It's one of the most maddening conundrums of social marketing: "I have great content. I'm promoting it. But no one clicks through to actually see it."
Your brand's content isn't the problem. It's you.
As soon as you start thinking your content is great, you get lazy. You begin operating with the assumption that merely tweeting a link to your amazing article/infographic/video will drive a deluge of clicks and retweets. Social just doesn't work that way. It's not about what you post. It's how you post it.
Read on for 5 reasons why no one's clicking on your tweets:
1. Your process.
Most brands treat the social promotion of an asset as an add-on or one-off. In other words, they create content in a silo, then deliver it to the social team with a request to "tweet it out." This is a set-up to fail.
The reason: Individual tweets can't be treated as if they exist in a vacuum. It's crucial they fit seamlessly into a larger stream of outbound social content. Your tweet about an upcoming webinar, for example, doesn't succeed or fail based on 140 characters. In actuality, it lives and dies based on how well you've accounted for larger, real-time nuances: what you've posted in the last day/week, your balance of in-house vs. industry content, and daily patterns in user response and sentiment, just to name a few.
That means you need to do two things:
2. Your tone.
Let's be real: Social is overrun with brands running their mouths with marketing nonsense like forced calls to action, empty claims of being "innovative," "new" or "the leader," and transparent bait-and-switches.
Guess what? Users can see right through that and tune out, so get over yourself. Specifically, tone down the branding in your tweets. Focus instead on the value your users get when they click through.
Most importantly, make the tweet itself a useful piece of content, not a headline. Are you sharing a report or article? Lead with your biggest stat. Are you hosting an event or webinar? Highlight a top tip. Are you debuting a new product? Don't talk about the tech; talk about why it'll make your user's life better.
3. Your presentation.
500 million tweets are sent every single day. That's nearly 5800 tweets every second. That means your amazing content isn't just getting pushed down in a user's feed, it's getting absolutely buried.
So how are you supposed to grab their attention? The key lies in social-visual content: photos and videos.
The numbers back this up. Tweets with images or videos are 3-4x more likely to be clicked on. But it's also vital to understand why social-visual content drives so much more interaction, and that really all comes down to user psychology.
Namely, social-visual content accounts for two factors critical to engagement: clarity and convenience.
Consider a typical marketing tweet: some text, a call-to-action and a link to a landing page where users either have to sift through a large amount of copy or fill out a form to actually get a desired piece of content. It's not necessarily an unexpected - or even ineffective - user experience, but in the speed and brevity-driven world of social, it's quite a commitment.
Photos and videos, on the other hand, take the guesswork out of a tweet. Rather than having to click through to an unknown landing page, social-visual content delivers the core information directly in a user's feed. The end result is a clear message that saves users time and effort.
4. Your perspective.
Social thrives most as a touch point, not an end point.
The problem is that most brands treat social content solely as an end point. Rather than thinking about how to build a lasting relationship with a user, the goal is immediate conversion via a download, video view, or click-through. We get so blinded trying to drive an action on the spot that we make the most critical mistake of all: thinking that we, the marketer, are the most important person in the social relationship.
The truth is that no brand, no matter how awesome, is that interesting all the time. The more we focus on ourselves, the more we alienate our users.
A touch point system, however, frees us from the need to drive conversion with every tweet. Instead, the emphasis is on providing a positive brand experience with each social interaction so that a user slowly (but consistently) moves forward in their customer journey. The goal is long-term acquisition, conversion and retention, not a single click or download.
The end result is a bit of a paradox; by focusing less on coercing action, we often get more engagement than we would've had otherwise.
5. Your reputation.
This one's pretty simple. Your latest asset might be the greatest thing you've ever created, but if the last five pieces you promoted weren't that great, chances are people aren't coming back for the sixth.
Again, this is why tweets can't be treated as if they exist in a vacuum. Meaningful interaction and repeat engagement rests on your credibility as a trusted resource. That reputation comes from the entirety of your social presence - the other tweets in your feed, past content you've shared, your overall promotional mix - not just a single tweet.
Focus on building a track record of delivering useful content. Long-term social success is based on nurtured relationships and that means you need to provide users a reason to keep coming back.
Just because you tweet something doesn't mean anyone will care. That might be a shot to your ego, but if you really want to get big-time social traction, resist the urge to be your own hype man. Instead, stay humble - it'll keep you hungry. Your content just may be legitimately great, but that's not what drives engagement.
The value, experience and relationships you deliver over the long-term are what makes sustainable social success a reality. It's what'll make users come chasing after you the next time you've got something to share.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
John Lee is Manager, Brand and Social Marketing at Webtrends. In 2012, he was recognized by PR Daily for creating both the year's "Best Branding Campaign" and "Event of the Year." Follow him on Twitter @lee_john.
March 19, 2014