Content not performing? How to create platform-native content that drives results
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You’ve seen it a million times in the DTC and B2B worlds. A company will take the same piece of content and plaster it across the brand’s various social media channels. The results? Lackluster. Maybe it will get engagement from the social media manager (SMM) who posted it—and, if they’re lucky, the SMM’s mom. (Provided they’re on Twitter, of course.)
What’s wrong with this strategy? Aside from the fact that it never works, it’s rare to see brands—especially B2B companies—dive deep into every social media platform’s unique quirks. As a result, they rarely post creative content that engages their target audience.
This is surprising, given how many companies use social media primarily as a marketing tool. Clearly, some people find it effective. In research from The Tilt, content creators get the most engagement out of their social media presence—77% use it for engagement, higher than other channels.
So why aren’t B2B and DTC companies finding as much success? It has to do with how attentive they are to their content creation. More specifically, they need to create content native to their specific platforms. Playing the game by each social media company’s rules can help you get better results. This article will dive into how to create content that fits each platform. To do that, let’s look at advice from the experts and highlight brands that are doing it right.
“Every company is a media company”
If creating more engaging content is as simple as emulating what social media influencers are already doing, why don’t more brands and DTC companies do it? Ari Rubin, communications director at Air, believes that B2B content strategists often get in their own way:
“People get hung up on this idea that B2B content needs to be wildly different than B2C. And by different, I mean boring. In B2B, and SaaS in particular, there's this feeling that we can just optimize everything for the algorithms and the SEO. The actual human experience of engaging with real content and like asking yourself ‘is this actually good?!’ gets sidelined.”
-Ari Rubin, Communications Director, Air
To fix this, Rubin recommends embracing the idea that every company (DTC & B2B) has a role in media in some capacity. “At Air, we believe every company is a media company,” says Rubin.
Rubin cites a recent collaboration between Air and Nik Sharma as an example. They created a fake cereal brand called “Lucky Sharms,” subsequently sent it out to other influencers, and soon started catching attention across Twitter. “We seeded the DTC community with boxes,” says Rubin, “and the resulting organic social results were really awesome.”
A brief social media campaign like that is only possible when companies embrace a “creator-like” approach to their content. By embracing how unique stories spread through Twitter, they soon had a hit on their hands.
It’s not always about the click
How do you engage people online? This question is backwards. Rather than thinking about how to engage them, think about how not to lose their engagement. You lose their engagement by creating stuffy content that requires multiple clicks. This also turns a familiar idea on its head: the idea that social media is only there to drive clicks and conversions.
Amanda Natividad, VP of Marketing for SparkToro, calls it zero-click content. This refers to content that’s repurposed to fit each channel, no additional clicks required. “It’s repurposing your content as a means of distribution,” says Natividad. “Blog posts become Twitter threads or LinkedIn posts with bite-sized, standalone insights.”
Some brands may be wary of zero-click content because clicks can be good for measuring engagement. But Natividad says that fear leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy: having nothing to measure. “In being so risk-averse, [brands] risk the worst case scenario: their content not getting seen at all,” says Natividad.
Zero-click content is easier to digest, which leads to short-term boosts to impressions, engagements, likes, and shares. But Natividad also insists it creates better long-term results. “[It leads to] increased audience size,” she says, “brand affinity, and becoming top of mind for your audience so that when they’re willing to buy, they already know who to turn to.”
Creating native content for specific platforms
When Social Media Examiner released its 2022 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, it showed that for B2B marketers, the most-used social networking platforms were:
- Facebook (89%)
- LinkedIn (81%)
- Instagram (72%)
- YouTube (57%)
- Twitter (54%)
This shows a trend toward picking and choosing one’s platforms. B2B companies tend to stay with Facebook and LinkedIn, while ignoring YouTube and Twitter (and TikTok almost altogether).
But what if these trends are simply a result of not understanding how the different platforms should work? Or simply a mismatch between content styles and platforms?
Krittin Kalra, founder of WriteCream, says WriteCream’s approach isn’t necessarily to prioritize platforms based on their audiences, but to acknowledge each platform for its individual quirks, metrics, tools, and rules. Kalra treats each one differently:
“For Twitter, I would recommend creating content that is entertaining, fun, and not too promotional. For LinkedIn, create content that is informative, educational, and shares something new. For TikTok, try content that is fun, lighthearted, and not too promotional. For Instagram, focus on content that is visually appealing, shares something new, and is not promotional. For Facebook, go for content that is visually appealing, shares something new, and not promotional.”
