A little over a month ago we were fortunate to have Joe Issid present and share his thoughts and personal experiences as they related to what and how companies are investing in social media.
Some of the key takeaways involved properly defining the meaning of said investments. Most business owners (should) be associating our working time based on key performance indicators whereby at the end of any given day/week/month, a calculable return (various ways to measure this – as defined by said company) should be able to be extrapolated from time spent on or money invested in employees managing the social media efforts of that company. To think that social media is free and costs nothing but time is foolish, as the age old adage insists ‘time is money’.
While it’s clear that building a community around your product and services is a good idea, the question as to whether content being created for the sole purpose of sharing, earning links, etc..was one that was discussed at length
As a content writer Joe has successfully managed to market his website based on the merits of the well written content itself, but other companies aren’t so lucky to have such a broad domain to play in when it comes to content relevant to their readers (Thescrib.com is a crowdsourced collection of original writing that is both entertaining and newsy).
We discussed examples of niche businesses whose communities/potential customers weren’t the best fit for a content marketing or social media strategy, and how being creative was essential to stand out in such niches. Outside of blogs and finding like-minded sites on which to comment, engage, and show just how much of a professional you are in X field, one recurring opportunity seemed to be forums, somewhat of a throwback to the early days of the web where they were all the rage. No matter how niche your product is, a forum (or many) exists somewhere out there which would give you a platform to showcase your expertise in a particular field. And if not, it’s easy enough to start one on your own.
One great example of reaching out via social media with a small budget and a very non-sexy product (printers) was actually shared by Mark W. Schaefer at the #ContentMTL talk put on by soicalmeex.com a few weeks back whereby the person charged with online marketing had no money in his budget, but was being asked to increase traffic, shares, engagement, sales, etc..In an unconventional twist that is seeming to happen more and more, he ended up taking an edgy approach and reaching out via social media asking people to share with him just how much they hate printers and their unreliability by destroying them in the most creative way possible. The contest has been going on for some years now and this alone has generated coverage by big news outlets, trade publications, and shares/likes/tweets in numbers no one could have foreseen. The key takeaway here being that the answer to a more engaged community (or growing your community) isn’t always about publishing boring company jargon stuffed with keywords made for SEO, but smashing stuff!!
There is no one answer to the question, what works? But, like anything else, finding out what works is a matter of defining, tracking, and persistently tweaking your strategy. If there are no goals, and nothing in place to track those goals, how can it be determined that something is successful?
Last but not least we addressed the black hat tactics that are so abundant across the web that involve buying FB likes, or buying Twitter followers. All in attendance seemed to agree this brings little good to the bottom line, and that while 1 million views on YouTube may deliver some credibility to a budding artist or singer, there is very little good that comes from these endeavors outside of some chest-puffing and false credibility. In short, 1 real fan that shares your content, engages with you on your social media platforms and who can become a true brand advocate is worth more than a million purchased fake and empty user profiles…Don’t sell out.