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This article was first published in the May 2018 issue of British Dealer News.

To grab and retain attention on social media you need to a steady stream of original content. And you already have what you need to create it.

The March column offered some advice about how to go about building your social media audience. Inherent in that was the assumption you have some engaging content to post on your social channels. But what makes effective content and how can you make it stand out from what everyone else is putting online?

Whatever works is the simple answer to the first question. If your content performs well in terms of social interaction and/or website visits and conversions, then you’re onto a good thing. For a reminder of how to figure out what’s working and what’s not, have another read of last month’s article.

Before getting into the ‘what’, it’s worth considering the ‘where’ and the ‘why’. You have some options about where you post content: your own website (shared on social media); directly on your social media channels; on somebody else’s website (a guest article, for example, shared on social media); or directly on somebody else’s social channels on your behalf. Why you might choose one option over another depends on the kind of content, the audience you’re trying to reach and influence, and what you’re hoping to achieve. Objectives might be things like brand interaction, channel growth, or driving potential customers to your website. You’re perhaps also thinking about how website content can support other marketing activity, including search engine optimisation.

As a general rule of thumb, videos perform better than static photos, and photos perform better than just text. Which doesn’t mean you should be posting video to the exclusion of all else, but your content does need to include a mix of formats. Experiment and use the array of free data at your disposal to compare performance.

Although some of the content you produce can be planned in advance (to promote a product launch, special offer, or an open day for instance), the majority is likely to be reactive. Different things will be relevant at different times of the year, and there’s always the unexpected. Now that we’re into May, the riding and racing season is well under way and there’s a whole summer of outdoor events to get involved with (even if only on social media) before attention turns back to the big exhibitions during the winter.

Taking an ‘event-centric’ approach to content production and social media promotion is useful, because it provides a source for original, timely material that lends itself to empathy and interaction. ‘Event’ in this context is ‘something happening’ and not just an organised gathering. Examples include things like a customer collecting their new bike from your showroom, a bike coming in for a service, or your team taking delivery of new stock. But you need to be creatively proactive too, and the more you can involve your customers the better. Would some of them send you photos from their rides, or would they be willing to take part in brief video interviews? Could one or more members of your team talk to camera about bike/product features? What are you peers and competitors doing, and how might you do something better?

If you’re not already in the habit of producing content, you may well be wondering about the practicalities and whether you have the skills. Fortunately, any smartphone can do just about everything you need (for day-to-day content at least) at a quality level that’s more than good enough for social media purposes. That includes editing photos and videos using any one of a number of free apps. You still need an eye for a good photo and a bit of practice of course.

Given the impact that video can have online, make the most of every opportunity. Keep videos posted directly on social media to no more than 60 seconds in length; make sure your branding, key messaging, and call-to-action all appear in the first 10 seconds; and use simple, punchy editing to create pieces that are professional and shareable.