In 2020, the digital landscape is more diverse than ever before. It inundates people with too much content and a lot of ‘noise’. This landscape includes traditional websites, social media platforms, video aggregators, and other publications. As a result, having a multi-channel content marketing strategy is now a must for any business hoping to succeed in the realm of digital. Your content strategy needs follow a holistic approach. You should consider as many variables as possible while targeting the correct users. This is where your conversion funnel comes into play and how well you’ve planned that dictates your success ratio of converting leads to sales. The importance of content marketing as the catalyst of the conversion funnel can’t be stressed enough.
Why Should Your Content Marketing Strategy Be Multi-Channel?
All social media interaction is in-platform.
Social media platforms have capitalised on building a rich internal landscape. They trap you and enthrall you with content. The more time you spend on the platform, the more content they can feed you.
So, how do you leverage this for your brand? You can, but it will be difficult. In the early days of Web 2.0, social media platforms were open. Now they are becoming planets unto themselves. So, let’s start with the biggest social network of them all, Facebook:
Facebook Is Becoming A Content Fortress
A recent study by Buzzsumo showed that organic engagement on Facebook has declined. The social media giant even acknowledged this drop. The team at Facebook believe it’s happening because of two reasons:
- There’s more content on Facebook, meaning there’s more noise. On average, 1,500+ stories appear on a person’s newsfeed. Competition is increasing in proportion and, as a result, not everything appears.
- Facebook also constantly tweaking its algorithm so that users see specific content. The company claims that it looks at thousands of factors to determine the most relevant stories. There’s one excellent result of all the algorithm tweaks, though: clickbait and low-quality content remain hidden. So you see only that which Facebook deems helpful.
You Can Search Facebook Videos On Google If You’re McGyver
There’s another reason for the decreased engagement on Facebook: the social media giant gives external videos less reach because they originate from competitors.
Facebook prefers that all uploaded videos should be native to its platform. If you have a Facebook content marketing strategy, definitely keep this in mind as well as the fact you almost certainly need to boost your content to get views/engagement. This serves as a huge hurdle for any external website’s conversions. Google can search for Facebook content, like videos, but it’s a complex process.
Unlike a simple Google search, yielding results from videos to images, you need the string below to locate a Facebook video:
Few people have the time or technological affinity to do this. People want to type one search term and get all the results in a convenient and quick manner.
The obvious suggestion would be to duplicate post your content. So, you would post the same video on YouTube and on Facebook. You must do this for ALL Facebook subsidiaries, including Instagram. Instagram has a similar internal social media landscape to its brother.
Facebook Handcuffs Your External Links To Sell You On ‘Social Listening’
The same Buzzsumo study mentioned earlier also showed that Facebook also restricts links. The study analysed 777 million posts in 2018 to reach the conclusion. Links from any article, blog, or website outside of Facebook got the lowest reach and engagement.
The average organic reach for links on Facebook is now only between 1% and 6%.
Facebook offers companies a product to keep organic engagement high: social listening.
As HubSpot points out:
“By performing social listening, you can create the content your followers want, come up with new ideas based on industry trends, improve your customer experience by interacting directly with customers, and continuously shift your customer strategy to fit the current need.”
Paramount Pictures’ re-design of the Sonic the Hedgehog CGI is a recent brilliant example of social listening. Many fans complained about the way Sonic looked in the 2019 trailer. Paramount Pictures took note and changed the character design. This has created a positive sentiment both for the studio and the audience.
Social listening is becoming one of the important elements of content marketing. It helps content to align with the direct needs of the audience. People are more than likely to search for something that they demanded themselves. This applies across all social media platforms. This will increase any brand’s ROI, and CTR should increase in kind.
Instagram is Great For FMCG, But Ill-Equipped for Other Products
Instagram shopping is great for products like clothing, shoes, gadgets, and accessories. It doesn’t provide the same ROI for other products like construction equipment, gym equipment, or the like. Instagram also doesn’t allow links in any of its image captions. So, people usually add, “Check the link in bio”.
