Content Marketing

All posts tagged Content Marketing

Quality Versus Quantity and 3 Reasons Why Your Content isn’t Moving

by Joanne Dolezal on 28th October 2019

When it comes to content marketing, the quality versus quantity debate just got serious. Based on Buzzsumo’s 2019 publication of analysis of content performance on the platform, new challenges face content marketers.

Changes in software, social media platforms and messaging apps create fresh challenges if you are designing marketing and sales strategy for your organisation.

These three key challenges are content shock (or saturation), changes in social media affecting content performance and the need to increase content quality or compete on content quantity.

Key Challenges for Content Marketers

Content shock and information density

When Mark Schaefer first talked about Content Shock in a 2014 blog, many in the content and digital marketing world predicted the end of ‘content’ as a strategy.

Schaefer was writing in response to a huge increase in the volume of content being published hourly on every digital channel and the finite number of hours we human beings have in the average day to consume it.

Schaefer is a leading light in the content marketing world and his blog, Content Shock – Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy, created a tsunami of comments. Many agreed, some disagreed, but the core idea, that content marketing may not be a sustainable strategy for some businesses is not to be dismissed out of hand.

This is how Mark Schaefer described it:

“Content Shock: The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it”.

The challenge that Schaefer was facing as a blogger and podcaster was that he was essentially ‘paying’ people to consume his content. It takes time to produce, especially podcasts, and although it is free to self-publish online, there is a time cost involved: number of hours x hourly rate, for example. Time that could be used more profitably elsewhere. The ROI would be delivered further down the line from the number of website visits, leads and conversions.

With the sharp increase in content published across all channels in recent years, there is a greater supply of information to the customer and more competition for their attention. If demand does not increase as sharply – due to the finite capacity to consume digital content – then the business would see a diminishing ROI (or ROTI – Return On Time Invested).

If the time cost had to increase (for better quality content), or the volume of web traffic decreased (due to increase in competing content) then the time cost may increase to such a level that it ceases to be a viable strategy for some businesses. Especially those of you who are in a sector or industry where there is a huge volume of competing content.

The concepts of the Money Value of Time (MVOT) along with the Return on Time Invested (ROTI), originally developed by Rory Vaden, are particularly relevant to content marketing. It is a viable strategy for no- or low-budget marketers, but only up to a point.

“Over time, the low budget content producers are eased out of the consumer mindshare as we “pay” more for their attention. Pay with their time, or increasingly pay to increase the distribution of content via social media or digital channels.” Schaefer

Marcus Sheridan, another leading light in the US content marketing world wrote a blog, Six Arguments Against Content Shock, arguing that:

  • great content will always win;
  • it costs no more to produce great content;
  • content shock is irrelevant if you have an identified niche;
  • customers will always research purchases and seek answers;
  • content marketing does not require a big budget;
  • and technology will provide the solution to finite consumer demand (for content).

His content marketing philosophy – listening, communicating and teaching – goes some way to explaining his point of view and belief in quality versus quantity.

“To me, that’s all we’re striving to do here. And because these words are the core of content marketing, and because they’re also principle based, the value of this will never go away. Listening will always be critical in business.”

Effective communication will always dramatically impact consumers. And powerful teaching will always be the key to generating consumer trust and action.” Sheridan

So, on one side we have ‘measurable results’ and on the other we have ‘relationship building’ – not necessarily at odds with each other, until the increase in competition for customers attention reaches a level that is unsustainable. It could also be when others in your company raise questions about whether this is the best strategy, the best use of your time and budget.

“Of course there are always exceptions in business and everyone can point to their favourite “David” beating a Goliath. But the economics of content marketing are straightforward: create lots of great content that can be discovered by customers and potential customers. If you can saturate your market, all the better.” Schaefer

Fast forward to 2018, and the publication in January of Content Trends 2018 – BuzzSumo Report by Steve Rayson (BuzzSumo is a paid research and monitoring tool).

The report (and accompanying slide show) present their latest research and findings based on analysis of content performance across the BuzzSumo platform. To add credibility, they share the performance analytics of their own content too.

What they found is worrying, wherever you sit on the ‘purpose of content marketing’ swingometre. They track content performance based on shares, likes and comments.

First the bad news.

On average, social shares have more than halved since 2015. They looked at the median number as opposed to average number.

In 2015, the median number of shares was 8.

In 2017 it was as little as 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content Shock, or Information Density as BuzzSumo call it, is evidently having an impact as more content competes for attention.

