Last week, I had the pleasure of attending San Diego AMA’s latest event: Breaking Through Social Media Clutter at the sleek, eco-friendly San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) Energy Innovation Center in San Diego. We covered the latest in hashtag happenings and talked about what drives online engagement. I walked away feeling refreshed, excited and inspired by the expert panel of speakers: Bill Vieux of Casual Fridays, David Lawrence from SDG&E, and Rob Marlbrough of Fandom Marketing & WP Web Wizards. There were too many good takeaways to keep to myself, so I thought I’d share!
Social media is a blur of tweets, shares and content. And, as a marketer, it’s exhausting to try to keep up with them all. No longer is it just used by the young and the restless. It is global and the number of users is growing by the second. Currently, there are now more than 1.15 billion Facebook users, 550 million registered Twitter users, 20 million active Pinterest users, and 150 million active monthly Instagram users. These are dizzying statistics. SDG&E’s David Lawrence put it best:
— Karisa Macias (@KarisaMacias) October 24, 2014
So what can we do about this?
Publishing content on a regular basis are always two big challenges of inbound marketing for a variety of reasons. As a solution, an editorial content calendar is important in managing the content marketing process and making sure content is delivered and integrated. Share this calendar with your peers, get them excited about it, and you may just secure a hot, new source for content!
Make your images and copy engaging. Most people describe themselves as visual learners. We all receive those loooonng text-based communications and—let’s be honest—we don’t hardly read them. These would be much more effective if the same information was presented in an image-based format. The impact of images in social media is remarkable. Just consider the following statistics, thanks to Kari Pritchard at Search Engine People:
- 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook are images
- 65% of users prefer emails featuring images (only 35% prefer text)
- Posts on Google Plus are three times more likely to be shared when they contain images
- People remember only 20% of what they read but 80% of what they see
- 60% of consumers are more likely to consider businesses whose local listings contain images
Be Relevant and Useful
As marketers, it’s our job to know our audience. We should know them so well that we should be able to produce content that resonates with their desires and drivers. If we understand their motivations for visiting our website, opening our emails, or researching our products, we can create relevant and engaging content that should hopefully get them closer to converting. Understanding their motivations is VERY important.
Another way consumers are more likely to engage with your brand is to solve their problems—including those they didn’t know they had! While on Twitter, marketers should not only answer a question, but develop a relationship with a follower. Ask questions back and keep the conversation going. Don’t just let it be a onetime response, or worse yet: a non-response. One of my favorite audacious writers, Ashley Ambirge, summarizes this perfectly in her latest blog post:
“Because nobody has time to cut through the noise themselves–your words have to do it for them. Nobody is going to sit down and figure out what you’re trying to say–you have to say it. Nobody is going to tolerate dismissive, curt, unprofessional communications–you have to be a class act (even when you feel like screaming). And nobody is going to care about experiencing whatever it is you’re selling–unless you care about their experience first.”
Sometimes the best stories we can tell about our products are through real people. It’s important that we create relatable content and tell the story without actually hitting them over the head with the story. Content is gold. However, creating content is time-consuming and often very expensive. User-generated content (UGC) is a more affordable and engaging way for businesses to produce content without breaking the bank.
What about organic reach?
When the topic of organic reach came up, Rob Marlbrough said it best: “Facebook has become similar to a drug cartel, they control everything.” Marketers have been complaining for some time that organic reach no longer exists on social media and that brands have to pay-to-play if they want to engage with their target audience. However, data published by Ogilvy showed that organic reach on brand pages had plummeted to just 6%.
Although organic social reach isn’t dead yet, it certainly has slowed. Ultimately paid will get your more exposure, and you can do sophisticated targeting with your reach as low as $30/day. Love them or hate them, hashtags are a great way to cut through the digital clutter and help people sort through a series of posts to zero in on what is important to them.
— San Diego AMA (@SanDiegoAMA) October 24, 2014
Another great way to reach more people and create engagement are with contests. It simply comes down to producing content that is both relevant to your audience and tied to long-term business goals rather than chasing virality and looking for immediate wins.
Here are some tools recommended by the speakers to help break through the clutter:
- ITTT – a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: if this then that.
- Canva – a simple new way to design
- Sprout Social – a social media management tool created to help businesses find new customers and grow their social media presence
- Buffer – the easiest way to publish on social media
- ScheduGram – Instagram made easy for brands
- Hootsuite – Enhanced social media management
- Radian6 – helps companies listen to what people are saying about them online and engage
- sprinklr – a social software platform for large enterprises
Final words of advice:
David Lawrence: “Social media is not the silver bullet to solve all your problems and it’s not free, but there’s a lot of potential. Just try it, measure it, and be active, and there will be a lot of opportunities for success!”
Rob Marlbrough: “Social media works best in conjunction with all other efforts. It’s not a silo. Integrate it into your marketing to boost your overall marketing strategy.”
Bill Vieux – “Incorporate social media on and offline. Use an editorial calendar and focus on an engaged audience, not your follower count.”
People are hungry for useful, educational, informational content. They don’t want your sales pitch. The fact that people are spending so much time on social media presents incredible opportunity for marketers – break through the clutter!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karisa Macias serves as the Marketing Manager for Rio SEO. Karisa is a professional with nearly a decade of experience in the implementation and management of integrated marketing plans. In addition to leading marketing efforts for Rio SEO, she also uses her extensive experience in her role as the VP of Communications for the San Diego chapter of the American Marketing Association.