Why Quality Content is Your Key to Social Media Success

Written by Hannah Richards, Director of Brand Engagement at Ethos|VONT

I’ve been working in social media for quite a few years. I started back in the “curated content” days, when business pages were in their infancy and Instagram didn’t even exist. And while pretty much everything about the space has changed in that time—there’s one thing that has stayed the same, and that’s businesses seeking a specific and scalable formula for success on social media. 

And the truth is, there was a time when that was possible…when you could “hack” the algorithms with hashtags or keywords or specific content types in order to generate higher visibility and engagement. But those days, I’m (not really) sorry to say—are over.

There’s No Silver Bullet to Success

In today’s highly saturated and remarkably entertaining content universe, there is no secret to success on social media. I repeat, there is no silver bullet. There is only consistency, quality and a commitment to building relationships with your audience. That’s it. That’s the hack.

The way to achieve genuine awareness and engagement on social media is to stop creating content for your brand, and start creating content for your audience—content that people actually want to watch.

Closing the Gap: Why Brand Content Falls Flat

If you’re wondering what exactly people want to see on social media—we’ll get to that. But when it comes to brand content, it’s even more important to know what consumers DON’T want.

The biggest disconnect between brands and consumers is the way they approach—and what they expect—from social media. Brands typically approach the platforms as advertising and marketing tools. But consumers don’t want to be advertised to on social media. They want to be engaged and feel valued. They want to be treated like friends and family rather than prospects.

This gap between consumer expectations and brand social strategy is what causes such a large percentage of brand content to fall flat.

Instead of (or in addition to) using social media as an “immediate-return” advertising platform, consider investing in the long game. Consider creating content that connects rather than compels—building relationships with your audience over time yields valuable dividends in the form of ongoing conversions, loyalty, and brand ambassadorship.

Things NOT to Post Include: 

  • Cut downs of your TV ad
  • Infographics about your brand/business or why people should buy from you
  • Screenshots from your website
  • Siloed product images

3 Types of Content People Do Want To Watch

So if people don’t want to be advertised to on social media—what do they want? It’s actually relatively simple. There are three categories of content that perform well on social: personal, useful, and entertaining. The very best content contains elements of each of these categories, but let’s start by breaking down the specifics.

1. Personal

The simplest definition of this type of content is content with people in it. But personal content is more than just a human being in the image or video—it’s content that peels back the “brand” and gets under the surface or behind the scenes. It’s raw, authentic, and unexpected. It’s the opposite of advertising content—it’s relationship content.

“When it comes to social,” says Sprout Social Chief Marketing Officer Jamie Gilpin, “we react and interact with our friends and family in personal ways. We have that same expectation for a brand.”

Positioning your brand as a faceless entity is a recipe for lackluster engagement. Instead, consider empowering a founder, employee or even a mascot to bring personality and personal connection to your brand’s social media presence. 

Personal Content Ideas: 

  • Day in the Life
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Personal Narrative/Perspective
  • Product Reviews

2. Useful

Another popular content category is what we call “useful” content. This could be content that’s educational in nature (i.e., a how-to video) or simply content that answers a question or provides insight that’s useful to the audience. For example, a product review or sharing of industry insider info. The key here is to have a good understanding of what your audience wants to know or what would make their life easier. It’s important to make sure your content is communicating things your audience wants to know vs. things YOU want them to know. It’s also important that you convey that information in a quick, concise and easy-to-understand format. Think Cliff Notes vs. textbook content.

Useful Content Ideas: 

  • How-To Videos
  • Hacks
  • Industry Insider Info
  • Inspo Videos (outfits, recipes, etc.)

3. Entertaining

To be perfectly honest, all of your content should be entertaining—it’s pretty much a cost of entry at this point. But what makes something entertaining? In short, it has to evoke emotion. Whether that’s laughter, joy, empathy, inspiration, or even anger (anger can be motivating!), entertaining content makes us feel something. It might seem like a tall ask to make sure all of your content is entertaining, but once you stop thinking about social media as advertising, and start thinking about it as relationship building, the entertaining content starts to come a lot easier. Remember, not everything needs to sell. If you can make someone FEEL, you’re building relationships that will eventually result in sales. Trust the process!

Entertaining Content Ideas: 

  • Memes
  • POV Videos
  • GRWM (Get Ready With Me) Videos
  • Transition/Transformation Videos

Authentic Connections Are The Key to Social Media Success

While the strategy may be simple, creating personal, useful, and entertaining content on the regular certainly is not. It’s a big investment that requires ongoing research, engagement (from more than just the social media or marketing teams) and creativity. 

But in the ever-changing landscape of social media, there’s no secret formula or shortcut to success anymore. Investing time, effort, and creativity to build authentic connections with your audience is the key to sustainable social media success.

About Ethos 

Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies inside and outside of Maine. At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – its ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference for each client’s unique marketing and business objectives. With Ethos, you get more than a marketing agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals. 
Learn more about the Ethos approach and the work we’ve done for our clients. Want to have a conversation about your brand’s core truth? Contact us today!

Hannah Richards
Written By

Hannah Richards

Director of Brand Engagement