The toughest part of running any sort of social media campaign? Coming up with new ideas.
Marketers are expected to juggle multiple social profiles and keep them up-to-date with fresh posts. It’s tough. Your followers are hungry for new content and you’re expected to deliver on a consistent basis.
But when you constantly recycle the same posts again and again, your social feeds start to feel like Groundhog Day.
That’s exactly why brands need to have multiple social media ideas in their back pocket. Below we’ve broken down 20 social media ideas for brands both big and small. Each of these types of post is fair game for those looking to keep their social feeds from ever growing stale.
1. Create a Daily, Weekly or Monthly Series
Want to make your social feed feel more like an event versus a laundry list of random posts?
Start a series where you have the opportunity to interact with your fans and followers on a regular basis. That’s exactly what Sprout does with #SproutChat, tackling topics and issue related to social media on behalf of an audience that’s eager to learn.
— SproutChat (@SproutChat) November 13, 2017
Communicating with followers via Twitter is painless and only requires a branded hashtag to get started. By regularly scheduling these sessions, followers can let their voices be heard while also engaging with your brand.
— Vera Flores (@sproutvera) November 8, 2017
Picking the brains of your followers not only shows that you care about them, but also helps you tap into your audience’s pains and concerns. If you’re struggling to “show up” to your social feeds, a regular series is a solid starting point.
2. Run a Contest or Giveaway
People can’t resist the power of “free.”
Running the occasional contest is one of the most impactful social media ideas when it comes to potential engagement from followers.
According to data from Tailwind, 91% of Instagram posts with more than 1,000 likes or comments are related to a contest. Meanwhile, accounts that run contests on a regular basis are noted to grow 70% faster than those that don’t.
Crazy, right? But when you look at how much love posts like this one from Birchbox receive, those numbers don’t seem so farfetched.
IT'S GIVEAWAY TIME! 🎉 We're so excited that we just launched @livingproofinc STYLE|LAB® line in the #Birchbox Shop, and we need your help creating a #Birchbox exclusive set. Swipe through the carousel and VOTE below with the 3 products you would choose to be in the set—just use the corresponding number of the photo for the product you choose (example: 1,2,3). Ten participants will win the exclusive set! Click the link in bio to learn more about the STYLE|LAB® line & see official rules.
You don’t necessarily need a third-party solution or service to run a contest. All you need is a combination of the following:
- Something to give away. Ideally, the prize for your contest should somehow be related to your brand (think: free products or a membership). Big-ticket, unrelated items tend to attract freebie-seekers that won’t translate into long-term followers.
- Terms and conditions. To cover yourself legally, terms and conditions are a must for your contest. This template from Shortstack can clue you in on exactly what you need. Additionally, these points will make your contest seem more legitimate and not like a potential scam.
- A point of contact. On your terms and conditions page, make sure to leave an email address where people can get in touch with questions or concerns.
- A creative way to enter. Whether it’s through user-generated content or a hashtag, asking followers to post about your brand is the best way to encourage entries. After all, the purpose of a giveaway is brand awareness, not just to give away free stuff. Check out how Modcloth requires entrants to use a specific hashtag:https://www.instagram.com/p/Bbcn5bXnIvS/?taken-by=modcloth
Oh, and hashtags are by far the simplest means of keeping track of who entered your contest for free.
You don’t need to run contests week after week to reap the rewards. Representing one of the more involved social media ideas to consider, contests are a great way to spike your follower count and engagement.
3. Host an AMA
Popular on Reddit, an AMA (ask me anything) series represents an awesome opportunity to educate and engage with your followers. AMA’s are essentially Q&A sessions where you get to share your knowledge, experiences and insight.
If you’ve overcome struggles or have clout in your industry, you likely have the chops to conduct an AMA. From sharing success stories to personal challenges, such sessions can be compelling for audiences and brands alike.
