What is Social Media Content — and How Can it Help Your Brand?
Have you wondered how the phrase “Content is king” became popular? We can thank Bill Gates, who used this very phrase as the title of his 1996 essay, where he declared:
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet…”
Decades later, Gates’s statement still holds true, especially on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube. Ask any marketer today, and they will tell you that the right social media content served to the right audiences on the right channels is essential for building your online brand.
Sharing content on social media—such as text posts, images, videos, stories, and links—lets you reach your customers on a more personal level, promoting meaningful interactions while building trust. If done right, this will eventually lead to higher revenues for your business.
Why Create Social Media Content?
Social media content plays a crucial role in helping your business to achieve the following objectives:
- Build brand awareness
- Establish thought leadership (to raise your brand’s profile)
- Generate leads
- Engage audiences
- Drive sales
- Strengthen customer loyalty
By putting out high-quality original content, you can transform your business’s social media channels into go-to destinations for your customers– to serve their entertainment, educational, and inspirational needs.
However, this is no easy task, as the Internet is already overloaded with information, with new content being generated all the time.
In order to catch and hold your audience’s attention, you will need to deliver well-planned, quality content that is highly relevant to them. As such, you should focus on sharing videos, posts, stories, and reels that are clearly aligned to your customers’ interests, goals, and pain points (problems and challenges).
To develop a successful social media content strategy for your brand, you should:
- Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based) content goals
- Identify your target audiences
- Take note of which channels and posts have performed well—see if there are patterns you can replicate, such as story themes, content formats, or viewing times
- Create a social media content calendar and work out a sustainable posting schedule—don’t start off with a bang and lose steam gradually
- Use analytics data to see what’s working—or not working—for your brand, and finetune your strategy as you go along
12 Types of Social Media Content to Create
Before you create or share any content on your brand’s social media pages, ask yourself, “What value will this add to my customers’ lives?” Focus on sharing positive and transformative content, which will reflect well on your brand.
To make your brand’s social media feeds more enticing, try experimenting with different content formats. However, do ensure that all of your shared content accurately reflects your brand’s values.
There is a wide variety of content types for you to choose from– we’ve listed 120 in this article– but below, you’ll find 12 of some of the most popular content types that are typically shared on social media.
1. Articles, blogs, and guides
Build credibility with short-form content formats—like carousel posts—and long-form content formars––like articles and guides––to showcase your brand’s knowledge and expertise. As there is plenty of information out there vying for your audience’s attention, you should think of creative ways to present the relevant information to your audience, so that your they will enjoy reading your advice, regard your brand as an industry expert, and come back for more.
Compared to a social media caption or blog post, you can share longer and more in-depth content in an e-book—organised in chapters—to truly demonstrate your industry expertise. You can upload an e-book pdf on LinkedIn and Facebook, or share a link on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. Remember to make your e-books visual and easy to swipe on a mobile device.
3. External content
If you don’t have time to create your own content—or if your content producer is on vacation—don’t worry. You can always choose to share quality content from sources that you trust, such as industry leaders. Remember to add your own two cents when you share such content, thereby adding value to your audience and showing them that they can rely on you for sensible opinions about the industry you’re in.
Research has shown that people rarely read online. Instead, they tend to skim content, which is why visuals are important to help ensure that viewers don’t bounce off your posts too quickly. To create your own visuals, use images that are sharp and of high resolution. When including pictures of people, choose images that represent the diversity of your audience.
Videos aren’t just meant for YouTube or TikTok—they also perform well on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, which prioritise videos to show up on feeds. These days, one can capture a quality video with a smartphone, and you can easily produce content ranging from how-to guides to product demonstrations, and even tours, which can drive high traffic to your website and bring about conversions.
On Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, “Stories” refer to images or short videos that appear in social media feeds for 24 hours before being archived. As Stories are short-lived, this format is most useful for updating customers on events and offers, or giving them a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your business. Stories don’t have to have the best production quality and sometimes benefit from being a bit “gritty”. As such, feel free to be experimental, while keeping in mind your overall brand voice.
7. Livestream videos
Also known as “live” videos, this format has gained popularity because a livestream can be filmed cheaply on a smartphone, while generating buzz to attract large audiences for product launches, fashion shows, and sales promotions. Live streaming is seen as an effective way to authentically engage audiences, with the potential to increase sales intent by up to 97%, and brand association (a connection between a brand and a concept) by up to 139%.
Need to give your customers important information? Infographics help to make complex information more digestible, by using attractive visuals to convey meaning. In your infographics, you can feature pie charts, bar charts, or line graphs to highlight trends, or combine distinctive icons to catch a viewer’s eye.
