We hear a lot these days about how content and social media marketing strategies can help companies gain and retain new customers. But before those efforts can have an impact on your bottom line, you need an audience.
I recently caught up with Tim Danyo, owner and creative director at Imagination Media, to get his thoughts on what companies can do to build the right audience for their messages, and how social media and video can help. Check out the full transcript below, and for more from Tim, be sure to check out his blog and follow him on Twitter @TimDanyo.
With online marketing, what do you think are some of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to building their audiences and followings?
TD: One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make online is treating their marketing strategy like it's a TV, radio, or print advertising campaign. They see their audience like a mass of people instead of individuals with specific needs. It's like having a one-sided conversation with someone who says the same thing over and over. It's tough to listen to.
Relationships are built on two-way communications, mutual understandings, shared experiences and similar goals. Unless an advertisement works to bring customers into meaningful relationships, it's just noise or visual clutter.
There is a big difference between ad push and brand pull. Instead of pumping out ads that ‘hit hard’ and ‘knock em' dead’, dish out value added content that cues people in, helps them out, and warms them up. Phone numbers and ‘buy now’ messages fall on deaf ears if there is no value or brand connection leading up to that.
Content should be the main course served up regularly on sites. I see businesses not taking content marketing seriously, or missing the mark completely. Many get fixated on the number of likes, follows, comments, page rank, etc., but miss the fact that creating unique, rich, and targeted content attracts the right customers (audience) to their business. Create amazing content that solves problems, educates, inspires and is entertaining, and better results will follow.
Why do so many businesses fail at this?
TD: It takes a lot of time and effort to wrap the collective mind around the importance of creating really good and valuable content. It may seem like a shot in the dark to some, or too much effort to others. The perception is that no one really reads blogs anyway, or that content creation costs too much and takes too much time. Producing content that gets found, enjoyed, and shared does take effort, but it's about more than hiring a clever copywriter, SEO guru, or getting a great website design.
Content marketing needs to be an enduring core expression and representation of the company’s purpose. I know that might sound a little heavy, but solutions-oriented, customer-targeted content speaks to the heart of what a business is set up to do: to solve problems and provide products and services in exchange for money. So what brings potential clients to the site? What keeps clients reading on the site? What causes them to sign up or pick up the phone? How will the brand spread its message if there is no content to be shared? It has a lot to do with the quality of website content.
A while back you wrote a post likening social media to “the new radio.” What does that mean in regards to building an audience with online marketing?
TD: When I wrote that piece, social media was still a shiny new object. At this stage in online development, we are now seeing social media merging with tradition old media. Even advertising is now blending into social video and photography with the viral sharing and conversational elements. Chill and Pinterest come to mind. These are all examples ‘new radio.’ Mobile marketing is a huge new radio. How are we using mobile in our content strategy? Now we have the emergence of SocialTV − that is an exciting area of development, the merging of TV and social media. How will marketers tap into this new area of content delivery and social engagement?
Stay up-to-date on all the latest technology and social trends. Test out and implement new radios whenever possible. Today's new radios become the standard communication tools of the future. Get a head start now and you'll be more successful at building audiences. Use new radios to visualize your specific networks and relationships and work to connect on deeper levels. This builds highly connected buying audiences around your brand.
Naturally, lots of companies have become more interested in video these days, and that’s one of your specialties as well. What role does video play as a tool for expanding your audience and following?
TD: I would distill it into one word: education. Video is the most powerful educational tool online. Being helpful and knowledgeable, and presenting that wisdom in short targeted clips, does wonderful things.
A well executed video marketing strategy:
Enables a response (subscribe, click here, call now)
Presents core offerings
Inspires sharing and referral opportunities
Presents add- ons/up-sells
Gets more repeat business
It's not about talking about how awesome the business is, it's about ‘being’ how awesome the business is. Video helps demonstrate the value ahead of the sale. The customer audiences get a chance to like, trust, and try your products before they buy. Marketers today need to create and share content that informs their audience first and sells to them later.