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  |  August 20, 2009   |  Comments

The three big steps to having a social media content strategy worthy of executing.


A "BtoB Magazine" study shows that 66 percent of marketers use social media; that's up from just 20 percent in 2007. The adoption is exciting, but it's scary to think about all the "marketing" that is coming out of it. Having just completed Search Engine Strategies and the ClickZ/Online Marketing Summit track, I realize more than ever that marketers -- and SEO (define) professionals -- are missing the point of social media: content.

In the ClickZ/YouTube Social Media forum, Richard Jalichandra, president and CEO of Technorati, articulated this point well when he said that social media like Twitter and Facebook is a waste of time without a robust, well-defined content strategy. And that's exactly it.

In the Search and Social Media Tactics and Case Studies workshop, Hallie Janssen of Anvil Media said it would take almost 14 years to watch every YouTube video ever posted. That's a lot of content! The question is how much of it is good and supported by deeper, more meaningful content elsewhere?

Simply put, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are channels for us to post snippets of content to drive folks to a much deeper, more meaningful place of content, and they aren't original.

Twitter, and to a lesser extent Facebook, is a new version of the AP news wire. Since 1846, the Associated Press has sent out snippets of content in rapid succession to its member newspapers. If anything caught a journalist's eye, he'd go research it. That's exactly what even the most esteemed journalists are doing on Twitter and in the blogosphere these days.

YouTube offers the short videos you still see on TV for your news station or upcoming episode teasers. The videos drive people to a more meaningful place on your site or elsewhere.

However, many marketers are confusing the channel with the medium. Although you can have long-form content on YouTube and can post lengthy dissertations on Facebook, it's highly ineffective. Even President Obama knows that: his latest weekly video address was a little over seven minutes.

Now, you may come up with a funny video or a clever Twitter post, but that will be as short-lived as a joke at a party. A quick laugh and a "That guy's funny" or "She's clever," and that's it.

If you want to use social media and see a return, you must decide what content you'll use to engage your audience beyond the initial communication. Will you send them to a good blog, a forum to discuss the issue, or a white paper or microsite to learn more? Will you build these things and maintain them? Or will you partner with someone so your audience goes to your partner for the content, where you'll have your call to action embedded?

There are three big steps to having a social media content strategy worthy of executing:

  1. Understand what your audience wants.

  2. Build engaging thoughtful content that isn't readily accessible elsewhere.

  3. Give your audience what they want.

It dates back 15 years to the Web site usability days, when we all preached how the user is in control. Users were just one click or "back" button away from leaving your site, going to a competitor, and chalking you up to a bad brand experience. They still are.

So, first give 'em what they want, then ask them for something in return.

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Aaron Kahlow

After selling the Online Marking Summit (OMS) event company in 2011, Aaron is now leading the charge of the newest venture, the Online Marketing Institute - an e-learning platform and training destination for digital marketing education.

Kahlow is one of the most recognized thought-leaders in the digital marketing and social media space. Having founded, funded, and built three prolific and highly profitable digital marketing companies, Kahlow has also delivered hundreds of marquee keynote speeches around the globe. He is a recognized author, columnist (ClickZ, NYT) and authority on social media marketing, sales and marketing integration, demand generation, business-to-business marketing, search marketing, usability, analytics, and digital marketing strategy.

Today, Aaron can be found in his new home city of San Francisco, working on the global expansion of "Teaching the World Digital" in his e-learning technology venture, the Online Marketing Institute. Facebook and LinkedIn are his preferred places to connect.

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