Ready for a challenge?
If you had to create a single social media post that would get liked by a higher percentage of your followers than anything you’ve ever posted before, what would you post?
Here’s what I’d recommend and how I figured it out.
Back in 2011, I was hired to run social media for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (aka the organization who runs The Oscars).
It was an incredible opportunity to use social media to inspire, entertain, and educate film fans around the world so I spent a lot of time thinking about the best strategic way to approach it.
I initially thought the path to our most successful social media content would be to combine the organization’s unique resources with the most popular topics among our followers.
Basically, to leverage the Academy’s incredible archival collections to create unique content around the most popular and successful movies of all time.
I believed social posts about movies like Star Wars, The Lion King, or Titanic would perform well because they would resonate with the largest portion of our audience due to the popularity of those movies.
While your own social media strategy likely has nothing to do with movies, I’m guessing your strategy to take on the challenge I issued at the top of this post would be similar: Leverage your unique resources to create content around the most popular topics with your audience.
It’s a logical approach and the content we created using that formula at The Academy performed well.
But, as time went on I experimented (which you should always do by the way), and found another type of post consistently outperformed the ones I thought would be our best.
I discovered the only thing better than a post about a specific popular movie, is a post that doesn’t reference any specific movies.
Because no matter how popular a specific thing is, its inclusion will still limit the percentage of your audience that likes your social post.
To better understand this phenomenon, let’s look at a hypothetical social media post about Star Wars.
Even though Star Wars is one of the most popular movies of all time, there will always be a percentage of people who hate it.
Hypothetically, let’s say that 10% of The Academy’s audience hates Star Wars.
If those followers hate the movie, they’re not going to like a post about it so now the potential audience who may like the post is down to 90% of our fans.
Of the people who didn’t hate the movie, there are likely another 10% who have never seen the movie —even if it’s Star Wars — and it’s unlikely somebody who hasn’t seen it will ever like a post about it.
Another 30% of the audience may be ambivalent about the movie, so they’re unlikely to care about a Star Wars post either.
Just like that, the potential audience who may enjoy a brilliant Star Wars social media post is down to 50% of our followers.
And that’s for one of the most popular movies of all time!
If the post was based on a less popular movie, or a more controversial one, the numbers would be significantly lower.
But here’s the alternative.
Rather than post content about a specific topic that at best appeals to 50% of your audience, post content that enables 100% of your audience to project their own personal favorites on to it.
Here’s how it worked in the case of The Academy’s content.
I came to realize what the Academy’s fans had in common was a shared love of movies — even if they each loved different specific movies.
So, when we created content focused on a general love of movies (as opposed to about specific titles) it performed significantly better because it had the potential to be enjoyed by 100% of our fans.
It was inclusive as opposed to exclusive.
Instead of appealing to the 50% of followers who connect with the magic of Star Wars, speak to the 100% of followers who believe in the magic of movies.
A post talking about how a movie can change your life will resonate with an entire audience because each of those people will personalize the post in their own mind and connect it to the specific movie that changed their life.
The more personal the content, the more it will be liked.
At the end of the day, it’s not a zero sum game. There’s nothing wrong with incorporating specifics into your social posts — that kind of content will still do well and is important.
But, it’s equally important to tap into the underlying themes that apply to 100% of your audience and create content that’s broad enough for them to make it their own.
Doing so expands your potential audience for any given post.
And while it’s unlikely you’ll ever actually get 100% of your fans to like anything, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a lot closer to it.