No Formula for Social Media Content

How to Write Good: Social Media Content (Dear Community Manager, You’re Doing It Wrong…)

Inspired by Jon Thomas’s Social Media Tips to Ignore post (particularly #4), a public service announcement for brands was in order.  Some of the top marketers in social media are complaining of declining organic growth on Facebook, lost reach, and the need to constantly buy ads to stay ahead of the game.  I’ll leave my thoughts on the Facebook business model debate out of this post and instead, focus on how too many brands are ruining the small chance they have at organic growth & engagement with the social media content they’re publishing.

Two years ago, (yes, two years! That’s like a century in social media time…) Buddy Media released a whitepaper, Strategies for Effective Facebook Wall Posts, followed shortly after by Strategies for Effective Tweeting. These are both good reads with insightful data, but I’m more than a little concerned that too many community managers are treating the best practices listed in these whitepapers as if they are the secret formula to good content.

[Like OR Comment OR Share OR Click OR Retweet OR Reply] if ______ ________ ______ {Insert link and/or massive, bright, organic looking image here}


Dial Facebook Page Sweepstakes Content Example

News Flash: Formulas For Social Media Marketing Content Don’t Work!

Connecting with people does.

Do you walk around in real life talking like that? Do you post to your own Facebook or Twitter account based on a formula?

Another example:

TRESemme Facebook content example

Social media gives brands the opportunity to be human and to connect with customers on an emotional level.  Studies like these whitepapers have their place, which is to provide social media marketers with sound insights that should give readers a good jumping off point.

For example, you’ll find data from Buddy Media showing certain hours during the day and certain days of the week that have proved to be peak engagement times for certain verticals.  So, maybe you start by posting during those times. But if you never post at a different time of day, you’ll never know what actually works for your unique fan base.

This also applies to content writing. They found that, on average, tweets that contain the word “Retweet” received more retweets than tweets that didn’t contain the word.  But tell me, how quickly would you unfollow a brand or person that starts every single tweet with “Retweet if…” Pretty soon, you’re the boy who cried wolf and your “Retweet if…’s” are falling on deaf ears.

So read studies like the ones mentioned above, and use them as a jumping off point. But from there, you’re on your own.  You have to test and learn, gather your own insights, get to know your community, and figure out what makes your audience tick.

Then, write with purpose.

Use those insights to drive your community to take action. Don’t rely on an incessant use of a short-list of call-to-action words found in a whitepaper you read two years ago.  That, my friends, is how to maximize engagement through social content.

Here are a few of my favorite recent examples of content that encourages action (without a blatant CTA… cough…cough…), some from our own team of rock star community managers (working on Apothic Wine and the Jeep brand).


Target Facebook Page LikesApothic Wine Facebook Page Fathers DaveDr Pepper Facebook Page likesOld Spice Twitter Potato SaladESPN Twitter Mighty Ducks Jeep Twitter account

Help inspire others by sharing yours in the comments!

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    Posted at 14:44h, 02 July

    […] post How to Write Good: Social Media Content (Dear Community Manager, You’re Doing It Wrong…) appeared first on Ignite Social […]

  • Sabr!na
    Posted at 15:46h, 02 July

    FACT: People want to talk to people, not PR departments “tee-hee”; however there’s nothing wrong with PR departments. 😉 But communities need a reason to ‘LIKE’ something, and that starts with authentic real-life brand engagement (Starbucks & RuPaul’s Drag Race are great examples). Communities also need a reason to ‘NOT LIKE’ something (queuing the trolls), and ‘not liking’ something is just as valuable, because it incites community dialogue. DING DING DING! Communities want to find value in ‘liking’ your post.

    Furthermore, I absolutely frown upon brands that USE CAPS THINKING THAT IT WILL SOME HOW MAKE ME WANT TO ACT, but it doesn’t, in fact posting content in caps gives the impression that you are shouting and being aggressive, and there shouldn’t be bullhorns used in dialogue.

    Tip: Turn your strategies into ‘real-life’ brand engagement.

  • Elisabeth Michaud
    Posted at 10:12h, 03 July

    Love this post! It feels like such cop-out to see brands (of any size) using the “Like this if…/Share this if…” strategy. Rather, I’m glad you pointed out that brands need to actually DO something ‘Like’able or shareable to achieve real results. Thanks for holding all of us to a higher standard, Erin!

  • Jon Thomas
    Posted at 11:29h, 03 July

    Glad I could be of inspiration! And I love that ESPN tweet. Being human really works.

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  • Thelma Case
    Posted at 01:06h, 23 January

    A very helpful post in writing a good social media content. Thanks for sharing.

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