9. Testimonials and reviews
These stories are a chance to appeal to your customers’ emotions and address their problems—along with how your product or service has come along to save the day. Be sure to capture your customers’ attention by featuring a relatable story that they can identify with. Where possible, use photo and video testimonials, as these may come across as more authentic than a purely textual story.
Is something big happening with your business? If you’ve hit a milestone, are launching a new product, or plan to run a big event, do share this with your customers. To add interest, don’t reveal the news all at once, but use teasers to intrigue your audience and keep them coming back for more updates. Use the full gamut of social media content formats—posts, videos, stories, reels (Instagram’s equivalent of TikTok videos), shorts (YouTube’s equivalent of TikTok videos) to give a preview.
Most people enjoy taking part in contests—not just for the prizes, but for the thrill of competition. If you decide to run a contest, you should choose an enticing prize that is related to your business, so that you attract participants who have the potential to be paying customers. Do be mindful not to make your contests too challenging, as this will deter many people from participating.
12. Holiday posts
People tend to be happier than usual during national holidays, so don’t miss this opportunity to catch your customers in a good mood. Keep your holiday posts relevant to your community—use high-quality visuals, write copy that is heartwarming and shareable, and include a call-to-action.
Eight Types of Social Media Content to Avoid
Do take note that not all content is king—in fact, poor content could erode your brand’s credibility and alienate your customers from your brand. Below, read about eight types of content that you should think twice about posting on your brand’s social media feeds:
1. Negative Posts about Customers or Clients
When an angry customer or client engages with you, you can treat this as a service recovery opportunity, where your positive response to the customer could help to salvage the relationship. By remaining calm and choosing to settle the matter privately, you might be able to turn the situation around and convert a dissatisfied client into one who is willing to give you a second chance. Such clients may be so impressed with your level of customer service that they turn into brand advocates, by recommending others to choose your brand.
2. Irrelevant viral content
If you decide to share viral content, do ensure that it is not disrespectful to specific communities, and is perceived to have some relevance to your audience and your brand, lest you lose followers. For instance, an accounting company sharing a Squid Game meme may go viral on Instagram, but might not do anything for the company’s credibility if the meme doesn’t address an accounting-specific topic.
3. Political or religious posts
If you are the brand owner, the decision on sharing political or religious viewpoints may be a personal one, and you have every right to align your brand values with your personal values. But do be aware that sharing political or religious content might alienate or offend a portion of your audience, and cause them to unfollow your brand.
4. Content that isn’t edited or proofread
Posts that contain typos can be perceived as amateurish or lacking in professionalism—and this may cause readers to doubt the credibility of your brand. Ideally, you should ensure that there is a second pair of eyes perusing your content prior to posting. If this isn’t possible, use a speech tool to read out your text before posting, to weed out the most obvious errors.
5. Overtly promotional content
The bulk of your social media content should inform, entertain, and engage your audience, so as to connect with your customers and build your brand’s influence. These aims will not be achieved if you focus primarily on sharing promotional content—if you see an increase in the number of unfollows or unsubscribes, it is time to re-evaluate your content mix.
6. Content inconsistence with your branding
Let’s say you are providing legal services—it doesn’t add value to your brand if you share recipes with your audience. When it comes to brand content, choose only topics that will help to reinforce your brand and its offerings, and set your brand apart from its competitors– not topics that you have a personal interest in. Doing so helps you to avoid confusing your customers or worse, breaking their trust.
7. Misleading content
While marketers advocate attention-grabbing headlines and claims, these should always be truthful and backed by credible evidence.
8. Unattributed content
If you share content created by others on your brand page, always credit your sources. This small step will help you to avoid accusations of plagiarism, and your brand will be seen as responsible and trustworthy.
Although we live in a world where anyone with an Internet connection can be a social media content producer, it is not a responsibility to take lightly.
Producing and sharing quality content on social media—in a variety of formats—is an investment of your time and effort. But it is a worthwhile investment, as you will bolster your brand’s reputation, and develop a meaningful and long-term relationship with your customers. In time, this will lead to higher revenues for your business.
Need more tips on creating social media content? We cover this in our WSQ Social Media Marketing (SMM) course, along with other aspects of social media marketing. You can browse our course page, or get in touch with us to find out more.
Walter is the Founder and Chief Content Strategist of Cooler Insights, with over 25 years of leadership experience in content & social media marketing, PR, strategy, and industry development. He is also the lead trainer for the Social Media courses here at Equinet Academy.