Most marketers want to diversify social media activity to reach more audiences. Reaching audiences on multiple platforms, however, can prove time-consuming, especially if you’re not sure how to do it efficiently.
Cross-platform content marketing seems complicated at first glance. Thankfully, we can take a closer look at what cross-platform marketing is and how some brands are doing it well.
What is cross-platform content marketing on social media?
Cross-platform content is repurposed content spread across multiple social media channels simultaneously.
The idea of “cross-platform” existed prior to social media, when modern-day advertising meant being active on multiple radio and television stations. Since the rise of social media, small and big brands have more cost-effective cross-platform opportunities to reach audiences where they are, whether Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and more.
Brands “Starting Out” vs Established Brands
Startups have a daunting task when it comes to marketing. No one knows who they are, and most startups are working with small teams, limited budgets, and not enough time in the day to get everything done.
For brands just starting out, cross-platform content marketing on social media is a future to look forward to. Your most important job on social media is to find one platform and manage it well to nurture your engaged followers.
But once you’ve launched and built a following on one channel, you need to expand your reach quickly.
Kate Bradely Chernis is CEO of Lately, a social media company helping brands build compelling post content out of blogs, interviews, and more. In an interview with Katya Allison, Director of Content at GRIN, Kate noted:
“If you’re already established, you have to be everywhere at once… You have to reach people at the medium they’re in.” – GRIN Gets Real Podcast interview with Kate Bradley Chernis, CEO of Lately
Thankfully, social media creates a digital presence that is “always on.” You can enhance that dynamic by expanding to multiple social channels and making those channels work for you and your audience.
What is a cross-platform content marketing campaign?
Cross-platform content marketing views each relevant social channel as a critical piece to a brand’s social media marketing mix.
A cross-platform campaign can reach more audiences, publicize consistent messaging, and offer more opportunities for free, organic user-generated content. And because of the likelihood of brand followers existing on multiple platforms, a cross-platform strategy offers additional customer touch points.
In a campaign, a marketer chooses several key social media channels, plans posts, and either manually or through automation publishes those posts across all channels.
Why are cross-platform content campaigns important in 2021?
2020 forced buyers to do more from the comfort and safety of their homes. Parties and gatherings were unsafe. Keeping up with friends and family meant exploring all that social media had to offer.
Brands that picked up on the shift in user activity had the advantage and pushed the envelope on existing social media features. As a result, social platforms added more features and looked for ways to integrate online shopping with social media connectivity. The end result was virtual relationships that extended past P2P (person-to-person) and toward brand-consumer relationships.
In 2020, three trends emerged that are accelerating into 2021:
- Social Commerce
- Influencer Activity
- Social Channel Integration
Social Commerce Trends
Facebook and Instagram now offer full in-app shopping for brands and consumers. Users can see sponsored ads in their feed, add products to their cart, checkout, and return to their newsfeed without any interruption.
Brands can manage eCommerce stores on these social platforms at no additional cost and connect their store to their professional account.
Pinterest and Google Shopping have also pioneered Shoppable ads wherein lifestyle product images include prices and product tags linked to product description pages (PDPs). Instagram and Facebook followed up with their own versions of shoppable image ads.
These social commerce upgrades allow consumers to not feel intruded on while connecting with their friends, family, and favorite influencers on social media.
Influencers are growing their audiences online by creating compelling content around niche lifestyles and industries. While the influencer market has gained a segment of inauthentic or fake influencers, many more genuine influencers have entered the social media space.
Brands that learn to partner with these high-performing influencers are able to significantly increase their marketing ROI. Influencers have become some of the leading advocates for growing brands, particularly among DTC eCommerce businesses.
Social media influencers are able to weave their favorite products and services organically into their regular content. Followers engage influencer posts with thoughtful questions, comments, and purchases based on product recommendations.
Social Channel Integration
The most relevant social media trend to cross-platform content marketing is social channel integration. For example, Instagram allows users to automatically post to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Additionally, most leading social media channels offer a share button that allows users to post to other channels. In the case of sharing posts, it’s important to double check tags and hashtags, since those are platform-specific.
Why Social Channel Integration is Different from Post Copy/Pasting
In 2018, Hootesuite released an early guide to cross-platform content marketing and launched the direct (yet critical) disclaimer:
“While you may have read the title of this post and said ‘Easy! Just copy and paste the same content to all my different networks,’ it’s my civic duty to tell you that you’re misguided.”
Since 2018, some social channels (namely Instagram) have introduced channel integration. This feature can lead some to think that they just need to copy/paste a post from one platform to another.
The reality is that social channel integration links back to the post on the original channel. That’s why tags and hashtags work in this context.
However, most individuals and organizations have different usernames on different platforms. The same is true for hashtags and other platform-specific connectivity tools. Copy/pasting posts from one channel to another risks losing critical components in a quality post.
That said, social channel integration does open the door for identical messaging to work in various platforms without losing its effectiveness. In the past, it was recommended to alter wording from one channel to another, but that is no longer necessary in some cases.
By taking advantage of social channel integration, your brand can save time and encourage fans to follow you on your other platforms. But copy/pasting posts is far less reliable.
