Digital Marketing

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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

To Pay or Not to Pay… for Facebook Ads

by Joanne Dolezal on 3rd May 2019

It is so easy to start advertising on Facebook but how can you apply it to your business marketing and avoid the pitfalls? In this article we explore the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook advertising.

 Facebook is pretty much unavoidable! Over two billion people around the world now have a Facebook personal profile, which is more than a quarter of the planet.

One factor in its global success has to be the mobile app. Let’s face it, it works beautifully, so you can snap, record and post directly from your smartphone.

Another factor is that it’s more democratic than some forms of online media, because you don’t need to have a lot of hardware or a fixed internet connection to access it.

With over 2 billion smartphones now in use around the world, even those in the developing world can join the Facebook community.

Facebook has also been shopping: Messenger, What’s App, Instagram, Pinterest et al have dramatically increased Facebook’s user base. Facebook now has a staggering 2.07 billion active users. Whenever a user interacts with any post, ad, status update, check-in, voucher, etc, Facebook gathers the data and stores it away for future use.

This article is not intended as a ‘how-to’ guide, more as a ‘why to’. Along the way, we’ll look at some of the Pros and Cons.

Facebook Advertising Features

You can run a variety of promotions and advertisements from your Facebook Page, but must be a ‘Page Admin’ and have added a payment card to your account details).

You can Boost posts, run a variety of Adverts designed to work at different stages of the Buyer Journey, Split Test a variety of message and design combinations, create Custom Audiences and set up Remarketing campaigns (with the handy pixel generator).

To Boost, or Not to Boost…

You can start advertising on your own Page. When you post an update, publish a note (blog), create an event or upload an image or video. There are various functions available: ‘schedule’, ‘back-date’, ‘save as a draft’ or ‘publish’. Once it’s published, you have the option to ‘Boost’ it, to ‘people who like your page’, ‘people who like your page and their friends’ or a Target Audience.

 

Pros It’s deceptively easy to start by boosting posts (from as little as £1 per day) but it’s better to promote them through the Ads Manager.

In the Ads Manager you’ll find better targeting tools and you’ll have more control over how your budget is allocated over the time you stipulated.

Cons It’s deceptively easy to start by boosting posts….

Even if you’ve set your daily budget and campaign duration, Facebook may not spread it as thinly as you would like.  Leave it up to Facebook and they may ‘dump’ all your ad budget on the first day.

Facebook Target Audiences

A ‘Target Audience’ is a group of people you want to target with a set of shared attributes or characteristics. They could be similar to your existing Page Likes, or they could be a completely new type of audience. This means you can reach people beyond your Page Likes.

You will probably have slightly different messages for each of these target audiences. They could refer to specific location, time, topic, offer, whatever you decide.

It’s easy to boost posts and you can do it directly on your Page. It costs as little as £1 per day and you set the duration of your campaign. Just calculate how much money you want to spend and adjust the budget accordingly.

Based on your selection of target audience, daily budget and duration of campaign Facebook will give you an estimate of the number of people you may reach.

You may want to experiment with the Boost function for a while.  To avoid having a Page full of similar posts, use your drop-down toggle to hide posts (once they’re published and boosted).

I’ve run whole campaigns for clients just on this type of advertising, and it works well but in my experience, it works best if you have:

  • a good story
  • great photography
  • something that’s really appealing
  • something time-limited
  • and something that fits in with the way people use Facebook.

Facebook ads can be a good way to test ideas and concepts, including designs, get people to engage and promote in a cost-effective way.

Pros Great targeting, well beyond the information people share in their profiles about themselves, capturing data about all the interactions they have on Facebook.

It’s great for location, demographics, age and gender. interests.

Behaviour and interest targeting on Facebook is superb, and it’s an excellent way to help you get more focused and tighten your targeting.

If you get the right group of people, the conversion rate will be far greater.

 Cons You need to flex the numbers (adjusting who you are targeting) to make sure your ads will reach enough people to deliver the number of results you need.

Facebook Ads Manager

 When it comes to advertising, Facebook offers you various options.

When you go into Facebook’s advertising tools (Ads Manager), you need to ‘start with the end in mind’.

