How To Feed The Social Media Beast

Social media is like a hungry teenage boy. As any parent will tell you, when it comes to food, they’re never satisfied. Similarly, social media has a voracious appetite requiring continual feeding in the form of content and communications in a variety of formats.

What’s a marketer to do keep your social media initiatives sated? Here are seven tips to develop appropriate content and engagement to nourish the social media beast, regardless of which platforms you use.

  1. Create unique content within your organization. Integrate your content development into your overall marketing and communications plan to maximize the impact across formats and channels. Use a variety of different types of media formats such as video, photographs, text, podcasts, and presentations. Optimize your content for relevant keywords and provide useful information at every step of the purchase process.
  2.  Get prospects, customers and the public to develop content. Make it easy for consumers to participate because, if they view it as work or being taken advantage of, they won’t contribute. Options include comments, answering questions, ratings and reviews, photographs and videos and suggestions. For example, highlight your customer of the week like Oreos does on Facebook or ask customers for ratings and reviews or photos like  TripAdvisor. The goal is to integrate your product or brand and customers in a fun way.
  3. Invite guests to contribute. Spotlight others in your category, particularly experts. While use of guest writers is frequently used by bloggers, it can be effectively employed to create other forms social media content. Consider interviews via text, video or podcasts and group roundups. This win-win content creation requires acknowledging the author preferably with a photograph and a link back to their website or blog.
  4. Stay on top of the news. At a minimum, monitor what’s being said about your organization, products and executives. Be aware of issues or changes in your category and with your competitors since their problem could easily become yours on social media platforms. (To this end, have a crisis management plan ready in case of problems.) More importantly, from the perspective of fueling your social media interactions, being on-top-of-the-news enables you to newsjack big stories. This phrase, started by David Meerman Scott, refers to leveraging an event to garner interest in your organization. Additionally, reading broadly helps you select and curate relevant content.
  5. Engage with others in the social media ecosystem, both online and offline. Social media provides for one-to-many, one-to-one and many-to-many communications. Vary how you interact. Among the options to consider are distributing (sometimes considered pushing) your message to a broader audience, using social media as a communications platform to talk to others and answer questions, and to share in meetings, online (Twitter chats) and offline (Meetups and conferences).
  6. Respond strategically to inquiries received via social media. Roughly 2% of social media comments and questions need to be answered by your organization. What’s difficult is determining which ones to answer. While you can make a strategic corporate decision to respond to everything, realize that this has both headcount and cost implications. Alternatively, use social media monitoring to find those issues that require responses.
  7. Make your social media information share-friendly. Encourage consumers to share your content by placing relevant sharing buttons near your content and using a contextually relevant call-to-action. Since this is an easy, low cost way to increase your social media content’s reach, take time to test different options and copy to get the maximum return.

Remember—use a mix of these content and communication options since, like food, you need a balanced diet. Further, don’t forget you need to keep messages about your organization limited to one out of ten or you’ll loose your friends and followers.

How do you tame your social media beast’s appetite? Please share your insights in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

BIG ROUND OF APPLAUSE TO MY READERS! Your support helped get this blog nominated as a Finalist in Social Media Examiner’s 3rd Annual, Top 10 Social Media Blogs Contest! If you enjoy this blog’s social media advice, please take a moment now to click this link to show your support for with a comment in Social Media Examiner’s 3rd Annual Top 10 Social Media Blogs.

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10 Responses to How To Feed The Social Media Beast

  1. Leonard Kipp says:

    The new Social Media organization out there is and it works very will.

    Look at: Board Tittle Name: Charcoal & gas grills

  2. Heidi,

    This article is truly helpful. With the way social media controls basically everything in our society today, It is detrimental to an organizations success/feedback from clients. Clients are constantly interacting with many companies through social media networks, and the businesses that take the time to interact back with their community are the ones that get the most out of using these social networks


  3. With approximately 178 average social accounts a large organization handles on social media platforms – it can really become difficult to handle/judge the appropriate 2% of inquiries.

    Engagement also has taken a whole new meaning nowadays. Most commentors usually engage on one on one discussion with the author only. How many of us actually read what the other commentors have said on a particular topic. I think engagement on a blog level should be judged by a reply to a reply rather than a reply alone.

    Interesting read and informational.

    • Heidi Cohen says:

      David — A large corporation with a significant number of accounts should be using a sophisticated social media monitoring tool that’s integrated with other tracking. In part, the reason for the low number is that other customers and the public respond to the conversation. Also, as you point out, the author, who many be a member of the firm, responds. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  4. SG says:

    Heidi, a great post here. When working with cients content generation is something I spend a lot of time thinking about because not only do you need to ensure the content fits within a brand’s image you also need to make it interesting and engaging.

    Find me on twitter @GoldenGatsby.

    • Heidi Cohen says:

      Sam–Research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs shows that keeping up with content creation across business types is time consuming and a challenge for many businesses. Strong content doesn’t just happen–it requires good writers and an understanding of your business. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  5. Jonny Ross says:

    Yes I’d agree with Todd, I subscribe to many blogs that are all relevant and that helps me with ideas and future topics, i just can’t get over how you blog once a day!

    You clearly have some amazing writers!!


    • Heidi Cohen says:

      Jonny — I appreciate your taking the time to comment. Please understand that, with the exception of the round up columns, I write all of the content on this blog since it’s under my name. I hope that you keep participating in the conversation. Please feel free to suggest areas to cover. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  6. Todd Lohenry says:

    Heidi, I love your blog — you’re the best inbound marketing blogger I’ve ‘discovered’ in a long time…

    As far as feeding the beast, I have had 4 teenage boys and your analogy is a good one. I feed the beast using Google Reader to track the keywords that align with my brand and my blog — it yields a steady stream of great content to curate or inspiration for creation that helps me ‘feed the beast’…

    All the best in 2012~