SEO is simple, but not easy

Yes, yes, I know. Your customers are far too busy and intelligent to use social media and, even if they do, they do not use it for business-related activity. That’s an inaccurate belief. More than two-thirds of the population of North America and Europe are actively involved in social media on a daily basis, which means it is highly likely that your customer base does use at least one medium every day.

Two bits of information came out in some conversations today regarding how to optimize search for your website. Most of the conversations were around a report on Search Engine Land where Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, confirmed what the Google algorithms look for in search engine rankings. Here are the two most important activities you can do, based on my understanding:

  1. Engaging content is the most important thing for SEO

  2. Links back to your site

The first activity is all under your control. You identify and create the content on your site and if it is self-serving, bloated and sales focused, you are probably not going to see a lot of traffic coming to your site; probably not going to see that content shared or commented on; probably not going to see customers spend much time reading it; probably going to drive people away from the site before the time spent on the site can give you any value. So invest in good content that your customers want to consume.

The second activity is mostly out of your control because it requires people to add links to your content, and you can;t make them do that… unless your content is interesting. But there is something you can do: start using social media.

Yes, yes, I know. Your customers are far too busy and intelligent to use social media and, even if they do, they do not use it for business-related activity. That’s an inaccurate belief. More than two-thirds of the population of North America and Europe are actively involved in social media on a daily basis, which means it is highly likely that your customer base does use at least one medium every day.

Even if a significant number of your customer base doesn’t use social media, however, your active presence in social media is the second most importing thing for SEO because it provides multiple links back to your site. Every time you share an article, even if it is a crappy piece of marketing dreck it represents a link back to your site. If a good customer decides to click that link, share it (most don’t read the content on the link), or comment on it, it registers with the algorithm. 

Now, the second activity could be even more crucial for you if you insist on producing marketing dreck for content because at least it adds links back to your site. But if you invest in good content, the social media presence will make it even more valuable.

So keep it in mind: Your content and your social media activity are the most important activities for boosting SEO. Everything else is a waste of time without them.


Time, talent and desire to connect make Linkedin valuable

This final post of the series looks at how to become a valuable source of information and attract important connections. But first, let’s address whether you should even try.

In my previous posts about Linkedin I talked about the value of the platform, the frustrations users are having, changes that Linkedin might consider to reverse those frustrations and how you can screen contacts more effectively to minimize spam. This final post of the series looks at how to become a valuable source of information and attract important connections. But first, let’s address whether you should even try.  Leverage-linkedin-for-success

A communicator is a person who can bring disparate and anonymous people and groups together through the distribution of information those people and groups find valuable. If you don’t care if they find that information valuable, or you don’t really like bringing people together, you might consider avoiding social media altogether. That is a valid option.

There are people that have plenty of business and don’t really need more. There are people who are considering retiring from business altogether and they don’t need more connections. There are people who just don’t like human interaction. For all of those people, social media is a useless place to be. But there are billions of people who do need to know how to do it right and, for business, Linkedin is a very good place to be, but its value to those people is dependent on whether the people they want to reach find their information valuable.

Linkedin is an excellent blogging platform. I maintain a professional blog, a political blog and a theology blog but only with the first one do I make an effort to expand my audience as the rest are just hobbies. However, my audience on my Linkedin community is larger than my blogs, my Facebook pages and my Twitter accounts, simply because the target audience for what I have to share is primarily on Linkedin. I’ve also used Linkedin to boost traffic to client sites, as well as my own. I’d like to think that’s because people on Linkedin find me to be a brilliant writer, but it’s more likely that I post information and comments that people find interesting.

Developing interesting content, however, is not simple and there is no real formula for developing it. There are tools and techniques for writing effectively, but finding out what is interesting to your audience takes time and observation.

For example, when I wrote a post about how things are getting better in online journalism no one cared. Essentially, all I did was point out a few observations I made.  But when I write about a problem and offer a potential solution, like the first post I did about Linkedin, there was a mammoth response. 

