With the Social Media Junction 2 conference line-up now confirmed for 16-17 November 2010 at SkyCity in Auckland, it’s timely to discuss one its key themes: content marketing strategies. And, more specifically, the difference between doing social media and doing it right, a topic conference keynote speaker Lee Odden will delve into.
In the last year or so, I’d wager that the majority of New Zealand companies have taken a step on social media’s yellow brick road. This may be in the form of an official Facebook page, LinkedIn group, Twitter account or YouTube channel. Or it may be that individual members of the marketing, PR or senior management team have explored the different options on a more personal level. Either way, most media people have an understanding of how social media activities can add value to their business. But there aren’t that many, if any, that have fully figured it out. Perhaps this is because the individuals in charge of the digital reins haven’t started measuring yet, and therefore haven’t started to marry their time with tangible outcomes.
Whatever the situation, the underlying reason why most entities haven’t found real business success from social media is they haven’t engaged. There is a vast difference between just doing social media and digitally engaging. The former is what you do when you’re starting out; the latter is what you do when social media is connected to ROI.
Social media is about creating an alternative means for customer interaction, but interacting is just putting yourself out there and seeing what happens. Digital engagement is connected to ROI because it’s about adding value for the customer, which in turn adds value to the business. Essentially, it’s what you say and how you say it. And one man that knows more about this than most is Lee Odden, the chief executive of TopRank Online Marketing, consultant to many Fortune 500 companies, including HP, BT and Northwest Airlines, and the principal author of TopRankBlog.com, which is recognised by Advertising Age as one of the world’s most respected marketing blogs.
As Odden often writes on his blog, it doesn’t tend to matter how the engagement happens. Engagement comes from providing those listening, reading or watching with something of value. Maybe this is something funny, maybe it’s something interesting. What is of primary concern is that they stop and pay attention to who is saying it. The more often you, as representative of the brand, are able to add value and engage, the more often you are given the opportunity to tell people about your product or service. And, as Odden points out: “Customers are expecting more” and, even more pertinently, “sales cycles are getting longer and consumers are getting smarter”. The increased length of time between what we, as marketers, so unfortunately label first ‘touching the customer’ and the sale is now longer than ever.
So what can we do to make our content stand out from the crowd? Unsurprisingly, it’s all about planning. Social media has made the marketing landscape increasingly fluid, but there is a loose structure that you can follow to help get the most out of the resources and content at your disposal. These are Odden’s six key tips for succeeding:
- Purpose – what do you expect this content to accomplish?
- Have a message that is compelling, unique, inspiring and actionable
- Package it with quality, creativity, usability, good design and make it sharable
- Drive distribution and promotion via the push/pull technique and encourage syndication
- Have a call to action
- Always monitor, measure, analyse and act
I’m not going to dissect all of the above, but I will highlight a couple of areas. Everyone should know by now that you need a clear goal. One thing people may not factor in how professional most independently produced content is these days. A lack of professionalism on a blog won’t be tolerated by the reader and you’ll soon lose your audience. In addition, having a call to action makes a big difference. Contrary to popular opinion, a social media call to action doesn’t necessarily mean asking ‘what do you think?’ at the bottom of every post. Think of ways to differentiate the message from the previous content you shared, in order to make your overall proposition diverse and, therefore, more interesting. For example, this could mean pointing people to a blog post that offers a completely contrasting opinion to one you may be putting forward.
- Disclaimer: Bullet PR is the organiser of Social Media Junction.