— Kaleigh Moore (@kaleighf) November 13, 2017
Why bother hosting an AMA, though? What’s the point? Consider how an AMA ticks the following boxes for brands:
- You get to show off your personal side, showcasing the face behind the curtain of your business
- You raise awareness for your brand without being pushy or salesy about it
- You learn more about the concerns and interests of your audience
If you have a large team, you can encourage each member to conduct their own AMA over time to give a sort of big-picture view of your brand.
4. Conduct a Social Media Takeover
Sometimes injecting some new life into your social feeds means letting someone else take over.
Takeovers put the reigns of your social accounts in someone else’s hands, usually for a period of 24 hours. Handing off your social presence to an influencer or celebrity with a massive, active audience is a prime way to get your brand in front of some new faces. You can also let someone else in your company take over your account to give your feed some flavor.
Consider business partners and industry relationships that could be good candidates for a takeover. The purpose of a takeover is to get exposure, so ideally choose someone who’s audience demographic is relevant to your own.
For instance, the foodie site Food Republic regularly lets popular chefs take over their Instagram account. By handing off their accounts to chefs from around the world, their followers always have fresh content to look forward to.
Hello! I’m chef Nina Parker (@antoninaparker) and I’m taking over the @FoodRepublic Instagram all the way from Rome. I’m going to be showing you all the Italian hot-spots, starting off with some gelato from @gromgelato . This is quality ice cream made from all natural ingredients and I went for some torrone/nougat. #FRTakeover
5. Share, Repin, Retweet & Regram
Don’t be afraid to let your fans and followers do the talking.
Remember, not all of the content on your social feed has to be your own. In fact, conventional wisdom tells us that it shouldn’t be. Promoting other relevant brands, articles and photos from your followers shows that you’re part of your industry’s conversation, not just a parrot.
For example, Sprout recently shared this quiz because it was definitely relevant to followers stoked on the world of marketing.
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) November 15, 2017
As noted in our guide on the best times to post on social media, brands should strive to follow the 80/20 rule of promotion. That is, your feeds should be made up of 80% entertaining and engaging content and only 20% promotional content. This keeps your feed from feeling like a sales pitch.
The takeaway here? Not all social media ideas have to be in-depth or complicated, especially if you already have a dedicated following.
6. Bite-Sized Video Clips
Video content marketing has become a must-do for modern brands. Unfortunately, many see the investment in video as being too complicated or out of their reach.
But when you consider that video content gets exponentially more shares than video or text, brands should give some serious thought to creative social media ideas that incorporate video.
That’s why bite-sized, Vine-style video clips are still all the rage on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Such clips require minimal editing, can be shot in a matter of seconds and are prime for sharing. Here’s a good example from Krispy Kreme:
— krispykreme (@krispykreme) November 5, 2017
Don’t worry filming full-blown commercials, but rather short, creative clips to keep your followers entertained.
— krispykreme (@krispykreme) October 31, 2017
7. Repurpose Your Content
Think about the planning, effort and sheer amount of time it takes to create any piece of content. Doesn’t it make sense to squeeze as much as you can out every blog post or video you make?
Here’s a sobering stat, though: 50% of articles only receive eight shares or less on social media. Ouch.
For every blog post you write or video you shoot, you should consider additional ways to promote it on social media beyond its original format. For example, you can pull a quote from your content and repurpose it into a share-friendly image via Canva.
Likewise, you can use repurpose your video content into social-specific “sneak peeks.” First We Feast does this on Instagram with bite-sized previews of longer videos on their YouTube channel:
Now, imagine if you repurposed every blog post you wrote or video you published. You’d have a pretty good backlog of sharable content, right?
Repurposing your content not only breathes new life into old or otherwise ignored posts, but also keeps your followers from getting bored of the same message shared over and over.
8. Team Up With Another Brand
Co-marketing is a win-win situation. Two brands team up on a campaign or piece of content such as a webinar, ebook or even a special promotion. Each company gets exposure to the other’s audience.
Social media is the ideal platform for co-marketing because it’s so easy to sync up your efforts.
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) September 8, 2016
Look for brands to partner with that aren’t competitors but have a similar target audience. For instance, Sprout has partnered with companies like Wistia, Zendesk and others to create webinars and ebooks.
