Content drives the online ecosystem. In fact, content has been king ever since the invention of the printing press, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

There is, however, one specific kind of content gaining traction in online business marketing, and boosting your traffic and lead generation online means understanding it and putting it to use. We’re talking about native content on social media

Native content is the life blood of the big social media platforms. Giants like Facebook and Instagram want to keep growing while retaining their existing user base. They don’t want to exclude businesses (their paying customers) out of the conversations, but they also understand that too many sales pitches will drive users to other platforms.

That’s why the social media giants allow businesses to post engaging content while encouraging users to consume that content without leaving the site.

Is your business blindly posting to the major social media platforms without seeing any engagement? If so, read on to learn how native content on social media can help you find a new audience and keep them engaged.

Sponsored Content vs. Native Advertising

Before you start crafting native content, it’s important that you understand the distinction between native advertising and sponsored content. Both can do plenty of good for your marketing efforts, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Native advertising is more of an umbrella term for any kind of advertising that blends in with the platform it’s displayed on. Sponsored content is a specific form of native advertising in which brand-sponsored posts appear on sites and social media profiles controlled by influencers and publishers.

Related: Mobile Native Advertising Trends For 2019

It’s also important to recognize that sponsored content and native advertising have very distinctive formats. A native ad is typically something small that entices users to click, taking them somewhere else. Meanwhile, sponsored content is typically long-form content originally posted by a brand on a platform controlled by an influencer or publisher. Despite that difference, however, it is possible for someone to click on a native ad and land on sponsored content.

When it comes to social media marketing, most ad revenue is going to come from native ads rather than sponsored content. The format is more friendly to native ads, such as boosted Facebook posts and promoted tweets. Sponsored content is generally reserved for sites like BuzzFeed, Forbes, and other platforms that cater towards much longer content.

Seeing how successful longer content is, however, there have been some changes to social media platforms that allow for longer posts more similar to sponsored content. The primary difference at that point is that you have to write the content yourself, rather than the platform’s writers doing the work.

Benefits of Native Content on Social Media

The most important benefit of native content is that they’re not display ads. While display ads can be effective, the rise of ad blockers is limiting their effectiveness significantly, especially if you’re trying to market to a younger audience. Since they fit the format of the surrounding content, native ads tend to have a significantly higher click-through rate than their display ad counterparts, and that alone is often worth the cost.

Even when users aren’t implementing ad blockers, they still have a tendency to ignore display ads. After all, no one really likes a pop up, and banner ads are almost never clicked through. They can even be obstructive, going so far as to blocking the content the reader actually cares about. Native content, on the other hand, blends in seamlessly with the rest of the content. Even when they recognize native content as an ad, most people don’t care, since it doesn’t interrupt their experience.

Engagement should be part of your goal for all native content, and social media platforms make it easier than ever to engage. The nature of social media is all about engagement and sharing, so when your native content gets shared, you’re automatically getting more eyes on it than a display ad ever could. The only trick is that you have to create content that’s actually relevant and appealing to your audience. Shy away from clickbait phrases, and make sure that anyone clicking on your content receives exactly what your ad promised.

native content social media infographic

Image courtesy of Appleyard Agency

Native Social Content by Platform

Just about every social media platform has created a way to make native content better than ever before for both advertisers and users. When you’re able to post content directly on the platform, users are more likely to share it around, since native content is easier to spread on the platform it’s sourced on.

Facebook is the largest social media platform by far, and they’ve made it possible for your native content to reach its massive audience through Facebook Instant Articles. With fast load times and easy-to-use creative tools, advertisers can publish content directly onto Facebook itself. Not only does this optimize the content for mobile, but it allows Facebook users to access long-form content without ever having to leave Facebook.

Many companies have been taking advantage of LinkedIn Pulse. LinkedIn isn’t often mentioned when talking about social media, but there are plenty of businesses who will find their audience most predominantly on LinkedIn. With LinkedIn Pulse, you can publish a long-form article that will appear at the top of your news feed. Get enough eyes on it, and LinkedIn will feature it on the Pulse list for even greater exposure.

Instagram stories have taken the social media world by storm, helping grow the platform to rank above all other platforms except Facebook. Advertisers have been taking advantage by creating Instagram stories to promote their content. This form of native content has been particularly effective, as the number of Instagram users continues to grow with no end in sight.

Best Practices for Enterprise Organizations

If you’re an enterprise organization, you need to push your brand on social media if you want to stay competitive. Social media has allowed users to relate to brands more intimately and directly than ever before, and taking advantage of this could be the key to turning social media users into conversions. Just make sure you follow native content best practices. If you don’t, the consequences could actually be harmful to your brand and leave you in a worse position than before you started.

The first thing you need to remember is that you shouldn’t go all-in. Native content on social media can lead to incredible returns, but if you limit your scope too much and sacrifice your other digital marketing strategies, you could lose in the end. Native social content is just one of many tools you have in your arsenal, so respect the limits it presents.

Native advertising of any kind should offer a seamless experience for the user, allowing them to experience the kind of content they’d normally expect from the platform. For example, if you’re planning on creating an Instagram story for your marketing campaign, don’t go too far with the production value. Most people are expecting stories made by their friends, so if yours sticks out by appearing too professional, you’re not going to get as much engagement.

When you’re putting native ads on Facebook, you need to always think mobile first. Facebook tools help your content be more mobile friendly by default, but you still need to optimize as much as possible. Most Facebook users access the platform through a smartphone or tablet, and most of those people aren’t going to bother with something that’s difficult to consume from their mobile device.

No matter where you’re posting, you need to make sure that your content is relevant. It’s tempting to try and make content that’s broadly appealing, but it’s always best to narrow your focus to a specific target audience. It needs to blend in with the kind of content your audience is already consuming. If it doesn’t, not only will you not get very many clicks, but it can actually be damaging to your brand. Remember, native content shouldn’t feel like advertising. It should feel like any other kind of content, and people love quality in their content.

Optimizing Your Native Content Strategy

Native content on social media is undeniably important, but it takes a lot of skill to get it right. That’s where Symphonic Digital can help. We strive to enhance the digital marketing efforts of small to medium-sized businesses, so entrepreneurs can focus on growing their business. Our experts stay up to date with all the latest social media developments and tools, and they are happy to help you craft a native content strategy that will boost engagement and elevate your brand. Contact us today to get started taking your social media marketing strategy to the next level.