That’s the beauty of social media. You can get almost instantaneous measurement of the value of your content and adjust accordingly.  It’s a constant work in progress and, again, takes time and effort.

Producing timely information is another way to boost your audience. For example, I did a piece about the Tesla battery product a few months back that got thousands of views and hundreds of responses, but follow on posts about alternative energy have not gotten anywhere near the response. That’s because when I wrote the piece on about Tesla it was the same day that the company announced the product. It was fresh and on the minds of my audience. The followup pieces lacked a breaking-news hook.

That does not mean, however, that small responses are not valuable. In social media it isn’t about how many people follow you or read your material, it’s whether the right people do. My followup pieces attracted twice as many valuable connection requests than the Tesla piece did.

That final point is the real value of Linkedin. If your profile and content attract 1 new piece of business, or one new partner, or one investor for a client (and this series has done all of that), it is better than getting thousands of views without a single connection request.

You need three things to make Linkedin, or any other social platform, valuable. First is your ability to create attractive and engaging content, the willingness to put in the time to study the responses, and the desire to increase your potential market. If you lack one of those three, find someone who does have the attributes you lack and get their help. 

And if all of this feels a bit overwhelming, feel free to give me a call or shoot me a request to connect.  I’d be happy to give you an analysis of your current program and put you in touch with someone who can take care of all of this for you.

Friending Facebook for Fun and Profit!

...if your content is crap it doesn't matter how much you spend on social media, unless people find your content amusing, useful or thought provoking, NO ONE WANTS TO READ IT!

With all the negative feelings about Facebook in the marketing communications industry, I gotta say: Facebook has been doing great by me.

The big meme blasting the social network recently has been the video purporting that if you pay to boost likes they are probably fake. Then came the fashion magazine magnate who spent tens of thousands of dollars on Facebook advertising and got zero return.  Finally, marketers are pissed that Facebook is downgrading organic feeds. Facebook slashes

The problem with all of these complaints is the fact that if your content is crap it doesn't matter how much you spend on social media, unless people find your content amusing, useful or thought provoking, NO ONE WANTS TO READ IT! 

What marketers forget is, before all this failure of their social efforts, was an uprising of users who said they were tired off getting spammed by all the crappy content marketers were forcing on them. Facebook, realizes that their bread and butter is based on positive user experience, and changed their algorithm to bring only the content the users showed interest in. But the marketers figured out how to game that change and the flood of crap content continued.  Marketers didn't learn the lesson and, in fact, refuse to change.

 So Facebook decided to tell them, "If you insist on filling feeds with crap, you are going to have to pay for the right."  What's more, they gave users new filter tools to make sure that those who refused to pay the toll got cut out of the herd.

There is a very easy fix for marketers and corporations who refuse to invest in real marketing: Make better content.  The problem, content is neither easy, nor free to create.  Someone who has spent decades honing the ability to crank out repetitive, self-serving content can't suddenly switch styles and become interesting and engaging.  That's why marketers, politicians (especially politicians), CEOs and venture capitalists need to swallow their pride and hire someone who can teach them how to communicate in the 21st Century, or do it or them.

And that's why Facebook has been doing Footwasher Media a solid.

Footwasher Media helps companies communicate effectively. What we do comes before marketing communications, public relations, advertising and sales collateral and makes it ALL more effective. We find the story that makes you unique and interesting. Find out more here.

Trustworthy content is in the best interests of corporations... and good for professional journalists

Media houses assume they are still trusted and that their move to “communities” filled with sponsor-developed content has not hurt that position. That assumption is misplaced.

It’s time to wrap up this series on truth and trust in content.  Over the past few posts I’ve talked about how truth appears differently to people, based on their personal perspective, and to report truth you need to view it from multiple angles.  I’ve also showed how modern media lacks the resources to gather that information adequately and how corporations, once dedicated to limiting that access through their marketing, now find it in their best interest to increase the flow of trusted information.  

Let me set the table.

