In my last article I said that combining content marketing with social media can generate impressive results; that it can turn content into a work horse, one that generates real returns for the business.
That is the good news. Unfortunately, it is much easier to try to bring the two together in ways that are not terribly impactful, or worse, hurt the brand.
Success means overcoming differences between the worlds of marketing and social media. Marketers need to open themselves to new ways of communicating and launching campaigns. Social media practitioners need to learn more about marketing and get in synch with organizational goals if they are to be of any help here.
Both types of professionals will need to come to the table and work together if they are to fully achieve the benefits that can come with combining social media and content marketing.
Overcoming the Social Media and Marketing Disconnect
The world of social media would seem to be a marketer’s delight, with its potential to engage consumers, launch viral content and tap into people’s social graphs.
Yet many in the business world still struggle with social media. It is a relatively new way of communicating, one that is constantly evolving and loaded with minefields. You don’t have to look too far to learn of missteps, they seem to be in the headlines and discussed on Twitter every day.
These often stem from the lack of sophistication that business can have about social media. Many still think in terms of direct marketing, where you are doing fine if 2% of the recipients respond to your offering, and the rest simply ignore it. Or, in sales-driven organizations, perhaps they are in a chest beating mindset and think and communicate only in terms of products, features and benefits.
On the other hand, people who are good with social media are often the younger set and not necessarily savvy about business. Many are wary about efforts to manage and control their communications. The ones who are good at it can be freewheeling and provocative (you don’t get a large number of followers by being boring); in short they can be loose cannons.
But the biggest challenge can come not from marketing, social media, or the cultural differences between the two; it can be from the intended audiences, the ones we want to communicate with and convert. People who spend time with social media and on social networks likely have no interest in being “customer targets”. They are not afraid to speak out, and now have the tools to do so.
Yes, I know that I am generalizing with the above statements. Your customer is not necessarily some nameless, faceless social media user with a chip on his or her shoulder. And yes, there are marketers who are social media savvy, and vice versa. I am just pointing out that there are risks as well as opportunities. The tools that you use to communicate have important implications for how the message is received; people can react differently to the same info when it is sent by email, or snail mail, phone call vs. a Twitter direct message.
With these thoughts in mind, I’d like to suggest some new year’s resolutions for aspiring champions of combined content marketing and social media. Follow the advice below and you will clear the decks for success in 2012.
Marketers should resolve to get smarter about social media. They must roll up their sleeves, jump into social media, and master the ins and outs of each network (I understand that just about everyone participates these days; however there is a big difference between being a passive dabbler and an expert; if you are to master it you need study what works, experiment, and constantly learn – especially about metrics and how to improve them).
You need to understand the nuances of how people communicate via social media – the mores, in general, and rules of engagement for each network.
You must listen as well as talk; don’t just view social media as a one way megaphone.
Be open to new ideas about content. To be successful, you need to go through a shift in thinking. What this means is that the marketing content that you use for social media cannot be thinly veiled sales materials. Your content needs to be something that is authentic, strikes the right tone and delivers truly useful information.
Take a fresh look at your corporate content – consider new sources, including third party content.
Try to put yourself in the position of the consumer – how would you react to the info that you would like to share? Be honest!
Look beyond technology and process. It is not all just about technology – while there is technology involved, it is easy to get lost in a thicket of APIs, SEO, algorithms, auto-posting, curation technologies, etc.
In truth, it is your ideas, creativity and ability to mine your social capital that will determine your success. Let’s remember that it is people behind social networks – people who will act on your content in the desired way, or not.
Stop chasing the viral Holy Grail.
As I said in my post of the same name, it helps to remember some basic laws of business and also some cold realities that dictate how ideas catch on and spread. First, as I have blogged previously, it is well near impossible to predict in advance what will become a hit. That does not mean that you cannot boost the odds of going viral. It just means that, all things being equal, it is still hard to predict what will rise to the top.
Second, your content does not need to go viral to call the campaign a success. Assuming you are interested in some business result and are not just trying to entertain a lot of people, the laws of ROI say that the return – in terms of increased traffic, name recognition, Web site registrations, sales, however you measure it, has to be greater than the investment.
You do need to consider what types of content or Web destination will be interesting enough to become popular amongst your target audience and help you achieve your business results even without any viral explosion.
Thanks for stopping by and reading. I wish the Windmill Networking community a Happy New Year and much success in 2012.