Ok I’ll admit it, I’m a little obsessed on content. And when people hear me rattling on about it, most glaze over or politely smile while steadily reversing. So what’s the story with content you may ask? Why is it so important?
While content has always been important when communicating through the traditional channels, like radio, television and newspapers, it was never really vital. These ‘old media’ methods of advertising were one-way communications, they were broadcasts and press releases. People listened to them because they pretty much hadn’t a choice. These were the days before the World Wide Web, when the channels through which people got their news and entertainment were limited. They were the days before sky plus and podcasts. The days before we could pick and choose what information was relevant or interesting to us, and fast forward through the boring ads.
Wow, how things have changed. Nowadays we’re inundated with information, news and entertainment. It’s everywhere we look, everywhere we go and it’s 24/7. We pick and choose what’s relevant to us and discount the rest. And what’s more, companies are now using locations based advertising to help make up our minds on what’s relevant and how we make our purchases. Think it’s a coincidence you’re inundated with ads offering products and services you just happen to need? Think again….
So what’s all this got to do with content you might ask? Well, it’s simple really. Because we are being snowed under with content, and because we are increasingly looking at content on smartphones and tablets, the way in which we engage with advertising has changed. Couple that with the fact that most people spend on average 10-20 seconds on a webpage and you’ll start to see why good content is vital. It’s all very well to have an online presence but if nobody is reading your posts, it’s just a waste of time and money.
It’s also a wasted opportunity. It has never been so easy to reach customers and with most social media advertising extremely cost effective, if not free, it seems foolish not to take advantage. So what is the best way to engage online? According to those in the know, a content-led engagement strategy is the best way to ensure you are maximising your connections online.
This means listening first, engaging second and seeking to influence or persuade third. Makes sense.
In the past advertising was more direct, it went straight for the sell. Social media however, requires brands to be less direct and more willing to engage in conversation. In fact, just like in real life, being too direct online tends to turns people off. Most of the bigger brands have started to accept this and are now engaging in a more meaningful way online. They’re using online platforms to deal with customer service issues and answer queries, and while they are promoting their own products and services, they are also providing information on other topics that are of interest to their followers. It’s not all self promotion.
This investment into social media engagement is paying off. Social media has encouraged organisations to become more transparent, accountable and approachable. Organisations are listening to their clients, they’re engaging and, by doing those first two well, they’re using their influence in a positive way. Better still, they are improving their reputations, building their brands and ultimately, earning more money.
And that, for most organisations, is the engagement that really matters.