2018 was a challenging year for creators, with social media at risk of total over-saturation. The supply of content across social platforms now far exceeds the demand with 15,000 images uploaded to Instagram per second in the UK alone. As a result of this, reach is subsequently falling as followers have a surplus of content and the algorithm serves them content they think they’d like (rather than in pure chronological order). 

 Paid-for and sponsored media also dominates the social media platforms; this inevitably means that creators will need to begin looking at alternative ways to preserve, as well as increase engagement and reach. 

 Here are our top 10 tips for making sure your organic content is worthwhile, both for you and for your followers. 

1. Early Engagement

Driving conversational engagement early on will help you to maximise reach. The first half an hour of posting content is the most important as this is where you’ll find you stand to gain most traction. There are a few different stages which make up the framework for successful early engagement. Let’s take Instagram as an example: 

Stage One:  When a new post is uploaded to an account the social algorithm serves it to a small sample of their audience, Instagram will monitor how fast the post is engaged with.  

Stage Two:  Instagram will then compare the level of engagement that the new post is receiving to a post made at a similar time and the day previously. Comparing other posts at similar times ensures accuracy. 

Stage Three:  If the post is attracting a high level of engagement, Instagram will then begin to show this to a larger proportion of the account’s audience and may even look to showcase this on the Explore page. 

 If the post continues to attract engagement, it will stay at the top of more people’s feeds, increasing reach and adding to the longevity of the post. Subsequently, if a post doesn’t receive much engagement then it will get pushed down the feed, meaning that less of your audience will see this. 

2. Outbound Links

Avoid outbound links on your website where possible. Whilst it is of course important to drive traffic from your blog post to your other landing pages, social media platforms naturally want users to stay on their sites and will preference this kind of content. Doing this allows them to serve more ad impressions, and make more money in the long run. 

 An example of where an outbound link can be used effectively is on LinkedIn. This platform allows you to edit and make updates to the body of the post, and then re-post, which then helps to increase engagement. 

 As a practical measure, we understand that guiding followers towards your website and/or products is a necessity. However, what’s important is to make sure you balance this with content without links. This is particularly poignant for influencers who do daily hauls, or brands during key sales times. Remember to mix it up! 

3. Email Marketing

There are over 1.8 billion pieces of content being distributed online each day which means it is imperative to stand out when publishing content through email marketing. We know that repeatedly sharing content over and over again doesn’t work and as a result of doing so, engagement is much more likely to drop off. 

 One simple way of increasing your email marketing engagement is to re-send the email a few days after the initial one has been sent out to those who have not yet opened this with a different subject line. It is important to remember that different copy interests different people, and by making these very small changes, you are much more likely to gain further engagement. 

4. Engineer Marketing

This is a term used to describe a brand as giving something valuable away for free, with the intention of then selling something related to this at a later date.  

 This could be valuable advice (relevant to your industry), sample products, recommendations for things you feel your audience would enjoy. For influencers, organic recommendations are integral and are often the first thing to drop off during the busy Christmas period. Do make sure to bring that back for 2019 as your audiences want to see what you wear/use/discover alongside what you are paid to discuss. 

 As one idea, brands are now using quizzes to initiate engagement really successfully. Two of the most shared pieces of content on social media in 2018 were quizzes. The format is becoming increasingly popular across social platforms, and providing the right questions are asked, can be an excellent way of qualifying lead generation, and learning more about your audience. This is often referred to as social currency. 

 Gaining insights from your audience is extremely valuable, as this will help you to identify what content your audience would like to see more of. Do make sure you take the time to see who your audience are, and measure the successful of the content you have put out historically. If you are disappointed in engagement levels your only option is to try something new - as opposed to hoping your audience come around to it…

5. Conversations 

Start conversations with your audience as interaction is key to retention. It often gets forgotten that social media is supposed to be a conversation, an interaction between the content creator and observer. Engagement is only possible is two people/accounts interact. Regramming content will become trickier with the new EU content regulations in 2019, so instead encourage followers to produce their own responses to your content. This could be as simple as a comment in response to a question in your caption. Content posted often provokes discussions, thus creating trends - and it is important to try and find the time to respond to your comments or messages. 