First, you’ll be asked to state your objective. This could be raising awareness of your business, products or services. You may choose consideration – getting people to take you seriously or visit your website. Alternatively, you be looking for a lead from them, either a phone number or an email address.

 

Are you hoping that social media can help you convert the person who’s interested in you, by increasing conversions on your website or by redeeming an offer?

Facebook offers you a menu to choose from: what you want people to do, which clarifies your objective. This is similar across all the platforms, so understanding the basics here will help you use other platforms too.

Advantages of Facebook Advertising There is a potential reach of 2+ billion and it integrates well with other apps and media.

Facebook wants you to spend all your time on their platform.  This is why it works well on mobile devices, laptops and also with things such as Facebook Live. Many people also use it to log into other tools and applications they use.

 Disadvantages of Facebook Advertising The click-through rate (CTR) is as low as 0.01% – 0.04% (DigitalMarketingInstitute.com).  This is less than you’d expect for PPC (pay-per-click) or display ads via the Google AdWords or Google Display Network.

This could be because people don’t go onto Facebook to interact with adverts, or there’s just so much content on there that your ads get swamped.

What advantages or disadvantages have you found when you’ve advertised on Facebook? Please share your experience in the comments section below.

In the next blog we’ll look at more Facebook ad tools: Custom Audiences, Split Testing and Remarketing.

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 Will Francis on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalTo Pay or Not to Pay… for Facebook Ads

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

The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success

by Joanne Dolezal on 30th June 2018

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are in, social media success hangs on the choices you make. Whether you’re selling to other businesses or to consumers, whether you’re a tiny company or giant corporation: your choice of social media  platforms, type of content and timing will be specific to you and your target customers.

But, there are some basic principles that will help you to get it right…

Right Time. Right Place. Right Message.

We often have high expectations of social media and of the staff who are managing it on our behalf. It’s wise to be realistic about how much it can do for us, and where the limits lie.

Your customer journey has changed.

Today, your customers are looking for a lot more information before they pick up the phone, send you an email or fill in that enquiry form on your website. About 70% of their decision-making is done before they first make contact with you.

So, where are your customers looking? Their journey may take them all over the internet, online searches, looking at social media to see what you talk about, how you behave and how you respond to customers. They’ll also be looking for any comments, testimonials and favourable reviews from clients.

Potential customers are trying to build a picture of you to see if they can trust you and if you can deliver – are you the real deal?

Authenticity is important on social media, as it helps us to build trust. It’s one of the biggest downsides to outsourcing social media management, because it’s difficult to get your true voice and personality across.

Depending on your sector and who your customers are, they will be looking for information about you in different places. They may be on Facebook, looking at the videos or images you’ve uploaded and they are quite likely on Twitter, which works for B2B, B2C and business to government.

They may be searching on YouTube, particularly if they want to learn and educate themselves, see how you do something or how your products and services are applied. If you offer business development, they could be using LinkedIn to find out more about you.

Potential customers will expect to find lots of information about you to build a picture and build trust. Think about where you appear online and on social media at the moment.

 How does Social Media help with marketing?

People often assume that if they publish a couple of posts on Facebook the phone will ring and they’ll make loads of money. If you’re really lucky, that’s what happens, but more generally it works in two key stages in the marketing sales funnel.

Social media works at the beginning of the funnel (or journey) to attract visitors to your website.

You may be inviting them to read a blog article, watch a video or download a report or white paper.

This is what we consider as ‘weak links’, because these aren’t your ‘friends’, they are digital connections to your business and your online profile.

BUT, it could be the beginning of a relationship.

One of the pluses of social media is that it can quickly create a conversation between you and another individual, and works brilliantly at the top of the funnel.

It can also work superbly at the very bottom of the funnel, post conversion. Once somebody becomes your customer, they begin to like you and in time may think what you do is great. These can become your Promoters as they’re more likely to engage with your social media posts, commenting and sharing them.

These are your advocates.

The other stages – conversion and closing leads – need a good website with good content, a strong email funnel and the ability to close leads. Don’t expect too much of your social media at these points.

Either way, you will need to be in the right place, at the right time with the right message.

To find out more about the Three Rs of Social Media Success check out our video:

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 You Will 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 Buyer 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 Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalThe Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success