Why most social media content strategies fail

Arjuna Bird EyeThe warrior prince Arjuna, the finest archer, when asked by his guru Dronacharya what he can see, reported I can only see the eye of the bird, then shoot said Dronacharya. It was no surprise that Arjuna’s arrow found its mark. He was clear on what he wanted to achieve and unlike his peers he didn’t let other distractions come in the way.

Distraction thy name is social media

We all know this to be true, in fact the web itself can cause to be a major source of distraction and with hyper level of interactions, status messages, photo’s etc. social media can be a major source of distractions. The problem on the corporate side is even more.

Why most social media content initiatives lose money

They assume two pieces are needed in social media, content and engagement. So they keep churning out more and more content and encourage engagement, whether it’s the latest woman’s day campaign dreamed up by their agencies or maybe environment month or what have you. The singular goal being to be there on the happening social networks and that’s where the mistake lies. Unlike Arjuna they miss the most crucial part, the business objective. Note I didn’t just say objective, I said business objective.

How to start with a winning content strategy?

The first step in a winning content strategy is defining the business objective of your content.

Business ObjectivesWhat are valid business objectives?

Activities which help increase revenue or decrease costs. For example

  • Bring in new customer or enable a sale.
  • Reduce costs, e.g. customer support costs.

If seeing the above list you felt, huh is that all, welcome to the party. The above list enables you to impact your business directly and hence are known as business objectives.

What’s missing?

Did you notice something missing in the list up there? Something starting with an E, like Engagement. Engagement is not a business objective but it can be a driver to enable and meet a particular objective. Similarly the below list can be enablers to meet your above business objectives.

Incorrect business objectivesWrong business objectives?

  1. Create Engagement
  2. Increase your brand awareness.
  3. Get leads
  4. Increase traffic to website.
  5. Increase your online reputation
  6. Encourages natural links and optimizes your search engine rankings.
  7. Increases your competitive advantage.

I bet some of the items in the above list caused you to open your mouth, e.g. get leads that’s not a business objective? how can that be? Well a lead firstly needs to be qualified as valid, and even then a valid lead may not result in any business for you. It might not really enable your business objectives. The list above contains possible enablers, which might help meet your business objectives. The mistake made is often confusing these with business objectives.

Enablers v/s Business Objectives

The above list can be treated as enablers or secondary objectives. For e.g. in order to get new customers online you’d need to ensure that you’re right on top in search rankings for appropriate keywords. You’d need to ensure your online reputation is good, you’d need to provide people a safe zone where they can engage with you. All of these objectives are enablers to help meet your primary business objective of getting new customers. Having clarity on your business objectives will help you clearly decide which enablers you need to focus on and to what extent.

Wrong objectives! How incorrect objectives can derail you… (Examples)

Engagement, “Lets provide a place for customers to engage” is probable the most misused objective. This is implemented in the form of a FB page or a presence on Twitter where the company makes daily updates, including the ones like the happy xyz day etc. The issue is that there is no connect between the company objectives and the customer requirements. The content churned out is more likely blah, blah and more blah, thereby not enabling any of the primary business objectives and that’s when budgets get cut, new agencies get appointed etc. As far as possible the purpose of engagement needs to be clearly defined.

When do you define your content business objective? Always at start or after some research?

Each piece of major content needs to have an objective, it needs to either directly or indirectly support the business objective. You need to begin by clearly laying out your business objectives and the supplementary content you’d need to create. Some content might be for increasing search engine rankings, to help drive relevant traffic which could be leads, which could turn into customers. You need to be clear on the purpose of each content you’re churning out and how it’s helping meet the business objectives. Sometimes you need to do some research in advance to figure out what are your probable customers looking out for. Other times you’d need to create content which guides them and answers their queries or pose questions which they aren’t really thinking about.

Are there objectives beyond those with financial impact?

Sure enough there are, but those aren’t primary objectives, they can be secondary ones, which help one achieve a primary objective. Losing sight of primary objectives is the prime reason why many content strategies fail.

Be like Arjuna

Be like Arjuna and not his colleagues, define clear business objectives and then adopt strategies and appropriate tactics. Then create content, which supports you to meet your business objectives.

Update 1: Prevent failure of your social media content strategies – Get the report How to define the business objective of social media programs 

Update 2: Free reportHow to generate lots of content easily with brand advocates (available only till the 28th of May 2014 exclusively to Brand Advocacy Community members).

Why a LinkedIn content strategy is a mistake

I’ve heard LinkedIn is the only business network, I need a content strategy for LinkedIn now!!! I listened in rapt silence while he rattled on. He wasn’t getting leads from LinkedIn. It wasn’t driving traffic to his website. Obviously I couldn’t say no directly, but how could I explain it to him?

So what was the objective of being on LinkedIn, I asked? Since business users are there we’ll get new leads. Hmm I said and I proceeded to draw and explain the following.

The walled garden of LinkedIn

The typical business user today, when he’s looking for information on a topic usually goes to a search engine like Google, or Bing and that’s where the problem of your content on Social Networks begins.

Walled Garden of LinkedIn

 

Most content on social networks is in a walled garden and doesn’t come up when searched for. Most groups on LinkedIn for example where valuable discussions might be happening are typically closed groups (to prevent spam) and when a typical search is done the results from there don’t appear.

