There may be benefits to spending money on social media. But what are the benefits?
As it turns out, it’s not very clear.
According to AdAge, only 11.5% of marketers can prove the quantitative impact of social media. I doubt I’m alone in finding this number less than reassuring as a business metric.
I don’t want to find myself on the bad side of my marketing friends and colleagues. So I’m not going to dwell on the rather low number found in the paragraph above this one.
You can do the math.
Social Media Isn’t What It Used To Be.
Remember when a business could post on Facebook, or the like, without having to pay for anyone to see it?
Those days are long gone.
It may seem ironic to post this article on LinkedIn. I’m actively participating in social media marketing. And you’re engaging! But LinkedIn is a different beast, made quite apparent by recent falls in stock prices and revenue scrutiny.
I recently worked with a client to increase web traffic to their online properties. Our approach was to tackle two main areas: social networking (the client’s want) and search engine optimization (my want).
Less than two months into our support contract, the client was not happy about the lack of traffic from social media posts. They were not only disappointed by the low number of impressions these social networks claimed the posts were receiving, but even less happy with the ridiculously small funnel of traffic given the cost.
At the same time, by taking an organic approach to content strategy and search engine optimization, they’ve found themselves in the top three Google results in several keyword phrases. The traffic coming from search engines has risen steadily and bookings have increased.
Sales are up. Literally.
Rather than continuing to dog on social media, I’d like to highlight the very real, very trackable, very analytical results of content strategy and search engine optimization.
An Idiot’s Guide To Content Strategy.
Are there specific people you want to sell to? Do you have a target audience identified? If they found your website, would they be able to do what you want them to do? Easily?
This might sound rather elementary. In a way, it’s very basic. I’ll reference my favorite professional acronym: KISS.
Keep It Simple, Stupid.
I’m going to throw out a number. Let’s say, 50%. This number is based on years of experience in business web strategy and interactive marketing. 50% of the content on any given website probably doesn’t need to be there.
As someone who’s trying to explain what you sell/offer/love to others, you probably think this number is over-inflated. “But they need to know this! All of this is information is helpful!”
I can guarantee you, as someone who isn’t selling/offering/loving what you do, the more irrelevant information available there is to me, the less likely I am to become a conversion statistic for your organization.
Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Pick three or four user personas, the people you really want buying your product or service. Create a pathway for these people to follow when visiting your website. Offer solutions to problems, not a list of products. I may know zilch about you or your company. A list of 30 products I know nothing about is not helping. I may just give up.
Meanwhile, your competitor helped me find a solution to my problem in the first minute I spent on their website.
Does your website even ask people to do anything? Of course most people are aware of the call to action concept – Click here for a free trial!
Do your call to actions align with your conversion goals? If you want people to download a free trial it’s probably not the best approach to suggest they call your sales number, or visit your Facebook page, or search your resource database. Rather, come straight out and tell them to download a free trial.
Keep it simple, stupid.
I’m not going to give away the entire process of creating a stellar content strategy. After all, I have bills to pay. But increasing your conversion rate even 5% is probably way more profitable than any social media campaign. I’m willing to bet my career on it.
Organic SEO Really Works. Really!
While I’m boasting about the positive outcomes from search engine optimization (SEO), please understand I am not talking about some discount-Craigslist-posting-SEO-magician who will magically shoot you to the top of Google search results.
I’m talking about learning Google’s rules and playing by them.
One example: Domain Authority. Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz which predicts how well a website will rank on search engines.
When my work was featured on About.com, our website received an increase in traffic not only from the article itself, but because Google recognizes About.com as a reputable website and elevates relevant links and content.
It may not be possible for you to be featured on industry leading websites, which is totally okay. There are many other ways of generating a buzz.
Another example: Compelling blog content. A blog can be your most powerful tool in harnessing the power of search engine optimization.
Publishing content relevant to your customers is the best way to get online traffic. If you provide timely and appropriate substance using desirable keywords while adding titles to your assets and regularly submitting new information to Google, they will reward you for playing by the rules.
How outside the box.
Often times all this takes from a client perspective is some honest-to-goodness training on how to properly administer the CMS your organization uses. When considering any web development project, prioritize content training internally. It is important to not only know how, but why.
After all, what good is a tool no one knows how to use properly?
What Did We Learn, Children?
Social networks serve a purpose: to network socially.
In the case of LinkedIn, it’s professionally. If you insist on marketing on other social media platforms, you need to provide content which moves people. Your latest product plug alone will probably not go viral.
A comprehensive content strategy will provide clear direction.
Avoid over-saturation of information about everything having anything to do with your company on your website. What a sentence! It’s hard to find the needle a potential client is looking for in a complicated haystack.
Playing by Google’s rules will pay off in the long run.
Google spends an incomprehensible amount of money ensuring folks don’t scam the system. Don’t for a minute think you’ll fool Google in the age of the Internet. You won’t, and your marketing folks should know better.
Would you like an audit of your content and SEO efforts? We can provide a report with recommended updates to improve your search engine results. Contact us to find out more information.
This article was written by Chris Bordeaux, featured on LinkedIn.