Your success on social media entirely depends on the success of the content you post. Producing effective, high-performing content, however, presents a number of challenges for small businesses. It’s competitive, time consuming, and should ideally add value to your customer experience.
To help overcome these hurdles, content strategies usually include a varied mix of content types. When you include a rich assortment of these 12 different styles in your marketing strategy, you can create a more engaging experience for your audience.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each style used by social media and content marketers, how to produce them, and the best platforms for them:
1. Written posts, blogs, articles, guides, and more
Advantages: These articles demonstrate your company’s knowledge and expertise, which can help build your credibility and reputation.
Disadvantages: There is a lot of blog content out there, so competition is thick—and you need a lot of creativity to create new topic ideas. Writing also takes a lot of time to generate content ideas, especially if you’re explaining complicated concepts.
How to produce: To help you think of compelling content, look at trending searches. This will give you insight into the questions people want answers to, which can spark ideas about what to write about.
Best platforms: LinkedIn and Facebook are perfect for these types of content, especially when it comes to articles that are 1,500 words or longer. You can post the whole piece, a short snippet, or a link to the piece. Twitter is also a great bet, but the limited character count means you can only include a link and small quote, which still can drive traffic to your website.
Pro Tip: Embrace the content calendar. Your content calendar is a framework for the ongoing story you want to tell about your business and what content to share. When you take a holistic view of your social media or email marketing output, you can turn ideas and broad strategies into an actionable plan that can be tweaked as you learn more about what works best.
Use our content marketing editorial calendar to visualize when and how you connect with your audience. The calendar displays your scheduled and completed marketing emails, social posts, postcards, and digital ads. You can filter your calendar to display your marketing for a specific audience or all audiences.
2. Electronic books (eBooks)
Advantages: An eBook tends to be longer and more detailed than blog posts, which helps showcase your industry expertise. Far fewer businesses take the time to produce an eBook compared to blogs, too, so you avoid that heavy competition.
Disadvantages: Not everyone wants to read a whole eBook, and they take a lot of time to produce and find content that will appeal to your target audience. While they can help generate leads, people don’t always actually read them.
How to produce: An eBook is basically several blog posts compiled together as chapters from the same category. You’ll want to choose your best content or even hire a professional writer with experience writing eBooks.
Best platforms: Users come to LinkedIn to connect with colleagues and learn relevant information about their job or other interests, which makes it an ideal network to share an eBook. Facebook and Twitter are secondary options.
3. Links to external content
Advantages: If you don’t have time to finish a blog post or your writer is on vacation, you can always link to relevant articles, resources, and websites from other sources that you trust. Industry leaders are also excellent resources for content.
Disadvantages: When you link to content that you haven’t created, you’re effectively opening a door to another business’s social media experience. Readers may even find the other source more informative than your page. Content curation is a good digital marketing strategy to use on social networks, but it also can be time consuming. It is important to check your social analytics to be sure that curated content is engaging and effective, and not to stop your own content creation process.
How to create: Research different blogs using keywords similar to those on your website. (Keywords are words or phrases commonly searched on the internet.) Make sure to read every post and click around on the website, too. This will ensure you don’t share an article on social media accounts from a site that could negatively represent your brand’s views.
Best platforms: LinkedIn and Facebook are great marketing tools for any type of written content, even if it’s just links to the content. Twitter is a secondary option.
Good images or video definitely increase engagement, and they endear your brand to customers. They can also keep customers from quickly swiping past your post and missing your message.
Advantages: Visual content is much more digestible and engaging than long-form blogs and articles. Smartphone cameras are sophisticated enough to take stunning pictures, and apps help you quickly edit them, add filters to them, and more.
Disadvantages: Image-focused platforms like Instagram have a lot of competition. If you want quality beyond a smartphone’s capabilities, a professional camera and editing software can cost a lot and be very time consuming to use.
How to produce: Pictures and images are some of the easiest content to create. It’s as simple as grabbing your smartphone or camera and snapping a picture.
Best platforms: Images work well on every platform, but Instagram and Pinterest are by far the best networks for pictures. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat are alternative options. Attaching an image to a blog post can also help improve engagement and clicks.
A few tips for image posting on social media:
Get stellar art for your social media campaigns. You don’t have to be a photographer to use stock photo websites like Pexels and Unsplash, which offer great images, many of them free.
Avoid images with too much copy on them. Did you know Facebook takes this into account when approving posts for ads? If you’re not sure if your image has too many words, here’s a handy checker.
Use more photos with faces in them. People-heavy images get more engagement on Instagram posts, and they can humanize your brand. Say cheese!
With the advent of smartphone cameras, it’s never been easier to hit record. Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes it, and it can be a fun way to show off your wares. Plus, as livestreaming has hit the mainstream, consumer expectations for social video has shifted. Videos that feel rougher around the edges can feel more native to social platforms. Give it a shot and include them in your content strategies!
