engage their audience.

Advertising Opportunities: Twitter collects less data than other social channels, but it can still support a highly-targeted B2B campaign with keyword-, behavior-, and follower-based ads. Twitter also provides great opportunities for direct interaction with media brands and thought leaders in most industries. Twitter even has the capability to target the followers of these power users in advertising campaigns.