5 ways to a better Facebook strategy

5 ways to a better Facebook strategy

Over the weekend I was doing some research on content strategy for Facebook and how to leverage on the platform to promote your firm’s brand presence.

There are different opinions about this, but I think it is safe to say that you’ll be well on your way to a solid, sensible plan for promoting your plan on Facebook if you can do the following:

  1. Decide on who your ideal reader is and tailor your content for that reader.
  2. Every single piece of content you share should support your brand image.
  3. Focus on the right thing: the quality of Likes is more important than their quantity.
  4. Try to have less than 2 posts per day on average.
  5. Realise the importance of planning and give the plan sufficient time to prove itself (or not)

#1: Audience

If you can accurately identify your target/ideal audience, you are more likely to focus on the content that appeals to your readers. For example, if I aim to target working professional women who are also the main caregivers of their aged parents, I would focus on content that they would find meaningful and relevant – health tips for the elderly, skills to prevent caregiver burnout, medical resources on geriatric conditions, etc.

What I would not do is to flood my Facebook with posts about travel and spas and jetsetting lifestyles – unless I was able to tie it back to my audience and tell them, Look, going on a short break could recharge you and give you that breathing space you need, so that you are more present to your family when you come back. It’s not wrong to want to showcase all your content – but do it sensibly.

#2: Support your brand message at all times

Ask yourself: What is your brand trying to say? What does it want to be known for? If your brand has no identity, what is likely to happen is that the content on the brand’s Facebook page will be an incoherent mish-mash. That is not a good thing, because your audience will abandon you sooner or later – you’re not adding any value to their lives.

To put it another way, why would you stick around with someone who throws you a travel piece on day, an education supplement the next, a video on CSR the day after, and a feature on a cafe after that? If a human being did this to you, you’d probably run away – unless you know that person very well and can see all these things as parts of his/her personality. However, if you are a relative unknown, you should spend your efforts on building a recognizable brand for yourself, instead of trying to imitate James McAvoy in ‘Split’.

Support your brand with most – if not all – of your Facebook posts. If you are reaching out to the advertising heads of the leading companies in your industry, ask: what kind of content would they like to see? What kind of content will showcase you in the best possible light to these people? What would add value to their Facebook feed?

#3. Quality over quantity

To put it simply, it is far more effective to have only 10 followers – all of whom represent your target audience – who actively click on and share your content, than 1,000 followers who ‘Hide’ your content or scroll right past it on Facebook without giving it a second look. Your energies should be geared towards cultivating that coveted group of KOLs and influencers in your industry, rather than random strangers who will ‘Like’ a page for the sake of ‘liking’ something.

#4. Experiment with having less posts a day

In a fascinating article on Forbes, the writer posits that the ‘2 posts a day’ rule on Facebook doesn’t quite apply to pages with less than 10k followers:

According to a study from Hubspot.com, if you have  smaller following, posting twice a day will actually result in about 50% fewer clicks per post.

This means that, your total number of clicks will still be higher than if you were posting only a few times a week, but your engagement per post will be reduced.

Conversely, if you post a mere 1-5 times a month, your clicks per post will almost double. This is one of the fastest ways to get more traffic to your site, set set a goal and get posting.

– Neil Patel, “How Frequently You Should Post on Social Media According to the Pros”

What this possibly means is that, while you are figuring out your audience, you could also take the opportunity to post less and see if this strategy works for you. Remember, it’s not about total clicks, it is about engagement per post.

#5. Recognize the crucial role of planning

A plan is not optional. A plan to improve your Facebook strategy will not simply fall into place by magic – you need to think it through and work it out.

There are a myriad ways to plan, but not planning isn’t an option. If you need to buy time to create a better strategy, by all means do that. But set a timeline, set some goals, and work towards them. The human tendency to inertia means that if you don’t set goals, you’ll just drift along aimlessly and stay in the exact position you are in – with a Facebook page that is simply eating up resources but not giving your organisation any ROI, brand recognition or disseminating your content to the right audiences.

A failure to plan is a plan to fail. This is cliche, but it is so true when it comes to creating a FB strategy.

Links:

How Frequently You Should Post on Social Media According to the Pros

Creating your social media strategy +plan

How to use Facebook to improve your content marketing

The 4 essentials to building your brand on social media

How to use Facebook in your content marketing strategy

Facebook marketing strategy: Why you need one (& how to build it)

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If there’s one thing you can learn…

… about content marketing from Bernie Sanders’campaign, it’s the importance of substance.

Jacob McMillan has written a great, easy-to-read analysis on why Sanders’ marketing campaign was so brilliant. He sums it up in 4 words: “He’s selling the steak”.

Simply put, Sanders showed that he had substance. Style, while present, was of secondary import. This is at odds with conventional marketing wisdom, which typically espouses style or ‘flash’ over almost anything else, says McMillan.

