Friday, October 31, 2014

Tired of the Same Old Content Marketing Discussion? Me too!

- by Lauren Campbell-Kong

There has been some big news recently in the social media sphere: In the month of October alone Infusionsoft announced a new $55 million round of funding (spearheaded by Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs) and Hubspot went public, raising $125 million during their IPO. These are both huge developments in the world of digital marketing, specifically content marketing.

Inbound/Content marketing has taken the sector by storm, creating entirely new ways to attract potential consumers, clients, and leads. In the past, marketing functioned as "bring the ads to the people" through advertising in magazines, trade shows, etc. but when Inbound marketing revolutionized the industry with the "bring people to the ads" mentality, the ground underneath many advertising and marketing agencies shook; to be honest, I don't know if it is done shaking.

The idea behind this "bring people to the ads" is to produce high quality, highly informative content (blogposts, white papers, articles, etc.) to show potential purchasers that "you know what you're doing," building credibility and developing trust, increasing SEO in the process. The theory is the more content you generate, the more you increase your odds of showing up in search engine results (after you've optimized your site, your blog, your content of course). This coupled with the idea that you then promote your message on social media is supposedly the 'holy grail' to marketing in the digital age.

But is it?

With all the articles out there on "how to generate content" and the conferences surrounding "Inbound Methodology" and the multiple Google hangouts I get invited to weekly to help "Make Sense of Google Analytics", I honestly wonder if this is the 'Holy Grail' or if marketing is lost, wondering in a sea of digital misinformation and trendy band-aids (you know, like the Spider Man Band-aids that are available after a movie launch, but can't be found anywhere 6 months later).

Hell, I read an article today from a well reputable and highly credible social media online community discussing the issues that B2B marketers have. The top 3 issues were: Measuring Content Effectiveness, Producing Content Consistently, and Producing Engaging Content; cornerstones of the 'Holy Grail' approach. Doesn't sound like a 'Holy Grail' to me.

Never once in the article did the author truly dig down deep into the meat of the problem to offer up good, well worn advice. Instead, band-aids were handed out: Make sure you promote an interoffice culture that embraces social media, have a meeting that tells everyone how to properly engage and interact on behalf of the business, think like your customer etc. The issue with these 'tips' is they don't actually look at an individual company's situation and attempt to help, they throw a large blanket to the social media wind and hope your company falls under it.

I guess that's why many companies pay an organization like Hubspot or Infusionsoft to help them. Infusionsoft offers automated marketing software that is supposed to decrease time spent marketing on social media platforms, allowing you to schedule posts and not worry about getting them out in the interwebs. Hubspot, prides itself on the one-on-one customer service you receive with your membership payment, to help address your content marketing issues, but even the service reps regurgitate the same information that has been pushed their way; "be sure to provide quality content, post 3-4 blogs a week," etc. They also offer many Webinars, newsletters, and emails to educate you on Inbound Methodology, but again, they apply a broad overview of this methodology and think it applies to everyone's process. In a world of target marketing, with big data to back it up, I thought the 'throw it against the wall and see what sticks' mentality was gone.

But it isn't, it is just disguised as something else right now.

Quality of engagement is the crux of all of this. How can we measure quality of engagement? How do we know the value of allowing your consumers contact you in real time via social media or the value of sharing a video that can inspire others. We don't know how far this reach can be, let alone how to measure it. Especially in different industries where the culture of engagement is different throughout.

The point is, you can't measure quality of engagement in Google Analytics (Google offers some really neat measuring capabilities though). In an industry that sees the never ending opportunity that the digital age has provided us, the process in how to interact and engage is only half of it, the other half requires a shift in the measurement process and moving away from "three sheets to the wind" mentality. After all, no one wants to rely solely on the wind to spread your message: that's why we developed technology.

To learn about how BrainBox navigates through these issues, please read my solution oriented post.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Future of Social Business

Properly marketing on social media platforms is difficult. The current tide is moving toward quality over quantity and everyone seems to be advocating for social engagement these days. But the essence of engagement has yet to be mastered (with the exception of a few) and because most companies expect a quick ROI on their social media experience, they are not so concerned with actually engaging their audience.

This leads people down the path of ‘doing what everyone else is doing’ and inundates platforms with low quality posts that don’t create quality engagement and don’t produce any profit for the companies that use these platforms.

It is important to keep in mind social media ROI doesn’t have parameters nor is it confined to a single definition. You have to conduct an in-depth analysis of your social media presence, process, and parameters to identify expectations of your social media audience and make sure those align with the quality of information and engagement that is being posted, tweeted, and shared on platforms. 

You have to remember that social media is a catalyst for sharing information and for users to see a side of your company that they may not have been aware. Engagement must be personified. Humanizing your social media presence is the key. You cannot dismiss how you interact with your potential brand advocates.

We leave you with the opening Keynote discussion from the 2014 Social Shake-up, one of the largest social media conferences in the United States. Staying up to date on emerging trends in the realm of social media is important to your success. We hope you enjoy learning about this as much as we do.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How Does Your Employee Get to Work?

Today, only 5% of Americans use public transit. 77% of us drive to work and only 10% share rides. According to the US Census Bureau, we were doing a lot better in the 20's when 20% of us shared rides.

On average, commuters loses 34 hours to traffic congestion each year. Deloitte reports that we waste 4.76 billion hours per year. Translating that into dollar value, that's $429 million per day. It's about $160 billion worth of productivity each year cycled through the exhaust pipe and turned into polluted air.

That cost is only on the individuals. The government pays a certain amount as part of its public service obligations. We, in turn, pay for that through our taxes.

Companies offering a transportation solution to their workers encourages a pattern of consequences improving their bottom lines. Google, for example, found by providing shuttle services to its employees it lowered worker stress, increased talent pool, and eliminated some cost of building parking infrastructures. This also help reduce the fuel demand, emissions, and vehicle traffic.   

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cultivate Your Crowd

In a recent survey conducted by the European Commission on financial and security markets, a majority of respondents felt that crowdfunding campaigns with social objectives merit special treatment from the regulators.

The consensus is that social ventures and those behind the ventures should not be limited to the donation or lending based funding opportunities. Equity crowdfunding should be a viable option. However, a need to define social enterprise and the kinds of social objectives are critical and respondents agree that transparency is a must if social ventures are to get special treatment. Most suggested ex post verifications (e.g., audits, social impact assessments, or periodic reporting). Some respondents call for a favorable tax treatment for these social ventures, some prefer lighter regulations, and few mentioned the need to harmonizes impact measures and warned against any sort of regulatory interventions in this sector. The commission stated that it will explore this in more detail in future efforts.