How to Run a Cross-Platform Content Marketing Campaign
Step 1 – Set your objectives.
Cross-platform marketing begins with a social media post. What you decide to post depends how you want your audience to react.
Written posts generate a different response than visual posts, such as images and videos. And with the advent of augmented reality (AR) posts and ephemeral content, your brand has more choices than ever before to engage your followers.
Your marketing objectives should inform the type, tone, and style of your posts. As you publish those posts on other channels, your objectives may dictate that you alter each similar post across various channels. In content marketing, this is often referred to as repurposing content.
Step 2 – Select your social media platforms.
It can be handy to have a “home base” social channel. For example, if your largest and most engaged audience exists on Instagram, then that channel can be your home base.
As you consider which channels to repurpose your Instagram (or home base channel) post to, you should think carefully about your target audience. You want to be where your customers are.
Selecting your social media platforms may feel experimental at first. Over time, you’ll know which channels fit best within your social media marketing mix.
Step 3 – Align you messaging based on each platform.
Some platforms are best for visual posts (i.e., TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) while others are better for written posts (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, etc.).
But you can convert written content into attractive memes or quote blocks for visual channels. And you can pull quotes from videos to make written posts. If you’re determined to reach your audience on a particular channel, you will find effective ways to align your content style and message effectively to each platform.
Step 4 – Generate content for each social platform.
Be careful about never leaving your “home base” social channel to originate posts. Marketers can step out of their comfort zones and uncover hidden posting styles that they never would have recognized as perfect for their brand and strategy.
If your brand could promote itself in videos, even if you’ve only ever used images, it’s important to give videos a try. The same principles apply with images, written posts, short/long-form videos, AR, and more.
Step 5 – Promote across all social channels.
After trying new posting styles and effectively repurposing content for different social channels, you have the means to promote your posts across every channel in your social media marketing mix.
To do this efficiently, you may want to use an automation tool. But be careful about replacing the human touch with automation altogether. Your marketing team can accomplish a great deal by preplanning posts and scheduling for ideal times of the day and week. But when opportunities arise to post in the moment, your team should feel free to do so and achieve greater authenticity with members of your audience.
Step 6 – Track and evaluate.
Performance results show what is working and what is not. This information is critical to help you improve your strategy over time and convert more customers on social media.
Step 7 – Rinse, repeat, optimize.
Like any marketing approach, intelligent trial-and-error generates the highest ROI for social media marketers.
Cross-Platform Content Marketing Examples
Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary V)
What They Did
Gary V is a marketing key opinion leader (KOL), serial entrepreneur, and public speaker with some of the finest displays of social media engagements on nearly every social channel.
Image via Facebook & Instagram
One of Gary V’s favorite cross-platform tactics is to place a post within a post (above). Using an Instagram image, he employed photo editing to create a fun visual effect that drew attention to his message.
Furthermore, Gary V found additional ways to recycle the same image in other posts across multiple channels.
Why It Worked
Calling out other channels where your brand exists can send followers to those other channels. Also, Gary V demonstrated that a great image on one platform is a great image on another, and it could reinforce many different messages relevant to his audience.
Recycling a quote or image (or both!) can draw fresh engagement. It’s unlikely that your followers will notice all or most of your posts. That’s you should reintroduce successful posts and spread them across multiple channels for added effect.
“You have to say the same thing in a new way many, many times.” – GRIN Gets Real Podcast interview with Kate Bradley Chernis, CEO of Lately
What They Did
Image via Facebook & Instagram
EveryPlate regularly takes advantage of Facebook-Instagram integration for their cross-platform strategy. In the example above, the brand used the exact same image and post text. However, they made an effort to tag Philadelphia Cream Cheese in a sponsored brand partnership.
Why It Worked
In this sponsored post, EveryPlate kept it simple by keeping each post’s components nearly identical. But because tags are platform-specific, they carefully altered the tags and hashtags so that Philadelphia Cream Cheese was properly tagged in each post.
If you’re new to cross-platform content marketing, then the Facebook-Instagram integration tool is a great place to start. Be sure to check and double-check your tags and hashtags before posting so that you avoid confusion for followers.
What They Did
Image via Instagram, Twitter & Linkedin
Smart Insights is a Martech agency and educational resource for marketers. In the example above, this B2B brand shared a popular infographic across their many social platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Why It Worked
Smart Insights is known for creating quality infographics. By promoting these infographics across every channel, they gain more exposure and make it easier for audience members to share and comment on their post.
Smart Insights was careful to adjust their call-to-action (CTA) on each platform. They also used proper platform-specific tags and hashtags.
Infographics are one of the most popular ways to cross-platform market your brand. They include aesthetically-pleasing graphics, as well as informative text. If your brand is able to create relevant infographic content, it takes very little effort to generate engagement from those images across every channel.
Conclusion: Optimize all your social media channels and broaden your brand audience.
Done well, cross-platform posting can expand your audience, create more customer touch points, and increase conversions. You can begin by mastering a single social channel and then replicating that success on other platforms.
Don’t be afraid to venture outside your comfort zone, adding different types of content from your usual posting style. By creating different kinds of posts, you will acquire more cross-platform marketing options to grow your brand online organically.