By Nathan Mendenhall at Social Media Today:
2013 was the year of changes for digital marketing.
We saw major shifts in the algorithms for Facebook and Google as well as developments in almost all other social media networks. Fundamentally, we are now forced to change from “hunting” down potential customers to “farming” and cultivating them until they are ready to convert. Since we are using the farming analogy, you might be wondering what we must use to cultivate the consumer-crop.
Don’t worry; I’m not going to push the old “create quality content” mantra at you. That should be a given.
What we DO need is quality content marketing strategies!
These days having keyword rich content on your blog or website simply isn’t enough, you have to have a strategy to make it more find-able. You might be thinking that you can simply post your blogs to Facebook. WRONG! Social media users are used to be bombarded with blogs, so you have to be intelligent about your approach from start to finish. Even if you are thoughtful with your content and your distribution, there are still reasons why your strategy might not work. Let’s take a look at 4 commonly encountered pitfalls.
1- You Aren’t Solving Any Problems
One of the main reasons people search for and share blogs is because they are looking for advice. Think about the last time you had a question. Where did you go? I would wager that you turned to Google or one of the major social networks and received a plethora of blog articles filled with lists. If your content isn’t getting any love, it is very possible that it doesn’t solve a problem. Every piece of content you produce should be useful in some way. While narratives have their place, problem solving content truly generates social engagement and website clicks. You might have noticed the trend that blog titles have become more teasing and in the vein of storytelling. This type of content DOES pick up some traction on social sites; however I would suggest that it is more beneficial for a brand to provide problem solving content with staying power. People love to establish themselves as knowledgeable on social media sites and your content should help them.
2- You Aren’t Using Images
Based on a recent study, Buzzfeed was named as the top publisher on Facebook. What two main themes do we see in the content that Buzzfeed publishes? Lists and pictures! Buzzfeed is successful because they have mastered the art of communication through images. Some of their articles barely have any text. The point here is that people love images, especially if they help move the communication along. Try to infuse your content with fun images that support the message of the content. Nobody likes boring visuals. Another item of note here is that Facebook recently overhauled their link previews to pull in larger, more obvious images into the news feed. Equip your blog with images that are at least 1200 x 630 pixels and use proper Open Graph tags. You can find a decent guide here or install the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin as it has that feature. At the end of the day, your content strategy needs images AND text that tell the story or solve the problem.
3- Your Community Doesn’t Care
One of the biggest problems I have encountered with brands trying to figure out why their content isn’t working on social media is that they are producing content that isn’t FOR their community. They are producing content that they THINK the community wants. This might work in some instances, however to truly produce content that resonates with your social community you have to know who they are and what interests them. Try to find out as much information as you can about your community and tailor content specifically for them. All social channels have some sort of analytics available, so use that information to create a profile of your community. Keep in mind, your demographics might shift between the different social channels. Overall, here is what I recommend looking at:
Age – Define the major age range of your community.
Gender – This is pretty self-explanatory.
Location – Geographic location can influence what content will and won’t work.
Language – Does your community speak multiple languages? Should you post in multiple languages?
Interests – If you are using Facebook Ads this should be pretty easy, otherwise you will need to do some testing. What is your target demographic talking about online?
Once you have these demographic pillars, you can calibrate your content creation and distribution strategy to fit your target. There will always be a need for adjustment, however I recommend this approach because it saves you from your gut instinct (which can be wrong) and forces you to use actual data.
4- Your Don’t Have a Content Distribution Strategy
In the previous point, I mentioned calibrating a content distribution strategy. A content distribution strategy is very important because you need to know where your target demographic spends time online, how you need to speak to them, how often and the structure of the post. Are you going to post everything you have to all social channels every day? Are you going to publish a ton of content on your site but only share certain posts to certain channels? All of these questions need to be answered. In an ideal world, your content would be relevant to everyone everywhere at all times. However, experience shows us that we need to tailor the content to fit the distribution channel. Certain titles work great on Facebook, but are too long for Twitter. Hashtags work wonders on Googe+, Twitter and Instagram but have been pretty underwhelming on Facebook. Perhaps Pinterest is the best place for your content to live if it is very image rich. At the end of the day, creating content that is in-line with your desired demographic is only half of the battle. You need a plan on how to get the content in front of them.
Do you have any other reasons why content marketing strategies fail? Tell us in the comment section!