Advantages: Capturing videos is easy and convenient—and they’re more engaging than pictures. How-to guides, video tours, and product updates and demonstrations all make for great video content that can both drive traffic to your website and increase sales.
Disadvantages: It’s inexpensive to make quick videos, but costs escalate if you want a high production level.
How to produce: Similar to images, video production has a range of difficulty. Where you decide to land on that spectrum will dictate whether you need specialized skills and equipment.
Best platforms: YouTube is the king of video content, but videos also perform well on Facebook. For shorter videos, Instagram is the best option, even above YouTube.
6. Video Stories
Advantages: Stories are images and short videos that last 24 hours before disappearing for good. They’re available on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Keep users updated about events, offers, or other announcements—or give them a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your business. The possibilities are truly endless!
Disadvantages: The fear of missing out can be a powerful motivator, but their short life expectancy also means that some users might not engage with them.
How to produce: The option to produce image or video stories is in each social media network’s app. High-quality production is not needed, making them easy for any business to create.
Best platforms: Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat have popularized this content type and remain the best options.
7. Live Videos
Advantages: Live videos are a great medium to bring events to audiences that aren’t physically able to attend. Unlike stories, which are gone after 24 hours, you can still watch livestreams later.
Disadvantages: First you need something to stream, such as an event. Then you need someone to operate the smartphone or other device and talk. The WIFI connection is also important. If your connection is bad, the video may need to repeatedly stop and buffer, which can result in poor quality.
How to produce: Like stories, social media platforms that support live content make the option readily accessible and convenient to users. They’ll show a preview of what your audience will see, which gives you the opportunity to make sure everything looks good before you go live.
Best platforms: Facebook Live is the most popular livestreaming social media network. Smaller platforms like Periscope are also viable, but it may be harder to draw as large of an audience.
Pro tips: If you’ve worked hard to create great images or video for your social media posts, make sure they look good on mobile devices. Almost 3/4 of the global population uses a mobile phone, and nearly 80% of time on social media is spent on a mobile device.
Stay inspired. Keep a list of brands or organizations whose social media imagery you love, and check in with them from time to time for more content ideas.
Advantages: Infographics use visuals to support explanations, statistics, and other written concepts. They are especially impactful for conveying complex ideas.
Disadvantages: Creating infographics requires both copy and graphics, which means you may need multiple people working together to create them. They also require a fair amount of creativity and research.
How to produce: First you need to create an outline for your infographic. Once the outline is done, your writer and graphic designer can begin creating the individual parts and piecing them together.
Best platforms: Facebook and LinkedIn are both excellent options for infographics. Twitter is an alternative choice.
9. Testimonials and reviews
Advantages: People trust the opinions and experiences of others more than what a business says, which is why testimonials and reviews are so valuable.
Disadvantages: Encouraging customers to offer their testimonials isn’t always easy. Also, this is the only content type that isn’t really in your control. With reviews, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be positive.
How to produce: Contact past customers and ask if they’ll offer up a testimonial. It’s bad practice to incentivize people to review your business, however, as this can come across as dishonest and review sites like Yelp may punish you for it.
Best platforms: Testimonials and reviews work well on Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook even has built-in star ratings on business pages.
Advantages: Getting the word out about new products, events, livestreams, and other noteworthy things can help build hype and alert people about what’s happening with your business. Audiences love having the inside scoop on their favorite stores and brands!
Disadvantages: Carefully plan out the length of time that’s appropriate to begin building buzz. Launch the announcement too early and you might not gain any traction.
How to produce: It’s often best to trickle out information slowly. Think of announcements as a bunch of little teases leading up to the big news.
Best platforms: Announcements can be made on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and even through social messaging through social media tools as long as you adhere to the best practices of that network.
Advantages: Because people like to win, social media contests are engaging and fun to host.
Disadvantages: You need a prize, which costs money. And if the process to enter the contest is too demanding, participation may be low.
How to produce: Think of a prize that your audience will be interested in winning. Ideally, this will be related to your business, but this isn’t mandatory. Then create a schedule for how long the contest will run as well as rules for entering.
Best platforms: Contests can really be run on any social media platform, but don’t overdo it on more professional platforms like LinkedIn.
Get more social media content ideas on how to grow your lists with giveaways.
Advantages: Many users love holiday-themed content, and it’s easy for businesses like yours to piggyback on themes, traditions, and other holiday specific concepts.
Disadvantages: There are only so many holidays in the year, and major ones like Christmas create lots of competition because many other small businesses create festive content, too.
How to produce: Think about how you can use the holiday to enhance your content. What questions does your audience have around this time, and how can your content solve those challenges?
Best platforms: Any social media network can host a little holiday cheer.