Times have changed. More than ever before, brands are finding it difficult to get their content in front of consumer eyeballs. Casey Petersen, VP marketing and analytics at social content creation app Photofy, suggests switching up your approach and going back to basics.
‘The content problem’ in content marketing is becoming more pronounced. More and more brands are making content that does nothing. Ads are getting more and more expensive, and working less and less. Many ad clicks are turning out to be fake. Organic reach, especially on Facebook . . . Well, forget about it.
There is so much noise, much of it other brands also trying to get a message out, that many of us have even forgotten there is a signal there to begin with. SEO is more nebulous than ever.
Social networks, once our saving grace, are now fine-tuned to limit reach to our own followers and force us to pay increasingly higher prices just to get a message in front of people who have clearly signaled they want messages from us. Facebook has even taken more drastic measures of intentionally limiting businesses from being seen. Even influencer marketing is becoming more expensive and difficult to execute. To top it all off - nearly 75% of Facebook users have taken some action from deleting the app to taking a break, or at least clamping down on their privacy settings in the last 12 months.
As much as digital and content marketing is the future, it seems more and more hopeless for many marketers. Yes, we created the problem with our pathological obsession with vanity metrics over meaningful relationships and conversation. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the reality we find ourselves in now, and the biggest question we all have to answer:
How do we earn media now?
This ecosystem isn't going to turn in our favor any time soon. So if we're going to succeed, we have to adjust our approach:
Get back to basics. Our temptation with every change in Facebook or Google's algorithms has traditionally been to hack our way around it to get back to the numbers we previously saw. In marketing, we all know that lower numbers are bad. I get it. No one wants to be the tool that walks into a meeting with their boss and says, "Reach is down 50%. Engagement is down 65%. There is nothing we can do about it. It may get worse." Let's take this opportunity to focus on what portion of that engagement was meaningful. What does meaningful interaction with our customers and users online actually look like? Let's do more of that.
More content does not mean better content marketing. You're going to have to produce content. Chances are, you're going to have to become an expert at it. But that doesn't mean $5,000 videos produced weekly and a team of designers making beautiful stuff. Create simple, replicable, content creation processes that a small team can do to create content that matters. Photofy is the easiest tool for consistently making on-brand content with consistent assets - even with large distributed global teams. You can churn out a week of high quality graphics that your audience will actually like in minutes.
Scale. Use employees. Use customers. Use online advocates. Use random people who think you're interesting. A brand simply can no longer stand out from the noise. Unless you're Apple or Google with an army of journalists in your pocket, you're going to have to find a way to drastically increase the amount of conversation happening about you online.
Be available and responsive with your audience. If people aren't talking about you and to you, you're dead. But once you've scaled content creation - you also have to be available and responsive to people. No bot takes the place of this. Real humans talking to real humans is how business has been done for thousands of years. Guess what… it's how business will continue to be done for the foreseeable future. AI is great. Bots are great. It serves a purpose - but nothing replaces a customer knowing that a human being at a company knows about them and cares about their experience.
The heyday of free social media reach may be over but you can still earn attention, engagement, reach, and conversions with the subset of your audience that really matters. There is so much noise - truly great and useful content is the only real way to stand out - or you can keep spending more and more money promoting content with less and less effectiveness. Go get 'em champ.
The reality is this: there has never been a better time to focus on content production and see a measurable result from it.