Do You Have to Produce Video Content to Succeed in Social Media Marketing?

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So, if a social media expert, or someone going under a similar moniker, comes to you and tells you that absolutely, definitely have to create video content, it might be time to look for a new advisor. Video is powerful, no doubt, it’s a great way to generate engagement and build your brand online – the expanded capacity of mobile networks and the evolution of apps and social platforms has enabled a new age of video communication. But if you’re only producing video content in order to make videos, to ‘do video’ content, it’s quite possible that you’re missing the point, and will struggle as a result.

A Question of Quality

The thing is, bad content is bad content. It won’t matter if it’s video, audio, performance art – if no one likes it, it won’t get shared. Actually that’s not true, maybe people not liking it is what you’re going for, and that leads to people sharing – if it’s not sparking an emotional response of some kind, it’s going nowhere. And this is the biggest risk in the new wave of video content – while everyone should consider, and be encouraged to think about how they can utilise video in their social marketing plan, if you don’t have an original or interesting idea, it may not actually be worth it. The increased emphasis on video is seeing people make video content for the sake of making it – I’ve seen people post videos of themselves holding static products as they wave a description card along the bottom of the screen. I’ve seen content like this, from Mike, who repeatedly yells at the camera that he ‘buys golf clubs’. Okay, Mike’s a bad example, that video’s actually been shared a heap of times, but you get my point – making video for the sake of making video is probably not the best way to go. I mean, it won’t cost you a heap – the array of video recording and production apps these days enable anyone to make good quality video at low cost – but the problem is, if the quality of video content, overall, starts to drop, and people’s news feeds get flooded with average quality posts, users will start to complain. And complaints lead to algorithm shifts.

“And Like That… He’s Gone”

Facebook, above all else, values user experience. This has been debated over time, whether they care about users or money, but Zuckerberg’s line has always been that user experience is their number one priority. And it’s hard to argue it isn’t, almost every major Facebook algorithm shift has been triggered by user feedback; users said they didn’t like clickbait, so Facebook altered their filter; users didn’t want to see anymore overly promotional posts, so they were de-emphasised by the algorithm. Facebook knows that above all else their power is in audience engagement on the platform. And they also know that people can and will migrate to other platforms if there’s a better experience on offer – this, of course, is how Facebook supplanted MySpace in the first place. In social media, if you lose the crowd, you lose, a fact that all the major platforms are acutely aware of, and as a result, they tread more carefully than ever when rolling out updates and features.

So what happens when people start seeing an increase in content they don’t like? They complain, and Facebook is forced to re-evaluate how that type of content is distributed. Right now, native video content is getting the highest organic reach of any post type, but that could change, and such a change could literally happen overnight. Currently, Facebook’s distribution algorithm is pretty good at filtering out low quality content – organic reach is, of course, at the lowest it’s ever been, so it’s pretty hard to reach a significant audience anyway, and their ad filtering works on a quality scoring type system to reduce the reach of ads that no one’s responding to. But low quality content, in whatever form that may be, degrades user experience and forces Facebook to re-evaluate how they distribute it in order to satisfy the needs and expectations of users. Making bad video content is bad overall, as you’re not only potentially hurting your own reach (in terms of past content performance influencing future posts), but you might also be contributing to a wider resistance to video posts, overall.

There Can Be More Than One…

The argument here is not video or Facebook-specific. – there’s an inherent risk to over-emphasising any one type of content. If you force people to create video – or blog, or post infographics – making people focus on any one type of content will inevitably lead to some people struggling to produce quality work in that form. I love blogging, I write all the time, but I know plenty of people who struggle with it, and I’ve seen them post average quality work which, invarably, ends up getting limited engagement, and this is frustrating for them because they’ve been told they absolutely, definitely have to blog. But maybe they’d be better off focussing on something they can do confidently – it’s possible that they could have massive success producing live streams for Periscope. Maybe they’re not so good at writing, but really good at conversation – Hangouts on Air or Twitter chats might be a better focus. Definitely, written content is a key element, particularly for SEO purposes – and outside production assistance is always an option (cost prohibitive) – but you might also be able to also utilise transcripts, Storify logs – there are different ways to ensure you’re ticking all the right content boxes.

To say anyone needs to create content of any specific type is potentially risky, and with so many options now available to connect, it may be keeping them from their best option to generate interest and engagement.

What’s Good for Them is Good for You

So what content should you focus on? The best way to make content your audience will love is to listen to them. Analyse what your communities are talking about and sharing, look at the key interests and topics being discussed amongst those most likely to buy from you or your business. You can use apps like Social Crawlytics to establish where and what content is driving the most social referrals to your site, or use BuzzSumo to search for what types of content is most shared amongst those in your industry. If you don’t have enough content of your own to form an indicative assessment, run your competitors’ websites through those same apps and see what’s driving the most engagement for them. If they’re seeing a heap of engagement with image posts or quizzes, maybe that’s what you should do too.

Identifying trends and commonalities amongst your audience is the best way to inform your own content planning, as this will enable you to work with what your audience is after, what they’re interested in and most likely to respond to. And of course, that’s not to say you should be afraid to trying new forms or resistant to testing out what can be done with various types of content – video is absolutely generating great response and there’s a wide range of tools available to experiment with in the video arena, all brands should be considering their options on that front. But you shouldn’t be making video for the sake of making video. There’s no point to that and you’re likely not helping your brand any by posting content that’s lacking in passion, purpose or creativity. Content is crucial, but what type of content you create should be driven by what your audience is responding to and what’s within your capacity to provide.

But then again, it’s always possible that your worst idea might end up getting the most attention. Now, I’ve gotta go find some old golf clubs.

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