Avoiding Social Media Clashes

Whether it’s inflammatory political posts and racy vacation photos on a personal wall, confrontations on business social media accounts or another form of online strife, social media clashes are a fact of internet life. Hardly a day goes by without reading about a business that has gotten in hot water online. But, you can keep social media scandals from becoming a problem at your organization by laying down some guidelines and preparing in advance.

1. Don’t push social media duties onto low level employees.

girl-with-a-pinwheel-1395989-mThere’s still a tendency in many companies to minimize the importance of social media. Often, social media is a job assigned to entry level employees or even to interns. But, your social media accounts are your business’s public face. Entrust them to savvy and level-headed people so that tensions can be dissolved and missteps avoided.

2. Have a clear social media policy.

Spell out expectations for behavior on social media. Have firm policies in place about using personal equipment for professional social media posts and vice versa. By making sure that everyone understands what you expect, you can avoid culture clashes and inappropriate posts.

3. Counsel employees on social media safety.

chains-993898-mDespite the wide adoption of social media, many people are still not up to speed on social media safety and etiquette. Many accounts are vulnerable to hacking. In other cases, people are not aware that what they share privately can be screen-capped and shared more publicly. Have workshops on social media privacy to help avoid embarrassing photos or posts from becoming connected with your company. Talk about how social media posts can live on far longer than people might like and how people should be careful what they post even on personal accounts.

4. Keep an ear to the ground.

Use social listening to find out what people inside and outside your company are saying about your brand. This way, if there is a controversy or an unhappy customer, you can respond quickly and make the situation a social media win instead of a social media gaffe. Social listening can also be effective when you are planning a promotion. By seeing what people are talking about and how they react to different news stories and brand promotions, you can increase your chances of a social promotion going well.

In the digital age, the lines between the public and private spheres can be blurred. And sometimes, this can lead to clashes between individual and company social presences and the company culture. But, by setting expectations, keeping up with best practices and addressing issues as they occur, you can bring your company culture and social presence together. By helping them align, you get happier employees and a stronger brand online.

Ephemeral vs Eternal: Managing Your Content’s Lifetime Value

There’s a divide developing between search engine optimized content and shareworthy content. Marketers no longer need to merely consider their content’s intent; they also need to consider their content’s lifetime value. Shareworthy content tends to have a very short shelf life — sometimes as little as 24 hours. Search engine optimized content is aimed towards having a much longer shelf life — usually months, sometimes years. But neither content type is inherently better than the other, and a mix of the two may be appropriate for most.

shareworthyShareworthy Content: A Fusillade of Bits and Bytes

Entertainment news websites are the best example of primarily shareworthy content. They achieve traffic and engagement via a continuous fusillade of information. The content burns short and bright: each article may trend only for a matter of hours, but combined they create sustainable traffic. The raw quality of the content isn’t always a primary concern; quantity is more important. But quality is still a consideration.

Most companies cannot keep up a constant stream of content, nor should they. One failing of shareworthy content is that the bulk of the traffic will immediately begin to wane should there be any break in publishing. Shareworthy content is usually so highly specific that it is not usually aimed at bringing in any meaningful traffic from search engines. It can also be difficult to measure the effectiveness of shared content. But that does not mean that it is exclusive of search engine optimization; it only means that this isn’t the principle goal.

Increasing the shelf life of shareworthy content:

  • Share content on multiple platforms. Studies have shown that engagement lasts longer on LinkedIn and the shortest on Twitter, but each platform is a new audience.
  • Don’t forget your links. Internal linking between pages of your site, from new content to older content, can be used to drive users from current shareworthy articles to prior ones.
  • Promote internally. Random posts, top posts, trending posts and archived posts are all ways to drive traffic from current pages to previous pages.

seoSearch Engine Optimized Content: A Slow Build of Momentum

Even well-optimized content will take at least a day or two to gain traction — often much more. SEO content could peak weeks, months or even years after publishing. Through a constant publishing schedule, companies can create building momentum. This momentum will carry the content forward, allowing for more time between publishing. Each piece of content has more room to land and breathe — but by the same token, each piece of content also needs to be of very high quality.

