One solution to the five biggest social media challenges
thesolution biggest social media challenges One five to the five biggest social media challenges Studies show that, year on year, more businesses are recognising the value of social media and those that are already on board are yielding some really positive returns. 90% of marketers now indicate that social media is important for their business, quoting brand awareness, increased traffic to their website and improved search engine rankings as the main advantages. However, whilst the benefits are plentiful, few seem to achieve the dizzy ‘brand’ heights they strive for. AN UPHILL BATTLE The challenges businesses face when it writing original content which is going to comes to planning and implementing their interest your readers, taking time out to social media activities can often seem actually engage with your audience etc. Of insurmountable with very little return, course, that is easier said than done when especially in the early days, so it is easy to you have a list of other deadline-specific see why many social media efforts fall by the marketing tasks looming on the horizon. way side. One of the main problems with social media is that it is a continuous activity If you have already been down this route, unlike many other aspects of marketing believe me, you are not alone. We recently which tend to be task or campaign based. conducted a survey which revealed the To achieve results, you need to be chipping five biggest social media challenges faced away at it every single day, determining by those responsible for marketing: what messages you want to broadcast,5 biggest Measuring ROI social 13% Deciding what to say 17% media Engaging with customers 10%challenges 32% Writing original content 28% Finding the time Red Rocket Media Social Survey November 2011 • Deciding what to say 17% • Finding the time 32% • Writing original content 28% • Engaging with customers 10% • Measuring ROI 13% These results are not surprising. Social media is a time consuming and challenging job, however, it can reap very positive rewards for those companies that think differently about how they communicate with their customers. In this white paper, we tell you how content can transform your social media marketing.
Challenge 1. WHAT TO SAY? Most companies struggle when it comes to finding their voice on social media, largely due to the somewhat haphazard manner in which it is approached. In the absence of an initial strategy, there tends to be three stages a company will go through: ANNOUNCE It is a natural instinct to post and tweet information about yourself or your company as you seek to tell the world about all the latest and greatest happenings within your business. However, any company that has been down this route soon realises that announcements soon dry up and none of your followers (and that’s probably quite a small number in the early stages) are actually engaging with you. RESPOND At this stage, companies will start to respond to mentions of their brand name or maybe start contributing to conversations. This is a good first step towards interacting with your readers as long as you ensure that your comments are adding value to the conversation. If you notice that people are re-tweeting and sharing your comments, that’s a good sign that you’re on the right track. ENGAGE The majority of companies will remain at interesting, add value to your readers and stage one or two but the forward-thinking make them want to retweet and share it ones will very soon realise that a more across their own networks. After all, one strategic plan is required. They will start of the biggest benefits of social media is to instigate conversations and position the speed at which information can spread themselves as conversation leaders instead and the reach you can achieve; you share of participants. In order to do this though, it with your network, they share it with you need to determine what it is that you theirs and so on. are going to communicate: it needs to be There are three questions you should ask yourself before you post something on social media: 1. Is it interesting and entertaining? 2. Does it add value to my readers? 3. Will they want to share it across their networks? In order to stand out from the masses of followed’ and ‘un-liked’ as opposed to information in circulation, you must be growing your audience. able to answer ‘yes’ to all three of these questions, especially when you consider Think differently about your voice what happens on the Internet in just 60 seconds: Clever companies think differently about the content that they publish on • 98,000 tweets on Twitter social media; they devote as much time • 695,000 status updates on Facebook and attention to it as they would to the • 694,445 queries on Google content of a brochure or newsletter. It is • 60 new blogs planned and considered, not random and • 100 news accounts on LinkedIn irrelevant. • 13 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube (says YouTube employee) They use content to position themselves as experts in the industry, a credible That’s a significant amount of content for source of information which enables them people to sift through when they are trying to build relationships with their readers to filter out the nuggets of information long before their services are actually which are actually of value to them. In required. fact, if your broadcasts continue to add to the ‘noise’ as opposed to the nuggets, Later in the white paper, we explain how it’s more than likely that you will be ‘un- you too can do this.