Where does content reside on LinkedIn?

Company page, Groups and Status Updates, are the 3 locations for most people, unless you’re a celebrity who can blog on LinkedIn. (Recently LinkedIn began to open this to members, this might be a game changer).

How do you locate content on LinkedIn

Search tool within LinkedIn, if you’ve used it you will realise how pathetic it is. The same is the case of Facebook. One rarely goes to research information on a social network, one typically begins with a search engine.

The problem with Reach on LinkedIn

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When you share content via a status update, LinkedIn shows you some statistics as  Who’s Viewed Your Updates. Unfortunately this is total garbage.

 

SNAGHTML2bcc2340The way you verify this is by viewing the destination. So for e.g. I shared a link to a blog post I had made, and LinkedIn merrily reported on how many people viewed this update. However, the problem is that doesn’t translate or tell you how many people clicked the link and visited the link destination.

 

So I’m guessing this is just a number which talks about on how many peoples pages this update is appearing, i.e. for e.g. if you’ve scrolled thru the updates on your page, they’re estimating that the post has been viewed by you. This gives an incorrect picture.

 

So what do you do?

Do you not post content on LinkedIn? Post for sure, whether it’s going to drive traffic to your website or primary content location (e.g. Blog) is what you need to watch and see. Be willing to experiment and see if it works for you.  Who knows it just might work for you and your brand.

The one good thing is it helps you showcase your expertise on your profile to those who might see your share. Heck I’m sharing this on LinkedIn myself 🙂

However, for it to work you really need a following out there on LinkedIn. The other option is to create a focus group for your customers encouraging people to ask questions around your industry or product etc. However, here I find the group, forum functions in LinkedIn are extremely limited and low tech. Moreover quite a few groups are overrun with massive spam.

For now, I’ve found LinkedIn mostly useful to locate and connect with people. Is it a great content destination? Not for now, not for me. It could be different for you and heck it could change.

However, the challenges within the walled city of LinkedIn are quite similar to the other networks as well. Are there exceptions to this rule? I would love to know of them, so please do share via the comments below.

How to increase the reach of your video content

Video is the most engaging form of content. However, with more than 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, getting people to view your video content can prove challenging.

Two approaches to increase reach of your video content

As usual with most digital content there are two ways to increase reach.

1. Paid

2. Non-Paid

Paid refers to utilizing the several advertising options available on the YouTube network.

a) Masthead ads, Instream Pre-Roll, TrueView, Search Display, etc. You can target these ads based on types of content, relevant search keywords, demographic and psychographic choices. YouTube sponsorships of channels or individual bits of content are also viable means of popularizing your content. To understand this model in detail I’d suggest you look up the references at the bottom of this article.

Six Non-Paid ways to promote your video content

1. Transcribe

One of the disadvantages of video is that video content is typically not machine readable, what I mean is that unlike textual information, audio words spoken in the video are not searchable. However, there is an in-built functionality in YouTube where in you can use YouTube to transcribe the audio in your video. Additionally, you can replace the machine transcription with your edits.

transcribe video to increase searchability

This ensures that your video content is now available in a textual format which the search engines can look through.

This ensures that the video comes up in searches. YouTube specifically allows you to search within captions.

2.  Submitting videos to other video sites

Video Submission

http://www.metacafe.com/
http://www.megavideo.com/

http://www.veoh.com/

There are tons of video sites, beyond YouTube, and there are viewers on each of these sites. This ensures you get maximum exposure for your content.

3. Social Bookmarking

Social Bookmarking

We bookmark, blog posts, and other content, do the same with your videos, submit it on StumbleUpon, Digg etc.

 

4. Repurpose Content

Repurpose Content

Convert the video or the earlier transcription into an article, or blog post or extract the audio as a podcast, or convert it into presentations which can be posted on various slide sharing sites.

5. Answer questions with video

Q&A and Forums

Where relevant post replies to questions on Q&A sites and forums with links to your video. However, here I’d suggest that you provide part of the answer on the forum and ask the audience to view the video for more details, else it might turn off people as they might assume it to be a total promotion exercise.

6. Press Release

Press ReleaseOut of all the above I suggest to use this sparingly. Don’t announce just one video but a series covering a topic. This is great for SEO as well. The references section below provides links to sites which enable you to submit a free press release.

 

Other considerations

1. User Generated Content

User Generated Content - VideoOne of the things you’ll soon discover is that user generated video about your product or service is more likely to gain far more traction. In fact a study by Octoly indicates that:

UGC Fan Video Viewed 10x > Owned Brand Content on YouTube
(Source: Earned Media Rankings on YouTube http://www.reelseo.com/earned-media-rankings-youtube-octoly/#ixzz2wg43gTZz)

2. One at a time:

I’d recommend that you go with one of the 7(including User Generated Content) ideas which resonates the most with you first. Don’t rush into trying all 7 of them. Measure the effectiveness and then proceed.

Video Promotion

References:

1. UGC v/s Earned Media: http://www.reelseo.com/earned-media-rankings-youtube-octoly/

2. YouTube Marketing And Analytics: A Primer For Magnificent Success

3. Free Press Releases:

http://mashable.com/2007/10/19/press-releases/