In an air-conditioned meeting room, a team of sales and marketing executives reached a consensus to try social media marketing. The year was 2010. The asset management industry was still on its knees following the bloodbath in capital markets across New York, London and Tokyo. Sales of investment products were dismal as the investing public was still licking its wounds two years after the financial market collapse in October 2008.
Social media was a new concept for this subject company. “We’ll post updates about our projects and have people talk about us. How hard can that be,” the vice president for sales asked the rest of the team.
It’s not difficult to guess the sad ending of the company’s dream for social media presence. After a Facebook post here and a tweet there, the strategy met its silent death.
How hard can attaining effective social media presence be? The answer: it’s an impossibility if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Content competition for attention
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Between 2010 and 2016, the social media landscape has changed tremendously. In fact, the Internet has transformed significantly. The amount of online content has dramatically increased in recent years that consumption is unable to keep up anymore. Content marketing guru and bestselling author Mark W. Schaeffer warns that finite content consumption and rising content availability can lead to a Content Shock. The top blogger argues that a person “has a physiological, inviolable limit to the amount of content” he can consume.
Individuals, companies, and brands flood the Internet with materials as they battle for attention. As Mr. Schaeffer puts it, the entry barriers will rise and, eventually, only those with “deep pockets” will win. Today, you’d have to pay social media sites to deliver the right message to the right people.
It’s all about the science
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Not everyone believes in the Content Shock theory. BuzzZumo recently conducted a study and found that while a huge majority of content gets two or fewer Facebook interactions, content marketing is not entirely a dead concept. There’s a correlation of shares and links in certain types of content including science-backed materials and opinion-forming articles.
The BuzzZumo results are quite exhaustive, but to sum it up, it’s all about creating a sustainable social media content. Here are some insights on how to draft results-driven and sustainable social media content.
Right content for the right people
Flashback 2010: the financial industry was struggling to get back on its feet. Banks, wealth managers, and financial consultants were publishing research-backed content on what happened and how it can be prevented. The subject company, unfortunately, was shooting in the dark. Sure, it knew where it’s heading as a company but its strategies for social media marketing were all over the place.
Create the right content for the right people. As an investment company, it could have produced backed articles that could stir discussions among investors and advisers. Such content includes an analysis of the impact of a stock market crash to small investors or guides in identifying sound financial advice.
Stop, look and listen
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Do you recall the feeling of sitting in a three-hour class listening to the instructor spew theories and formulas like a machine gun? It’s physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Social media is a two-way street. Take time to observe your target audience: what are their concerns, what do they ignore, and what can fuel up their enthusiasm. These questions can act as your guide to crafting sustainable social media content.
For a time, people were engrossed with stories of the Great Depression and how it mirrored recent global events. The subject company could have capitalized on this.
Social media is a communication tool. Brands “talk” to consumers via Facebook posts, Instagram photos, Youtube videos, etc. Breathe life to your digital marketing campaign. Engage yourself in your social media page. Comment, respond and pick up clues for an engaging content that can get people thinking and reacting.
Again, the subject company could have drafted revenue-driven social media strategies by interacting with its audience. It could have produced appealing content to encourage investors to take advantage of cheap stocks. If it took time to respond to some of its commenters, it could have detected the demand for information on street-smart investing.
Persuasion vs. coercion
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In its 5th Annual Social Media Sustainability Index, marketing advisory firm Sustainably highlighted the power of persuasion over coercion. Companies no longer rub their products on consumers’ faces. An apparel brand publishes content on individualism, a beauty line writes about “loving your own skin” and a major international bank produces articles encouraging start-ups. This “soft-power” identifies the values that matter to people and does its work from there.
Putting out the fire with style
Using social media as a marketing tool can be a double-edged sword. It’s a free and interactive instrument that can reach millions of people worldwide. If not managed well, it can also spell a disaster. There are contents that can go viral for the wrong reasons. Real-time criticisms and attacks are inevitable and it takes an able social media team to put out these occasional fires.
A sustainable social media content does not need to be politically correct 100% of the time. Aiming for that, anyway, is quite impossible. Social media activism has been on the rise and companies are taking extra precaution to avoid offending groups that turn a simple unintended mistake into a national emergency.
“There are so many ways to step on a land mine now, so many terms that have become forbidden, so many attitudes that will get you cast out if you even appear to hold them,” lamented Michelle Goldberg, a senior writer at The Nation.
If you accidentally post a material that’s a bit off-color, or a staff used an inappropriate hashtag, be honest about it. Respond to queries with personalized messages. Listen to criticisms and recommendations. Move on.
Keep on nurturing ideas
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Evergreen social media content involves materials that will remain pertinent as long as these are updated regularly. How-to guides, beginner’s guides, and case studies are some of the examples of this type of content.
Keeping your posts, videos and other materials evergreen requires vigilance, research and an endless supply of creativity. There is a particular Thailand-based insurance company that comes up with tear-jerking short films about families, sacrifices and Asian sensibilities. There are no mentions of the brand until the last frame. One of its popular videos garnered more than 27.4 million views in its first year of posting and have been shared in other sites.
A social media content can make or break you. If you know how to use it to your advantage, it can be the best marketing tool you can ever have. A social media platform itself is currently one of the most valuable companies in the world. Remember that simply going online and posting an update is not enough. Strive for sustainability and reap well-earned rewards.