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).


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