Content Strategy-Then and Now
In 2010, many brands were still experimenting with social media as a potential marketing channel. At the time, only a handful of brands were on social, thus allowing a push heavy content strategy to work. It did not take long for brands to quickly realize that social media was a cost-effective marketing channel with one of the highest reach with millennials.
Since then, thousands of brands have flooded to social media to broadcast their messaging. The modern day social scene is noisier than ever before as brands compete aggressively for the millennial dollar. In 2015, social media has transformed into a pay-to-play arena with major social networks such as Facebook and Twitter now prioritizing paid ads over organic reach. Today, having an adaptive content strategy will determine a brand's social success.
Source: Pew Research Center
There's no doubt that millennials hate promotional and sales content. When given the opportunity, they would rather tune out or even 'Hide' such content from their newsfeed. As a result, brands are then penalized by the newsfeed algorithm for future messaging.
To avoid this pitfall, a content strategy should be developed with a storytelling narrative. Contrary to popular beliefs, millennials do enjoy consuming branded content. However, such content must be relevant with a storytelling narrative. This involves factors such as authenticity, humor, and timeliness.
Millennials will follow a brand on social media if they strongly believe in such brand's mission and values. They expect those values to be the backbone of the content being broadcasted through social channels. Content that is narrated through a storytelling narrative will evoke emotion that brings millennials closer to a brand. Brands such as Dove is successful on social media because they can bridge their product with a storytelling driven narrative. Instead of sales pitches, Dove's content is centered around the relatable lifestyle of their customers such as motherhood and fatherhood.
In 2014, Facebook began pushing for video content. Facebook went as far as to prioritize videos over all other content within its newsfeed algorithm. At its annual developers F8 conference earlier in 2015, Mark Zuckerburg announced that over three billion videos are consumed daily on Facebook's newsfeeds (Source: LinkedIn). Zuckerburg commented that video content will become a stable for Facebook as users move on from consuming primarily photo content.
Millennials love video content for one reason alone: they are easy to consume and relatable. According to a recent study, 67% millennials said videos on social networks such as YouTube and Facebook delivered more relatable content opposed to the 41% for TV. Video content is also influencing purchasing patterns where 63% millennials said they would try a product or brand recommended by a YouTube star vs. 48% from a TV or movie star (Source: Hunter Qualitative Research) .
One company that has mastered the art of video content creation is BuzzFeed, an online news media company. BuzzFeed has over hundreds of videos listed on Facebook and YouTube with over millions of views combined. Many millennials consume BuzzFeed videos because they are short, yet very relatable. BuzzFeed has started monetizing their video content with product placement, which has gone unopposed by their millennial viewers.
Source: BuzzFeed's Facebook Videos Page
Content distribution on social media has always been done via management tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer. Many social media managers tend to neglect that mobile is one of the top sources for social media consumption among millennials. Year-to-year growth alone, 2015 saw a 23% increase in active mobile social accounts, a growth of over 300 million social accounts (Source: WeAreSocial).
What does this mean for brands? Content should be optimized for social. Understand how your assets such as visuals and videos will be shown on mobile. For example, Twitter in-stream photo has a minimum 440 x 220 pixels, or a 2:1 ratio. Large photos will shrink when experienced through mobile devices. However, collapsed images that follow the 2:1 proportion will less likely be cut off when converted from desktop to mobile.
How about video content? Although despised by many, vertical videos are on the rise. Many social networks such as Snapchap, Meerket, and Periscope are embracing vertical videos. They firmly believe that mobile users primarily hold their phone upright and rarely rotate their device horizontally. Snapchat even came out to say that vertical video ads have 9x the completion rate than their horizontal counterpart (Source: Adweek). With that in mind, video dimension should be adjusted based on where and who you want to target. Targeting Snapchat and millennials? Vertical videos will perform better. Uploading YouTube assets? Horizontal videos are still the best way to go.
Social media is quickly growing. Brands will continue to flood to social media to broadcast their messaging. As social media deviates from its roots of push marketing, brands must adjust their content strategy to engage with millennials. Storytelling, video content, and mobile optimization are just a few factors that marketers must consider when developing a content strategy.
What are your thoughts on the evolution of content consumption on social media? What are your advice to increase content engagement with millennials? Join the conversation, and tweet @taictran with #socialmillennialtoday.
Social Millennial Today is an exclusive Social Media Today column that runs on the first Friday of every month.