Online marketing, and in particular social media, is something many firms struggle to understand. It can be hard to discern why it matters to them and their audiences.
We have addressed this in the past with whitepapers and encouraged firms to start making inroads into platforms that are becoming a must for modern work environments.
Even if you have taken the plunge, set up your channels, and are now elbows deep in social media posts and blogging platforms, we’re going to assume you’re struggling with two things, like most:
1. Providing consistent, engaging content.
2. Employee participation.
These two things are hopelessly entangled and one feeds the other.
First off, we all know that you need to write content which reflects your brand identity and is appealing to your audience. What this actually translates into in terms of the message and the platform varies for firms and their unique brand identities and target markets. Often, producing this content falls upon a thought leader or a member of the marketing team who already has plenty of work to do.
This approach, while ensuring ownership and quality, can mean too little content is produced and/or content is repetitive or overly focused. People write or provide content from the comfortable streams of their own knowledge, which may or may not live up to the company’s brand identity and image. A well-rounded brand personality, along with variety, can vanish if it all falls upon one person’s shoulders.
But getting people from other busy departments or backgrounds involved can be tough, for a number of reasons.
Dictated content tends to fall flat.
It’s pointless to hand a designer a document with a synopsis and technical data and expect them to translate it into a readable blog post or meaningful social content. This is an extreme example, but we do know that sticking to a content calendar causes apathy. Plus, it’s boring. The research is overwhelming, the writer’s confidence drops, and contributing content becomes a pain point instead of an exciting opportunity to share.
Message: Let the expert drive the content, instead of forcing the content to steer the expert.
People tend to write about what they know or about what they love.
Let them, within reason. People won’t want to participate if they’re not interested in the topic or content. Sure, the topic might not meet the immediate needs of the audience or marketing goals, but audiences have indirect needs too. The people consuming your content are individuals with their own interests and perhaps an article that might seem only peripherally relevant can still be valid, as long as you are not constantly looking for a hook. Sometimes, a more experienced writer or marketing person can edit a post to tie it back to a key message or brand positioning statement before publication. Now your stream gets more engaging content and it comes from a fresh angle.
Message: You can’t force it, so don’t try.
People share links that are entertaining, beautiful or informative.
If someone on your staff finds a relevant article or image to be inspiring, there is a high probability that someone in your audience does too. This makes it worth sharing. Maybe chose a social media channel where your team can let their hair down a bit. For example, your Facebook page could showcase your people, their interests and creative inspirations, while keeping another social platform for brand, sales or marketing focused articles. It’s important that your official channel holders still vet the content to make sure it’s appropriate for sharing on social media and possibly tie it into a firm project or initiative when possible. At the very least, proofing and checking for clarity is important.
Message: Keep content within a realm of relevant topics, while allowing for individuality and letting people take some creative license.
Content providers are not necessarily gifted writers.
Your PR or marketing person can worry about turning out perfectly crafted phrases. Not all the content your team produces for your social channels is going to be masterfully written unless you’re blessed with a full staff of talented writers. Instead, focus on making sure the content is error-free, crisp and easily understood. Remember that social sharing is quick and while quality matters, perfection isn’t necessary. People embrace vulnerability, as long as it’s still professional.
Message: Releasing staff from the pressure of being a “writer” enables them to share freely and be more open to the idea of participating in the first place.
What is preventing you and your team from getting more involved in social media? Tell us your obstacles or share what has worked for your firm in the past.