Content marketing is not SEO. Tara Meehan’s post in iMedia Connection demonstrated how companies measure social on SEO metrics of clicks and unique visitors in the form of likes and followers, neither of which has the value they did 5 years ago.  This decreased value in SEO metrics is exacerbated by companies buying fake followers and B2B publishers paying people to comment and like content to boost their engagement.  This approach ultimately fails after a certain period of growth because those companies don’t provide anything worth reading.

Trust thrives in social media Brian Solis wrote recently that trust is the the most important issue in Brian-soliscontent development but corporations that focus on search to bring people to websites, fail to engender trust because people don’t trust corporate website content.  People trust people they know so that’s who they go to first.  Search comes after social now and social is all about content.

Tech journalism isn’t what it used to be.  Tom Foremski wrote that tech journalism has devolved to be a practice of product announcements rather than why those products exist and how native advertising is destroying the level of trust for third-party media. He stops short of pointing out that tech publications are so short of writers that they can do little else and native advertising is paying the bills, but his point is that the current paradigm has reduced the value of tech journalism.

That’s why this is a great time to be a journalist.

Media houses assume they are still trusted and that their move to “communities” filled with sponsor-developed content has not hurt that position.  That assumption is misplaced. Few people trust journalists in general and B2B corporate sales staff are learning that what shows up in the press is much less believable because native advertising is becoming harder to differentiate from independent reporting.  Rather than wonder what the media will do to reverse that trend, corporations are learning they can do the job better by hiring or contracting with experienced journalists to do what they do best: find the news and report it accurately. Corporations have more relevant sources of content than the media.  All they need is the personnel to turn that content into trustworthy media.

Some technology companies have started putting journalists on retainer to develop engaging content that builds relationship and trust for the corporation.  Others are hiring them outright to run content programs.  They don’t need million-reader circulations because they know who they want to reach and it’s much lower than a million. 

That is great news for all the journalists who want a position that gives them the time and resources to do what they’ve been trained to do and be paid what they are worth.  As I’ve said, corporations are already finding the value in independent, in-house and consultant journalists and they are paying top dollar for them.  Working with this new breed of journalism requires accepting a level of ethics and independence of thought not normally found in marketing departments but is absolutely necessary for a successful outcome.  If we can’t be independent, what we create has no value to the sponsor or the reader.

 Traditional third-party media businesses are becoming the training ground for new journalists.  There will be an ongoing market demand for product-announcement venues that reach thousands of users so the online and print pubs won’t be going away, but corporations don’t need those venues to establish relationships and trust within their customer base.  They need people who know how to find truth wherever it is and report it, be transparent, and act independently for the benefit of the community.

Trustworthy content is the core of Footwasher Media’s business.  If you are interested in moving your business communications into the 21st century, contact us today.


Your content can be fictitious and be truer than your data sheet

hat you have to realize is that to your customers, your view of the truth is nowhere near as important as theirs is to them. That seems like such an obvious statement, and I bet you think you actually know what your customers consider to be true. But from what I hear from customers and from advertisers and from readers, very few companies and publications actually have a clue regarding what those audiences consider to be truth.

In my last post I talked about the importance of understanding truth from other perspectives, rather than focusing only on yours.  Today I want to give you a specific example. 

Dan Lyons over at Hubspot wrote a blog post last month about the use of content to build trust and relationship by demonstrating truth... even though it was complete fiction.

You can see the video content produced by Google India on the blog, but briefly it was about how two young people in Pakistan and Lahore transcended national bigotry, politics and xenophobia using technology.  But the story itself may or may not have been true because it was obviously staged.  You don’t actually have to have a true-life story to demonstrate truth.  It was true in that it demonstrated the power of a technology, but it’s essence was not to sell anything but to show that, properly used, technology can overcome bad human traits.  It put technology in an appropriate context for the audience and gives them a call to action other than just asking for a sales call.  It makes them WANT to USE the product... which they can’t do unless they ask for the call.=

Imagine.  Somebody actually wanting a sales call.