9. How-to’s & Tutorials
Blog posts aren’t the only place your followers are going to get educated. While articles are a good medium to break down step-by-step instructions, social media can be just as effective. Buzzfeed produces Instagram videos of mouth-watering recipes which are broken down into actionable steps. Each video is short and to the point, while remaining comprehensive.
Cheesy Baked Hash Brown Patties Serves: 9 INGREDIENTS 4 red potatoes ½ cup butter, melted 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 2 eggs, whisked ¼ cup chives, chopped 1 tablespoon garlic salt 1 teaspoon oregano ½ teaspoon pepper PREPARATION Preheat oven to 400°F/200˚C. Peel and grate the potatoes. Drop shredded potatoes into a large bowl of ice water to remove surface starch. Strain or squeeze potato shreds and transfer to a large bowl. Add butter, cheese, eggs, chives, garlic salt, oregano, and pepper in with the shredded potatoes. Mix together. Take a handful of the mixture and pack it on a baking sheet into desired hash brown shape. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until brown and crispy. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!
When thinking of tutorial topics, keep it to ideas you can explain in less than a minute. You can score bonus points if your Instagram caption can also explain all of the necessary steps.
10. Go Live
Plain and simple, there’s something compelling about live video.
In fact, people spend three times longer watching Facebook Live videos than pre-recorded ones. Marketers such as Seth Godin use live streaming as an avenue to answer questions and educate his audience.
Whether you’re vlogging from your car or conducting a Q&A session, responding to people in real-time establishes a more personal connection with your followers.
The best part? You can always repuprose your social video content (think: YouTube videos, “sneak peaks” on Instagram) down the line.
11. Give Customers the Spotlight
What better way to show your customers you appreciate them than giving them a shout-out?
Go beyond retweeting people who mention your brand and start a campaign that really highlights your customers.
For example, you could have a customer of the week program highlighting your most loyal advocates, hooking them up with some swag or a prize.
Sprout highlights customers through case studies. In addition to showing appreciation for companies that use our software, such studies also provide prospective customers with social media ideas they can employ themselves.
The more appreciation you show your customers and followers, the more likely they are to share your content and promote your business on your behalf.
12. Conduct an Interview
Serving as an alternative to a traditional Q&A session, social media has made it arguably easier than ever to conduct interviews.
Whether through Twitter or Facebook Live, interviewing a relevant influencer or professional in your industry serves as the perfect combination of education and entertainment. Services such as BeLive allow you to conduct easy split-screen interviews in real-time on Facebook.
Social interviews are oftentimes informal and off-the-cuff, coming off as authentic to your audience. As an added bonus, you can repurpose your social interviews into podcasts, blog posts and YouTube videos.
13. Make a Meme
Brands shouldn’t afraid to show off their sense of humor.
While marketing with memes isn’t for everyone, social media itself is a breeding ground for humorous images and satire. As evidenced by brands such as Chubbies, there’s certainly a time and place for memes.
Of course, keep in mind that memes do have a shelf life. If your audience isn’t privy to humor, memes can come off as cringe-worthy and out of touch. That said, many brands with younger audiences and a heavy social presence could benefit from some lighthearted content.
14. Take Advantage of Trending Topics
Sometimes the best social media ideas come to you when you least expect them.
Trending topics on Twitter and Facebook represent a way for brands to capitalize on topical content. While you have a limited window of opportunity for such content to be relevant, topical posts can score huge numbers. This was the case with this classic tweet from Oreo during the Superbowl blackout a few years back, receiving well over 15,000 retweets.
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
A less time-sensitive way to stay topical is by referencing a big event that you know is coming. Arby’s recent Tweet in celebration of the much-anticipated second season of Stranger Things is a great example:
Strange things are happening pic.twitter.com/FkPpVya4uk
— Arby's: We Have The Tweets (@Arbys) October 26, 2017
And when in doubt, avoid political or potentially sensitive topics. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a social media PR nightmare when you were just trying to be clever.
