What Is Native Social Content?
Back in December, I explored 8 Social Media Trends to look out for in 2016.
One of the trends I predicted was the continued dominance and development of content marketing. It’s now widely accepted that to really succeed on social media, you must have a strong content marketing strategy in place. Your content should feed your social media activity. The major social networks have reacted to this with new native content features.
The likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn want us to stay on their platforms for as long as possible. Instead of users and businesses posting links to their content on external websites, they are now making it possible to post your content directly onto each social network. This means that users won’t have to leave the social app to read and consume content. Instead, it will be available to read directly from your news feeds and timelines.
Each social network has developed their own way of doing this:
LinkedIn Pulse – The publishing feature on LinkedIn allows users to publish a long-form post using the ‘Publish a Post’ function, which you can find at the top of your news feed. An added benefit is the LinkedIn Pulse feature. If your post gains enough attention, it could be featured on the Pulse list, increasing the reach of your message. The option to ‘Publish a Post’ is now available to all users:
Facebook Instant Articles – This feature will soon be available to all publishers on Facebook. Promising improved load times and ‘powerful new creative tools’, Instant Articles will enable users to publish content directly onto Facebook. You can also sell ads within your articles and earn revenue from doing so!
#Twitter10k – You probably heard the rumours early in the year about Twitter losing its signature 140 character limit, meaning users would be able to post up to 10,000 characters in one tweet. Only the first 140 characters would visible in the timeline, but you would be able to click through to a long-form article without leaving the Twitter eco-system.
It’s clear that the major social networks are taking native social content very seriously, and expect it to take off. But what are the pros and cons of this new form of social media marketing?
The Pros of Native Social Content
- Users are more likely to consume your content if they don’t have to click away from the social app – referral traffic to publishers from Facebook fell in 2015, but user interaction on Facebook increased by almost 3x.
- Native social content enables you to provide a seamless user experience across different platforms and devices, avoiding frustrating load times when clicking through to an external website from a social app.
- As with Facebook’s Instant Articles, new features may be available to you to create more engaging and interactive content than you perhaps normally would.
- Native social content has been proven to boost engagement – re-publishing blog posts on LinkedIn Pulse, for example, attracted an average of 40,000 views according to Greg Ciotti.
- The networks don’t want the user experience to be interrupted, and their algorithms reflect that. As I said earlier, they want us to stay within the app for as long as possible, and to have no reason to leave it. Therefore, if you post native social content, there’s a good chance this will have a greater reach than a link to an external website.
More content consumption, better user experience, new features, higher engagement and algorithmic benefits… sounds great, doesn’t it?
But before you go full steam ahead and plough all your resources into publishing native social content, what are the potential pit falls that businesses should be aware of before committing to a new social strategy?
The Cons of Native Social Content
- Traffic to your website will decrease. Your social referral traffic will drop considerably if users no longer click-through to your website to consume your content. One way to try and combat this would be to ensure you include calls to action and links in your native posts, directing users to your website to find out more.
- SEO power of your website could be affected. This drop in traffic, combined with less shares from your blog and potentially fewer external links pointing to your domain could affect the SEO of your site. If all of your content is only on social, your website may not benefit from it.
- You could miss out on conversions. The potential to convert a user from your content if they are reading it on a social app is going to be greatly reduced, compared to them being on your website.
- Value of an on-site visitor. It will be important for businesses to consider the value of an on-site visitor, compared with the value of somebody consuming your content on social media. Facebook will still count content views as traffic to your website, but could this result in misleading data?
What Should Businesses Do?
Native social content will most likely become increasingly popular throughout 2016, so you shouldn’t ignore it completely. However, I also wouldn’t recommend committing to it completely and forsaking your current content and social media strategy.
If you’re going to give native social content a try, make sure it doesn’t get lost in the void. Consider how you’re going to stand out from the crowd, and never forget to include links and calls to action, encouraging users to click through to your site where you have more potential to convert them.
After you’ve posted, monitor how your content performs. How does it compare to a blog post on your website? Post a link to an article on your website on LinkedIn, then post the same piece of content directly onto the ‘Publish a Post’ feature a week later and compare the engagement levels.
Try to build up a complete picture of native vs. links on each social network and then reconsider your strategy as a whole. It might be that your native content performs much better on LinkedIn than on Facebook, for example.
There will always be new developments on social media as the platforms strive to find new ways of keeping users engaged. Show that your brand isn’t afraid of change by utilising the new features, but be wary of committing to something until you’re sure it works for you.