These days on social media, organic content has a really bad reputation. Reach and visibility have decreased for years and, because of it, it’s hard to find any seasoned social marketer who immediately sees the value of organic content. Even still, a high volume is shared on a frequent basis. Here are some sobering, and slightly frightening, statistics. YouTube boasts that 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute. In 2016, it was reported that 95 million images were shared on Instagram each day. It now takes less than 2 days for 1 billion tweets to be sent.
Social media’s dance card is full and the competition to be seen is only increasing. If you’re a detergent brand, you’re no longer just fighting for share of voice with other detergents. You are up against every account your followers also follow. Brands must remember, when a consumer opens their respective platforms, they see the amalgamation of the internet: friends, memes, family, influencers, sponsored posts, trending topics, direct messages, and more memes.
With the sheer amount of daily content being shared, there is only one thing brands can do now: stop publishing on social media.
Okay, halting all broadcasting might be extreme. However, reducing the output in favor of more intentional, moment-focused content is not. When executed well, organic content can still make a significant impact.
So, how can a brand “win” with organic content in 2019 even without posting at a high frequency?
Get Over Yourself
Brands must remember that it is not always about them. A lot of times, it’s about what the people want.
They should take a hard look at what content made an impression with their audiences over the last 6 months or so. This is very different from creating and sharing content that the brand wants to make an impact.
Leaning into recent feedback, both positive and negative, can be very beneficial. Knowing what has recently resonated with your audience, and what seemingly turns them off, can help strengthen future content. There is a strong opportunity for brands to add value to a consumer’s feed, so turning consumer insights into meaningful content can help guide them on that journey.
Embrace a “Moment-Based” Content Strategy
After considering what your audience has said, stop pushing pictures and focus on developing content with a sense of intention. Look at key moments for your brand throughout the year. This should be both internal (i.e.: the launch of a new product) and external (i.e.: relevant cultural moments). Mapping out these moments can build gentle guardrails to begin seeing when and where a brand could effectively be present.
Once this exercise is complete, content stories that will give the brand an opportunity to actually say something to your audience versus posting for posting sake. For instance, a skincare brand could build a summer series around essential items needed even if only traveling with a carry-on. Saying something doesn’t have to be serious, but should always have a high degree of relevancy.
When looking at Instagram, frequency of how often a user opens the app plays a big part in the content they are shown. Again, if a brand publishes engaging content, the next time one of their followers opens the app, Instagram will position that brand’s content as more relevant for them.
Establish a Visual Identity
When Pat McGrath posts on Instagram, users are generally treated to accents of glitter, gold, and sequins. Photographer Ahady Rezan, better known as Huxster, “hunts walls” that are visually arresting with saturated colors and design compositions.
Both have done a fantastic job at pinpointing key visual identifiers for their brands. When scaling back on the amount of content that gets shared, having a strong visual identity can be a great benefit.
Variety is great but when thinking about the 95 million images that get shared to Instagram each day, finding a differentiator is essential. These consistent cues familiarize your audience with your brand and cuts through the clutter in their feed.
Realize the Algorithm is King
Quality content is very important but on social media, the algorithm is arguably king. This is especially true for Instagram, the hero platform for many brands regardless of their category. The unfortunate reality is that it doesn’t matter if the formula for creating the best-looking content has been cracked. If it doesn’t play well with the algorithm, it is essentially going to get buried.
One of the main factors in this taking place is Instagram’s ability to predict a user’s interest based on their previous interactions. For instance, if a beauty brand sees great engagement around makeup tutorials, they would theoretically get dinged by the algorithm if they suddenly began sharing sports-related content. The algorithm would consider these posts “irrelevant” to users who previously showed interest and would subsequently be shown to less of their followers.
There is not an exact science to winning on social media. It’s very much a delicate balancing act that keeps many social media managers holding their breath when a post goes live. However, some brands have adopted a more intention-based content strategy and it seems to be working fine.
Nike is currently on a cultural high and the impact of their recent campaign has trickled onto their social feeds. With just 5 posts shared in October, they still managed to average over 500K engagements per post. Burberry, one of Britain’s most visible luxury fashion houses, has decreased their posts by 20% in comparison to the same timeframe last year. The interesting thing? They’ve seen a 36% increase in average engagements.
While these two mega-brands have 80-and-12 million followers respectively, they have something else in common in addition to loyal followings: the understanding that sometimes less can actually be more. A lot more.