As part of 3XE Digital‘s “Content in Social Media” event on May 11th, 2018, Arekibo were invited to participate. Tady spoke about keeping it sweet and simple in social media. In the next couple of blog posts, Tady recounts his talk for you here.
What is social media? When we break down the words, looking up “social” gives us a definition:
‘needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities.’
There’s an important word here: “needing”
When a user WANTS to do something versus when they HAVE to do something, their psychological interaction is far more personal. They pick and chose what they wish to be stimulated by and they feel like they are in control of the terms.
Media, is the substance we absorb and share. An important factor here is that, when someones says the phrase “Distribute that on social media,” everyone has a personal and different idea in their head as to what that means. To some it’s Facebook, to others it’s Twitter. How we decide which interaction we want to achieve should help how we leverage the information we present.
When we examine how we use this substance, at how we spread the “social media jam” in our sandwich, there are many unwritten rules, depending on what format of social interaction one wishes to engage in. These vary from the length of blog post headlines, to the length of email subject lines, to the length of videos to the number of words in a LinkedIn post. Knowing and leveraging these unwritten rules helps form a better connection with our clients and enables us to get our message across more succinctly.
In looking at these optimal content quantities, it’s also a good idea to consider the psychological frequency our users are tuned into. We all know that Twitter posts are 140 characters long. At least, that’s what we say. We actually all know that Twitter doubled the capacity of tweets to 280 characters in mid 2017, so we know there’s more content available to us, but in our minds, we’re still tuned to the phrase “140 characters or less”. This is often what leads to really long Tweet threads, the notion that we don’t have as much space to say what we want to say. Secondly, in looking at our optimal tweet length above (71 – 100 characters), we find that not only are our Tweets better performing if they are shorter, they also come in under the old quota.
We have all seen Tweets, like these, with a long, long thread of Tweets, relating to a topic that is important to the author and feels that we should appreciate too. The problem with these threads, is they are often very long (based on anecdotal average, roughly 10 Tweets in a thread) with some authors creating threads that are incredibly long (the American journalist Seth Abrahamson is a noted example). While we may not take the time to read or even come across these threads in our timelines, our peers and colleagues may take the time to read them and feel they are worth sharing with the single word:
On its own, this word has become a trope in context. Without this context, it is meaningless. It tells us nothing about the thread, what its contents are or what it relates to. All it says to us, peers, friends or admirers is “I think this is worth your time to read.” The problem occurs when the user gets to the end of a thread and finds, it wasn’t actually worth their time.
When we look at the amount of content a thread like this produces, taking an average of 10 tweets per thread, this ends up at around 1400 characters (or 2800 characters in new money). Again, we say “new” quotas, even though they’ve been in place for over a year now. Looking at the average length of a “7 minute read” blog post, we’re coming in around 8000 characters (for reference, this post is approximately 8,300 characters long). So a 10 Tweet thread is well on its way to being a short blog post. Also, if a blog post is written in this way, it’s very easy to expand on points that might have been kept concise due to Twitter’s limitations.
In looking past just the construction of the blog post, we can also look at the longevity of various social media interactions. The following image illustrates the average lifespan of social media posts:
Twitter have made updates lately to show you Tweets you “May have missed” or “While you were away” and Instagram’s feed has always been a law unto itself (though the 2018 update telling you when you’ve caught up with everything you’ve missed, while a welcome addition, means users are less inclined to continue past that point and discover older posts), but the tweets and posts shown tend to be more B2C related and based on other users interactions (e.g. a tweet gets lots of likes, you are more likely to be shown that as a tweet you may have missed). Other than this, it is worth re-iterating just how short the lifespan of a Tweet or a Facebook post is. The only way content on these platforms is going to live longer is if they go viral and going viral is not something that can necessarily be planned. It’s what we hope and would aim for but it’s neither predictable nor always achievable.
Comparing social media posts with content added to a personal or business website, there are a number of obvious advantages. The first is the content is personal; it lives on your own URL and drives traffic to your site and subsequent content. Also, the content is owned by the author, not residing on a third party platform. This is not always detrimental, though it does allow for better branding from a personal perspective. It’s common to post on Medium, due to its wider reach, but having a source link back to your own content is highly useful. Through related posts and cross-site browsing, value is added to the overall content of the site by encouraging users to explore more. The content is also more portable, in that it can be spread easier across multiple social media channels and platforms, while still routing back to the original site. This allows much greater information collection regarding the posts (e.g. analytics, postbacks, demographic data, SEO, etc). Repeat business is also easier to generate more organically by allowing the reuse of the content in a similar format with different audiences in the future. We’ll touch more on how that can be done in a minute.
To give a piece of anecdotal evidence, Arekibo published a blog post in September 2011 about restoring a [MySQL database from a backed up Program Files] (ironically, providing a link to this will generate more traffic again, but anyway). We use various SEO tools and, as you can see from the screenshot below, we have dynamically created “Recent posts” on the right, which encourage cross-site browsing. So our users are constantly being exposed to new content and being invited to explore our content more.
The more links that a web page attracts from elsewhere on the web, the higher it’s Page Authority will be in the eyes of search engines. Authority is passed around a website through internal links so if a page with high authority is close to another page in the site hierarchy or structure, then some of that authority will rub off on the secondary pages too, ultimately bringing up the Domain Authority of your entire site.
If your content is valuable enough to enough people, it essentially becomes “evergreen” and starts working for itself – bearing in mind we haven’t shared this blog post on any social media in 3 years – it steadily built up traffic over time through shares and inbound links and crept up the Search Engine Results Pages until suddenly in late 2017 it began to appear at the top and traffic blew up. Imagine if this had been a tweet or a twitter thread instead?
So let’s go back to the prior example of our tweet that starts our “thread of discontentment”. Looking at how this original thread could work as a blog post, we can reference that post more easily and make the content far more portable a day, a week, a month or even a year later. We’re still channelling traffic through a portal that we control both the SEO and the analytics on and we’re constantly driving traffic to one root source; our own website.
Of course, we can also easily publish this link to different platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, we can generated a podcast or video blog on the topic, driving users back to our parent content and giving us those vital analytics we so richly desire. There are so many positives to this, from brand awareness to market presence, it seems somewhat obvious that this should be the case, but this is not always so.
To sum up, it’s highly advantageous to channel users back to our own content, via social media channels. This isn’t to say that social media channels on their own aren’t useful; they provide the quickest, most accessible way of connecting with our customers and provide huge value added returns to both our business and our audience. All we are saying is, we should be more vigilant and more disconcerting about where our content lives, so that we can get the most out of it and leverage it to our greatest advantage.
In our next post, we’ll look at some of the pitfalls to avoid with regard social media content distribution and a subject that you won’t believe is true…!!!