So too is the increase in private sharing, so-called “dark social media”. People are sharing content more frequently via apps (including Slack, Whatsapp, Messenger, etc), within email or text message. You can’t see (or measure) the true number of shares your social media posts and other content have earned. You can only see engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares/retweets when performed directly on your own online platforms or on social media.

Facebook changes have had a significant impact on content performance, especially ‘reach’. In 2017, Facebook warned brands and publishers that due to the tremendous quantity of content now being published directly onto the platform, they were going to limit the number of posts and ads Facebook users were served (shown) each visit.

Brands who had spent years building their Facebook followers, saw the true organic reach of their Facebook content plummet along with engagement and referral traffic to their website.

“Facebook Armageddon”

In 2018, Facebook announced that it would now be limiting the number or ads served to Facebook users each visit too.

This has obliged brands to ‘pay to play’ on Facebook.

Other changes among the big social media players have also had a knock-on effect on sharing (and engagement).

  1. YouTube has been plagued by scandal as ‘video nasties’ pursue the same target audiences as big household brands in an attempt to have maximum exposure and impact.

2. Google+ has become largely irrelevant.

3. Twitter has recently ‘outlawed’ repeated posts – a common distribution tactic for evergreen content.

4. Even LinkedIn referral traffic is down as all the social media platforms compete for attention, time users spend on their platform and advertising revenue.

Not surprisingly, many brands are revising their entire social media strategy as a result.

3 top reasons for decline in content sharing - BuzzSumo report 2018

3 top reasons for decline in content sharing – BuzzSumo report 2018

Now the good news.

A number of online publishers have apparently ‘bucked the trend’.

The New York Times has actually seen shares of its online content (news) treble over time, since 2015. The Economist and Harvard Business Review had also seen an increase in social shares since 2015 – not in all content but in some content.

The conclusion that Rayson draws is that in an age of ‘fake news’ and information density, quality may trump quantity.

These online publishers already have a reputation, earned over many years in traditional media, for producing well-researched, informative, long-form and credible ‘news’. Rayson suggests that “people are more selective in their sharing” as they want to share something worthwhile with their audience.

Linked In sharing is also up so this is good news for B2B (business to business) brands.

New York Times - BuzzSumo report 2018

Average shares of New York Times content treble – BuzzSumo report 2018

 

In short, the volume of content has significantly increased and median shares have halved since 2015 but in some areas, such as news or analysis (The New York Times, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, etc) there has been a slow but steady increase in shares.

In the same period ‘clickbait’ content – with an eye-catching title but little substance – has seen a significant drop in shares and performance.

The Flight to Quality…

All of this together would suggest a preference for quality, well-researched and credible content that will presumably deliver value to those with whom it is shared, versus quantity. It also enhances the reputation of the brand or individual who has curated and shared quality content.

Many marketers and agencies turn to marketing automation as the solution to ‘quantity’ of content published, and whilst this may help in the short term, it won’t improve the quality of content created.

“Content Shock isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. By producing high quality, core evergreen content, and also regular content such as news, updates and practical tips, you provide less opportunity for new entrants who will struggle to gain attention.” Rayson

You can certainly compete on quality and you may not need to win the quantity game depending on the sector or industry you are in.

You just need to reach, convince and convert enough of your target customers to succeed.

Where do you start?

Our online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Don’t leave without “The Easy Guide to Content Marketing”.

 

Photo by ytcount on Unsplash

If you’d like see the full BuzzSumo presentation:

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Joanne DolezalQuality Versus Quantity and 3 Reasons Why Your Content isn’t Moving

Should You Ever Pay for Social Media Advertising?

by Joanne Dolezal on 19th October 2018

Many of you have been using social media for a number of years and can’t believe how much things have changed in that time, but should you now be paying for social media advertising too?

When the main social media platforms were launched, they were free to use.  Over time, as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube have grown their user base, they have introduced paid tools to increase ‘reach’ but also ‘revenue’.

In this series, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of paying to reach more people on the platforms we regularly use to share content, attract website visitors and raise our brand awareness.

There was an assumption that social media would allow us to connect with our customers free of charge, create profiles and build a following. When Facebook went public (i.e. floated their shares on the stock exchange), they had to start making money from advertising revenue. Almost immediately, business page reach went down.

The other social platforms followed suit, which is to be expected.

There is a clear trade-off: we get to access our customers, communicate with them and let them talk to each other. In order to reach people we don’t already know, though, we have to pay.

They gather the consumer data we share with them to build a picture of who we are as individuals. They know what we’re interested in, which is based on everything we do and every interaction we have. Selling access to this data is how they make money.

In this series, we’ll be looking at the pros and cons of social media advertising on some of the most popular platforms, what sort of costs are involved and the potential benefits.

