We outline some key tips for communications professionals planning their 2016 social strategy.
It’s no secret that communications is evolving rapidly in the age of social. Whether you work in politics, sports, or fashion, it’s important to ensure your message reaches audiences where they are. Adapting content for social can seem daunting at first, but it offers exciting opportunities to interact with your audience and gain valuable feedback.
Looking ahead to 2016, here are some important considerations for communications professionals planning their social strategy.
A Personalised Approach
2015 was a defining year for video on social, and it’s an asset that communications professionals should embrace in 2016. Creating strong, engaging visuals and video content is a good way of personalising a message. This approach can help a company or brand seem more accessible and draw audiences into the story or campaign.
Further, it’s never been easier to create high-quality video content. Vertical (i.e. portrait) video is increasingly the default and content can be shot on phones or tablets. Keep it short, snappy and relevant to your audience – shorter videos tend to do especially well on Facebook, while Snapchat Discover allows users to upload multiple short-form pieces of content.
Don’t Overlook “Dark Social” and Chat Apps
While it’s tempting to focus resources on bigger channels like Facebook, research shows that apps such as Whatsapp and even SMS messages facilitate huge sharing. They can also be important sources of referral traffic, so don’t discount them in your social strategy.
The lack of a solid CMS makes it difficult to engage directly with audiences over SMS or messaging apps. However, including a Whatsapp, email and SMS sharing button on content posted to your website keeps these channels open for readers. Adding UTM tags will allow you to track how readers come to your site. If it transpires that many readers come from mobile, make sure to optimise mobile experience for users.
Demographics and Metrics
Breaking down engagement on your posts helps to show what’s working and what could be improved. Analytics can give you in-depth insights into how users engage with your content, allowing you to tailor pieces according to region, age, interests, even education level.
However, don’t overlook individual metrics. We noted this in our recent post for political communicators, but it’s worth considering no matter what the communications sector. There is a tendency to look at overall engagement as an indicator of reach, but the different metrics can be much more telling. Are certain types of content getting more shares than others? Do particular Instagram posts tend to elicit more comments? Knowing not just how many users responded to a post but how they did so can be extremely illuminating. Bear this in mind when reviewing and updating social strategy.
Invest in Good Tools
As social media platforms continue to evolve and with each necessitating a specialised approach, investing in effective tools is essential to building a solid communications strategy. The right tools can shave hours off your day, freeing up time for more targeted campaigns.
A catch-all interface like Hootsuite, for instance, allows you to schedule content for each platform from one window. OKtoPost is similar but includes analytics for each channel, saving users the time needed to look up numbers for each individual platform. Combine this with Spike to help track social velocity and emerging stories around your communications, and your year is already off to an excellent start.
Be Clear and Authentic
One of the most notable things we’ve learned from our Q&As with communications professionals is to be authentic. It may sound simplistic, but the value of sincere and upfront communication cannot be over-emphasised. Clear messages delivered without PR spin resonate with audiences and are key to internal communications. Ensuring employees are up-to-date with major developments both inside and outside the company helps to foster a sense of unity and a feeling of being valued.
This evergreen piece of advice holds true in every year, but 2016 is as good a time as any to put it into practice.
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