Some of you have heard of Mark Schaefer's Content Shock theory. Put simply, content marketing is such an effective marketing strategy that we've become oversaturated, making it increasingly difficult for businesses to break through the noise.
Such was the case in a recent email Mark received from a sporting goods company that reported a startling decrease in Facebook reach and blog engagement the past year. Several of my customers can relate to this decline and many of my colleagues are experiencing the same. It's a result of Content Shock. And, it's only going to get worse.
Mark says we now shift from great content 'rising to the top' to great content as 'merely the starting point.' Always forward thinking, Mark says today's content marketing will need to ignite! To ensure content is seen and interacted with, businesses will need to find creative and effective ways to share content on the web. Or, as Mark says, "Don't just write. Ignite."
From what we've experienced with our customers, I think Mark is spot on. The long-form publishing tool on LinkedIn is a great example. When it first became available, I heard stories from colleagues of 7-10,000 reads on the articles and hundreds of hits on their site. But, as the tool increased in popularity, those reads and hits were down to the hundreds and dozens, respectively. The content was still 'strong,' but fewer people were reading because it's simply overused.
Are we fighting a losing battle? How do we even ignite content? For many, it's still a struggle to create 'strong content' let alone content that 'ignites.' I certainly do not have the answer for every business, but I can give you a few ideas based on our experiments with our customers.
Consider creative campaigns. While I don't advocate thinking of social media as a stand-alone 'campaign mindset,' I do find a lot of merit to campaigns as a piece of the marketing pie. Particularly relevant to those who want to generate brand awareness and increase engagement, we've instituted hashtag campaigns, in which we encouraged the audience to tweet with a particular hashtag for a chance to help a local charity or to enter a drawing. This tactic is especially effective when we can create a strategic partnership and cross promote to help expand reach.
Spend a few dollars. It's a pay-to-play world, especially on channels like Facebook. Fortunately, you don't have to spend a lot to ensure that you're content is seen, especially with Facebook boosting. Also called "Page Post Engagement," boosting allows for increased visibility of a fan page post. Our clients have increased their reach by 30 times their organic views by spending as little as $5. Twitter also offers inexpensive advertising options.
Become the hub. While most are trying to edge their way into a crowded space, I often wonder if it makes more sense to BE the space. This is an idea we proposed to a client in an oversaturated market of government contractors searching for candidates with top secret clearances. Until he consulted with us, he was working his way into hundreds of groups, forums and pages dedicated to military personnel. With competition so fierce, he wasn't sure if social media was even worth entering the game. We had to look beyond simply finding qualified prospects, as many of his competitors were doing. I suggested that we find out what the people on these groups are looking for (which we did, through countless hours of monitoring), devise a solid content game plan, establish strategic partnerships including a non-profit focused mission, and have him create his own 'hub' - a source of information shared by the community that he creates. The idea here is that ultimately, his value-based offerings and community-focused mindset will lead to trust. Once trust is established, is there a need to go anywhere else?
Experiment with new ways to share content. One of our clients developed a an algorithm which predicts stock market fluctuations then alerts users when it's time to buy or sell a stock. Because his product was new and he was not yet known, we first worked to establish his credibility while trying to push his free-trial offer. But, even with promoting his blog content on multiple channels, we knew we did not have enough eyeballs to jump start his growth. We decided to start applying for niche syndication sites that, once approved, allow him to publish his content on their sites. This tactic is one of many that can help to expand reach outside of the standard social media outlets.
Social media is in constant state of flux - and content marketing is no exception. Frequent evaluation is mandatory. In order to stay competitive, we cannot get complacent - or even too comfortable.