Does your business use social media? Nearly half of all small businesses (48%) do.
Incredibly, that’s basically the same number as have websites.
Social media is certainly popular. And it makes sense a lot of small businesses use it. It’s largely free, for starters. And it’s not too tough to learn, especially if you’ve been practicing with it for personal use.
But are small businesses getting good results from all this social media work? The answer to that depends on which study you cite. But generally, social media does not get top marks for effectiveness.
Part of this is because it’s still so new. Many businesses are still trying to figure out how to make social media work for them. Social media also takes up a lot of time. It’s hard to find enough interesting content to fill up a feed.
That content is what makes social media work. Without the interesting content, engagement drops off. And as engagement falls, so do all the benefits of social media – the traffic, the leads, the followers. It’s a bit of a negative loop.
If you’re having trouble coming up with good content ideas, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Even if you’ve been good about publishing content regularly, most marketers find that simply announcing new blog posts on their feeds is not enough.
Audiences want more. If we want to keep their attention we need to try new stuff and be willing to show who we are.
This actually isn’t too hard. It doesn’t have to take up much time, either. You just need some inspiration. So here’s 21 ideas for social media content to help you shake things up.
1. A new blog post… or any other new content, including e-books, infographics or webinars
Okay – this one’s not terribly creative. Let’s just get it out of the way up front.
But you do need to keep sharing your own content. Just not too much – keep it to about 10-20% of all your posts.
2. A poll
Interactive content – like polls and quizzes – is very popular right now. There’s a reason: It gets great engagement and lots of shares. Try to sprinkle at least one poll a week into your feeds.
3. A sweepstakes or giveaway
These do require a prize (which usually isn’t free). But if you’ve got enough time to promote them, these type of posts can do very well.
A word of caution, though: Sweeps and giveaways work best if you’ve got a fairly large audience. This isn’t a beginner tactic.
4. A caption writing contest
In a “boring” industry? These are a great way to liven up a feed. All you need is a photograph (it’s even better if you use one you shot yourself).
Don’t forget to celebrate the winning caption, either. One of the nicest things about caption contests is that they can fill up 3-6 post slots.
5. The video from an event
Social media fans love videos. They don’t have to be long, either. Even 10-15 seconds is enough. Two to three minutes is the max.
6. Customer feedback
One of the best features of social media is interaction with customers. Even if it doesn’t always go well.
But sometimes, things do go well, and a customer says something nice. Showcase it when they do.
7. A product announcement
It’s okay: About 5% of the time, you are allowed to promote your services. Just don’t do it too much.
8. A product tutorial
Tutorials often end up selling more stuff than straight promotions.
9. A how-to tutorial that’s not related to a product
Be useful. Then be even more useful. Entire companies have been built on this principle.
10. Announce an event or award
If you do any charity work, definitely mention it on social. Include a photo, too. If you go to an event, take a photo and post it. Win an award? That’s definitely worth a post.
11. User-generated content
You’ll know you’re really building an audience and goodwill when people send you their photos with your products (or using your services). Get their blessing first, but then re-share this content. It’s some of the best advertising you’ll get.
12. Taking a vote on something your company does
This is kinda like a contest… but a little different. Asking your audience for feedback (“We need your help!”) is a great way to build participation.
13. Photos of people in your company
This is a great way to show company culture. It’s also excellent for recruitment.
14. Third-party content
Yes – you can and should share other people’s content. A lot. Like 30% of your posts should be from other sources. Just give people credit.
15. Employee profiles
Introduce your staff to the world. Or just wish them “Happy Birthday.”
16. Photos of company kids
Everybody loves baby photos. And showing employees with their children can go a long way toward humanizing a business.
17. Pet photos of employees
Most everybody likes the fur kids, too.
18. Inspirational quotes or company goals
Most feeds have a lot of these type of posts – as much as 10-20%. Because they’re used so much, I like to batch the production of inspirational quote posts. So we’ll find 10-15 quotes at a time and get them all ready to be posted. Then we’ll either schedule them for later or hold them to be published when we need to fill a slot.
You can also post about your company goals.
These can get a lot of interaction. Just be sure you’ve got permission to use them.
20. Photos of the world
For those days when you actually do get out of the office.
21. Previously published posts
I saved the best for last. It’s A-OK to republish your older posts – especially if they got a lot of engagement. I’d recommend republishing one older, high-performing post at least every few days.
Once you start to brainstorm, it seems like there’s no end to content ideas for your social media accounts. And there’s not. As new features are created, and people become more and more comfortable with social (who knows what the kids will dream up next), there will be even more tactics available.
That doesn’t mean you have to use every one. It’s good to test different types of content, but don’t force things. If one type of post just doesn’t seem to work for your account, don’t use it.
Stick with what works. Then check your analytics, consider ways to make those posts work even better, and test again. Social media marketing needs to be in continual evolution, always refining itself. Given how quickly it evolves, that’s essential.
This article was written by Brian Sutter from Forbes.