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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly - The Changing World Of Content Marketing In Your Business Growth


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Social media and the digital platforms that are available are influencing our lives and positioning people as the experts in their industry.

This guide looks at the way that doing business has changed massively in a short space of time and using yesterday's tools with today's technology is a recipe for failure.

Here's how the world of social media, digital and content marketing is changing our lives and businesses.

Published in: Business, News & Politics
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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly - The Changing World Of Content Marketing In Your Business Growth

  1. 1. Social Media, The Digital World & The Role Content Marketing Plays In Your Business’ Growth Best Practice Guide Vol.2
  2. 2. introduction In the pre-internet world, having a direct relationship with your audience was nothing like it is today. If you wanted to let others know about your products and services the first port of call was advertising (and then the direct mail campaign). The digital world now makes direct relationships, meaning that building a flow of conversation is easier than ever. But are we doing it properly? Nowadays many business’ are guilty of depending on LinkedIn’s shortcut to a direct connection, the ‘like to invite you to connect’ template, shame on you! The digital world has created a fantastic way to create conversation (to then build trust to what you produce), but we can’t expect this to happen overnight. The world of social media and our advanced spectrum of digital channels are not about being ‘tecchy’; instead they create a platform for building real relationships. The technology is here to stay and we have to use it properly. It is now a key part of our marketing communications and we cannot rest on our laurels. The way we all do business has changed massively in a short space of time. When people stick to what has worked over the years and use the same strategic and tactical routes that have always worked, it can become a dangerous pursuit. Using yesterday’s tools with today’s technology is a recipe for failure. This guide looks at the ways that social media and digital platforms influence our lives, and how content marketing can position us as experts in our sectors. It’s just a case of knowing how to use these tools properly.
  3. 3. the good Don’t Market, Engage Does a bulk of ‘likes’ on Facebook or a large number of followers on Twitter result as an effective marketing strategy? Shouldn’t we focus direction towards audience engagement. To take the tired promotional stance of spam-advertising your products through social media channels, in terms of telling everyone ‘how good it is’ repetitively and including a website link, is not only detrimental to a brand, but people will switch off from the promotion immediately. The core focus should be on developing a two-way dialogue between brands and the customers they serve. The key is building partnerships, not just leads. When brands put priority on engagement, this moves from a one-way traffic of ‘followers’ as passive receivers of messages, to a two-way conversation that comprises interaction, participation, and the aim to build a dialogue. This engagement leads to customers becoming advocates i.e. sharing their opinions and experiences. The key to all formats of engagement is communication. Below are some examples of engagement programmes that build an effective dialogue: Giving information When it’s a one-way advert which directs customers to a website this has no added benefit to the customer. Information could be in the form of directing to a blog on a particular topic or providing a report on an area of interest within your industry. The better information that is provided and more relevance it has to a prospect, the better the opportunity to convert to a customer. Continuity Everything that is sent to represent your business must have consistency throughout. For instance, there must be a connection between the web mail that is sent out and the message it relates to. Continuity in your brand and communications is key to building familiarity and credibility that your customer’s will recognise. Grow your community Sharing knowledge within a community builds loyalty and keeps a conversation constant. To do this, compelling content needs to be created and maintained in order to build collaboration. As an example, commit to a printed newsletter to share with your customers. Testimonials Requesting and obtaining what other people say, is a vital way to show how others perceive you. Reading someone else recommending your product, rather than yourself is an effective way to turn prospects into customers and customers into advocates. Online and offline engagement delivers benefits for all. The more engaged a company is with its marketplace, the more the marketplace sees the company as the expert within their field and ‘the place to go to.’ This results in greater customer loyalty, better new customer conversion rates, and enhanced revenue. Set realistic goals and stick to them and remember to maintain a good, consistent flow of communication.
