Opinion: Content is the critical piece in the social media puzzle

It’s super easy to get caught up in the fan­fare of social media and lose sight of what real­ly mat­ters. While pay-per-click ads, pro­file designs and strate­gies for amass­ing thou­sands of fol­low­ers are cer­tain­ly rel­e­vant, they aren’t every­thing. At the end of the day, your abil­i­ty to prof­it from social media will only go as far as your con­tent takes you.

Why content matters

Have you ever thought about what exists at the core of social net­work­ing? When you trim away those extra features—likes, games, pro­file bylines, adver­tise­ments, etc.—what are you left with? Essen­tial­ly, you have indi­vid­ual users access­ing a web­site in the hopes of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with one anoth­er. And what do you find at the heart of online com­mu­ni­ca­tion? Con­tent.

If social media is a mar­ket­place, con­tent is your cur­ren­cy. You can use it to buy likes, fol­low­ers, web­site traf­fic, con­ver­sions and even brand loy­al­ty.

Greek math­e­mati­cian Archimedes once famous­ly said, “Give me a lever long enough and a ful­crum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” While clear­ly hyper­bole, his point was that any­thing is pos­si­ble if you have the right tools.

In dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, you can move the world—drive con­ver­sions, build brand loy­al­ty, etc.—so long as you have the right con­tent for your audi­ence.

In essence, con­tent is the crit­i­cal piece in the social media puz­zle. If you can nail the con­tent aspect of the equa­tion, then you’ll be suc­cess­ful.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this is much eas­i­er said than done. If cre­at­ing stel­lar con­tent that thrives on social media were easy, every brand with a Face­book pro­file would be rak­ing in the suc­cess.

4 ways to create content that stands out

The issue you need to con­sid­er is how to cre­ate con­tent that stands out. Social media net­works like Face­book, Twit­ter, Insta­gram, LinkedIn and Pin­ter­est are noisy. You have to do more than just share a blog post or two. You need to real­ly get seri­ous about cre­at­ing stel­lar con­tent. Here are a few tips and ideas:

  • Stay in school: Social media and con­tent mar­ket­ing are con­stant­ly evolv­ing. If you want to under­stand what it looks like to cre­ate and share great con­tent, you have to stay updat­ed and edu­cat­ed on what’s hap­pen­ing in these fields. Make sure you’re sur­round­ing your­self with the right resources. This list from Con­sul­tants 500 ranks some of the top con­tent mar­ket­ing blogs on the inter­net. Book­mark a few of these sites and spend a cou­ple of hours per week perus­ing them. It’ll help you stay informed and pro­vide some good inspi­ra­tion.
  • Qual­i­ty over quan­ti­ty: The old adage of qual­i­ty over quan­ti­ty rings true when it comes to shar­ing con­tent on social media. Today, search engines take social sig­nals into account when deter­min­ing page rank­ings. In oth­er words, things such as likes, shares and per­haps even impres­sions mat­ter. If you’re shar­ing a bunch of low-qual­i­ty con­tent, then you prob­a­bly aren’t get­ting much trac­tion in this area. How­ev­er, if the con­tent you do share is high in qual­i­ty, likes and shares will come nat­u­ral­ly.
  • Invest in organ­ic con­tent: Social media guru Gary Vayn­er­chuk said, “No amount of paid media is going to turn bad cre­ative into good con­tent.” His point is that you can’t buy your way to the top: Social media just doesn’t work that way. Even the world’s largest brands—those that are rec­og­niz­able and have built up mas­sive audi­ences over the years—have to invest in organ­ic con­tent in order to thrive on social media. Think about all the mon­ey you’re spend­ing on paid media (or the mon­ey you have ear­marked to spend in the future) and then imag­ine how much organ­ic con­tent you could cre­ate by real­lo­cat­ing that por­tion of your mar­ket­ing bud­get. Paid media may give you momen­tary sat­is­fac­tion and quick results, but they go away as soon as you stop pay­ing. Organ­ic con­tent, on the oth­er hand, sticks around and pro­vides val­ue for months (and some­times years) to come.
  • Go visu­al: Visu­al con­tent is obvi­ous­ly the answer in 2017 and beyond. The more you can invest in video, inter­ac­tive con­tent and oth­er mul­ti­me­dia con­tent for­mats, the bet­ter your chances are of stand­ing out amid the noise. You need con­tent that grabs a user’s atten­tion as they’re quick­ly swip­ing through their news feeds. A tra­di­tion­al blog post won’t do that. An eye-pop­ping, auto-play video most like­ly will.
    Make con­tent your focus

Stop spend­ing your pre­cious time and ener­gy deal­ing with the things that don’t mat­ter. Sure, an attrac­tive Face­book cov­er pho­to is great, but it’s not going to mean the dif­fer­ence between con­vert­ing a fol­low­er into a cus­tomer. The con­tent you pub­lish and share could, though.