As I said last week, truth is relative to everyone.  What you have to realize is that to your customers, your view of the truth is nowhere near as important as theirs is to them.  That seems like such an obvious statement, and I bet you think you actually know what your customers consider to be true.  But from what I hear from customers and from advertisers and from readers, very few companies and publications actually have a clue regarding what those audiences consider to be truth.

In a report published last April, DemandGen Report published their 2013 B2B Content Preferences Survey stating that while 92 percent of respondents said they were willing to accept vendor generated content as trustworthy, they are less likely to accept white papers and e-books as trustworthy content.  Why? Because a white paper is supposed to be an objective approach to solving a problem and will have no sales messages, but when was the last time you saw something like that?

The survey say that 72 percent of the respondents said sales-heavy content was a problem for trustworthiness, and 64% wanted B2B vendors to stop producing text-heavy pages and small print.  The majority (57.8%) of respondents agreed that B2B vendors focus too much on product specifications and not enough on the ability to solve specific business problems. 

The first step for any marketer in our new world of context-based, trustworthy content is to realize that what you see as true, is not to your customers.


A fatal flaw in your content marketing: You're boring

There's a change coming to your news feed on Facebook.  Boring content will be relegated to social media purgatory. Users should be happy about this, but companies using the social network to promote their company may be seeing failure in their content marketing.

It's been a poorly kept secret that Facebook games its Edgerank algorithm to favor companies that pay to promote content, but some companies have been able to get around paying for play by swamping their feeds with a constant flow of content, that is not only self serving but boring.  Now Facebook is saying if everyone is ignoring your spam, then they aren't going to let it rise in users newsfeed to any level of visibility.

That's not just true of companies, though.  The biggest criticism of Facebook is that people posting pictures of what they are eating or thinking is useless.  I've been seeing complaints lately of people saying they aren't seeing posts by friends and family anymore.  The change in the feed is the reason.  if you want to see a particular person's posts, you may actually have to go to their page on occasion and "like" some of what they are doing.  Whoever and whatever you ignore on a regular basis will be relegated to the bottom of the feed.  Conversely, whatever you pay attention to, comment on, share, etc. will begin to climb in your feed.

How do you get around relegation without being interesting? Pay for play, baby.

I have a company I'm working with that has decided to go a bit crazy with their promoted posts and are doing it two or three times a day.  They were crowing about the reach they get until the other day I pointed out that the complaints about spam are rising and showed them how many people are starting to "unlike" their page.

Facebook, however, is not alone in this movement.  Google is doing the same thing, only much more quietly, and Twitter is starting to make the same move.

So be advised: DON"T BE BORING.

If you have a problem with that, contact us.

Is advertising dead, too?

Reading about the Google quarterly report yesterday gave me the subject of today's post.  Google is seeing a continued slump in ad rates and reports are coming out that show that mobile and online advertising is not seen as much by consumers as some in the media have claimed.  Yet budgets on mobile and online advertising are climbing fast.  How long before advertisers realize they are not getting a decent ROI and start pulling back?

Of course, the knee jerk reaction is that the medium is at fault.  After all the content in the ads is the next thing to Shakespeare, right?

It seems to me, and there are studies that back this up, that the approaches to content are still mired in the belief that online and mobile media are still "mass media" with the goal of reaching out the the lowest common denominator.  Campaigns are fileld with the wrong content targeted at the wrong people most of the time, which marginalizes customers.

We recently had a meeting with a company that wanted help with their content, so they showed us their messages.  We showed them that their messages were exactly the same as five other companies in the industry (but not in their niche) with changes only to the name of the company and products.  How had they made such an error? They looked at what everyone else was saying and wanted to make sure they didn't confuse the customer, they said... which is exactly what they were doing.  After hiring a market research firm they discovered that their messaging with the opposite of what their customers needed to know.

It looks like companies may be on the verge of shooting the messenger when they should be looking at rewriting their message.


UBM Tech starting to show the strain

Don't get me wrong. The UBM sites produce good content ... right now. But you need people who know what good content is to produce it. I don't know, maybe that's the plan: force the content creators to go to the advertisers and then make them pay to put it on your titles. But what's to stop the advertisers from starting their own titles. Why should they pay?

