If I had to pick one key area of evolution of social media marketing in 2012, I would say it was the integration of content marketing into social strategies and plans. For many years I have said that brands need to think like publishers. It is brand content that is often shared among users as opposed to brand products/services. And many brands get this. They are looking at a marketing plan that is integrated – owned and earned media with paid media.
I captured the importance of content marketing as a prerequisite of social marketing in the article “Content Marketing – Social Marketing: You Can’t Have One without the Other.” But content marketing is not enough. Brands need to evolve to provide contextually relevant content in 2013.
Why is this so? Pretty simple answer – there is no shortage of content on any topic under the sun. How many food articles, health articles, or other topical areas are there? So many that it is hard to stand out. Brands need to answer the question, “Why would anyone want to capture and engage with my brand and its content when there is an enormous amount of topical content elsewhere?” There are two parts to the answer. One is that you need to have awesome content. No one is going to be attracted to content that is just okay. And the second part of the answer is that the content must be relevant to individuals’ needs, wants, and interests. Brands need to understand their target audience behavior. By their actions, the audience is literally saying, “Make it worth my while, and I will follow you, like you, engage with you and subscribe to you.” And their behavior also suggests that they get turned off if they are overwhelmed with an abundance of irrelevant content (by their perspective, not yours).
So you have a content plan in place. How do you make it contextually relevant to the different individuals within your target market. You need to concentrate on three areas in order to provide contextually relevant content.
1) Demographics and psych-demographics. Demographics dictate certain preferences of a group based upon such things as sex, age, geography, and household income. Psycho-demographics further consider interests as indicated in social profiles, postings, and digital behaviors.
2) Location. Location based service will evolve in 2013 beyond checking in. There is an opportunity for brands to deliver contextually relevant content and promotions based on location determination. But it is important that brands allow users to turn on and off notifications based upon the users’ preferences. Brands cannot overwhelm users with content like I see certain companies do with email.
3) Buying behavior. No target audience data is more telling than purchase history and buying patterns.
So when I list the three areas above, you should be getting a sense that social media marketing needs to be driven by more applicable data in 2013. I think many people are scared off by the term “big-data.” But big-data is most important. Avoid getting overwhelmed by concentrating on those areas that can drive success. In social, we want to make sure our audience stays engaged with the brand. (I outline measuring social results here.)
As you build out your social strategy and start to think about integrating user data without boiling the ocean, consider:
• Location data and compelling marketing programs for users. Allow them to drive delivery preferences and avoid spamming them and turning them off.
• Integrating social profiles and user conversations to define the content delivered to them. Start there and think about putting further control in users hands with regards to the content they receive (similar to content selections offered in portals).
• Integrating consumer buying behavior to social marketing to drive content and social engagement.
2012 was a year of great strides in social marketing. Many moved beyond the mentality of “oh – let’s put up a Facebook and Twitter page.” But do not rest well … move forward. Think about what you can do to gain greater target audience relationships. For now, I suggest starting with contextually content marketing considerations. But I will be with you here offering additional recommendations throughout the next year. I most appreciate your viewing and sharing my content!
Best to you in the holiday season.
Make It Happen,