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Choosing the right platform and format for your content

Different platforms constrain elements of your content, including length and size. As content creators, you need to think creatively about how to work
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David Levin: I’m David Levin. I’m one of the founders and creative directors of a social media agency called That Lot. We run the social media profiles for lots of brands, and broadcasters, and a few celebrities. And we also help them strategise what they’re going to do on which platform, what type of content they need to be doing to cut through the noise.
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When I’m trying to target an audience for a brand, we think about a few things. So firstly, we use social media tools and analytics tools to look at who their audience actually is, and where they are, and what time they’re online, and everything else. And we look at work that we’ve done, content that we made for them before, and seen what has worked the best, what’s got the most engagement, what has gone down the best with their audience. And we also look at their competitors, see what is working in that space, what kind of trends are happening within that space on social media. And just looking at what types of content that type of audience really wants to consume.
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Coming up with the right platform is a really key part of social media strategy you’ve got to think about which platforms you should be on, which ones make sense for you. And understanding the difference between each platform and what types of content are going to work on the platforms, how to write for each platform. So in our sense, we hire platform experts. So we’ve got some incredible Instagrammers, Snapchatters, Tweeters, Facebookers. And they know what works on those platforms and what resonates on those platforms. And then we also use data and analytics to see kind of where the audience is for the particular brands or for the particular clients.
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And then we sort of tailor what we’re doing to those people on the right platforms.
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So getting the right tone of voice is an area that I am particularly excited about. It’s the area in our business that I focus most on. Often with our clients, we’ll do a tone of voice workshop. So we’ll sit down with them and sort of discuss what we feel is the right voice for that brand on social media. And one of the ways that we get there is we’ll sometimes say, right, if your brand was a celebrity, who would it be? But then we start getting closer to how they should be speaking online. And then we sort of often would write a lot of posts and discuss them with them until we get to sort of that sweet spot.
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Then you know that’s how they should be communicating on social media going forward.
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One of the biggest mistakes a lot of brands and broadcasters make on social media –and individuals, actually– is they think purely about broadcasting to people and not about engagement. And social media is about engagement. And increasingly now, the platforms are favouring content that gets more engagement and more positive engagement. Algorithmically, it is better for you to get something that people are responding to. So it’s really, really important that you’re not just thinking about shouting, shouting, shouting, shouting. But you’ve got to be thinking, where will it start a conversation?
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And when you do start a conversation, how you actually engage with people to make sure it is something that is becoming properly social content, rather than just you broadcasting out, which is quite an old school way of thinking about social media are not really right for that type of media.
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When I’m writing short form content… so I’m going to take a tweet is probably the best example. I think about three things, really. One, keeping it short. That sounds stupidly obvious. But actually, even within Twitter, now, that’s up to 280 characters, the vast majority of the tweets that do best are less than 100 characters. Often simplicity in creativity in general, but particularly in sort of online, is absolutely key. And it’s often the simplest ideas, the silliest ideas, just the little relatable things are the ones that absolutely fly. And often, if you overthink it and try and make it too clever or make it work on more layers, then it doesn’t have the same effect. So simplicity is key.

We spoke to top communications strategist David Levin about how he works with these constraints.

He also shares his thoughts on some of the other factors to consider when thinking about the content you want to share with your chosen audience.

As David explains, all content plans should be driven not just by platform choice, but as part of an overall content, communication or social media strategy for your business.

What do you think?

  • What do you think about David’s views on the content that has the most impact?
  • What kinds of content do you find most engaging or informative online?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section.
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