FINDING THE TIME Challenge 2. FINDING THE TIME This is often quoted as the biggest one hour a day on it, especially in the early challenge with social media as there never days when you seem to spend more time seems to be enough hours in the day to working out how to do it than actually devote to it. Creating a regular supply doing it, can seem like a waste of your of high quality, engaging content is an valuable time. extremely time consuming job, especially if you want to reap the rewards only a well On top of taking time to actually publish thought-out content marketing strategy content, it is also important to take time will yield. to listen to what’s happening around your brand on social media. What are people There is much more to social media than saying about your services or products? just publishing the odd blog and linking to Whether it’s good or bad, social media can it from Twitter (although that is of course a provide an invaluable insight into how your good starting point). You need to be actively brand is perceived in the market place. engaged with your prospects across all of Never before has this kind of information the main social media platforms, through been so readily available to marketers, yet your blog, blog comments and even guest I bet if I were to say to you “here are two posts. For all of these you need high extra hours in the day”, not many of them quality content and that takes a serious would end up being spent on social media. amount of time to produce. The majority of people would probably allocate that time to tasks with imminent Many marketers don’t actually schedule in deadlines which of course is a completely Lack of time for social media, as they would for, say, an email campaign and consequently it tends to sit in the adhoc section of their to- natural thing to do. I guess what I’m trying to say is that no time: do list week after week. It’s something that you know you need to do but never seem matter how much time you have and how much you want to create a strong to get round to doing. Also, using social social media presence, unless you have biggest media as a marketing tool is probably a strange concept to many companies who a dedicated in-house social media team, you are generally going to need to pull in social just aren’t used to ‘chatting’ with their prospects and customers in this new, expertise from elsewhere to ensure that it happens and you succeed. informal way. Therefore, spending even mediachallenge Challenge 3. Creating original Content With the launch of Google’s latest algorithm farms) which were publishing significant update, known as Panda, never before has amounts of low quality content solely to unique content been so important. Panda drive traffic to their websites and increase was introduced to penalise websites which online advertising revenues. As a result, duplicate content from other websites as unique content has once again been thrust opposed to creating their own. It came into the limelight and is highly rewarded by about due to the increasing number of the search engines who favour it in their companies (often referred to as content organic search results. People who publish content tend to fall into two categories: Curators seek out information from several Creators go one step further: they sources, filter out all the really useful influence our thoughts. They keep abreast nuggets and channel it back out amongst of what is going on in their particular field their networks. Whilst they are useful then reproduce it but with an additional portals of information, they channel traffic layer of their own wisdom or intelligence. towards the original sources of information, They drive traffic to their own content, promoting those authors as the experts in positioning themselves as the experts in the industry. the industry.
Most businesses are curators: they re- environment needs to be entertaining and tweet and share bits of information tell a story which, as a general rule, aren’t which they believe their readers will find skills regularly practised by marketers or interesting and valuable. PR professionals: Their strengths lie in self-promotional, branded content and, as Forward-thinking businesses become you’ll find out later in this white paper, this creators: as experts in their field, they type of content won’t propel you to social publish information which adds value over media stardom. and above what is already in circulation. Also worth mentioning before we move on This can be a very powerful tool when it is that the Panda algorithm uses artificial comes to distinguishing your brand from intelligence to identify quality content those of your competitors. as well as original content. It is able to determine a site’s trustworthiness, speed Of course, to create high quality content, and design as well as track how soon a you need professional writers. In the visitor leaves after having first landed on absence of these, many companies initially the site; a sure reflection of how valuable turn to their marketing or PR staff, after their visit has been. all they are accustomed to copy writing on a daily basis, but that’s where these So not only are your prospects and companies go wrong. customers demanding original content but now the search engines are too. Content that thrives in a social mediaChallenge 4. ENGAGING WITH CUSTOMERS A question we are often asked is: once Option 2 you’ve decided on the content for your social media, how do you get people • You publish it on your website to engage with it? After all, there is • You link to it from your social media little point in investing time and money platforms in creating unique content if it doesn’t • Employees re-tweet it, like it, share inspire people to re-tweet it, share it, it and forward it amongst their own comment on it etc. networks • You comment on the posts, inviting There are 2 elements to social media: opinions from others • You write a blog about it, linking to the article and encouraging • The broadcast element comments at the end • The engagement element • You post supporting articles or images (images are great for attracting comments) As we have already discussed, the As long as the content is entertaining broadcast element involves planning and adds value to the reader (that is what to say and creating original content. The success of the engagement absolutely key), all of a sudden, it has sparked engagement and has extended Build deeper, element depends largely on the level of commitment that your company is willing its reach 10 fold. more trusting to make. Furthermore, the personality of your company has a chance to shine through relationships For example, you’ve got a great piece of content to publish: and it is this personality which really helps push the engagement aspect of social with your Option 1 media marketing to the next level. readers Readers feel welcomed into your business • You publish it on your website as they get to know you a little, opening • You link to it from your social media the door to deeper, more trusting platforms relationships.