We've been following a string of thought regarding the changes at UBM properties. I've personally avoided making any judgement on the philosophical approach the company has taken.  It is what it is. 

However, the recent round of layoffs really cut into the bone of their content development.  Calling Nic Mokhoff, Barbara Jorgenson and Bolaji Ojo redundant... even when you have all stars like Alex Wolfe, Patrick Mannion and Brian Fuller still on the team... is mindboggling to me.

UBM has had a habit of cutting back far too much and then having to rehire too fast.  (I remember when Dave Burskey was hired to replace Ron Wilson, after a gap of several months to cover semiconductors, and then laid Burskey off before a year was out) This time I think they may have gone too far and the opportunities for great journalists to work independently in corporations is going to thin the available talent very fast.

Recently Intel launched a site called the Intel Free Press. this is one of those efforts that is being called "branded but independent" journalism.  Yes, Intel is footing the bill, but they are leaving the editorial team alone in content development.  they don't have to worry about advertisers or revenue or even readership. They can concentrate on just making good content for the Intel ecosystem. What does Intel need with UBM publications and events now?

At Design West, the strain on UBM editors was palpable, and those former editors were exhulting in the freedom they had in the corporate walls.  That tells me UBM may have gone too far again.  Several years ago, I sat with Brian Fuller on a boat in San Diego and talked about his frustration with UBM's continual dismantling of staff.  A few months later he left the company and told me it was an issue of ethics.He just couldn't continue keep letting people go. After several years of checking the world out, he was lured back into UBM. Now he's in charge of a publication that has little resources.  He looks tired.  I'm wondering how long he's going to last this time.  At least now he won't be laying people off at EBN.  He's all there is of staff.  The rest are freelancers. We're going to see another significant personnel shift at UBM, but it won't be layoffs.  There are jobs out there for good journalists who are willing to think a little differently.

Don't get me wrong.  The UBM sites produce good content ... right now.  But you need people who know what good content is to produce it.  I don't know, maybe that's the plan: force the content creators to go to the advertisers and then make them pay to put it on your titles. But what's to stop the advertisers from starting their own titles.  Why should they pay?

Going to be an interesting year, for sure.  More to come.

Good content takes work.

Continuing on with our discussion on what makes good content, I want to give a big shout-out to Don Tuite from Electronic Design who provided, in a comment with an outstanding example of what it takes to make a good technical news story.

Don pointed out that when he does a piece, he does a fair amount of editorializing, but that is tempered by a lot of information from many sources.  That speaks to the issue if truth in content.  An opinion is not necessarily untrue and passes the test when it is backed up by information from both sides.  To get to that point, however, requires a helluva lot of work.

Don's outline of his process took not only days of research and discussion, but time to put it straight in his own head and then write down his perception of reality.  If lucky, he gets to do that 20 or 30 times a year.  There are about 5 editors in the industry like Don so we can count on about 150 stories with that kind of effort over the course of a year, tops.

And there are about 1500 of those kind of stories out there, every year.  We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg regarding what options there are for Don's industry.  And there are about 100 other related industries.

Do you see where the problem lies?  There are not enough objective journalists to filter all the material so it becomes the responsibility of content producers outside of the ranks of journalism to start becoming better at creating real content, based on truth. 

The audience has the responsibility of keeping up on what Don and his peers produce and then filter through all the news releases and marketing documentation that has not received the same careful scoping that a journalist will give it.  That raw data feeds the monster known as the World Wide Web and overwhelms millions of people through web search, RSS and email.  Corporate communicators can make that job easier by creating trustworthy content, not just trying to boost their product.  If they become know for producing trusted content, when they do boost their company, it will more likely be consumable to the audience.

And once communicators start solving their credibility problem, they need to start understanding where their audiences are going to want to consume that information.