 Facebook (and therefore Instagram) have made no secret of the fact that they push “meaningful conversations” above all other content, so it’s really important that your content has depth and meaning for your audience. This is why, we feel, influencers in the parenting space boomed in 2018 as they were the ones who were most open and honest about their every day experiences raising a child - leading to audiences a deeper connection with other topics; fashion, home, beauty, etc. 

 Whilst responding to every message might not always be possible, do remember that social media was formed on the basis that it keeps people connected and it’s likely you will gain valuable insights by keeping these conversations going. 

6. Copy

Leading on from point 5, writing copy that elicits a response is essential when considering content. For example if you are looking to share a blog post, then try asking questions that encourage interaction, or maybe even ask your audience to share their thoughts on a subject? Perhaps you might look to start a discussion on a trending topic, a thought-provoking subject or something that you know your audience is likely to want to engage with? 

 Most importantly, remember to write copy as if you are communicating with an individual rather than a large audience. No matter how many followers an account has, engagement is driven by one person viewing the content and therefore the content should speak directly to them. A small group of engaged followers is much more important than a larger group who are not as responsive. 

7. Video

There is no doubt that short and long form video content will become more prominent in 2019. Mark Zuckerburg announced that Facebook is generating 8 billion video views daily, and as they look to launch Watch in Europe and all the video channels look to incorporate stronger portrait-mode video, it’s something to be really aware of.  

 This is something many brands have focused their attention on during 2018, in fact many have completely replaced pictorial content with video - particularly those with a tutorial element to their brands. Look at Charlotte Tilbury and Bose as examples.  

 Using the correct content medium is also equally as important. For example, live videos often lead to discussions, and gain more interactions than regular videos, so perhaps consider switching this up.  Why not try experimenting by repurposing older, successful articles or posts and uploading these as videos?  

8. Content is King

Where do you begin to think about creating brilliant ideas for content? The question you should be asking is, what makes your audience want to share, like and comment? It’s important to keep your content authentic and original, whilst still creating something that is inspiring, and triggers emotions.  

 Try to share life experiences and to tell stories. More than often, viewers are looking for aspirational content, and are drawn to content with practical value which can be actioned or implemented. By sharing real experiences you will instantly make the content more relevant. 

 Knowing your audience and what type of content they are interested in viewing is key – it’s important to communicate trends, or any current subjects, but just remember to keep it authentic. When talking about trends or the latest topics, there are likely to be bigger publishers out there who will have already communicated these issues to their audience, so whilst it’s important to remain current, do try and make it original.  

 Consumers are much less likely to engage with posts which has little to no engagement, and are more likely to respond to content which has been endorsed by a larger following with visible likes, shares and comments as they would naturally associate this source as being credible. 

 Social media platforms are used for personal advantage. We call this social currency; people share content to make them appear knowledgeable on a particular subject area. Social proof your content, and be seen to create something that people are likely to want to approve. Peer-to-peer endorsements are highly credible.

9. Visuals 

Consumers now prefer to see visual and interactive content rather than traditional text or media – they are looking to be inspired by content that is captivating and aspirational. 

 Whilst creating and uploading visually stunning images is key, it’s also really important to remember to keep it authentic, and to upload images that you enjoy creating and sharing with your audience. Use imagery that is relatable, and avoid using stock photos where possible, as these can be really impersonal.  

 Talking to camera live is without a doubt the best method for engagement so if it fits your wider aesthetic do give it a try. Also, add some personality - whilst GIFs and emojis can look distracting they add a level of humour and personality to your content. 

10. Have a Plan

Planning and working to a schedule is essential, both for your audience and you. This will enable you to maintain consistency, and will help you to identify when you need to be interacting and engaging with your audience during the year. 

 Try mapping out what you want to produce and consider what direction you would like focus on? Put together a content schedule and experiment with days and upload times. By doing this you will notice trends and patterns which should help you to plan your content in the long run. 

 Try dedicating some time to research. Consider future trends and also take the time to look at the content that best performed for you last year. Remember the key times for your sector (new season launches, sales, etc) and contact those brands to make sure they’ll let you know when key things are in the pipeline. 

Daniela Rogers