First, you have to decide what your goals in using Social Media are

Some of the goals that a business or organisation will have for using social media are marketing goals:

  • raising awareness of your brand and products
  • engaging with people and building on their awareness
  • encouraging them to be willing to share contact data or details with you
  • using their contact data in lead generation to convert them to purchase.

Predominantly, your goals will include lead generation, generating enquiries, finding people who are interested in working with you and getting that sale – either as a one-off or repeatedly.

Other goals could included: customer service, enquiry handling, complaint handling, recruitment, public relations, etc.

 Before you start using social media advertising, there are a few things to have ready and wise steps to follow.

Step 1 – The Target

Every time you go into the advertising tools on your social media platforms, you need to consider your advertising goals and who makes up your target audience. This is the first question they will ask you as their templates and tools serve different goals, i.e. the Call to Action button will say something different. Yes, it is often as basic as that.

The question you need to ask yourself is, do you want people like the customers you already have, because that already works for you?

Or do you want to reach out to a new type of customer? You can define the categories or characteristics using the knowledge you have about the people you want to target.

 Step 2 – The Message

It may take some time to work on the ad creative – the graphic design, photography, ad copy and tone of voice – the language you use. This includes the ad copy (the words) and the call to action, and these can often be ‘the make or break’ of an advert.

Step 3 – The Design

You may use a self-service tool such as Canva or Pic Monkey, or you may be working with your graphic designer or agency. The ad creative (photography, graphics, animation) was always vital for advertising, and continues to be so now. This is where time and budget needs to be focused.

Step 4 – The Positioning

Selecting ad placement is about where your ads will be seen. Will they be on the main feed or in an advert sidebar? Are they on both the desktop and mobile version, or just one? Depending on what you want to achieve, there may not be much difference between them. However, if you feel that your customer makes decisions about you ‘on the go’, consider a mobile-only campaign.

Step 5 – The Budget

Deciding on your budget and scheduling is also important. You may run this ad as a one-off, or you may do it regularly. Either way, start small and build. Monitoring is really important, but one of the good things about social media advertising compared to traditional ad campaigns is that you can stop, pause and modify your ads at any point.

The key question is always what the Cost of Acquisition is (the average of how many people you reach, how many convert (respond) divided by the total cost). If it is more than you can afford to spend on each new contact (who may not be ready to buy from you just yet), then focus on other tactics to increase your reach on social media.

Step 6 – The Impact

The great thing about all these platforms is that they have fantastic FREE analytics, so you can dive in in real time and see how your campaigns are doing.

Your customers are almost certainly on social media. Most people are on something, even if they’re just on Pinterest for their hobbies or they WhatsApp with the ‘rellies’ – without realising they are social media platforms.

As with any of your activities on social media, though, are you confident that your customers expect to see you there and are they happy to hear from you on that platform? Is there a conversation you can add to or enhance in some way?

Are there places where your customers wouldn’t expect to see you? You don’t want to be the gatecrasher.

The same approach applies to your ads as it does to your posts and general social media activity – if customers would be happy to see you there anyway, they’ll be open to seeing your ads too.

You can now advertise on almost all of the social media platforms. With some of the newer platforms, they haven’t opened the whole advertising suite fully to everyone. For example Snapchat who launched the first tier of social advertising tools, but you had to use one of their affiliate marketing providers to access these tools.

Now for the fun bit

You now need to decide which platform is best for you and what type of social media advertising (or paid promotion) to create. Over the series, we’ll focus on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, because they are the platforms where you’re already most active, no doubt, and they are a good place to start.

In our next blog, we look at the ‘pros and cons’ of Facebook advertising.

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

 

Photo by Neonbrand on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalShould You Ever Pay for Social Media Advertising?

Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?

by Joanne Dolezal on 5th October 2018

You need to have SMART goals for your social media if you don’t want to be a ‘busy fool’.  It is an excellent digital communication channel but requires time, creativity and some financial investment.

So, what is the real purpose of your social media activity?

This ties in with your marketing goals and what you want social media to achieve for you.  This could be lead generation, customer service, raising brand awareness or telling people about a new product or service.

Set your goals for social media with the following questions in mind, or apply them to the one you’ve already got:

Who exactly do you want to like or follow your page?

Customers, peers, influencers, suppliers, competitors? Even if they don’t Like your profile, they can still follow you and see your updates. If this is a concern, you’ll need to keep an eye on your followers and either block them, set up Private Twitter accounts or develop key messages for each audience.

Which social media profile/s should you prioritise?