In my previous post on this I said that journalists use subjective filters to stem the flood of data.  I know one editor that will not accept emails from anyone he does not already know and trust.  Another can only be reached through direct messages on Twitter.  There are many who refuse to take emails, and phone calls and rely only on search tools.  Each journalist has chosen one or more ways to control the flow of information, just as a matter of survival. The audience, likewise, is increasingly using modern media to filter out the dross.  These new filters are as arbitrary and subjective as the journalists, maybe even more so.

There was a phrase I heard many times in various forms while working as a PR pro: "(1) We don't really need media relations or PR help because (2) our customers are engineers and (3) engineers talk to each other."  Part two is still true of these folks and Part three was true to a degree 10 years ago. Part one has never been true but is even a bigger untruth today.

Media relations is a very big need in the engineering industries because engineers are talking to each other more than ever and they are doing it over social media.  The Society of Automotive Engineers released a survey in 2010 that showed engineers have widely adopted social media as a means of discussing and investigating engineering options and products  I'm not talking about email and bulletin boards.   

The survey reported that, "In North America, 70% of respondents use Facebook versus 59% globally; and 67% of North American respondents use LinkedIn as opposed to 46% globally, according to the findings. YouTube is more popular among mobility engineers globally -- 45% said they use the site as opposed to only 29% in North America."

This isn't about those "damned kids," either.  Age did not play a significant role in determining one site over another.

Those engineers are sharing content they have found that they consider valid or needs discussion.  What they are not sharing is most of the marketing content being produced by the companies targeting their business.  

In 2009, The Napier partnership (a British PR firm) did a study on usage os social media by engineers and did an update in 2011.  They found social media usage grew dramatically among engineers in the electronic design industry but, at the same time, those engineers were increasingly dissatisfied by the quality of the content.  In other words, they were tired of press releases and marcom brochures. 

And that's the point of this post.  Your customers want real information, vetted and/or created by qualified communicators (preferably journalists) who spend time finding the real story.  If you lack the time, skill and resources to create that kind of content, you need to hire some one who does.  Don't wait until your publicist sets up a meeting at a trade show; don't crank out another press release; and don't fret over the hyperbole of another brochure until you do.  And once you figure that out, you need to figure out where those customers are getting that stuff.  I have an idea for you that I normally charge people for.  I'll tell you about it next time.


What makes content good?

Good content has to be about something you know, and that cuts out 99 percent of the stuff in social media.

My last post on content as the driver of successful online programs got a relatively lively discussion over on my Facebook page and young Anton Molodetskiy (rhymes with "my broken jet ski") at the Hoffman Agency suggested I follow up with a post on what makes content "sharable."  Then a long time compatriot, Don Tuite (the analog guru at Electronic Design magazine) tossed out a bunch of questions.

"What about content nobody can find because it only shows up on page 10 of the search results? What about content that isn't true, but is truthy? If content is crowd-sourced, is it true? What makes for a 'trusted source.'?"

So, at the risk of giving away the store, because helping companies do this is my business, it's probably a good idea to get into this.  Let's start with Don's last question.

First, good content has to be about something you know, and that cuts out 99 percent of the stuff in social media.  Let's say, for argument's sake, that you are well versed in the subject of your content and that you are quite passionate about it.  This can describe almost any marketing person.

Second, you have to know what makes your audience excited about the subject matter.  This weeds out a LOT of corporate content because most marketing managers have no clue what the customer base really needs.  Their job is to tell the customer, tell them again and then tell them one more time what the company wants them to hear.  Truth is a luxury.  You may be one of those rare people who does understand the customer base but there are so many out there that don't that just by being an employee of a company cuts deeply into your credibility with the customer.  You will have to go a long way to convince them otherwise.  Social media can help with that, if you are willing to make the effort and/or investment in the process.

What makes for a "trusted source" is a relationship based on mutual respect.  While I was doing the PR thing, there were several journalists who would call me up and ask about a certain subject knowing that if one of my clients could not provide insight, I would provide contact information and introductions to sources even if they were not a client.  There were several who told me they would take my calls, even if I hadn't talked to them in a couple of years, because they "knew" I wouldn't call unless I had something interesting.  What made me get out of the PR thing was the complete lack of substance I was seeing coming out of the clientele and their absolute disrespect of the media.  Which was par for the course because they really didn't respect their customers either, for the most part.

