This week I got a number of questions regarding social media and how it can be used best. Yet all questions were similar and they all addressed the notion of impact and reach. In essence the questions came down to this: „Which platform would give my blogpost the highest possible reach?“

This is a question that is not that easy to answer, because in my opinion it is the wrong question to ask. The question that I would think is far more important is: How can I achieve the highest relevant impact with my content and how can I use the different social media channels to grab the attention of my target audience?

One of the important things to understand about social media, is that the tools differ, but the people on the platforms are (often times) the same. Users generally use 3-4 types of social media on a daily basis. Facebook to keep in touch with friends, Medium to read in-depth articles, LinkedIn for business and industry insights and instagram to get inspired.

We have to understand that, although the users are the same their expectations per social media channel differ tremendously. Not so much as to the type of content they would love to see, hear or read about, but the way it is presented to them.

Who is it that you want to reach?

The first question you need to answer is: who is/represents the target audience that you want to reach? It is important that you understand who it is that you would like to address with your content. Although there is a clear overlap across nearly all social media platforms, the attention that you will get from your target audience varies. The time spend on each of the social media tools varies per demographic and topic.

Take Instagram for example; Instagram is great as a source of inspiration for many. It is a tool where health enthusiasts, travelers and fashionistas meet to show off their lives and skills. If you would like to sell an insurance, or bitcoins, there could be a possible mismatch. Even if that perfect 40-50 year old male target audience also use Instagram, they will not be using it to learn more about insurances or bitcoins.

Their focus will be on something entirely different. Your content needs to fit the platform that you are trying to use. If there is an obvious mismatch, the interaction rates will not nearly be as good as you will need them to be.

What is it that you would like them to know?

As a second notion it is therefore important to understand what it is that you would like to tell your audience. You should have probably done this in the first place before asking where you can post your content. Where you post your content and how you post your content depends strongly on the story you would like to tell.

If you want someone to listen to you, you need to create a compelling story that fits his or her needs and tells them something that interests them. Knowing what you would like to share and get their attention for is key to getting their attention in the first place. The obvious problem with the questions I received this week were regarding exactly this point. The content was created without taking the platform dynamics in mind.

What type of content should you create?

If you would like to be successful with your content, you need to create content that is suitable to the social media platform. Everyone is talking about video and podcasts at the moment, but this type of content does not work very well on Facebook or LinkedIn just yet. Instagram, YouTube and Soundcloud (iTunes) might be far better suitable to this type of content.

One of the main mistakes that people make when sharing content is that they apply a one size fits all approach. They write one perfect blog entry and then post it on all social media channels (generally as a simple link with a short description). Simply ignoring the way each platform works.

What works best: Authentic story telling in the context of the social media platform

For example: If you want to grab someone‘s attention on Instagram, you need to start doing stories and create image material that draws the readers attention. If you want to be successful on LinkedIn you need to be a decent writer and start to post your blogs and opinions / insights. Funny memes and GIFs are misplaced and don‘t work here.

You’ve got content, great! If you don’t, where should you start?

I firmly believe that you should stick to that what you do best. This is the easiest way to make an impact. If you are a great writer, you should use that skill to do exactly that. Write articles, case studies and possibly even full books. The more the better. Don‘t try to create video content if you don‘t feel comfortable in front of a camera.

Don‘t post pictures on instagram just for the sake of posting something because it has the highest „interacting“ audience. If your message and content does not match that of the social media platform, it will most probably simple be a waste of time.

If you have got some great content already go through these steps and think about:

  1. What is the type of content that I have?
  2. Which target audience does my content fit to?
  3. Where would I be able to place the content that I already have (is there a natural fit for my content)?
  4. How should I package my content so that it grabs the readers/viewers/users attention?
  5. What do I want them to do as soon as I have their attention (register, buy something, contact me)?
  6. How can I achieve just that?

If you are just getting started and you don‘t have that perfect piece of content you would like to share just yet, think about the following:

  1. What is the message that you would like to convey?
  2. What would be the best place to find the desired audience?
  3. What is the type of content that you need to reach that audience?
  4. What would great story telling look like for that platform?
  5. How can I get the attention of the people on that platform?
  6. Do you have the skills and resources to create suitable content for that platform?

The Bottomline is that you need to understand that in order to make an impact with your content, it needs to suit the platform that you are targeting.

In essence you can probably not reuse the same content on all social media platforms to target the same user (03:10 min. video)

Do that what you do best, understand where you can find your audience and try to reach out to them authentically. I believe that this way you will get the highest relevant impact with your content on social media.