Challenge 5. MEASURING ROI In order to measure ROI, you need to term objectives as the metrics used will define your social media objectives and it differ. is surprising how many companies fail to do this. Whether you want to increase brand After all, there is little point trying to awareness or drive traffic to your website, attribute sales to your Facebook activity you need to ascertain what it is that you after just a few weeks given that it can want to achieve in the first place. take months, even a year, to build up relationships with your readers (as with any With social media, it is also important to networking arena). differentiate between your short and long THE WRONG WAY Let’s firstly look at where many companies For example, to generate leads, you go wrong, that being the metrics they use generally need to publish content which to measure ROI. encourages people to submit their email address but unfortunately people are not We are programmed to measure marketing usually willing to give you this information success by the number of leads it generates in the early stages of the buying cycle. and sales it ultimately leads to which is why Therefore, your content will only serve so many companies automatically apply to put people off engaging with you as these metrics from day one. However, opposed to encouraging interaction. given that it can take time to attribute sales to social media (it is a nurturing process), Worth pointing out here is that your they are not necessarily a good indication prospects are now spending up to 80% of of how well your social media activities are the buying cycle doing their own online performing in the short term. research before they will even entertain speaking to a sales consultant. Social media It is also likely that, if your objective from is about interacting with those readers The ROI of day one is to generate sales, the messages before they get to the point where they are you are broadcasting will be the wrong type. selecting potential suppliers. social media is that your THE RIGHT WAY business will Particularly in the short to medium term, of activity when returning search results still exist in you need to be looking at other metrics: so this, in turn, will help to enhance your five years* organic search results. Organic search results Brand engagement As we mentioned earlier, the Google Panda algorithm looks for websites which continue Are people talking about your brand? to produce original, quality content and can This is a really important measure for new demonstrate an authority in the industry. If businesses striving to get their brand name you are publishing content and linking to it out there. An ideal way to keep track of from your social media sites, your website this is to set up a Google Alert with your will be continually indexed by Google who company name as this will alert you to any will rank it favourably in the search results. mentions. This is also a good way to keep This is an excellent metric by which to abreast of any negative mentions of your measure your social media activities. brand so that you can react accordingly. Content engagement Sales (longer term) Despite what many companies think, having Naturally, you are going to want to put a lots of followers or fans is not necessarily monetary value on your return from social a good indication of your social media media at some point but keep in mind that success. What’s important is how many you need to give yourself time to develop of them are actually engaging with your relationships with readers before you are content. High quality content thrives in going to see results. With Google Analytics, social media environments, sparking high you can tie traffic sources to ‘goals’ (such as levels of likes, share, re-tweets, comments download conversions) which enables you etc. It is these metrics that you should be to track if particular sources are actually*(Source: Erik Qualman’s Socialnomics video) measuring. Panda also favours this kind resulting in sales.
In the short term though, instead of year? If you can see an upward trend this looking at your sales week to week, ask will give you confidence that you’re on the yourself: are the sales this week greater right track. than this time last year? Is the web traffic this week greater than the same week lastThe Solution : COntent Marketing Despite the social media challenges we and influence their thought-processes have discussed in this white paper, there long before they make their purchasing is no doubt that social media is now one decisions. Companies that don’t embrace of the most powerful tools in a marketing social media are effectively foregoing the professional’s tool box. chance to get to know their customers for up to 80% of the buying cycle: that leaves It allows you to connect with your a very small window of opportunity to audience on a much more personal level convert a prospect into a customer.So the big question, how do you overcome these challengesand ensure that your social media activities drive returns toyour company? The answer is content marketing. WHAT IS CONTENT Marketing? • Editorial-based content; It must tell a relevant, valuable story. one Must be informative, educational or entertaining. • arketing-backed; The content has underlying marketing and M sales objectives that a corporation, association or institution is complete trying to accomplish. • Behaviour-driven; Seeks out to maintain or alter the recipient’s behaviour. solution • ulti-platform (print, digital, audio, video, events); It can be, does M not have to be, integrated. • argeted toward a specific audience; If you can’t name the T audience, it’s not content marketing. (Source; Joe Pulizzi/Junta 42 Content Marketing) Content marketing involves publishing topic related information through your This may sound a rather alien approach website and social media platforms which to many marketing professionals but, solves problems for your readers as given that consumers are now spending opposed to selling to them. It should be up to 80% of the buying cycle researching original and commercially-neutral. online before they even engage with a supplier, companies that adapt this way Examples include: of communicating with their readers will enjoy considerably greater social media • Industry news success. • Evergreen articles eg. how-to guides, checklists and resource documents By publishing valuable, thought-leading • Blogs information, they position themselves as • White papers experts in the industry and the obvious • Microsites choice of supplier further down the line. • Videos
