Content and social media have always been my core focus in digital marketing and the combo of the two drives my inspiration. After nearly 6 years of writing this blog (and consuming thousands of posts on the subject), I’ll admit that I’m guilty of certain assumptions. We all know what happens when we assume and I hope that what I’m about to talk about will inspire you to question your own assumptions.
One of the toughest assumptions is that we all tend to think everyone is like us. As marketers, we can’t understand why many large and small businesses have not progressed in their adoption to content and social media marketing.
After all, a great many consumers have progressed into social so why not the businesses who serve them?
A portion of the content I regularly consume is data-focused and it only feeds the fire. Just this week eMarketer released a study saying 88 percent of U.S. companies will utilize at least one social-media network for marketing this year. That’s the stuff of hope right there.
This is just one of a seemingly endless amount of data pointing to the fact that content and social media are what drive search and buying decisions.
It would seem then that, as a business, you’d want to participate in that process by adopting certain marketing strategies to achieve your goal of capturing more leads and sales.
Which brings me to a quandary that’s been eating at my insides for quite a while:
- Why haven’t more businesses adopted content and social media as valuable marketing tools?
- Why are some who have accepted content and social media, so hell bent on doing it so wrong?
As you guys know, I come from the car business and serve automotive clients at Kruse Control. This is my frame of reference but I’d bet that there are many more industries where this quandary is rampant, too.
In my travels I come across applicable situations where failure didn’t have to be the outcome.
Increased awareness kills assumptions.
In the following two cases, assumptions abound. I’d imagine every participant had no idea they were failing as miserably as they were. But that doesn’t absolve them from responsibility. If you’ve got toilet paper hanging out of your pantyhose after a trip to the ladies’ room, and you don’t realize it, you still look silly, right?
1. Opportunity Lost with Mass Content Syndication
There are still vendors that will sell business owners on the myth that any kind of content is good on social media. In this case, it’s an auto manufacturer who’s bought into this fantasy and “recommended it” to their dealer network on a national scale.
About 6 months ago, this specific and not unique program to push “content” to dealer social media sights was introduced. It was supposed to “Amplify social efforts and elevate engagement on your social channels.” (BTW, be careful of weasel words like these in sales pitches).
The result of this endeavor? Daily identical posts on every one of this manufacturers’ US dealership’s social media channels, with each posted at the same time!
In other words, meaningless interruptions pushed out to dealership fans/followers en masse, thereby differentiating no one and nothing…and in some cases, even diluting the perception of credibility.
Now, there’s a lot of snake oil out there in every industry when it comes to content and social media. But snake oil doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It takes lack of buyer insight, creativity, understanding, skill and in some cases, just plain laziness to agree to publish it.
We have to do better than this.
Opportunity to Gain With Quality Content and Social Media
Ask any marketer that’s worth their salt if you can scale quality content and the answer will be 100% NO. Quality content comes from:
- The customer experience stories that happen everyday inside your business.
- Your business’ recognition and response to buyer questions and feedback.
- Illustration of your core values and why people buy from you, rather than your competitor.
None of that can be done on a grand scale by a company who knows (or cares) little about your business and sells you on the idea that social media is where you need to be.
If you’re not absolutely sure why people buy from you and you don’t have the means to identify and address your customers’ questions, then for goodness sake, stay off social media. It’s not for everybody. It’s a medium to engage your customers, not an old-timey, one-way advertising channel.
If you do believe that content and social media are valuable to your business, and you have the means to execute a solid content strategy that includes organizational development, then spend your efforts and budget where it counts. Get advice from a credible source, set up goals, measure KPI’s and then harvest the leads and sales.
2. Opportunity Lost on a Ride and Drive
Auto manufacturers periodically invite dealership employees to demo new models and features. One such “Ride and Drive” was held last week to present a new model with some amazing technology that everyone would love to see, whether they were a buyer for the vehicle or not.
My client was at that meeting and was filming a video to post on their social media to show how cool it was and to get people excited about it. All of a sudden, one of the technicians ran up to him and said, “You can’t film that!” My client asked, “Why not?” and the technician’s reply was, “Just Google this video here and it’ll explain.”
My client looked up the aforementioned video and sure enough, it was video of another manufacturer’s horrendous technology failure where people got hurt. It had nothing really to do with my client’s situation (or the manufacturer’s) but too late – fear set it and they didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
So much for spontaneous, user-generated content to show the value in the product.
The only “video” that would be produced then on this subject would from the manufacturer’s mouth. Their plan might be to roll out a slick, pretty video to every dealer in the US and that would thereby obliterate any chance of any dealership differentiating themselves with unique content.
We have to do better that this.
Opportunity to Gain with a Ride and Drive
A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is. It’s what consumers tell each other it is.
There are typically 100-200 dealership employees at Ride and Drives. Imagine how interesting and cool it might have been to let everyone film what they wanted to that day.
This auto manufacturer could have:
- Reaped the benefits of user-generated content (consumers telling each other what it is).
- Gained amazing insight into the literal application of the technology (after all, these employees are “boots on the ground” intelligence).
- Benefited from publication of those images and video in their marketing of the new vehicle model.
- Crowdsourced future ideas on content that would benefit all involved, including the car salesperson who wants to project expertise on his or her personal brand channels (Social Selling opportunities).
Content and social media work in tandem to create credibility, trust and a feeling of connectedness to your business. I KNOW you can do better than this. It takes awareness and asking the right questions. Yes, it’s hard to do but the benefits and results are huge.
Do what’s right, not what’s easy.