Studies show that, year on year, more businesses are recognising the value of social media and those that are doing it well are yielding some really positive returns. In a recent report I read, it said that 90% of marketers say social media marketing is important to their business, citing benefits such as increased brand awareness, increased traffic to their website and better organic search engine rankings to name but a few. However, whilst the benefits are plentiful, social media certainly doesn’t come without its challenges
We recently conducted a survey to find out which social media challenges businesses face today. The results were as follows:
Biggest social media challenges
- Finding the time 32%
- Creating original content 28%
- Deciding what to say 17%
- Measuring ROI 13%
- Engaging with customers 10%
It came as no surprise that ‘finding the time’ and ‘creating original content’ were cited as the biggest challenges as it’s what we hear from our own customers on a daily basis – in fact, it’s the reason we are in business. In this post, I would like to give you a very quick overview of the challenges in turn, in the order you would typically face them:
Deciding what to say
A dilemma most people responsible for social media have faced (probably still do face on a regular basis) is what on earth are you going to say? Most start off by announcing achievements and company news but soon realise that readers aren’t engaging with this kind of information. After all, why would they when it doesn’t really add any value to them? Next, companies might start to respond to mentions of their brand or topics which they feel confident talking about. This is a good step in the right direction but won’t propel your brand to social media stardom. Forward thinking companies progress to the next stage: they become conversation instigators instead of just participants, offering thought-leadership which educates and encourages engagement from their readers. The problem you have is taking that step from participant/curator to thought-shaping creator.
Finding the time
There simply aren’t enough hours in the working day for most marketing managers (I know that from my own experience) which is why finding the time for social media is often cited as the biggest challenge. Not only do you need to create original content but you’ve got to get it out there, engage with customers, measure ROI etc and that requires a serious amount of time. One of the challenges with social media is that it’s not a task or a campaign but a continuous chipping-away-every-day type of job. As it doesn’t have a deadline, it often gets relegated to the bottom of your to-do list, especially if you have other deadline-specific jobs looming on the horizon.
Creating original content
We all know, especially in the post-Panda era, how important it is to create original content. Not only does it position you as an expert in your industry, increase traffic to your website and increase brand awareness but it also goes a long way to enhancing your search engine results. Original content is now a must for any business wanting to grow their online presence. That’s easier said than done though, especially when high quality, original content requires professional journalists on the case. You need highly skilled writers who can create content that will thrive in social media environments, not a skill-set many companies have internally.
Engaging with customers
We are often asked the question, once you’ve got your fantastic content, how on earth do you get people to engage with it? After all there is little point spending time and money creating great content if it doesn’t get people talking. There is only one way to ensure that your readers engage with your content and that is to ensure that it is interesting, valuable and entertaining…so that brings us back to the previous problem! Without this, you simply do not have a platform from which to interact with your readers.
It’s no surprise that many businesses, within just a few months of starting their social media activities, let them fall by the way side as they are just not seeing a return on their investment. One of the reasons for this is that they are usually using the wrong metrics to measure it by. As marketing managers, we are programmed to measure the effectiveness of our marketing by the number of leads/sales it yields. However, if you use these metrics to measure the success of your social media, you are likely to be disappointed in the short term. The metrics you should use in the early days are things like website traffic, search engine rankings, re-tweets, shares, comments etc. If you are seeing an upward trend in these areas then you know you are on the right track. Social media is a nurturing process and nurturing cannot be rushed.
OK, so I imagine most of these challenges, if not all, resonate with the majority of you. So, what is the solution?
The solution is content marketing
What is content marketing? Well, my favourite definition is Joe Pulizzi’s from Junta 42:
- Editorial-based content; It must tell a relevant, valuable story. Must be informative, educational or entertaining.
- Marketing-backed; The content has underlying marketing and sales objectives that a corporation, association or institution is trying to accomplish.
- Behaviour-driven; Seeks out to maintain or alter the recipient’s behaviour.
- Multi-platform (print, digital, audio, video, events); It can be, does not have to be, integrated.
- Targeted toward a specific audience; If you can’t name the audience, it’s not content marketing.
Content marketing involves publishing topic related information through your website and social media platforms which solves problems for your readers as opposed to selling to them.
Content marketing examples include:
- Industry news
- Evergreen articles eg. how-to guides, checklists and resource documents
- White papers
“How does this help me overcome my social media challenges?” I hear you ask.
Well, following our survey, we thought we’d provide our readers with the answer so have published a white paper which does just that.
Download it for free here: http://www.redrocketmedia.co.uk/social-media-white-paper/
We hope that you find it educational and that it provides a solution to your problems…hmmm, that sounds like content marketing to me!