HOW DOES CONTENT MARKETING PROVIDE THE SOLUTION? Let’s revisit each of the challenges in turn and explain how content marketing can help overcome each one: WHAT TO SAY Content marketing will ensure that you They might follow you on Twitter or sign always have something to say on social up to RSS feeds from your website, then, media. For example, if you are a travel when they decide to book a trip, you will no company that specialises in trips to doubt be forefront of mind. Australia, you might publish news about the Australian tourism industry or evergreen Of course the other huge benefit of articles such as ‘10 things to do in Sydney’. publishing industry news is that news never This kind of content empowers your readers runs out which means you’ll always have with knowledge and positions you as an something to say. expert in your field. FINDING THE TIME Content marketing removes part of the Due to the cost implications of hiring an broadcast element of social media ie. in-house brand journalist, most companies working out what to say and frees up your choose to outsource this element of their time to focus on the engagement element. content marketing to a specialist content Of course, there is still the issue of actually marketing agency. They will provide you writing original content which in itself is a with a regular supply of content which hugely time consuming job. can feed automatically to your website and social media platforms. In doing so, The only way you can remove this element is this frees you up completely to focus on to either recruit an in-house brand journalist the ‘engagement’ aspect of social media - not generally a realistic option for most marketing ie. the personal messages which companies - or outsource to a content truly reflect the culture of your business and marketing agency. help you develop longer lasting relationships with your customers. CREATING ORIGINAL CONTENT When you step away from the confines of puts your prospects and customers right at your own brand, there is suddenly a whole the heart of the information you publish. new world of subject matter for you to talk about and, even better, people are actually By stepping into their shoes, it ensures interested in what you have to say. that you are providing solutions to their problems as opposed to bombarding them Content marketing, whether that’s industry with endless marketing messages which news, blogs, evergreen articles or webinars, they are not yet ready to absorb. ENGAGING WITH READERS Content marketing offers the perfect as you are the originator of the content platform to connect with and encourage and it is housed on your website, every interaction from readers. Valuable news time someone shares your content, another and advice spreads like wild fire on social inbound link to your website is created. media: people re-tweet it, share it and This drives traffic to your website and signals comment on it, propelling your brand and to the search engines that it is a valuable wisdom far and wide. Not only that but, site worth returning in their search results. MEASURING ROI Content marketing gives you a basis to media activities. On the other hand, if you track your social media activities effectively, publish a blog offering expert advice to ensuring that it is driving measurable your customers helping them to overcome results to your business. For example, if a particular problem, your readers will you tweet and post about your products comment on it, re-tweet it and share it across and services, you are unlikely to engage their networks, providing you with plenty of readers and therefore you have nothing by metrics to track activity and demonstrate which to measure the success of your social return further down the line.
REd RockET mEdIA Working with Red Rocket Media will help them think differently about how help you overcome your social media they communicate with their target challenges. We specialise in building market and provide them with quality, audiences for our customers through industry-related content which meets highly effective content marketing. We their customers’ needsOur services include: HO TO W ..? NEWS EVERGREEN SOCIAL STRATEGIC MICROSITE CONTENT CONTENT MEDIA CONTENT MANAGEMENT CONTENT MARKETING Successful content marketing relies on They are not copywriters; they are brand informative, entertaining articles which journalists, with an eye for a story and not only tell a story but also seek to the ability to present it in an informative influence the reader’s behaviour. This is a and entertaining way. They are skilled highly developed skill. at keeping abreast of the latest trends, producing content which creates high Our in-house team of journalists are levels of engagement; people read it, all professionally trained and qualified. forward it and share it. REQUEST SAMPLE PACK take It won’t be long before more and more companies realise the enormous value content marketing can bring to their business and what a vital role it plays in securing the success of their social media activities. Take action today and request your free sample action pack. today! We are also offering a free initial consultation to anyone who has downloaded the white paper so contact us today to arrange yours: Visit www.redrocketmedia.co.uk Call 0845 658 3334 Email firstname.lastname@example.org