Posts Tagged 'content marketing'

What’s the Sweet Spot for Content Marketing?

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It’s true, the internet has shortened our attention spans. We’d rather watch a video than have to read 400 words or more. As a digital marketer one of the great challenges is to figure out what your audience wants and then to package that into something that’s measurable and moves the needle.

It’s getting harder.

You’d think that with the advent of all the new data tools and analytics packages on the market, that we would know exactly what the customer wants. We don’t really. We have an idea but as the sophistication of our digital world becomes more personalized so does the demands and expectations of the consumers swimming in it.

What I do know is that the content marketing game is drastically shifting. We get our information from so many sources nowadays. It’s insane. Think about it though, each of those sources “needs” content as well as content creators. That content? It could be hit and miss.  We choose to consume it and marketers “hope” you consume it. The latter is a beast. Why? Because consumers are fickle. They’re bored and they have zero attention spans.

We’ve become dependent on digital to entertain us, inform us and babysit us.

Because our devices are always on. Our demand for content, our blood lust for digital content to consume, is all encompassing. Because of this, the challenge for the digital marketer is apparent. Whether the content is educational or is pushing a product or service, how it is created, packaged and pushed out, now matters more than ever. Marketers can’t rely on the “long form” writtern word anymore.

We don’t have time for it. You don’t have time for it.

I don’t see this changing any time soon.

Don’t Mistake Activity for Effectiveness in Social Media

stop-spinning-your-wheels

The world of the content marketer/social media marketer is changing. I had mentioned in a previous post how it resets every day. When it does reset, we no longer are responding to what our readers, followers and fan say as much as we’re responding to what the analytics tell us in regards to consumption habits and trends from the previous day. What that tells us and what a lot of old school social media marketers will tell you (old school being about eight years… ) is that the art of engagement has now become a science. The conversations, have been lost.

How do we get back to our roots, to that happy place, to that place where social is social again?

Mack Collier talked recently about how Twitter just isn’t the same anymore and blames it on a lack of conversation and in a recent New York Times piece on specializing to survive this quote jumped out at me:

“It’s becoming harder and harder to separate the wheat from the digital chaff. The problem with the Internet is anyone can post, so it’s hard to know whether you are looking at a fact or pseudofact, science or pseudoscience.”

Clearly, we are all suffering from a need for speed. A rush to crank the content out. We’re so enamored with the platforms that allow us to say something quickly, or publish or push out a piece of content in just 2-3 clicks, that we have lost our way. We have lost our ability to have conversations and in our desire to want conversations. In fact brands and the companies that monitor brands have even redefined engagement.  Just go look up the definition.

The definition of engagement is that … there is no definition!

We can fix this though. It’s simple and it’s in the title of this post. Don’t mistake your social media activity for social media effectiveness. Measure your effectivensss in connections made and conversations had and realtionships created; and not on the quantity of what your pushing out and the number of places that you’re pushing it out on. All that does is dilute the message.

The Content Paradigm Shift

ParadignShift

I’m cutting to the chase. and feel free to disagree with me at any point when you think I’m wrong. Content curation tools are great. No really, they are, except all they do is pull the content in and that really is just half the battle. The content game played by every brand, everywhere, in some way, shape or form, is finding that content, every day, manually interpreting it and then tailoring it to their audience and then pushing it out. Every day.

Brands can and will measure its effectiveness, they fish where the fish are, and every day they push out more content. In the hopes that the consumer will bite; and in most cases they will. This is what digital marketing has become. It’s a game. The game has become more sophisticated about how it is played and approached, but guess what? The consumer has evolved as well. The consumer knows what content they like, what content they want, how they want to consume it and where they would like to consume it and on what device.

The bottom line is you cannot automate the customer experience. Creating a truly fluid customer experience might be automated across devices and platforms, but to understand what your customer wants and needs has to be interpreted manually.

The world of the content marketer resets every day to square one. The really good marketers know what works and what doesn’t. Not merely from the data but probably from actually listening to the customer. I think that a fluid customer experience has to start with content that connects, it then flows through engagement and ends with trust. That’s it. Let’s trust you know your customer and what they want. Why? Because it resets every day, what you do and what they want.

Content Fatigue and Whatever Happened to the Snake Oil folks in Social Media?

Full Disclosure-Sometimes I have no clue about what I’m going to write about even after I have clicked on, “new post”. How about you? I have content creation fatigue and frankly I’m tired. Are you tired? Tired of creating content? Tired of reading the same content? Tired or stumped on what you might write today or tomorrow? Do you create content for your blog or  for your company blog? For clients?  I do.  I do it for my site and I instruct clients on what to write, how to write, where to write, and when to write and frankly I’m sometimes overcome with social media writers fatigue.