The bio is at the top of the page and most people don’t go to the bio after checking the image. This is a patent example of low CTR. This means that when you create a caption you’re forced to provide as much context as possible. This also serves for Instagram videos. In fact, it’s even worse for videos because they play automatically without sound. The caption needs to explain what the user can’t hear and must motivate her to listen.
Instagram’s Fake Influencers are a Bigger Headache Than Strategic Product Placement
Influencer-marketing is an Instagram-specific term, and it usually refers to someone
- With 10,000+ followers
- Engages with brands to promote their products/services/messages
- Shares information about brands they love or endorse
- Considered an expert in their field
Fake influencers seem to meet all the criteria above. The minor problem is that they aren’t real. Fake influencers can easily defraud a business out of a significant amount of money. A Points North Group analysis found that one brand ended up using upwards of $600k (R9.5 million) on impressions that were not seen or seen by fake followers. On average, 31% of people say they’ve bought a product after seeing an influencer post it. But 72.2% of social media users follow ‘lifestyle’ influencers in particular.
As a content marketing technique, this may be fine for certain products. If you want to invest in this content, the transaction will most likely involve a Google search. This is the organic search aspect of influencer marketing. But you need your influence to be good enough to get viewers to be more than passive. Viewers must want to buy your product. Even then, people want to know the cons of the product, some more product info, etc.
Most people like to make informed decisions before they spend any money.
LinkedIn Remains the Suit and Tie Social Network
LinkedIn positions itself as one of the most formal social media platforms around. It’s a platform for professionals. There, people list accomplishments, such as employment and education milestones. Initially, people didn’t use LinkedIn to socialise and the social media network placed strict restrictions on connections outside 1st-level relationships. Now, so many people connect within the same industry, they have mutual connections. This also means adding people to your network is easier and people are less wary.
Organic search impressions on LinkedIn include thought-leadership pieces, recent product releases, and professional interactions. LinkedIn is far removed from Twitter or Facebook. You can’t share personal musings about life or death, or that you’re emigrating.
Many businesses’ best content marketing strategy is using LinkedIn Messaging (InMail) to contact potential customers. This is a nuanced form of inbound marketing, but it doesn’t guarantee high CTR to any website.
LinkedIn Offers Ads but You Need to Keep Them Strictly About Business
There is always the option of LinkedIn Ads, which is the go-to content-sharing form to drive conversions. LinkedIn offers:
- Sponsored Content–Appears on the feed with links to websites and usually links back to a specific site. LinkedIn highly recommends this form of content as it can be tailored to have a company’s CI via a graphic with a relevant call to action. It should link to real content and not be an advert of an advert.
- Message Ad – This is like cold-calling or email marketing (as mentioned above) and included ad-targeting because the person offered the product or service did not search for it herself.
- Text Ad – Simple text advertising a business or service. It will usually appear to the right-hand side of the feed, in a mini-feed on desktop view.
- Video Ad – Similar to sponsored content and can include a link to a website. The video is limited to 10 minutes. You don’t have to use the full runtime available and it’s advised that you have a more teaser-type video that can direct people to your site. So, it’s best to keep it under 2 minutes.
- Carousel Ad – You can use this ad type to tell a short story in a series of images. You’re limited to 10 images, so you have more than enough room to tell your story and include a call to action at the end. Be advised though that people are not only on their feeds to see your product and a carousel that takes too long to get to the point may lose people’s attention.
- Dynamic Ad – One of the dynamic ad types is a content ad where users download your content. There is a scant likelihood that users will visit your site after using the free resource.
Twitter is the Town Square the World Always Needed but Nothing Else
Twitter is all about brevity – it limits you to 280 characters per post. Most of the time people post once-off or in threads. This helps spark conversation and boosts engagement. Twitter can be fantastic for customer relations, where brands and businesses look for customers’ pain points.