You may have the time, team and appetite to be ‘everywhere’ so try to modify your posts and schedule to reach target customers when they are in the right ‘zone’. Deciding upon the Right Place is individual to your organisation – you will know where you get the warmest welcome and it’s okay to be choosy. Have branded profiles on all the platforms if you wish, but focus your time and energy on the two or three that really make a difference.

What content would they find valuable?

What content will my target market engage with? Research, observe and listen. It’s okay to be passive for a while. Take as long as you want, because there’s no hurry. What’s key, is developing the Right Message. Social media is going to be there for a long time and isn’t going to run away without you!

Do you need a content calendar?

Developing one is really useful, even if it’s a simple one created in Excel.

Many businesses will have ‘seasons’ of key dates and events and having a calendar makes sure you are ready and you are prepared to talk about the right things at the right time.

How often will you post?

Although you don’t need to post dozens of times a day, it does need to be done regularly and consistently. If you have big bursts of activity and then nobody hears from you for months, people will gradually lose interest.

Don’t leave social media to the last minute.

It’s a really valuable communications tool so include it in your campaign plans. Develop your messages alongside the rest of your campaigns and schedule them in advance. Then go and make that cuppa!

You need a plan, because planning prevents poor performance.

Your Customers Set the Tone…

When you know the tone and language of your target market (informal, hip, corporate, industry jargon?) it’s easier to join the conversation, to fit in. If you’ve spent some time following what they post and engage with online you’ll learn the topics they talk about regularly. You’ll gauge what they most care about.

Once you know the questions they ask and know you have the answers that could help them, start experimenting. Post regularly and see what gets a reaction.

SMART Goals are ‘Realistic’ too.

Be realistic about what social media can do for you. The volume is at the top (likes and follows) but it’ll be a much smaller number of people who’ll move through the funnel to subscribe and buy from you.

This is how sales and marketing have always been and always will be, so don’t worry.

Build social media into your regular marketing and it will help to attract, convert and engage customers.

Is your social media reaching target customers at the right time?

Not everybody wants what we do and what we make, or even if they do, they may not want it right now. That doesn’t mean they’re not interested, it just means that it’s not the right time for them.

Once you have realistic goals, you’ll enjoy using social media a lot more, because it can be a lot of fun. You can meet and chat with people you wouldn’t have come into contact with ordinarily.

Social media allows you to take the first steps in developing relationships that could last for years.

We hope you enjoy the The Three Rs of Social Media Success.

Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1. The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success
  2. Know the Right Place for Social Media Success
  3. How do You Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media
  4. Get the Right Message: Get their Attention
  5. Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers
  6. Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?
  7. Mobile First and Live Streaming Video Help You Succeed in Social Media

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

For more Content Marketing tips and tricks, grab your free eBook here.

 

Photo by Rawpixel on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalAre your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?

Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers

by Joanne Dolezal on 28th September 2018

It’s never a bad time to look at how you attract people to your social media profiles and build your social media following.

There are two sides to the audience building argument.

One side will tell you to focus on quality, build your following slowly based on quality of connections and a real affinity.

The other side will tell you to focus on quantity, building your following quickly with paid social media campaigns, buying likes and followers and creating sensational content to ‘go viral’.

You will know what works for your organisation…

You will need to gauge what feels right, how much time and money you want to spend on achieving the ‘numbers’ – how many page likes you have on Facebook page, followers on Twitter or your Linked In company page.  You may prefer to focus on building your audience slowly and look at the ‘quality’ metrics: engagement – comments, retweets, shares – instead.

But you should know that these options exist, i.e. through paid advertising or ‘likes’ campaigns, if only to analyse others’ social media following more dispassionately.

Remember, though, that anyone promising you instant success is trying to sell you something…

You want to go for quality and build your following ‘organically’

It is still possible to build your audience on social media through content marketing and organic growth, by regularly posting a variety of content that is relevant and appealing to your target audience (or customers). Bear in mind that what you post on social media will depend on what type of business you run.  There are many different types of content for business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) companies, and most of it will be familiar to you.

The diagram below charts the most common formats for content marketing.

The best content is user-focussed, non-selling, informative and engaging.

Content marketing uses many different formats to deliver quality content.

Think ‘person to person’, not ‘business to business’.

What you’ll find, even when you are selling to another business person (as opposed to a consumer) is that it’s ‘B2B’ for the first five minutes only. It soon becomes you speaking to another person, another human being, and seeing them as an individual.  Everyone in business knows that this is what relationships are based on, and you’ll be on first name terms within the hour.

On the B2C side, with consumer marketing, the people who follow brands on social media want to be rewarded in some way. They want offers, deals and coupons or to know when the ‘flash sale’ is going to be. There’s very little brand loyalty these days, so think about different types of content which could be appropriate for your audience.