Search engine optimized content is more stable than shareworthy content. Shareworthy content can be very fickle and even expert social marketers are not always able to anticipate the popularity of a content strategy. But search engine optimized content is also highly competitive due to the incredibly high quality of content required.

Increasing the shelf life of search engine optimized content:

  • Renew and revise. Your most popular posts and pages won’t stay accurate and timely forever. Update your best performing pages to ensure that they remain at the top.
  • Pay attention to the context. If your site’s overall quality goes down, the visibility of all your content will go down. Make sure you curate your content appropriately.
  • Get those deep links. Get high authority sites to link to your content from throughout the web by providing valuable, insightful and informative content.

shelf lifeHybridizing Your Content: Increasing Your Content’s Shelf Life

When investing in content, you may want to consider your content’s lifetime value. What will your content’s shelf life be? What are your content’s goals? How much your company will actually gain from the content once it has been created? There are many strategies for increasing content shelf life. Both shareworthy content and search engine optimized content can become obsolete.

Many content marketing strategies focus on the hybridizing of content; creating content that is both shareworthy and search engine friendly. But either way, the content needs a focus. Is it shareable content with search engine optimization or is it search engine optimized content that is also shareable?

You can do both, but you can’t do both equally. One of the trending articles on Buzzfeed right now is “Man Late To Work Because Of Chupacabra.” A totally shareworthy title — but probably not a top search engine query. Probably not even a long tail query. Naturally, the article is search engine optimized in other ways, but the title shows its primary objective.

Increasing the shelf life of hybridized content:

  • Identify the “well, it can’t hurt” areas. Rewriting a title? Probably harmful. Adding a few long tail keywords into the text? Probably inconsequential.
  • Play to the content’s strengths. Figure out whether the content works best shared or optimized and begin on that foundation.
  • Create complementary content. When one piece of content is doing well, consider creating another piece of related content from a different perspective.

focusA Question of Focus: When Multitasking Obscures Your Content’s Goals

Hybrid content isn’t always a good idea. After all, most people would study to become a doctor or a lawyer — not both. Doing one thing well is often better than doing two things poorly. Many content marketing strategies will benefit through the creation of focused content in both areas rather than creating individual pieces of content that can be seen both ways.

In the example above, trying to SEO a title can potentially damage its shareworthiness. Likewise, trying to shareworthy a title can damage its optimization. In this case it’s a bit of a peanut butter and jelly scenario: sure they go great together, but the market has spoken: no one wants to buy them in the same jar.

Increasing the shelf life of focused content:

  • Cross-integrate your content. Connect share-focused content with SEO-focused content for a more holistic marketing strategy.
  • Make sharing a priority. Optimize your website itself to encourage the sharing of all your content, not just shareworthy content.
  • Don’t neglect the quality. Low quality but shareworthy content can tank your site’s authority, taking your optimized content with it.

A perfectly search engine optimized, shareworthy piece of content is a marketer’s holy grail: it’s something that we should all pursue, but it just may not always be obtainable. Meanwhile, it may actually be detrimental to our content’s value to try to do too many things with the content at once. It’s often better to understand the goals of each piece of content and its place within your content strategy than to try to shoehorn each piece of content into a single rigorous set of metrics. By playing to your content’s strengths, you can increase its lifetime value and ultimately the value of your campaign as a whole.

Are You Getting Reputation Management Wrong?

It seems that you can’t go a week without reading about a public scandal related to a company’s online advertising, social media presence or customer service. These are not just small businesses; big names that include McDonalds, Starbucks, JP Morgan, Comcast and others are all on the list of those who have made massive flubs online. It is possible that the errors come down to not understanding the realities of the digital age, including:

1. Digital media is a conversation.

If your company is continually blaring out one-sided promotional messages, you will not get much traction. In your blogs, address what customers want. On social media, start conversations. Ask questions. Answer questions. Online, everybody has the ability to contribute, and customers will expect you to understand that.

