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Social Media: How to Create the Best & Engaging Content for 2021

5-min and 30 sec read
In this article, you’ll learn about how to create the most engaging content through repurposing, user-generated content, and social listening.

Social media is evolving, adding new features and constantly updating its algorithm. With businesses posting left and right, how do you cut through the clutter with your content? Continue reading to learn how to create the best content for social media in 2021.

According to Amanda Wood, the Senior Manager of Social Media at Hootsuite, you must take advantage of the popular content formats when posting. This notably includes LinkedIn video content and Instagram stories.

In fact, recent research suggests that LinkedIn video, compared to other types of content, yields five times more engagement rate. Instagram, on the other hand, prioritizes the accounts that use all of their features – Reels, Stories, Highlights, etc. Further research shows that 63% of people surveyed say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it on Instagram stories.

So, how can you use this data to create meaningful content that cuts through the clutter?


Repurposing Engaging Content for 2021

The easiest way to create relevant, meaningful content for your target audience on social media is by repurposing. For example, create content nuggets from one blog post. Do this by taking your blog and making it into an Instagram story. Add some points from the blog and a link with the call to action of “Swipe up and read the full blog”.

You can take that same blog and turn it into an Instagram carousel. For instance, take relevant images or three key facts from the blog in a visually appealing format and build them off each other. The first carousel should be a hook – whether that is a question to ask your audience or why they should read it.

Another way you can use this blog article on Instagram is with an IG Reel. Film a short video of you quickly summarizing why the blog is helpful. Incorporate an Instagram optimized text caption because most people view social media videos without sound. Lastly, be sure to include a tracking URL to evaluate the success of repurposing your blog article.

This is only one example of how you can take a fully publish blog article and turn it into an Instagram story, carousel, and reel. Three pieces of social media content are done without having to write anything new.

Pro tip: Promote different key facts or audience benefits in each one of these three pieces of content in case a target audience member views all three. You don’t want to just repeat the same content over and over. Use different parts of the article to fuel your content creation.


Takeaways from Repurposing Content:


  • Prioritize formats like Instagram Stories, Carousels, Reels, and video.
  • Make sure there is text on the screen for accessibility.
  • Provide value, don’t just interrupt. Educate, entertain, or inspire your target audience.
  • When creating content, don’t reinvent the wheel. Think content nuggets.


User-Generated Content

Another simple way to capture the best and most engaging content for social media is with user-generated content (UGC). UGC is when members of your target audience create content for you. This can be a picture of your product or service, a brand mention, or someone enjoying your place of business.


Here is an example of UGC:


UGC becomes popular because people are naturally tribal. Meaning, people listen to other’s opinions. In fact, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other consumers, even strangers. Plus, people want to be recognized and heard. Once you post UGC, the user will likely share the post, inform their family and friends, therefore exposing the post even more.


Before you post just anything, there are some rules you need to follow with UGC:


  • Be sure to ask the user for permission to use their media.
  • When asking, be specific about uses – is it just for social media? Is it for an email marketing campaign? Website too?
  • Tagging them/giving them a citation is not enough, you must ask for permission.
  • Show your appreciation when you post their content such as thanking and tagging them.
  • Everywhere is different with media laws, be sure to read the jurisdictions within your region to comply with all of the rules – the last thing you want is to have legal issues.
  • Use user-generated imagery for engaging content for 2021


Now that you know what to do when presented with UGC, how do you acquire it? There are several ways to attain UGC. For example, go through your tagged images, the media taken at your location, hashtag usage, and reviews. Some savvy companies even let their target audience submit content directly through a microsite.


UGC Content Example – PureVPN


PureVPN is a great example of how a company excelled at UGC. They created a powerful social media campaign that went viral – #ShoutoutAtTimesSqaure campaign. During the COVID-19 lockdown era, PureVPN wanted to reunite families virtually and share positive messages.

PureVPN’s representative quotes, “2020 has been a bad year for everybody as it has pulled us apart from our loved ones. Starting in 2021, we want people to forget about the doom and gloom and start the year with positivity, hope, and love in their minds. We want them to feel close to their loved ones and help others feel loved. This has been the motivation for us behind the #ShoutoutAtTimesSquare campaign. Get people closer!”

To kick off this campaign, they booked a coveted spot on the billboard in Times Square New York. They wanted to promote positive messages from people all over the globe. Then they guaranteed that selected participants will have a chance to be featured on this billboard, but it came with a few rules…

In order to qualify, participants must draw a heart on their palm and take a picture, write a message to their loved ones and include the hashtag #ShoutoutAtTimesSqaure, and tag @PureVPN. Sounds easy enough, right? They received thousands of UGC and some influencers even created their own campaigns from this to have a better chance of being featured.

Now PureVPN not only obtained thousands of pieces of UGC but also exceptional ROI and brand exposure. The New York Times Square billboard has at least 30,000 commuters. Plus, promoting a positive message during these rough times truly boosts morale for everyone. PureVPN now encourages other brands to inspire hope and use positive messaging campaigns.


Takeaways from UGC:

  • UGC is highly engaging, high converting, and adds authenticity to any social marketing program.
  • UGC creates a stream of content that saves time and effort for marketers.
  • As a marketer, make it easy for customers and stakeholders to share content.
  • Put your hashtags everywhere to fuel UGC.


Social Listening for Engaging Content for 2021

A final method of creating relevant and engaging content in 2021 is through social listening. Social listening helps you understand what people are saying about your brand and lets you peek over the fence at your competition. Listen for brand mentions, competitor mentions, industry trends, and relevant hashtags.

Essentially, what you are doing is reading up on the comments, the messages, the calls, and everywhere where people are talking about your brand. You can set Google alerts of your brand mentions to track what people are saying online. Plus, you can search for your brand name in the search section of almost all social media channels.

When listening and reading, take note of core themes. These can be anything from influencer trends, newsletters, employee advocacy, and event hashtags. Even if you have social accounts with not many followers, you can still use this technique.

One important aspect when it comes to social listening is the sentiment value. Yes, people might be talking about your brand but are they saying good things? Did something happen to create this spike of conversation? Understand why people were talking about your brand and use them to amplify your content.


Takeaways from social listening:

  • Listen to keywords for your brand, your competition, and your industry.
  • Sentiment matters. It gives context to mention spikes.
  • Take advantage of your findings. Replicate successes and learn from failures.
  • Use social listening to create engaging content for 2021.


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Terry Zelen

About Terry Zelen

Creative Director | Consultant | Author | President of Zelen Communications

Terry Zelen is a seasoned Creative Director with more than 35 years of experience in Home Builder advertising and marketing.

He is the founder of The Punch List, which is an online blog to help inform home builders and developers on strategic marketing insights to fuel their firm.


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