I admit that I did not pay particular attention to the minutiae of Sanders’ campaign during the presidential campaign – my mind had already been made up and nothing would sway it. However, in the few instances when I actually came across Sanders’messages, I was struck by their clarity and their significance. They made sense. They presented facts. They presented (a) truth. They weren’t easily dismissed. They were not mere fluff.

McMillan further argues that Sanders’ delivery was especially compelling, because it reached the target audiences where they are:

Identify where your audience spends its time and what it is they are consuming, then give them content that looks like that. You might have far more success with a few Instagram graphics than you ever had with your 4,000 word blog posts. It all depends on where your audience is.

Right now, our audience is on mobile. Logically, we should be adopting a mobile-first approach, but that has yet to happen. We are still not thinking in terms of what our end-users desire.

And this quote is a gem. I should print it out and paste it on the office walls:

Content” is an incredibly vague term. Youtube videos are “content”, but if your target audience doesn’t watch Youtube videos, creating a well-produced series of videos won’t accomplish anything for your business.

We need to be strategic about the content we are producing. We need to go where are readers are, serve them what they want and need, instead of producing an epic that might be award-winning, but which few people bother to read.

Do read the rest of McMillan’s piece, which talks about other successful content marketing campaigns.

Link:

6 Exceptional Content Marketing Examples You Should Emulate In 2016

3 pointers from Forbes’ piece on content marketing trends

3 pointers from Forbes’ piece on content marketing trends

3 key quotes from Mike Templeman:

Simply blogging to have a blog or updating social media for the sake of it won’t cut it anymore. You need to engage with your audience and tell them a story.

I wonder how often we do something just for the sake of doing it. Trying out new technology just because it’s new (and not because it will create value for the end user), writing for the sake of writing, adding ‘interactive features’ just because they are interactive (and not because any reader will bother to interact). We get caught up in the novelty of something, so much so that we fail to ask the basic question: how does this add value to the end user?

More and more consumers are consuming more content on tablets and mobile phones.  But really, if we’re still talking about optimizing for mobile, then we’re having the wrong conversation. This study is really telling us that everything must be mobile first. Design and create for mobile consumption.

We are still a long way off from a mobile first approach. Our primary mode is still to focus on desktop even though fewer readers use that nowadays. I wonder if the only way to break this ingrained mentality is to force everyone to work using tablets and smartphones from time to time.

Don’t just make content to make content. But rather, outline your customer’s journey and then create the content that will help move them from one stage to the next. If they’re using the content to make a decision, then ensure the content you provide is guiding that decision.

I first came across the concept of user journeys during UX training. Admittedly it is not something that I’m very clear about, but it makes sense to tailor content for different parts of the journey. If we can’t go that far, then at the least, we should plot out the user journey and identify where our content is supposed to go, and how can it amplified for maximum impact.

This all ties in with John Lavine’s message – engage your user and be strategic about it.

Link:

Forbes: Content Marketing Trends – What To Expect In 2017 And Beyond

Content strategy: Some learnings from Northwestern University

Content strategy: Some learnings from Northwestern University

Several months ago, I participated in a Coursera course on content strategy by Northwestern University. The first of a five-part series, the course laid down basic principles that all content strategists need to be aware of.

Here are some quotes by John Lavine from the course (emphasis mine). I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  1. It’s tempting to put your energies into turning out lots of content that matters to you. But it’s not smart and it’s not strategic.  
  2. Whether you like it or not, target audiences you want to reach will only give you the smallest amount of time and attention. So if your organization’s strategic goals are gonna be met, your content should only be sent if it is a central part of those priorities.  
  3. The content the organization wants to deliver should have value for the intended audience and it has to be told in an engaging way, where, when and how the audience wants it. If this doesn’t happen, the audience won’t pay attention.  
  4. Taking up people’s time with non-strategic content is not only wasteful, it teaches the important audiences that you want to reach to pay no attention to everything you say.
  5. People’s emotional and cognitive limitations are real. They can only attend to a certain number of topics deeply at one time. So people only pay attention to topics when they’re motivated to do so. People will only learn about things that they’re motivated to learn about.

I find that a lot of what passes for content marketing falls into the trap of #1. Neither smart nor strategic, we simply churn out content to meet the demands of clients without asking basic questions like “Is this truly useful or interesting to our reader?”

We are at a real risk of #4 – over time we risk eroding our brand because people start to associate our content with irrelevance. I have lost track of the number of times users told me that our content are “just ads”, and they will simply gloss over them without even bothering to read the headline.

Users aren’t giving us the time of the day. What can we do about it?

Link:

Coursera: Content Strategy for Professionals: Engaging Audiences by Northwestern University

The move towards distributed content

The move towards distributed content

Readers are increasingly moving away from publishers’ websites and accessing content via social media, noted a recent white paper by the American Press Institute.

