It will come as no surprise to you that individuals today are becoming far more self absorbed and are increasingly pursuing topics of interest and relevance to themselves with people they know. For brands today, this means they need to work a lot harder to engage with their audiences.

Marketing today embraces far more than traditional advertising and includes the convergence of entertainment, media and brands. Keith Weed, the chief marketing and communication officer at Unilever said that “We are going to have to make our brands media properties in their own right. We have to connect much more with content and make our brands more relevant.” This is where social content comes in.

Social content uses social media to connect with an audience. The premise of social content is that it is authentic. The content has a genuine story to tell that sparks social engagement with an audience. Brands can be involved and the driver of this social content for the purpose of connecting with their audience, but it is most definitely not an ad – it cannot be overly promotional or used to push a product or service.

So why is social content so effective?
Consumers are moving away from visiting traditional websites to become part of the connections and interactions made possible only through social networking sites. Facebook is the leading contender of social networking sites receiving 25 percent of traffic on the internet.

The potential consumers of a brand are actively participating in social media providing the perfect opportunity for a brand to form direct relationships and encourage advocacy. It provides the ideal platform to tap in to the most effective way of selling a product – peer to peer and word of mouth marketing.

It provides an opportunity for brands to research their target audience and find out what they are interested in from a social point of view. This then provides a lead for a brand to understand how they can intrinsically become part of the conversation providing real genuine content that consumers will engage with.

Social content helps brands achieve a balance between entertainment and education, satisfying a consumer need without the need for over the top promotion.

No conversation – no social campaign!
It is important to take authentic content and build on it in a conversational tone that will engage an audience to respond to something that is of inherent interest to them. A campaign that is too heavily skewed and based on an advertising mindset will fail. When creating content, keep in mind that a brand can be the initiator, the host or the opener of the content, but never the hero piece.

If the content does not generate conversation, there is no social content campaign. Just because something is uploaded on Facebook does not automatically make it a social content campaign! This is why it is so important to get the content right.

The five key elements to social content
1.
Research, research, research – Use social media to research what your target audience are interested in. There is no point spending hours creating content that your audience won’t engage with.

2. Keep your content authentic – Make sure your content is genuine and tells a real story that your audience will engage with. Avoid anything that is overly promotional.

3. Keep your concept simple – Brands often fail by trying to over complicate the content. A simple easy to follow story line that can be viewed and understood quickly will have more chance of succeeding.

4. Keep your content short – There might be a lot to say, but keep it short and draw your viewers in quickly. Include the hook to the story in the first 10 seconds and keep your content to a maximum of 1 – 1.5 minutes.

5. Keep it conversational – Understand who your target audience is to develop a tone that your audience will engage with. Avoid a corporate tone as this style is out of place on social media.