Getting Real About Your Social Media Marketing Plan – Content First!

Everybody talks about social media as the new Holy Grail of marketing. The fact is that results have been pretty mixed. Relative to the amount of hot air, the hard dollar results are unimpressive. Nobody’s talking about making billions out of social media marketing. That’s unusual in the marketing business, where success is the essential for a good portfolio.

Consider the size and diversity of the social media market. This really is one of the biggest consumer markets on Earth, where user numbers are measured in hundreds of millions and soon in billions. So why isn’t social media marketing making more of an impact? Partly because the old marketing methods don’t match the new market needs.

The answer, in a word, and it only needs one, is:

Content.

This isn’t TV or print marketing. It’s online marketing. These have nothing much in common, and there never was any such thing as social TV marketing. The old marketing approaches just don’t work online.

Why is content so vital?

Long ago, Claude Hopkins, revered as the father of modern advertising, already knew one fundamental law of the trade which has never changed:

Try to sell something to people, and they run away.

He was also the person first to put into words another fundamental principle:

If your advertising content gives people something of value, the content is as good as a sales pitch.

One of the most irritating statements in online marketing at the moment is that “Content is king”. You’d never guess that, looking at some of the social media marketing content. Most social media marketing content falls flat on its face, simply because it has no value to the audience, telling them things they already know or can easily ignore. It’s long past time that marketing got real on this subject and started producing social media materials of value to consumers.

There’s now a new principle involved:

People gravitate to their areas of need online. People don’t really “surf” the net. They go looking for things they want. SEO is based entirely on making things easier to find. With SEO comes the need for content to provide information of value to consumers, because if the information isn’t of value, they’re a click away from going somewhere else.

Planning your content basics

Content really is king. Plan your content to provide value, and you’ll get value. The key to good social media content is planning your page materials.

There are several absolutely basic criteria:

  • Define the consumers you’re you trying to attract.
  • What sort of information is required by these consumers?
  • How do you present that information to be attractive and of value?
  • Can you do a blog, an RSS feed, a link to a podcast, etc. to enhance your content?
  • How do social media users connect with your product?

This gives substance to the original Four Ps of Marketing:

  • Product
  • Positioning
  • Price
  • Promotion

What’s missing here is the focus on content value. It’s the only way to get people to stay on any sort of web page. Provide the content based on those points, and you’ve solved the problem.

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Image credit Tim Green

8 Responses

  1. Jack Martin says:

    I agree with a lot of this. Social media is a conversation tool. I don’t think you should be selling your brand with social. Create relationships with customers. It’s slow and it takes constant attention, which is why I don’t think many companies use it well at all.

  2. Great post thanks for sharing content is king no question ask

  3. “Try to sell something to people, and they run away.”

    Clearly at least 98% of the people on Twitter haven’t figured this out. They’re too busy being excited that this is FREE advertising.

    I try to utilize Twitter, I really do. But it’s like going to your 20 year high school reunion. All your ex-classmates are trying to sell you something, be it insurance or a fantasy about how great their life turned out.

  4. Exabytes says:

    i cannot admit that social media content still a king. For blog and website, content is a king but for social media. It still hard to measure. While i can find out a poor content fan page to have 50,000 of fans. I can’t sure all of it quality traffic but atleast this it what most of marketer looking for.

    • Priit Kallas says:

      Jerrick, you are right. I would say that use the social channels to promote blog/website content and measure the actions from those visitors.

  5. Priit,

    Your thoughts on where social media marketing fall flat were thought-provoking and a good start for my Friday as I look for a blog topic for the week. The most relevant reminder for me was this statement: “Most social media marketing content falls flat on its face, simply because it has no value to the audience, telling them things they already know or can easily ignore. ”

    This reminds me to be vigilant about not forgetting the marketing principles we have spend decades learning, especially that we must be intrusive in delivery of marketing messages; we cannot provide information or messages which can be easily ignored. At GodwinGroup, a traditional ad agency that has grown over 75 years into an integrated marketing firm , we have to constantly remind ourselves that new technologies do not replace proven, foundational strategies for marketing: tell an honest, relevant story to the right audience in a way they cannot ignore.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Priit Kallas says:

    Thanks for the insightful comment, I don’t really think that any of the marketing is “dead”. The thing is that those absolute statements make people think a bit more than mild ones. Some of the marketing channels are getting more effective some decline, but in the end you choose a channel that demonstrates ROI. Still, a lot of marketers try to use old tactics in new channels and this is where it usually breaks down.

    I believe that you should be a marketing agnostic, experiment with everything and keep what’s working.

  7. Brian says:

    Although I agree with your guidelines for submitting content online, I have to respectfully disagree with a few things.

    The reason that social media marketing isn’t having more of an impact right now is because it’s so new, obviously, but also, and more importantly, nobody know how to use it.

    Companies want to get found online but they don’t have the patience to wait for their site to move up the rankings to the front of search engines, if their site is SEO’d correctly. So what do they do? They call it a fad, and give up because they are not getting the results soon enough. Which of course is fair, people are in business to make money, and in this economy, most businesses don’t have the time to wait for things to improve, they need to improve things now. So they put up bad content after bad content, just to get “stuff” out there, and it’s all for nothing.

    They want more fans on their facebook page, they want more followers on twitter and they want more readers of their blogs, but again they have no idea how to do that and get a return.

    Now the part I have to disagree about is the comment about is the comment “The old marketing approaches just don’t work online.”

    Here’s the thing, companies need to realize they have to use traditional marketing to usher in the new era of “modern” marketing”, and it is unbelievably effective, and you can begin to see results right away.

    I don’t want to be long winded, but think of it this way, when there was only radio, that is how people were entertained, when television rolled around, the shows that people used to listen to, moved over to TV, and what did they do with the radio shows? They used them to promote the television show. “You can see us Tuesday nights on your TV, live and in person” type of thing. Radio was becoming outdated in a sense, but it was used to user in the golden age of television. That is what needs to be done with new marketing. You need to use print and televison to let people know where to find you online. Just like the saying goes. If the person doesn’t know where to look, then they can’t find you. You need to tell them where to look.

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