2. Companies don’t get to choose how people respond.

Sterling customer service and quality products are more important than ever. If your customer service is poor, expect that fact to be shared on blogs, Yelp, Facebook and even, if you are very unlucky, documented with video that is uploaded and reposted all over Youtube. You are always in public now.

3. But, consumers do expect you to talk back to them.

70% of consumers expect brands to respond to complaints on Twitter within an hour. While this can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. If your product is good and your customer service is on-key, you can turn each of these individual interactions into power PR for your brand.

Is Your Social Media Campaign Actually Working, Or Just Taking Up Time?

Determining the success of a social media campaign can be iffy at best. Social media campaigns are generally directed towards a few basic goals: building out brand identity, developing site traffic or increasing ROI. Of these three major goals, only one of them — increasing site traffic — is easily isolated and quantified. And when you can’t be certain whether your social media campaign is truly working, you can’t identify areas for improvement.

bar-charts-152544_1280The Difference Between Lies and Statistics

Reports are a double-edged sword. And that’s great — because who wants a sword with just one crummy edge? But still, they can be misleading. Individual statistics will not give you the whole picture; they need to be viewed in context if they are to be valuable. And we all see what we want to see; it can be easy to rationalize statistics in a way that makes it feel as though our campaign is doing more than it truly is. This is a lie that we tell ourselves to justify our advertising budgets.

Imagine a couple very common scenarios:

  • Your traffic-based social media campaign has increased your traffic by 500%. It’s a success! (And it undoubtedly is, for that metric.) But upon further consideration, you notice that your sales have actually decreased. Your traffic increased in areas that you don’t serve — on a global scale — while going down in your local area. An easy mistake to make, and far too common.
  • Your ROI has increased by 14%! It’s a success! And the best type of success a company can have… right? But, wait — your customer retention rates have plummeted. What happened? Your social marketing campaign featured misleading messaging; your customer lifetime value has gone down due to dissatisfaction. Worse yet, customers who would have been genuinely be interested in your product as it truly is can no longer find it.

startup-594126_1280Reality Check: The Harsh Truth of Most Advertising Campaigns

In real life we don’t usually have clean data to work from. Marketers can tell you to “look at your ROI,” but when you’ve launched a dozen simultaneous campaigns, how can you really tell which campaign is working? Large businesses invest a great deal in software and procedures to isolate and track a variety of metrics, all separated into individual campaigns and continually tested. A small business — or even a mid-sized business — simply isn’t going to be able to do all that.

The reality is that most small businesses know “We opened a Facebook page and now we’re making more sales.” And to a certain extent this is unavoidable. But if maintaining that Facebook page is taking a business owner 12 hours a week, it might not be getting them enough traffic to actually compensate for their opportunity cost. This is where an actual testing process needs to begin.

stadium-597536_1280Remembering the Human Element

With as many technological leaps as we’ve made in recent years, it can be easy to forget that we are talking about people. Customer acquisition, customer retention — what we’re really doing is talking about people, coming and going throughout our company’s doors. And that’s why ultimately marketing may turn towards anti-marketing. Because when it comes down to it, what’s easier for a small business owner: tracking a thousand metrics to determine which page is getting them the most traffic, or simply polling their existing customers?

We all know that social media truly shines when users are engaged on a one-to-one basis, so it seems a step backwards to consider them as a numerical whole on a spreadsheet rather than the decision-making individuals that they are. And that is why statistics regarding social media are almost inherently misleading: they cannot quantify the connection that the brand actually has with its followers.

mobile-phone-426559_1280Social Media = Success

One thing that cannot be argued, though, is that social media is successful. The difficulty lies in determining how successful it really is and whether it’s financially worthwhile for a business owner to try to manage their social media on their own. Virtually every business can benefit from having an established social media campaign, but to be truly effective the campaign needs to be streamlined and managed efficiently.

Social media is undoubtedly a valuable asset to any digital marketing campaign, but how useful it is really depends on the company. One thing is certain, though: it’s usually best for a company to outsource their social media marketing to an expert. Most businesses, especially small businesses, don’t have the ability to analyze and manage a social media campaign effectively on their own and will fall prey to misleading statistics.