Social media strategies that put less focus on links and more on storytelling, engagement and video

By: David Arkin
May 3, 2024
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That slide below isn’t pretty, is it? In fact it’s ugly.

It’s been a rough go for media companies and social media referral traffic for a while now but it’s clearly gotten much worse over the last year.

So it raises this big question: Should you be active in social media and will your traffic on those platforms ever be something noteworthy in the future?

I believe social media can be a significant audience driver for publishers still, even as some of those platforms shift their priorities.

But you have to change your strategy from just sharing links to more engagement. It all reminds me of that quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

This week, I announced that I was bringing on Emilie Lutostanski as a full-time digital content strategist to provide more support for our clients’ social media needs.

Yes, social media is hard and that’s why it seemed like the right time to hire her. Companies are asking for help and we’re seeing that those who focus on engagement and not just clicks are actually seeing the needle pointing up and not down with their referral numbers.

Here are a few things we’re going to be focusing on that I think you should as well.

1. Tell a story on social media and the clicks will follow

I don’t know how many other ways to say it: Facebook doesn’t like links. They want their tools being used and for content to be created on their platform. I know this is hard and it doesn’t mean you can never have links but you have to think of social media as a platform to not just promote your stuff but to tell a story.

Here are a few examples:

• Opposed to just a sentence promoting your next school board story, create three check boxes with the biggest takeaways for your audience.

• Instead of just teasing readers to click to read your list of the best places to take Mom for Mother’s Day, share a personal experience the writer had at one of those places or a personal memory the writer had taking their Mom to brunch, tag the rest of the place and then share a link.

• Build an album of photos from coverage of a high school baseball game and then put a link to see all of those images in the first comment.

The point is, use the platform to storytell and show the value of the work that you are doing. Your reach will go up and more people will see your content.

2. Your audience has to be part of what you’re doing

There are so many ways to involve your audience on social media, but often, the time we put into social media is about getting someone to click a link.

The value here is that it offers you the opportunity to build more of a community (I know the Facebook crowd can be rough) but there are clear ways to do this:

• Get active in Facebook Groups. They exist in every community and can be wonderful places to engage with an audience, share your content and provide answers to questions.

• Ask for moments of life photos from your readers: How people spent Mother’s Day, celebrations for Cinco de Mayo and graduations.

• Ask readers what questions they have about a story you are covering. This allows you to write about topics core to what they care about and likely what they might be seeking solutions for.

• Ask readers to share their opinions. Whether it’s a list of the best restaurants to take Mom to or what they think should happen on a development the city council is going to debate, make them part of your content.

• Respond to comments that readers make on your posts, either directly and/or by sharing collective responses in future posts.

3. Video, video and did I mention, video!

Video still sounds hard to many but it really doesn’t have to be. And this is 100 percent where I believe these platforms will be putting their priority in the future (it’s clearly already happening).

You can create video for social media and here are a few easy ways how:

• Take the best photos from a story (photos from an event, a game) and simply feature your six of seven favorite ones in a Reel. Generate a headline for each photo to describe what is happening.

• Many of the most highly-engaged Reels feature simple b-roll from someone’s smartphone of an event or attraction. This doesn’t have to be highly edited and works great at festivals, openings and press conferences.

• Take your most popular content that you do each week (think things to do this weekend) and create a Reel featuring the events. You can use a stock-like video of your town or actually stock if it’s a parenting publication with the text about the events on the video. You could also do this on Canva-like cards.

• Take the cover from your last edition (for magazines), use Instagram’s green screen and have your editor or the writer talk about how you reported the story.

We have these three social media programs available

1. We can help craft your own social media strategy — by platform — with examples and templates.

2. We can actually write your social media content for you (both for your company and your advertising clients).

3. We can write social media content for leaders of your company or advertisers who want a more significant LinkedIn presence.

Contact me at I’d like to talk about it.

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