Social media messaging: how to build a winning cross-platform strategy

26 May

Is your social media messaging on point?

Food for thought: businesses bounce between dozens of engagements per day.

Posts. Comments. DMs. For some brands, it’s a constant back-and-forth.

But given how quickly social comms can move, it’s easy to overlook what you say and how you say it.

Thing is, even the shortest messages you publish can have a big impact on your audience. From your brand’s values to the value your business provides, you can’t afford to ignore your social media messaging.

In this guide, we’ll cover why social media messaging matters so much and best practices for interacting with customers.

What is social media messaging?

Social media messaging refers to how you communicate with your social audience (think: followers, fans, customers and prospects).

There are two main elements of social media messaging:

  1. How to communicate your voice, values and insights to customers specific to your social presence
  2. How you deliver the messages above

Think about how you speak to customers can vary so much from channel to channel. Chances are there’s some overlap between your social followers, email list and organic traffic. That said, each of these audiences also has varying levels of awareness and familiarity with your brand.

Consider also that social media messaging is totally different from platform to platform. For example, Instagram and TikTok lend themselves to short-form, off-the-cuff communication that’s informal. This contrasts with “professional” channels like LinkedIn or communicating customer service via Twitter or Facebook.

Social media messaging also includes the social media features you use to communicate with your audience. This includes:

  • Posts
  • Captions
  • Comments (and comment threads)
  • DMs and private messages

Social media messaging vs. marketing messaging vs. brand voice

Many marketers understandably confuse the concept of social messaging with marketing messaging or brand voice.

The reality? These represent three totally different (but equally important) pieces of your company’s communication strategy.

Before we break down the best practices of social media messaging, let’s make a quick distinction:

  • Marketing messaging refers to how a brand communicates its mission and the value of its products to consumers on a larger scale.
  • Brand voice refers to your personality as reflected by your tone and word choice (think: humorous, informal, formal and/or professional).
  • Social media messaging takes the concepts above and packages them concisely into posts, captions, comments and DMs.

Marketers should put all of these under the microscope to make sure they’re sending the right signal to customers.

Doing so can help you stand out from the crowd and ensure that your audience understands why they should listen to you. These elements all influence your content strategy as well.

How to beat the 5 most common challenges of social media messaging

How do you know if you’ve mastered the art of social media messaging?

Good question! Measuring success with messaging can be tricky, but here’s a good place to start:

  • Engagement rate, signaling whether your content strategy and voice actually drive your audience to interact.
  • Customer sentiment, highlighting whether people are happy, unhappy or indifferent to your messaging.
  • Messages (or comments) per day, ensuring that you actually have a dialogue with your audience.

Getting your social messaging right often requires some trial and error. This is especially true for up-and-coming brands or companies trying to juggle multiple social platforms.

Below we’ve broken down five of the most common challenges associated with social media messaging and how to overcome each of them.

Limited characters counts

Trust us: we understand how tough it is so what you need to say in just a handful of characters. Dealing with call-outs, tear-downs and serious customer concerns feels particularly daunting on social media.

Solution: Don’t be afraid to shift communication to another platform. Remember: social media customer service and support don’t only have to happen on social media. Getting people in your inbox, on the phone or to your help desk is probably going to be more proactive than social-only support.

Consistent messaging among colleagues

Sticking to your brand’s single voice can be tough when you have multiple employees behind it. Delighting customers and handling concerns should be something that everyone feels comfortable doing.

Solution: For starters, make sure that your team is sticking to a style guide. Anything you can do to reinforce your brand’s values and cultures internally is also a plus. If you’re using a tool like Sprout, consider setting up approvals for social messages to ensure they’re always seen by a second set of eyes.

Driving meaningful conversations

If you’ve been sweating over your organic engagement rate these days, you’re not alone.

Still, that’s no excuse to talk at your audience instead of having conversations with them. Social media messaging is about responding and reacting. Each comment and message is an opportunity to learn more about what your customers want. Those moments don’t happen by default.