15. Ask Followers to Tag-a-Friend
An easy way to get more eyes on your social feeds is the mere act of asking.
Tag-a-friend posts are all the rage as they encourage responses from your followers and bring new potential followers into the fold. Considering how easy it is to @ someone in a comment, tacking on a tag-a-friend request to a post is fairly straightforward. Brands like Alex and Ani regularly ask for followers to tag their friends and family via Instagram:
While you don’t need to ask for tags in each and every post, doing so is a good way to encourage a response from a post that otherwise might not receive much engagement.
16. Run a Social-Exclusive Deal
Although brands shouldn’t push their followers too hard with offers and deals, social media ideas such as Facebook carousel ads can help you score a financial ROI from your social presence.
The beauty of running ads within social media is that they’re easy to track. For example, Facebook’s ad platform provides an insane amount of information in terms of who’s seeing your ads, who’s clicking and how much your clicks are worth. Meanwhile, running exclusive coupon codes on Twitter or Instagram can help you understand what percentage of your followers are willing to spend.
17. Poll Your Audience
If social media has taught us anything, it’s that people love to share their opinions.
Question for the 15,000 guests staying with Airbnb in the Bay Area this weekend: What’s on your must-see list?
— Airbnb (@Airbnb) February 1, 2016
Polls don’t need to be a formal affair, nor do they need to be sales-related. Social media represents a conversation, so be willing to listen to your follower’s feedback. This simple question-based post from Beardbrand is a good example of how to informally poll your audience:
Moisturizing your beard is just as important as cleaning it! How do you get rid of all the grime it collects throughout the day? 📸: @cydneycosette #beardbrand #beardcare #teatree #silverline #mensgrooming #beards #healthybeard #beard #grooming #beardporducts #beardwash #beardstyle #beards #mensheath
18. Respond to Your Followers
Expanding on the concept of social media as a conversation, brands should always be willing to talk back to their followers. Your audience’s time is incredibly valuable and taking the time to respond shows that you care.
Whether it’s praise, a customer concern or just someone looking to say “Hello,” your responses can speak volumes about your brand. Loot Crate regularly combines customer service with a humorous twist, speaking to how much they value follower feedback.
— Loot Crate (@lootcrate) November 15, 2017
In an era where social customer care matters so much, you can’t afford to go silent on your followers.
19. Go Behind the Scenes
At their core, brands represent people. Don’t let that personal element of your social feed fall to the wayside.
Giving your followers a “behind the scenes” look at your company signals authenticity. Also, taking a snapshot or video at the office doesn’t have to be rocket science.
Got a designated office mascot? Throwing a party? Let your followers see what you see. Brands such as Warby Parker constantly show off their office antics, much to the amusement of their followers.
Every job here at Warby Parker is special—that's why we decided to document the stories of the employees who really, um, stand out. Introducing "Oddcupations", our brand new original show, streaming on @facebook! We've aired three episodes so far—find them all in our story and let us know which one's your favorite. 😎
20. Share a Milestone
Last but not least, brands should be willing to celebrate their success and victories with the followers.
Featured in a major publication? Reach a sales goal? Stoked about a new hire? Finally upgraded to that swanky downtown office?
Let your followers know. Sharing these moments with your audience shows your human side while signaling your brand’s growth.
🎉 It's a pretty special feeling to love coming into work each day. Thanks to @ChicagoTribune for including us on their #TopWorkplaces list for the third year in a row and recognizing what all of us at Sprout already know! https://t.co/QmkS3812nJ
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) November 10, 2017
Again, social isn’t all about “product, product, product.” Telling your brand’s story and showing what you’re worth based on your accomplishments can truly cement your company’s status in the eyes of your audience.
Which Social Media Ideas Catch Your Eye?
If you’re tired of posting the same old content, why not give some of these social media ideas a shot? Brands should never feel forced to adhere to a single type of content. With so many options available, your social feed should never feel like business as usual.
What are some other creative social media ideas you see brands using these days? Do you take notice when brands try something out of the ordinary? Let us know in the comments below.