By keeping a pulse on what’s happening with customers in real-time, businesses can align themselves with user needs and know how to help.
If a business is smart, it can also collate common questions into an FAQ page on its website. An FAQ page is a key component in a diverse content matrix. This brings more value to the customer. A company can own valuable real estate in the SERPs and make the customer experience ten times better.
Also, if you engage with people in your industry, you find content that can be fleshed out into full-length pieces. You can treat these in distinct forms from traditional articles, whitepapers, or video.
People don’t go to Twitter to follow links or content.
It’s more about conversation points and trending hashtags. Hashtags change every day and are difficult to trend for, unlike Google rankings which are more stable.
You create content for your site for questions or topics which you sourced from Twitter, but the content does not necessarily have to live on Twitter.
Pinterest Gives Your Phone Rose-Coloured Glasses
Pinterest is the fourth most popular social media platform in the United States. The platform touts itself as a “visual discovery engine” and offers visual search as one of its flagship services.
This is significant because 62% of Gen Z and Millennials have admitted that they like to search by image. The company has come up with novel ways to conduct visual searches. Pinterest visual search started in 2014 and it has come so far that the discovery engine now contains object detection, which finds all the objects in a Pinned image, in real-time, and serves related results.
Object detection is the basis for the Pinterest Lens feature, where you can take a photo of anything, and Lens will recommend similar objects. But the true value-add here is that Pinterest Lens recommends not only similar objects, but it also does so in different contexts.
A jacket you snap will be recommended with an entire ensemble. Jackets of similar make and style will be recommended, etc.
An image of food will also have recipes related to that food recommended and so on. The machine learning aspect of Pinterest Lens tries to understand the object pictured and how it can return useful results for you.
Again, remember, this is all happening within the platform. So, no CTR, no conversion, nothing. The user experience is exceptional. The user is getting exactly what they want out of the entire transaction.
But unless you are leveraging the relational visual engine Pinterest is using, you have no way of guaranteeing a sale. A user can pin any recommendation without ever leaving the Pinterest platform.
An additional aspect of the visual search is being pioneered called Shop the Look. This combines machine learning with human curation so that people can buy products they see on pins. As with the Instagram Shopping example much earlier in the article, this is fine and well for clothing, accessories, and gadgets but for more specific products, there’s not much value or ROI.
The Key Takeaway: Google’s Part in The Content Marketing Equation
Google’s full part in the value-chain of customer retention and conversion is site-agnostic. The search engine seeks to give only the best information to the user through Google’s properties, namely:
- Google My Business (GMB)
- The search engine itself
All these play a huge role in making sure that websites get noticed and serve people’s search intent. This keeps all companies competing for the first spot on the SERPs. These days, a content marketing plan for the SERPs would also try to earn a featured snippet.
As you have seen, the fundamental problem with all these social media networks is twofold:
- They don’t work together. Their information, posts and general platform positioning are independent of each other. So, what you produce for one, you cannot duplicate for another and vice versa. This produces ‘content drain’ as you constantly must shift gears and change hats to cater for varied audiences across different platforms. The platforms themselves also offer different value-adds, such as Facebook focusing on video or Pinterest focusing on visual searches, which means you need a platform-specific content strategy for each.
- All content remains within-platform and there is low CTR to outside websites. This is the primary problem. With all content sitting on the social media platforms and conversions happening offsite, there is a sizeable gap left for the content to do its work. Content must be targeted, helpful, and interesting to get people to want to visit the off-platform website.
These problems are different from the integrated nature of Google and its properties. Where one search produces all the necessary content, from images to video, that a user could need.
The suggestion is that people need to develop content marketing skills in line with the current digital landscape. Businesses need to think of multi-channel content and make the most of each social media platform’s advantages. A successful conversion in the form of a sale should always be the end goal. A well-thought-out content marketing strategy will leverage traditional search in tandem with social media platforms to produce the desired result.