  4. 4. You Can Become A Thought Leader To be seen as the ‘go to’ person for your industry, you build credibility as the thought leader, but how do you earn this grand status? If you can portray a message to your marketplace with a level of authority, where you inform, interact and advise, this helps to portray a perception in the minds of the receiver and works towards achieving the long-term goal of becoming the market leader. Here is the magic formula: Trust + Delivering On Promises = Community Acceptance & Advocacy When a marketplace trusts an organisation and is supported by an ongoing dialogue this helps to define your place within your area of expertise. To be the thought leader, you must bring all of your communication tools together to spread your message in a variety of ways, namely through the use of blogs to get your view across, social media channels to tease and invite your immediate customer community through VIP treatment, and a small number of printed regular newsletters/magazines (not a ‘downloadable pdf’). The success to being a thought leader is to cut a cake in half. The first half represents a multi channel approach and the second half shows how you engage with your audience, it is a two-way communication where added value is key. What this leaves is a cake that people will engage with time and time again, no matter how much icing is on the others. thought leader
  5. 5. the bad Social Media Is Quickly Becoming Our Comfort Blanket The world of social media isn’t necessarily social. To many it serves as a comfort blanket where it shields from being public. Social media doesn’t change anything; it’s another method of talking with a long-term goal to build conversation, interaction and connection. However, it also becomes a lazy route to think that all roads lead to Rome (or all roads lead to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ etc). Do we really think that the world of social media will help us lead better lives? What the plethora of platforms shows is that it becomes easy to hide behind a faceless machine and then dictate a message to your audience. A recent example on LinkedIn this year is the following direct messages: “I’d like to request 10 seconds of your time to leave me a quick rating here: Thank you in advance!” A number of the requests I receive are from people I have little relationship with, but by pressing a ‘to send’ button, which instantly communicates with a host of email contacts, becomes a warm duvet that gives the assurance that your work is done. By sending one of these message templates, with a sign-off of ‘thank you in advance,’ lets everyone know that the individuality you once had is now replaced by a ready-made email in a tone of voice that isn’t yours. Communication has shifted in a world that is now connection invitation overload. Our challenge is to find our own voice, be human and become comfortable with it. The social media platforms are fantastic at building relationships and conversations; it’s just a case of using them in a way that positions you as a leader in your marketplace. Taking warmth in connectivity but being shielded from being social and representing who you really are, is a recipe to merely blend in with everyone else. Take a look at your Twitter timeline and look at those who are selling their products and dictating a message, as opposed to adding value and information to those that are part of your community. People do business with those they know, like and trust. This hasn’t changed in hundreds of years; the only thing that is different today is that we’re not limited geographically. It’s time to kick that warm security blanket off, be present and champion being normal again.
  6. 6. We Live In An Ego Driven World, Keep Away From The Herd. February 2013 was an interesting one in the world of social media. What it flagged was the ego driven world in which we live in nowadays, and how lovely it is to be popular. Firstly, LinkedIn newsfeeds were bombarded on Tuesday (12th February) with others sharing that ‘you have one of the most viewed LinkedIn profiles’ for 2012. On Wednesday (13th February) the world of Facebook was awash with thousands of people who could name a film with the letter ‘S’ in the title. The messages that were shared were titled ‘name a movie which does not have the letter “S” in it.’ These are both great examples of a topic ‘going viral’ and people’s egos feeding off it to share with everyone else (namely there are many films without the letter ‘S’ in it). What it does show is that if you make something so amazing, you feel that you have to tell the world about it. Going viral is not an easy thing to do, but when you get it right news spreads. The key here is to share with others things that are meaningful, but on the other side of the coin what value does this have with everyone else to know that you are revered on LinkedIn? The majority of content expressed on social media sites is ‘all about me,’ when in reality to build trust, it’s all about your audience. We all want validation of who we are in this world, but to share content with others, the key is to be meaningful and have a purpose. If we want to build businesses where people are banging at our doors to work with us, we need to position ourselves to the benefit of others. Not as an exercise to prove how popular we are, but the opportunity that we provide the communities and fields we have expertise in. do not follow The world of LinkedIn became a ‘me too’ place earlier this year. If you build a business aimed at being popular, you’re going to fail every time, based on the fact that the path you follow is the same as the majority. If you’re looking for success, put the ego to one side and think, create and keep away from the herd.