Today was one of those days where I knew I had to write something but wasn’t sure what to write. Funny thing is, I have so many drafts saved here and I have so many ideas scrawled on napkins, pieces of paper and stored on Evernote-that writing or creating that content should be easy right? And yet at the end of the day, in an ironic twist, this post ends up being about not knowing what to write about…It’s like this post is being reincarnated as George Costanza and Jerry’s Seinfeld’s show about nothing.

Everyone writes about the same thing in social media-sort of

The other half of my fatigue revolves around the hopes that I will read the next great post. I wonder every day, “Does anyone have anything new to say today?” Invariably the answer is yes but I do read a lot of crappy, link-baity blog posts that make me feel dirty for actually wasting my time with it. The good news?  There are some good kickass, up and comer, social media bloggers and writers hittin’ the space every day; but I still think that, “Does anyone have anything new to say in this space?” Seriously. I can’t be the only one thinking this out loud. Am I? Maybe it’s that whole I’m livin in the bubble thing goin on. I’m not sure.

Remember the good ole days when we all used to bash the emergence of the snake oil folks-Whatever happened to those posts?  Maybe a better questions is whatever happened to the social media snake oil folks? But those types of posts were easy to write and easy to read.

Home runs and link bait

Snake oil dude aside, I do love how everyday brings the promise of events that will prompt us to read, write, react and share don’t you? The snake oil folks used to do that. It was easy to get all fired up about what they did or didn’t do and then write about it.  Social media #fails are always easy to read and write about too. Look, we all want to hit that home run of a post that gets commented on and shared out the wazoo.  Sometimes I write posts with the hope that it hits that home run, but I admit it, I struggle. I know you do too. We all do. Want to know a clear indicator for me? When I see any top 10 list in the title of the post. I know that person is fishing for eyeballs and may be struggling for content. Hey it’s OK sometimes because I’m a sucker, as we all are for a top ten list, just not all the time.

So will I snap out of my content fatigue? Maybe I have. I usually bank on some Fortune 500 screwing up in social and getting me back on track..

Competing with Free

Every day we’re faced with free and I hate it… Marketers throw free around like it’s confetti. Consumers snap up free stuff because it’s free. But does free work? Does giving stuff away for free make you eventually buy stuff? No, generally not. I’ve often said that the majority of people that follow brands on Facebook do it not because they are supposed brand champions  but purely because they are hoping to get something out of the engagement. Something free.

Why would you follow Nike , Gatorade or American Eagle  on Facebook? Because of the cool videos? Because of the witty banter? Or maybe you’re all about new product launches? Engagement? No? Be honest. You just want to connect with your niche of people that wear Nike and American Eagle and drink Gatorade…

Ok, so pretend you’re the SMB or the competition. How do other companies compete when Nike, Gatorade and AE give stuff away for free? Do they just go ahead and break down and give  away free stuff too? Predictable right? I think part of the reason why case studies on organizations that do it differently are written is because the majority of marketers and companies do it the same way over and over with predictably average results. We embrace and applaud being different and yet conversely, we choose nine times out of ten, to do it just like our competition. Why is that?

I remember asking a small business owner once why they kept advertising in magazines and newspapers when the results were so poor. Their answer was that they had no other options. They didn’t know what else to do, so they just kept doing what didn’t work. Thus, fighting free with free may seem like a good idea, in the end it is not a business model.

The value of free

The problem is we’re asking local SMB’s to compete with big brands who give stuff away for free all the time, by forcing them to give stuff away for free too. This ultimately leads to 2 things: 1)  It’s costing them more than they can really afford or b) It’s not really having the same impact on the consumer as it would if it was coming from the big brand.

The over-reaching formula for big brands is to create awareness of new stuff by giving away free stuff and then use social networks to promote the promise of free while driving the notion of new. Does giving something away for free inflate the value of that new product or service? Uh no. It may create awareness of the brand, product or company but there is no value in free.

Unfortunately we’re chasing the long tail of free, we always have. The internet and the emergence of social networks have created an atmosphere of chasing free wherever it may be. Interesting thing though is that you get what you pay for, even when it’s free.

So how do you compete?

I had a friend of mine who recently asked me how is he supposed to make money blogging or creating good content- and this was after one of his friends mentioned that a monkey could write content… I asked him, why would someone pay for your content? What is the value proposition of your content? Is it so bad that you feel the only way to push it out is as free content? We have to eliminate the notion that our IP is not valuable and promote the aspect of content, products and services that are so valuable that people would indeed pay for them.