This quote is about Twitter, but I like it because it’s relevant to any social media platform:

“…humanize it.” Talk like a human, treat your readers like a human and empathise -this is how you get people’s attention and start to build trust with them. Be real!

Pam Moore

You want to go for quantity and grow your following quickly

All the major social media platforms have launched advertising tools in the last few years.  These are not to be underestimated, either in terms of their targeting capabilities or the potential reach they offer you, regardless of geography.  If you are familiar with the principles of display advertising (picture or video adverts) and pay-per-click (PPC) you will understand the advertising tools immediately.

For successful content marketing, you need to build your inbound marketing funnel.

The Inbound Marketing Funnel

For those who are new to paying to reach new ‘customers’, both operate on an auction model.

With paid ads, the most exposure (impressions or reach) goes to the highest bidder for that target audience.  It’s a fair system, in as far as you know either how much (the maximum) you are prepared to bid for either a click (through to your website or product page) or impressions, the number of people the ad will be presented to (sold per mille/’000).

When you are buying ad campaigns on each platform, you’ll be asked to choose your goals, based on the stage in the inbound funnel (see at right) / customer journey you want to reach your customer at.

Basically, you will be looking for Awareness, Consideration or Conversion.

Paid ads can help you reach target customers beyond your networks, sector, industry, location or language.

Some ads will present your picture ad, others may have a few lines of copy and Call to Action.  The success rate on all social platforms is low: typically the click-through-rate (CTR) will be lower that 0.5% or the people you are targeting.  You then have to follow up in some way to convert them.

Targeting can be based on the common characteristics of you target customer (or buyer personas) or you can create ‘look-alike’ target audiences based on the custom tools within the platform.  For more information about the paid ad tools on each platform, please see our blogs about each platform.

Buying followers can be done in a couple of ways.

The first option is to respond to a direct approach, normally on social media, offering to sell you followers.  These are normally sold per thousand.  Buy followers at your peril.  They won’t engage with your content (posts) and may distort your page analytics (metrics) significantly.

Accessing a pre-existing ‘community’ that has been pre-built by an agency can produce an impressive number of page (and post) likes.  Some will have millions of members who are, evidently, very obedient and do as they are asked.  This is a tactic if you need to demonstrate interest in your brand or products, perhaps to an investor, but it is not cheap.  Or particularly sustainable.

Am I against ‘paid’ social media?  No.  I think the targeting and advertising tools have the potential to put you in front of people you’d never reach otherwise.  I think the best combination is paid + organic, still delivering as much quality content as you can to your social media following.

But I would avoid buying followers, in the same way that I’d avoid buying contact data.  It is poor quality and unlikely to convert.

Whether you want to build a social media audience that delivers ‘quantity’ or ‘quality’, we recommend you:

1. Identify your target market – you may already have some information, but the more you know about who you’re trying to target, the better the social media platforms will support you. They have targeting tools built within them based upon the data they gather from users, and in the paid versions these are really sophisticated.

2. Know what they’re looking for – once you start to interact with them you’ll know what questions they ask and also what kinds of things they interact with.  Taking time to understand what your target customers care about helps you talk about topics they are interested in.

3. Attract and engage them – by being interesting, engaging and relevant, you’ll start to attract people to your profiles and pages.  Use the language they understand and use themselves and your posts will be relevant to them.

4. Build trust and earn leads – doing so will encourage people to visit your website, subscribe to your mailing list and download the lead magnet you’ve created in exchange for an email address. They WILL ring you or send you a direct message, because it happens all the time.

5. Measure and improve. Think about what you’re going to measure, because big numbers don’t always mean anything. The quality of interactions is what matters for a social media following who will ultimately buy from you, or recommend you to others.

Social media is great for weak links, so don’t feel too disheartened when things don’t go your own way immediately and don’t expect too much of people.  After all, you’re not face-to-face, so you can’t rely on non-verbal cues or the opportunity to have a proper conversation to build rapport.

At the bottom of the inbound funnel, once somebody has become a customer, it’s a great way to keep in touch with them.

Turn them into an advocate and they will make sure your posts, comments and shares ‘move’.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the The Three Rs of Social Media Success.

Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1. The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success
  2. Know the Right Place for Social Media Success
  3. How do You Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media
  4. Get the Right Message: Get their Attention
  5. Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers
  6. Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?
  7. Mobile First and Live Streaming Video Help You Succeed in Social Media

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

For more Content Marketing tips and tricks, grab your free eBook here.

 

Photo by Fleur Treurniet on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalBuild Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers