The Five Fuels of successful branded social content

Steffen Bilde

Steffen Bilde

5 minutes read

In this article, I will share a simple, yet effective framework to help you create effective marketing content for social media.

By that, I mean content, which is good for your brand AND your audience.

The Challenge

Most brands have now embraced social media as a means to influence their audiences. Yet many marketers seem to lose track and end up publishing random content that is disjointed or commercially irrelevant. But why?

The main causes are:

  • Higher volume of messages (you publish far more social media posts than, say, print ads),

  • Lower investment per marketing message (you probably spend less on a social media post compared to a traditional ad), and

  • Faster turn-around (you don’t – or can’t – apply the same tight workflow for branded social content).

In reality, this means that less skilled people are doing more content, faster on a lower budget and with less supervision… And that’s a recipe for disaster. Or, best case, a waste of resources.

Make your Strategy Actionable

To avoid this trap, you need to find a way to turn your strategy into action on a daily basis. But that is easier said than done. Producing branded content for social media that resonates with your audience AND creates business value is not that easy.

In reality, this means that less skilled people are doing more content, faster on a lower budget and with less supervision… And that’s a recipe for disaster. Or, best case, a waste of resources.

Over the years, I have taken on this challenge of working to produce commercially effective content for brands in a streamlined way. What I have learned is that to avoid losing track, you need a strategy that is embedded in your everyday workflow. That way the link between strategy and execution is clear for everyone.

To make the process more focused and to create more effective content, I am proposing a framework and a simple checklist to support it.

Turn strategy into content: The Five Fuels checklist!

Working with big organizations and their brands over the years, I have developed a strategic framework based on five core elements - or types of fuels if you like. For serious marketers, they can be applied all the way from building a content strategy to developing individual pieces of content.

Below is a short introduction to each type of fuel. The fuels work together to create content that is on-strategy and effective in social media.

  1. Topicality
    Are you using topicality in intelligent and timely ways for your brand and audience? You don’t need to set up a newsroom or jump on the “real-time marketing” bandwagon to leverage topicality. As a minimum, make sure that you develop a topic list that considers both your audience and your brand/marketing objectives.

  2. Reward
    Are you considering everyone's needs? Any piece of content should start with a business objective, of course, but you need to execute the message in a way that leaves your audience feeling rewarded. Whether it is entertaining or inspiring, your audience needs to instantly be able to answer the good old question: “What’s in it for me?”. In your strategy, define how to reward your audience in a meaningful for your brand.

  3. Social mechanics
    Are you leveraging the mechanics of social media? Maybe you are creating content that will make the receiver a hero when she shares it with her friends. Or maybe you are simply tapping into the social dimension of your brand or product in a clever way. If not, you're probably better off using traditional push media. Make sure you list social dimensions and mechanics that match your audience and brand.

  4. Brand recognition
    Does the audience connect your content with your brand easily? It can be as simple as adding a logo to an image in your posts - or in more sophisticated ways through the concepts, tone, and style in your content execution. But content that has no clear sender is a waste of time and money. You need to define your brand's social tone and style in a way that balances recognition with social media etiquette.

  5. Call-to-action
    Is it clear how your audience should interact with your content? The human brain hasn’t changed all that much, even if technology has! The good old communication principle of sticking to one, clear, single-minded call-to-action still applies in social media. In a crowded newsfeed, the human brain is looking for excuses to escape and to NOT take action. If you are asking your audience to “click”, “share”, “comment” etc., in each and every post, your content will most likely be ignored altogether. I work with three distinct types of posts, depending on the call-to-action: Click (link clicks), Talk (comments) and Love (like/favorite). Define which types of actions are important to your business objectives, so you can design content to match.

Define your Fuel

You should look at the above as core fuels for creating effective content, but you need to make them your own, of course. Defining how you use each type of fuel is part of building your branded social content strategy. Getting the mix right is essential to being commercially successful in social media. But it isn’t easy. It takes great people and resources to perfect your content over time. You can use these as a backbone for developing a strategy as that funnels all the way down to a simple checklist for every piece of content you publish. That will help you close the gap between strategy and execution in a fast-paced world of the ubiquitous “always on” media.

Hope you found this article useful. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments.

About the author

Steffen Bilde
Steffen Bilde
COO & Co-founder

As a rare natural talent, top-graduate and commercial thinker, Steffen is an early adopter of machine learning and AI. He build the first version of Zenbu in his dorm room, and continues to steer the product vision and strategy for the Zenbu platform, while maintaining a close relationship with it's customers.

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