The internet and social have gone a long way to creating free platforms to access free content when in actuality most people would pay for it if the value of the content they wanted were implicit. The point- we have created free markets for free which is a flawed model right out of the blocks.  Don’t give something away to sell something-you can’t compete with those that use that as a business model. So what’s the work around?

Try this:

a) Value your content

b) Create valuable content

c) Focus on where that content can be valued

d) Create a market for your content that creates awareness of you, your brand and your company

Lastly, Pay attention to this interview  by Andrew Keen of WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell. Very telling.

The Soft Metric of Good Content and it’s Impact on the Digital Footprint

Last week I asked via Twitter what the shelf life of a blog post was. I got some interesting answers. The essence was that there is no shelf life-they last forever.

In marketing, digital marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing our success needs to be measured by both hard and soft metrics. Often times we are urged or encouraged to fail fast and fail often because that’s the best way to learn and the secret to digital marketing success. Yet, most marketers might be pressuring themselves in to measuring success by measuring hard metrics when there are plenty of soft metrics to measure success by.

When we create hard and soft metrics, let’s make sure that we are measuring realistically what is possible long term from our initiatives. Let’s make sure that we can add an element of longevity to digital content that extends beyond the lifespan of the campaign. Let’s make sure we can measure what can be measured.

Let’s define the time frame of when we plan on measuring, and then add a soft metric component to that time frame so as to extend out that campaign. One of the great soft metrics of content marketing is that it is tough to measure it’s long term effect on your business or company. Soft metrics could be measured in so many ways beyond the lifespan of a “campaign” if we set them up to be.

Thus, it is really difficult to sit here and say that certain digital campaigns are out and out failures. Don’t get me wrong, out and out digital #Fails do exist and do have long term implications on positive brand perception-it’s why reputation management is now a service offering.

I’m talking about those campaign that look like they just didn’t work. Look, I’m cool with  reading and or writing about how failure is part of the deal and that some people think that in order to succeed you have to embrace failure! I just don’t want to wrap my digital strategies around short term expectations of success or failure. It’s kind of like preparing your teams for losing, or accepting losing and not looking at the bigger picture, when that big picture could be next year or the year after, or saying that because you didn’t score in a basketball game, that you failed.

Marketers want to succeed, and yes some initiatives will not always hit the mark, and yes they will learn from them. But let’s expand the lens and look at the landscape of digital marketing and understand that the digital footprint can last longer than the lifespan of the marketing campaign.

Let’s not revel or bask in digital marketing  failure when we haven’t defined success or failure in both long terms and short terms. The soft metric of good content means that it may be around long after you have left your current company.

On Influence and Bad Blog Posts

I like differing opinions, thoughts and comments. I think it’s good to have a variety of thought. No one likes a yes man right? Except maybe in the social media world. Then sometimes it resembles a quid pro quo type of environment. I’ll promote your stuff you promote mine. The thinking is well illustrated by David Armano with his depiction of influencer ripples. If your content can be promoted by the right people than it can reach more people. It’s why companies are so hot on the influencer thingright now-find the influencer and get eyeballs and sell product. Look, I’m down with helping my friends out but…

Today’s online influence is overblown, overrated and diluted and can be gamed.

Here’s why. What if the content sucks? Yet because you and I are friends and we read and promote each others stuff we’ll retweet and share content sometimes sight unseen.  That’s kind of jive isn’t it? Yet it’s effective.  That’s not really fair to the reader is it? But it works. What if the reader is someone on the outside and is trying to “get in” to the world of social media? They might share and promote your crappy content too. Add the element of two people with very large networks of followers and subscribers sharing content and you can see how this can all be affected. Crappy content always has a fighting chance with a killer post title and a supposed influencer sharing it.

How about these 2 scenarios? The first one I’ve been sucked into a bunch of times. You see a compelling blog title tweeted, you click on it and it’s end up being something that you might wrap your dead fish in. The second, I will refer to this definition from Wikipedia.

A spam blog, sometimes referred to by the neologism splog,[1] is a blog which the author uses to promote affiliated websites, to increase the search engine rankings of associated sites or to simply sell links/ads.

We’re all suckers for a great blog post title. Why? Because we’re hoping for fresh, we’re hoping for a different POV. We’re tired of repetitive thoughts, posts and comments without any backbone.  A lot of people have ceased writing for their audiences and are writing purely for search, link juice and hollow authority. Unfortunately there’s no end in sight and we’ll continue to be influenced into clicking on and reading. Hoping.


The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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