According to Krittin, WriteCream creates sets of content built for each platform. The goal? Use each platform’s native features to their advantage. “We’re seeing good results with our social media marketing,” notes Kalra.
Expert advice for posting to specific platforms
What content works best on which platforms? There’s no universal answer for each. But marketing experts have a lot to say about what they’ve seen work for them.
For example, Mireia Boronat, senior content marketing executive at The Social Shephard, notes their brand is active on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok.
“We use each for different purposes,” Boronat says. “Instagram is about keeping people up to date with industry news and what's happening behind the scenes in our company while being quite video-heavy, as it's what the algorithm wants to see. On LinkedIn, we share valuable information, such as best practices and advice on achieving better performance on all campaigns. And on TikTok, we keep up with trends while sharing more of our team and day-to-day.”
Boronat recommends doing one thing the same no matter which platform you’re using: consistent visual branding. “However, it’s also important to be native [to the platform], so it’s always about choosing the most similar color and typography the in-platform editors offer.”
On LinkedIn, the key is to tell engaging (and non-boring) stories—but without wasting any time.
One of the best ways to do this is to write compelling hooks. “Before users open your post, they’ll see the opening statement, which is the first two lines. The reader should be intrigued enough and given enough background information in these initial few lines to desire to read more,” says David Bitton, cofounder and CMO of DoorLoop. “To do this, discuss your target audience’s pain points. Tell a story. Or make a strong statement about an industry-related issue or trendy topic.”
Hooks aren’t the only thing that marketers looking to boost engagement have to get right on LinkedIn. You also have to master the art of storytelling and consider the structure of the post.
Fara Rosenzweig, head of content marketing at WorkRamp, says their LinkedIn strategy is to apply a tried-and-true structure to any type of post, from product features to entertaining memes.
Her five cornerstones: the hook, an “Aha!” moment, tips and insights, reaffirming the “Aha,” and then ending on a call-to-action. But the true secret to their success? “We are consistent,” says Rosenzweig. “We post once a day right now, but are building up to 2x and then 3.”
“One of the best things about LinkedIn is how much access you have to employee content,” says Rosenzweig. “Especially employees who are LinkedIn thought-leaders.”
The team at Emburse taps into this secret weapon for their LinkedIn content. They’ve put together programs that let Emburse employees contribute their own content, which led to the #EmburseIt campaign, where employees highlighted their favorite small businesses. Over time, 200+ posts on LinkedIn would go on to receive nearly half a million impressions.
The final piece of LinkedIn strategy advice? Even though you’re posting in a business setting, you’re still trying to attract eyeballs. This means you have to infuse a little personality into your company’s social posts.
Corey Haines, cofounder of Swipewell, points to Gong’s LinkedIn approach, thanks to its resonance within the sales community. According to Haines, it’s a mix of funny videos and memes as well as educational and professional content. Even more, they rarely drive traffic to lead generators.
“You’ll hardly ever find a link in a post,” says Haines. “It’s all content native to LinkedIn.”
Twitter’s quick-hit format means fast and easy is the name of the game. Even longer Twitter “threads” require breaking into small, bite-sized pieces.
Despite being a medium of words, Twitter is all about visuals—white space between sentences, images when relevant, and especially gifs. “The gifs are the key,” says Corey Haines, who pointed to Notion’s use of gifs on Twitter. “They catch your attention and walk you through what they want to show you instead of writing about it in a wall of text.”
David Bitton agreed. “I’ve found the best form of content for Twitter is media posts, notably gifs and images.”
Another popular key to getting noticed? “Threads!” exclaims Kundai Makaya, social media manager at Red Ink Created. “The best way to show that your product or service is full of value is by first establishing your brand as one that is full of value. On Twitter, the easiest way to do this is via tweet threads.” That means bite-sized tweets, “threaded” out into multiple points—often with a catchy hook at the top to attract attention.
But that’s not the only secret ingredient to crushing Twitter. Another key: not being boring. B2B brands are notoriously unsexy, but they don’t have to be. In fact, if they want to stand out, they can’t be.
