When I spelled out the failures of social media and content marketing in the first part of this post, the purpose of all this gloomy background data was not to be discouraging, but rather to make the case for a fresh - five-part approach - one that brings social and content together into a strategically sound powerhouse.
1. Develop Content Campaigns
Recognizing that most branded content, regardless of the channel, comes in the form of one-offs replicating "death by a thousand paper cuts," marketers need to "campaignify" their content. These campaigns will allow brands to focus on one meaningful theme at a time--themes that are relevant to the target and can be reinforced across multiple channels including events, research, PR, email, social and even advertising. Treating content as a campaign increases its potency, turning droplets into tidal waves as numerous marketers, including Dun & Bradstreet, can attest.
2. Create Memorable Content
With millions of pieces of branded content burping out daily, prospects and customers are drowning in the drivel. The somewhat obvious solution here is for marketers to create content that is "memorable" rather than passable. At a minimum, consider applying the Shaq rule for content (60% entertaining, 30% inspirational and 10% selling) that the former NBA star uses to drive his highly successful approach to social communications, an approach that contributes mightily to the bottom line of his sizeable business enterprise.
3. Focus on Quality Outcomes
The first step here is to reduce the emphasis on growing one's "social footprint", which is often the result of a promotion that attracts virtually useless fans. Instead, marketers need to concentrate on quality outcomes that align with overall business objectives. For example, if generating quality leads is a priority, then focus on action metrics including clicks, SEO rank, and names captured. If awareness is a goal, then concentrate on reach-driving shares. AND if the content you are putting out isn't driving any these metrics, then go back to steps 1 and 2.
4. Test More and Adjust Your Content Accordingly
At the risk of being "Captain Obvious," marketers can often solve the problem of ignored content by testing their way to success. Every day, your fans tell you what content they've enjoyed based on the actions they take with it--content that is easily categorized into buckets like culture, events, product, service, etc. By examining the performance of content by bucket, you'll quickly learn that 35-70% of your content is simply irrelevant to your target. Further testing can be done to refine headlines, formats (text, images, videos), and even by adjusting the time of day. Even remarkably engaging content can be improved by constant testing-just ask BuzzFeed).
5. Just Add Media
For too long, marketers have expected social media and content marketing to have an "organic" impact only to be disappointed when their efforts didn't move the needle. Like it or not, the answer here is to banish the word "organic" along with its evil compatriot "viral," to the Hall of Unreliability. To create reliably effective campaigns, brands should bolster content creation with some form of guaranteed exposure, either paid and/or through the crescendo of PR, events, email and/or website exposure. In sum, marketers need to put the media back in social media and the marketing back into content marketing.
If you missed Part 1 of this article, you can read it here.
image: content marketing/shutterstock