You don't get to be a trusted source just because you can write stuff and post it on the interweb tubes.  You get there by knowing what you communicate about and respect your audience enough to know what they need to hear.  Journalists are good at that because they are not directly reliant on revenue from the company they are writing about.  Their audience may not agree with their perspective, but they generally trust that the journalist made some effort to look at the story as objectively as possible.

So if you're objective and independent that makes you a trusted source?  Nope.  It still goes back to the relationship.  When Don writes about technology, people read his stuff because (1) they have been reading the magazine he writes for for a while and (2) Don's stuff is what they are interested in.  They may not even know Don's name, but the source of the information (the publication) is trusted.  If Don were to change his style and start boosting certain companies' tech without regard for balance, the readers would soon stop trusting the source... and Electronic Design would find someone else to write the stuff.  That takes work because relationships take work.

Coming soon,  "Truthiness is a myth."

Does Facebook actually work? Depends...on you

There was a significant kerfuffle last week as General Motors' pulled their advertising from Facebook, with prognosticators pointing to the failure of Facebook as a marketing tools.  Having been recently in the market for a new car, and having bought a GM car in the end, I can say with certainty that GM's use of Facebook advertising really sucked.  And Ford's was much better.

Once I started online research for my car I started noticing ads for car manufacturers popping up on FB.  I noticed that GM ads were pretty standard.  Essentially, they said, "buy our car."  I was not impressed.  Then there was this one ad I found that didn't even mention who it was from.  It was a link to an article about the raw materials that go into electric vehicles.  I was considering EVs so I clicked on it.  It took me to a another manufacturers site, but not an ad. it was actually an article about the raw materials used in EVs.  And that gave me and opportunity to go check the specs of an EV for that manufacturer.

The bottom line was I was engaged in what the other manufacturer offered as content and I considered their offering for an EV.  Now, in the end, I chose a GM car because of other reasons, but I was not helped by what GM tried to sell me through Facebook.

That's the issue with social media.  Using it like a typical advertising platform will end in failure. Using it as a promotional tool alone will end in failure.  Offering real content that helps people make a decision succeeds.

If your social platform is not delivering results for you, don't blame the platform.  Get someone in with some perspective and look at your content

The value of content

The term “return on investment” (ROI) gets bandied about a lot in my business, as in “what’s the ROI of you service?”  We all know what that questions is supposed to mean: how much money can I make back from what I pay you?  But no matter how many statistics and case studies you throw at the questioner, the real question is: “How little can I actually pay you for your service?”

I’ve started answering that question with another question: What is your content worth?  If the customer can answer that question, I can better answer their original question.

Every company, especially engineering-driven companies, says their content has immense “value.”  They believe that their customers have an absolute need to hear what they have to say.  It is so vital that the customers very existence depends on purchasing a particular product or service.  At least, that’s generally how they answer the question.  But they can’t put a monetary value on that content.  They can assign a monetary value to their product.  They can justify the price with studies and statistics and benchmarks.  But they have no idea how to valuate their story.  So I break it down for them this way:

If the customer won’t pay to read your content, if the media won’t pay to publish your content, and if you wont pay the media to publish your content... then your content has no value.  And if I promise a 10X return on your investment in proliferating your content, 10 times 0 is still 0.  So the ROI will be 0.

At this point of the conversation, they state that they are making an investment in my services, which is a good point, but that’s where we come back to my original question.  So what is the value of your content?

If you go cheap on your investment in content generation, management and distribution, you won’t get much in return.  On average - 9 times out of 10 - a technology start-up doesn’t want to spend more than $500 on the development and distribution of a news release (possibly the most worthless piece of content any company can ever make), including the cost of the wire service.  Over the years I have determined that even the most incompetent execution of a communications strategy can net a 5X ROI.  So by that measure, the $500 investment can net a $2500 ROI.  

 And that is the value of most content.  You have to determine if that is worth your time and effort.