Solution: Post questions and prompts that encourage direct responses from your followers (see below). Likewise, regularly reply to comments to show your audience that you want to have a dialogue. Keep a close eye on your notifications and strive to respond promptly.

social media messaging for engagement

Making your messaging stand out

Being run-of-the-mill won’t do your brand any favors on social media. Beyond your brand voice, staying a step ahead of trends is one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd. From breaking news to the latest meme formats, it’s crucial to keep your ear to the ground.

Solution:  Trendspotting and social listening can confirm what your audience is buzzing about without any second-guessing. Likewise, conduct a competitive analysis to see how you can tweak your message versus your competitor’s (think: tone, types of content).

Managing messages between platforms

Again, messaging isn’t one-size-fits-all across social media.

That doesn’t mean that you need to necessarily write every single social media message from scratch. Doing so is a massive time-sink. Still, you’re on the hook for making sure each message fits the appropriate format and character count for any given network.

Solution: Use a publishing platform like Sprout Social to make quick tweaks when you’re cross-posting. Rather than manually writing your messages, you can manage your assets and captions side-by-side. This also gives you extra time to proof and approve your messages if you need it.

cross-posted social media messaging in sprout

Social media messaging strategies by platform

According to the Sprout Social Index™, the top five reasons people follow brands on social media for all networks are to:

  • Learn about new products and services (57%)
  • Stay up to date on company news (47%)
  • Learn about promotions or discounts (40%)
  • Be entertained (40%)
  • Be educated (34%)

And so your social media messaging strategy should cover these points at some level.

But as noted earlier, every platform is different when it comes to which messages resonate.

To wrap things up, we’ll break down platform-by-platform best practices based on recent research and social media demographics.

Instagram

Personality and personal connections should be your priority on Instagram.

Whether you’re warm and welcoming or just want to crack jokes, make your account feel like it’s being run by a human and not a bot.

brio social media messaging

According to recent Instagram statistics, the platform remains a hub for social shopping and influencer marketing. Beyond your human side, communicating affordability and ease of use is important when discussing products.

Facebook

Facebook is a mixed bag when it comes to messaging.

Consider that two-thirds of adults consume their news through Facebook. Timeliness matters when it comes to content, as does driving discussions and (hopefully) friendly debate. Focus on finding a balance between informing your audience and picking their brains.

TikTok

Don’t dismiss TikTok as a free-for-all where you have to talk like a teenager to gain traction. Fact: TikTok notes that education drives most content discovery on the platform.

content discovery on tiktok

Translation? Users are curious and hungry to learn something new “Hack” videos and “Did-you-know?” content dominate the platform for a reason. No matter what you post, your content should say “Hey, check this out.”

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a hub of inspirational content, professional advice and hot takes. Anything you can do to share unique insights or firsthand experiences is a plus, especially as the popularity of storytelling grows on the platform.

Pinterest

Messages on Pinterest should focus on utility and inspiration. The popularity of inspo-centric content on the platform speaks for itself. The fact that 40% of Pinterest users claim they’re inspired by shopping on the platform speaks for itself.

In short, empower Pinners with products and show them what your product or services looks like in action. Affordability and immediacy are key here.

social media messaging inspiration

Twitter

Although Twitter has a reputation as a news hub, a staggering 42% of users say that entertainment is now the most important reason to use the app. Content-wise, going the “edutainment” route with a mix of news, “Did-you-know?” and notable research are all popular.

The platform remains one of the most popular places to handle customer service concerns, too. The transparent nature of Twitter means that every interaction with a customer is essentially public.

Not unlike Instagram, showing off your human side on Twitter is a must-do. This is particularly important when interacting with customers. Simply put, your responses should never feel copy-and-pasted.

Does your social media messaging come through loud and clear?

Getting your social media messaging right should be a top priority for brands that want to truly engage their audiences.

Sticking to our tips and having answers for the most common messaging challenges can put you on the right path. The sooner you’re able to illustrate your value and understanding of your followers, the more likely you are to create loyal customers.

If you haven’t already, check out the latest Sprout Social Index to see the latest data on what customers on social media actually want.

The post Social media messaging: how to build a winning cross-platform strategy appeared first on Sprout Social.

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