Now that so many are getting on board with social media, the persistent nay-sayers are questioning it’s success. And to some degree they are correct. Because far too many are using social media as a sales tool to simply put out promotions. Promotions are like a one-night stand – not debating whether one-night stands are good or bad … that’s for you to decide, but rhetorical question … how long do they last? When it comes to brand marketing, brand reputation, I think most want to work for the customer’s long lasting love as opposed to quick one-shot lust. (Hey this could be my Valentine’s Day edition of the Social Steve blog, but I guess it’s a bit early for that.🙂 )
Bust seriously, this is real important stuff. Especially for product and service companies looking to have successful social media strategy and execution. Brands – you want to have a reason why prospects and customers stay engaged with you and come back. And the magical element (besides your product value) is great content. Think about it from a magazine subscription perspective. Why would you get a subscription to a specific magazine? Because you like the topic(s) they cover and the creative way they deliver the story. Well it should be no different for you.
Start by asking yourself these questions – Who is my brand’s target market? What does our product/service deliver for that target market and why does the segment value what we deliver? For the target market, what are their values, challenges, interests, and how are they entertained? Think about these sorts of questions and produce compelling and engaging content that is relevant to your product/service offering. The content can be articles, pictures, video, audio, and other forms of multimedia. Avoid sales pitches when generating content. Make your production of content a branding exercise. One that reinforces to your market that you are an expert or leader in your sector. Doing this provides a reason for people to stay connected with your brand.
The next aspect that you should think about when producing content is getting responses and engagement from your audience. I’ve been using this quote for sometime – “Content is not king. Conversation around content is king.” So ask yourself, “Are we producing content that provokes interaction with our audience?” Provide a place for your audience to post their own UGC (user generated content). Once someone gives you something they have written or created, they are more emotionally tied to your brand. Inclusion is a strong reason for connecting with brands.
So you’re creating great content and getting your target market engaged. There is still one more thing to address – What are doing to optimize the sharing of your content by your audience? This is the essence of word-of-mouth marketing. Thus, there should be a specific design strategy for delivery of your content. Let me give just one game changing example …
For a number of years, I worked as a marketing executive in high-tech. I would often participate in key industry conferences as this was an important lead generation venue and activity. (Still is.) Producing collateral for the events was very important – you know product slick sheets you pass out to everyone passing by your booth. If your product is compelling, most will grab and save the product one-sheeter or pamphlet. But what is the likelihood that this gets shared by the receiptant to their network? So what if you gave out a notebook (my favorite giveaway passed out at conferences) with a simple insert with your product information with a QR-code and URL for more detailed information. There are two facets of this approach that makes your product content more likely to be shared: 1) Given the content is part of a notebook that will presumably be used for about 6 months over and over again, there are more chances for the prospect to mention it at various meetings and encounters with others. 2) It is hard to share a brochure and much easier to share a digital asset such as a QR code or URL.
The other sharing features that have almost become ubiquitous at this point are Facebook Like, TweetMe, and other sharing widgets that accompany postings on your site or blog. It is a no-brainer to use these. There are a number of other strategies and tactics for sharing, but the point is planning this!
So if you are a brand, product, or marketing manager think content in your strategy. Produce continuous content that keeps people coming back, subscribing, and sharing. Analyze and measure your releases. What type of content gets the most traffic, the most interaction with your audience and the most mentions or sharing? There are a number of tools to support metric analysis. Listen to your audience – they’ll tell you what they want to hear.
There will be huge rewards for product and service companies that integrate a complete and continuous content strategy to their brand management activities. Take this from someone who has been a marketing executive for a number of product and service companies and is now working at a “content company.”
Make It Happen,