“People expect B2B to be boring,” says Erica Schneider, head of content at Grizzle. “But the game is changing. The strategies that work all have a bit of FUN and show some personality.”
“You can post memes on LinkedIn and show personality that way, if that's your vibe, but there are more ways to have fun on Twitter. Semrush asks a lot of questions, for example, like ‘What meme describes your day-to-day activities at work?’”
And to add a final touch to your strategy, consider approaching B2B social with an influencer mindset.
Self-published author Rob Lennon says he adores ClickUp for running their social marketing like a regular influencer might. He particularly likes how they reach out to ClickUp users to try and get them to share resources with the Twitter community.
“It shows they're really tapped into how things happen on Twitter, and they're participating in the conversation rather than just broadcasting,” says Lennon.
On Facebook, user-generated content (UGC) performs well. UGC tends to do well because Facebook’s news feed prioritizes posts from friends and family more than branded posts.
One example is Pawstruck, a pet food and wellness brand. Rather than using stock photos of animals for its Facebook updates, the brand fully embraces user-generated photographs of real pets while making sure to credit the photographer.
Brands don’t need to serve customers with cute pet photos to make this strategy work, either. Loews Hotels, for example, posts user-generated travel photos to both Instagram and Facebook.
LEGO has also had success posting some of its customers’ success stories. Bottom line? If your users have something valuable to share, leveraging UGC is ideal on Facebook, where the networking effects that come with giving your users a voice will help promote sharing and engagement.
TikTok is a bit of a playground—a place where companies (mostly D2C) can come to have fun, not only make sales. TikTok tends to ding people only trying to make direct sales on the platform, so brand awareness is the key here.
“Your TikTok content should focus on providing awareness about your brand, not selling to your customers,” says Makaya. “Duolingo and Ryanair are the definitive top brands at this game. Their content brings out the personality of the brand…without feeling the need to directly make a sale.”
People particularly go crazy for Dua, the Duolingo owl. As Zaria Parvez, Duolingo’s Global Social Media Manager, posted on LinkedIn, that was the whole idea.
“Why couldn’t we be entertaining, too?” asks Parvez. “Why was it that only the Wendys and the McDonalds of the world were allowed to move at the speed of culture?”
But what does joining the TikTok playground look like? According to Will Aitken, content creator at Sales Feed, it’s all about short videos. Aitken credits Sales Feed’s success on TikTok—over 67,000 followers and counting—to bite-sized videos.
“We focus on videos that are sub-30-second, have quick time to value, make use of trending sounds made to fit the B2B sales niche, and [add] a healthy mix of entertaining and educational content,” says Aitken. And yes, it does lead to off-platform success. “We’ve seen over 10,000 clicks through to our other channels, content, and newsletter signup.”
Instagram is a visual medium. But it’s not all sandy beaches and yacht parties. Many people are there for motivation—or even to learn. Makaya says consumers can use Reels and Carousels to access free resources, and providing those is an ideal strategy for brands.
The Futur’s recent post about “client horror stories” fit perfectly into an Instagram carousel that drove 173 comments. It’s a carousel that’s all text. And it’s a business subject. But the quick, digestible visual bits turned out to be perfect for The Futur’s audience. People flocked to the comments to add a client horror story of their own.
People who have mastered Instagram have a way of combining its visual and text features into messages their audiences love. Rachel Escio, digital PR and content specialist, points to Dot Lung’s creative approach to Instagram. On Lung’s page, it’s rare to see a post that doesn’t engage the audience on multiple levels. Videos, captions, straightforward photos—it’s all there, and it’s all on-message.
“She provides benefits to followers and occasional viewers alike,” says Escio. What works so well for Lung, aka the Mother of Social Dragons? “[She’s] real fun, focused on a certain niche, builds a global network, trendspotting, blazing new trails to engage followers, and yes, global colleagues,” says Escio.
Create native content that gets results
Not all content works well on different platforms. A 30-second video that makes sense on TikTok might come across as unprofessional on LinkedIn.
But as long as you consider the medium as well as the message—and always repurpose content to suit the format of each medium—you can find success.
Stick to the platform’s norms, emulate brands that do it well, and treat your brand almost like a creator whose sole goal is to get engagement. The engagement (zero-clicks) will come. We also think the clicks—and the sales—will come.