Publishers need to accept this paradigm shift and embrace the new opportunities it represents; while this shift is scary, it also means that you can (and should) reach a far larger audience than your publication’s limited base.

Interesting quotes from the white paper:

Distributed content is any content that a publisher creates to live “natively” on an outside platform without directing any traffic back to your domain. This could mean allowing Facebook or Google to host your articles through Facebook Instant Articles or Google AMP. But it more generally means content you create specifically to live off-site on certain platforms.

And

Legacy publishers need to leverage distributed content to grow their audience and survive this wave. That requires employing smart strategies and pragmatic solutions. Ignoring the rise of distributed content will not make it go away, but by using some of the solutions that follow, publishers can take advantage of this shift to reach new audiences and, ultimately, profit.

Two words in this quote stand out for me: “smart” and “pragmatic”. If we look honestly at ourselves, we’ll find that most times, we are neither. On a really good day, we may be both. But those are exceptions rather than the norm. A complete change in mindset and culture is called for, and that may be something beyond most organisations. But for those that do, the rewards can be tremendous.

The key takeaway from this white paper is the necessity of embracing change in order to move out of the doldrums traditional media seems to be stuck in. Oftentimes we don’t grab the bull by the horns – we lack the courage, the initiative, the ability to operate like a lean startup (and in this day and age, you go lean or you go home). These are issues that need to be addressed, or else we will find ourselves irrelevant and obsolete.

Links:

Ogilvy: Welcome to the age of distribute content

Cision: What is distributed content? (and 5 ways to use it)

American Press Institute: Distributed content: The best ways to build sustainable platform strategies

Content Marketing 101: How do you define it?

Content Marketing 101: How do you define it?

What people say content marketing is:

“Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star.  Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one.”

Robert Rose

In order words, it is action, not just talk.

“Your customers don’t care about you, your products, your services…they care about themselves, their wants and their needs.  Content marketing is about creating interesting information your customers are passionate about so they actually pay attention to you.”

Content Marketing Institute

Get this: the typical customer doesn’t care about you. They care about themselves – what they want, what makes them happy, what meets their needs. It’s not about you, so get over yourself. Ditch the hubris, focus on your consumer and really listen.

Content marketing is the opposite of advertising. It’s about engaging consumers with the stuff they really want, in a way that serves your brand’s purposes and ideals, rather than just trying to jam your logo into their periphery.

Heidi Cohen

Again, consumer first. This is why I advocate user interviews, but unfortunately it is deemed as an afterthought or good-to-have. If I had to name just one thing I learnt from my product development days, it was the importance of talking to the users and understanding their stories. If you don’t understand your users, you can’t engage them effectively.

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” 

Content Marketing Institute

Pay attention to the keywords in bold. We need to be strategic, relevant and consistent. Oftentimes we let our clients ride roughshod over us, forcing us to sacrifice strategy. We need to effectively persuade clients to take sensible steps to attract consumers, rather than letting them dictate a self-absorbed campaign that alienates the end user.

Link:

Content Marketing Institute: Six Useful Content Marketing Definitions

Heidi Cohen: 50 Marketers Define Content Marketing

Moving into the branded content space: Too little, too late?

Moving into the branded content space: Too little, too late?

It seems that some of the most powerful newsrooms in the world are turning to branded content in order to keep their businesses alive. (Link – paywall)

As a former journalist, it doesn’t surprise me that publishers are going down this route. In fact, it could be an overdue move.

Of course, it is not an easy undertaking. Ad revenue from branded content, while growing, is still relatively small. To grow this pie would require concerted effort, persistence, a willingness to make mistakes and the resources to iterate over and over until you come up with a winning product. Followed by more innovation and disruption. Rinse and repeat.

Publishing executives acknowledge that building large, profitable branded-content businesses won’t be easy. The most compelling products—deeply reported, interactive ads that tell stories—can be labor intensive, and some require sophisticated video production. Also, these businesses compete with a plethora of digital media companies such as Vice Media and BuzzFeed that have placed branded content at the center of their business models.

And

“Advertisers don’t need publishers’ audiences the way they used to; they can get that anywhere,” said [Sebastian Tomich, the Times’ vice president of advertising and innovation].

So we are up against stiff competition, and we are late into the game. Plus, our once-vaunted trump card of being able to command a loyal, affluent, educated readership is no longer as important. This puts us in a disadvantageous position, one which is made worse if the powers that be are not sufficiently decisive in allocating resources to developing branded content.

However, being a latecomer has its advantages too – you can learn from the mistakes of others and avoid costly misjudgments or errors. Ad agencies are in some ways our forerunners, and it will benefit us to reflect on the ways in which we can add value to our clients in ways they can’t. Simply put, what can we offer that ad agencies can’t?

If we want to remain relevant, we need to embrace change and jump in feet first.

Link:

New York Times: Publishers Take On Ad-Agency Roles With Branded Content