As the social media world continues to mature, brands and marketers are realizing they can’t just be engaging, they have to be relevant.
This isn’t just a trend that social media managers have decided is important, this is where the social networks themselves are heading.
In the past six months, Facebook has repeatedly discussed how its algorithm changes will favor articles and in-depth content while punishing memes and text posts. Brands that use Facebook to drive traffic to their sites will have more success than those who are just trying to engage the audience.
In short: generic isn’t going to cut it. That “Happy Groundhog Day from your friends at Victoria Furniture!” post won’t be seen by as many fans as an article on “Why February is the best time to buy furniture.”
While there are many marketers (myself included) who wish Facebook would show every post in the same way that Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr do, this move is basically free marketing advice from Facebook. Any way you slice it, the probability of successfully converting fans on Facebook into customers increases with content.
If a shoe store page asks fans what its favorite summer shoe is, it might get a few likes and a couple of vague answers. Not many of its fans will see the text post and feel inspired to seek out the website and shop around.
Instead, the shoe store could post a blog article called, “The Best Summer Shoes that Are Healthy for Your Feet,” that’s filled with pictures of cute sandals are less damaging than flip-flops. Readers would click through and learn about foot care, and then get sucked in by the photos. They’re already on the shoe store’s website, and are more likely to click around and check out prices or buy from them.
Facebook has its own best interests in mind by highlighting articles that interest users; however, the changes also benefit marketers in the long run by promoting posts that are likely to have higher click-through and conversion rates.
The generic shoe post may have been relevant to wearing shoes in summer, but the truly relevant content came from the brand’s blog post about summer foot health.
Remember, your fans are already open to your brand’s message. If they weren’t then they wouldn’t have liked your page.
Pinterest is still a very young social network that has been starting to monetize over the past year. What started as a fun way to share photos and links has evolved into a major traffic driver for blogs and websites.
This year, Pinterest will add more promoted pins that highlight the interests of users. Conveniently, the rise of promoted pins is overlapping with the launch of the Interests tool.
Currently, users can search for specific topics like Valentine’s Day Wreaths or St. Patrick’s Day Craft Ideas, but there aren’t specific pages for those queries. As far as browsing, users are stuck clicking on the tabs like Holidays and Events, where they’re digging through Halloween, Easter, and Christmas results as well.
Interests will show users the boards that are more specific to what they’re looking for. Instead of having to comb through Travel, they will see an interest called London Travel. The purpose of Interests is to encourage browsing among Pinterest users without overwhelming them with overly broad topics like Animals or Gardening.
Think of Interests as the Google+ Communities of Pinterest.
Interests will help Pinterest monetize in the same way that Tumblr and Twitter are monetizing – and then some. Marketers will soon be able to buy certain search terms and sections to post sponsored content there.
A user might already be engaged with the Fashion tab, but the content becomes more relevant when they’re engaged with the Little Black Dresses interest board. She would likely re-pin cute designs and click through sponsored content if the dresses looked cute enough. The Interests tool increases the relevancy of search, which makes promoted pins more effective.
The social network, the marketer and the user all win.
This is Only the Beginning
Pinterest and Facebook are just two examples of social networks that are trying to better target users through relevancy. Users will start to see ads and results that are more specific to their needs this year, while marketers try to become even more relevant with better content. It’s not enough to post generic updates or miscellaneous pins on your accounts; you need to give your audience something that they need.