How Social-First Content Can Boost Your Marketing

Using social-first content allows brands to harness the power of social media to reach large audiences. Content created specifically for social media can make a strong impression on consumers and inspire offline content that makes an impact.

If you are still simply sharing your website’s content on your brand’s social media accounts, then it’s time to reimagine what social media can do. Social media is not only an effective channel for distributing web content, but also a place where you can build a following.

Why brands choose social-first

On social media, you can create and share content that shows a side of your brand consumers don’t get to see in a television commercial or experience through an online advert.

Creating content specifically for social media can put brands in a better position to grab consumer attention. This is because audiences often expect a different tone of voice on each social network. When you correctly tailor your content for each platform, that content is more likely to resonate with users.

It’s also an opportunity for you to produce content that is specifically made to be shared with friends, allowing you to tap into the power of word-of-mouth.

Many big brands with large marketing teams have already realised the potential of social-first content. Some companies are, however, still not seeing social media as a unique digital marketing channel that requires marketers to create exclusive content.

What is social-first content?

Marketers have differing opinions about the definition of social-first content. Articles written on the subject reveal that some marketers consider social-first content simply as text, images and videos that are tailored for different social media networks.

For other marketers, social-first means approaching your whole marketing campaign from a different angle. Instead of launching a marketing campaign across various marketing mediums, such as television and billboards, social-first campaigns can be considered as marketing content that is made available only on social media platforms.

From there, a social-first campaign can grow to include other marketing mediums like broadcast and print media. However, the content appears on social media before it appears anywhere else. It is also where the campaign gains its following and where engagement with the content starts.

Social-first content is everywhere

In the last few years, a handful of international brands have experimented with social-first campaigns and even social-first strategies.

In 2012, Microsoft launched the ‘Bing is for doing’ initiative to promote the Bing web search engine. According to the marketing-focused Drum Magazine, the initiative kicked off in April that year with Microsoft asking users “what they wanted to do more than anything else in the world”. From there, the initiative turned into a multiscreen advertising campaign, which included a television commercial.

Guinness is one of latest brands to take a significant step towards social-first content with its 60-second video advert. As part of the ‘Made of More’ campaign, the commercial was launched on Instagram first. It only ran on television after it appeared on the social network.

Tailored social media content is the new standard

Social-first content has become a standard on many social networks. Content on Instagram is an example. Brands often post content on this platform that is produced exclusively for Instagram.

Snapchat takes the requirement for social-first content even further. Video content for Snapchat has to be under 10 seconds long, so these videos have to be tailored for Snapchat right from the planning phase. Added to that, Snapchat content has to cater to the preferences of Snapchat’s younger audience. This audience expects to see Snaps and Stories decorated with filters, drawings and stickers.

Why social-first content works for marketers

You can reach a younger audience

Content that is tailored to social media platforms, and is therefore more attention grabbing on these platforms, can effectively reach millennials and Gen Z consumers.

Guinness chose a social-first Instagram advert for exactly this reason. “The audience we are after seek all new information on their social media feeds,” Stephen O’Kelly, Guinness’ marketing director for Western Europe, told Marketing Week.

“We recognise that our brand content is most valuable to millennial audiences when it is new, so we want to give social influencers and brand advocates the chance to share it socially before it airs on TV.”

It inspires content on other channels

Microsoft’s 2012 campaign showed that the engagement social media generates can be used to develop digital and offline content like video commercials.

The US direct sales cosmetics company Mary Kay relied on this concept in August 2016 for its ‘Market the Opportunity’ campaign. The multi-platform campaign started on social media, where the Mary Kay brand posted photos of its Independent Beauty Consultants. The social posts inspired television commercials and five digital billboards in Times Square, New York City.

Social media makes it easy to create interactive content

Social media is built on engagement. As a marketing medium, it gives brands the ability to reach out to consumers, and hear from them. In this way, social-first content – whether in the form of a poll, a quiz or a simple question – is one of the easiest ways for consumers to interact with a brand’s content.

It works for promoting digital products

What better way to promote a digital product, such as a video streaming service, than through a digital channel like social media.

It’s what the subscription video-on-demand service Hulu did when it wanted to spread the word about its new Freakish television series. Marketers of the campaign explained that they wanted to meet their audience “where they already consume media and video content, which led to a first-of-its-kind partnership with Tumblr.”

The brand created a Freakish-branded Tumblr that encouraged viewers them to watch the entire first season of the show when it premiered.

Ready to tackle social-first content? Learn how to use your social media content to create powerful stories in our article, Reach out with Instagram and Snapchat Stories.


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