  7. 7. audience SocialMediaCompetitionsAreTheWrongWayToBuildAnAudience Social media competitions can be cost effective and easy to run, but not necessarily a tool for winning more customers. Ask yourself, is it about building a community dialogue? In reality it isn’t; it is just someone wanting a prize. Last year at The ID Group, we thought that if we ran competitions then we’d grow a fan-base. Here is why we wanted to create a social media competition: To use social media channels in a way that was different to broadcast a message To use alternative means to create a dialogue with people To distribute non geographically sensitive prizes i.e. cinema tickets To create an element of fun and build up To build recognition to The ID Group brand This is what we realised and looking back some lessons were learnt: Rather than a loyal community, what takes it’s place are followers/fans who like free stuff and not much else By giving away prizes, whilst being aware of the geographical nature, the demographic wasn’t necessarily a wishlist of potential prospects (so doesn’t compliment the target markets) The majority of people are ‘engaging’ with you because of a prize, not to build a dialogue You may receive new followers (and looks great when others see you brimming with popularity), but the likelihood of becoming customers is pretty slim It becomes an almost faceless exercise. It’s great when receiving information from new people, but do we know who these people are (and to build a dialogue with)
  8. 8. So if this isn’t the best way to build a loyal community, what is? The secret is looking to provide information and value to people that they can use, share and interact with. There are no shortcuts to building a following and a competition is by no means a quick win. Before you go and buy that new iPad mini for your next competition, have a think. If you plan to use it as a tool to build a committed following to your brand, think again! Success is never measured by the amounts of Facebook ‘likes’ you have, or prizes you distribute. communities
  9. 9. the ugly TheDarkSideOfTheTwittersphere I had a chat with a client recently who is still unsure about setting up their Twitter business account, based on their view that it represents a ‘faceless, anonymous vehicle for anyone to respond in an annoying way’ (a tough one to respond to!). It’s been very public over the past year, including the recent media attraction and police attention after campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez was targeted by trolls when she successfully lobbied for a woman’s face to be visible on UK bank notes. Twitter has now become a stream of real-time consciousness, whereby the anonymity of the web allows people to say whatever they want, when they want, and in some cases purposefully try to upset people. But the case for the business use of Twitter is that it still represents a real- time connectivity with the world/customers/prospects in your industry. There will always be people who could pop up from time to time looking to unsettle with hurtful and downright illegal comments, but if this happens to your business, consider these three questions: What are they talking about? What audience to they have? Will the comment be seen by many or a small handful of people? If someone is writing complete nonsense in a place that not many people are going to see, the simplest thing to do is to ignore the comment and block the individual, but most importantly the key is to not react, as the whole purpose for a ‘troll’ is to crave a reaction and generate attention. For SME’s, one individual’s inflammatory remark does not constitute a crisis for a business. If you operate with integrity and are able to respond in a coherent way, this is not a crisis. A crisis emerges when a conversation escalates and reaches a level you want to, but cannot control. The explosion of social media faces many new challenges for businesses, the police and the judicial system, as we all look to become accustomed to a new digital age and ways of communicating. It’s here to stay! In answer to my reaction at the top of the article, by anyone tweeting with not wholly constructive comments, I would say don’t ignore everyone, but consider what is and what isn’t worth a response.
  10. 10. How Social Media Can Destroy A Brand Social media has become a requirement for business continuity. As we all look to become comfortable with the channels we use, it can also become detrimental to a brand message. A good example of this and seeing first hand was a business exhibition at the London O2. In a nutshell, the poor execution and lack of attention to detail of the event went viral and with a three-day event, the expectations were set from day one. The power of response was also evident via the hash tag that was set-up for the event, not just because of the sheer number of people commenting, but the speed at which the information was shared during the exhibition. This is purely an example of a recent event that was built up via social media channels but was castigated just as quickly. What it does show is that if you don’t manage your digital footprint, others clearly will. Case studies like this one encourage that when it comes to using social media as a marketing channel we need to take responsibility and accountability for our actions. There is nothing worse than reading constant hard selling messages from companies who haven’t got to grips with the etiquette. This does eventually promote intolerance for brands that don’t ‘step-up’ and customers begin to switch off. The ability to share dissatisfaction is immense. By adapting to a changing world and with social media at the forefront, can we really say that we are ‘social media experts’? With the discipline still relatively new, a more apt role would be ‘social media enthusiasts’; expertise comes after years of dedication, study and practice. As owners and users, it is important to recognise our responsibilities for the brands we represent, and organise how they stand out in a crowded marketplace; creativity, adaptability and engaging with audiences builds advocacy. destroy
  11. 11. get in touch Wehopeourguideprovidesroutesforyoutoexploreinmoredetail. If there is anything that you’d like to have a conversation about, just get in touch. We’d love to find out more about you and how we can help position your business as the authority in your sector by delivering a consistent message. Suit 27, Briggs House 26 Commercial Road Poole, Dorset BH14 0JR 01202 989 316 Twitter: @heyidgroup Facebook: /heyidgroup Pinterest: /heyidgroup