If someone is going to stay on your turf, you have to give them something they can’t get elsewhere.
There are more people/business producing more content targeting the masses. However, a report from last week now shows that the masses aren’t necessarily jumping on board. It is now time to make things personal.
Just because the default button for sharing a message is in the realms of a social channel, doesn’t mean anyone else is listening.
When you build a message around an idea that not everyone has jumped on, this starts to put you in a place of strength.
2018 is pointing to the fact that you just can’t regurgitate the same old view. Pinning hopes on followers with whom you will never have any form of contact, but looks good because you have a bucketful of them, is starting to prove worthless.
The answer (lets get it in early), is to create a worthwhile experience, so people won’t look elsewhere. There are ways to get others on your side (it’s a bit lower down this article), so looking for social media acceptance becomes someone else’s priority. In the meantime, you have brought those who matter to your place, but acknowledge that you can’t regard everyone as your audience.
The recent BuzzSumo (March) Content Trends Report 2018 points to the fact that whilst there is a glut of expertise (listen to my interview with Jay Acunzo on the You Are The Media Podcast) and the channels to dictate to others are readily available, earning attention is proving extremely difficult.
One of the key findings within the report is that social sharing has halved between 2015 and 2017. From 100 million posts published in 2015 and then again in 2017, the median number of states was eight, two years later this was four. BuzzSumo Director, Steve Rayson points to, sharing outside of public spaces ie. WhatsApp, email, Messenger and the decline of organic reach within Facebook.
Moving beyond public spaces is something that Mark Schaefer highlighted on March 5th in an article titled ’10 Ideas driving the future of social media marketing,’ that moving from public to private represents Facebook switching focus to the spaces it owns, Messenger and WhatsApp and they have, “the ability to data-mine the richest source of consumer information and insights in the history of the planet — our private messages.”
There is simply less sharing happening on social spaces. Any company that puts a heavy measurement objective on social interaction is in a dangerous place. People just don’t feel compelled to share. However, why is this?
I asked a few peers within my space, with whom I trust, why they don’t share content on social media from other people/businesses even if it was industry relevant.
LAUREN McMENEMY – writer, editor from The Content Type,” I could say I won’t share something that is obviously designed to boost conversions and sales for someone else, but that’s not 100% true.”
“If the intention is genuinely to educate or entertain, then I’m happy with a bit of a sell at the end and I’ll put my own disclaimer on my share. Where I draw the line is quality – does it make my head hurt to read it? – and transparency.”
“Don’t hide what you’re trying to do. Don’t beg or push. Don’t try to be cool or holier than thou or that hilarious guy. Don’t try to be life coach-inspirational. Don’t copy others. Be relevant, be genuine, and you’ll likely get my share – if I see it in the first place. Because isn’t visibility the real problem?”
SIMON SWAN digital strategy, The Met Office, “What is the point in sharing the same content, findings and views from within the industry as everyone else?”
“I like to try and retain a consistent view of industry insights that reflect back to “building brands” so if there is a hook/link to turn someone else’s content in supporting my own hypothesis I will share it”.
JOHN ESPIRIAN, technical writer from Espirian – “The algorithms of social media don’t like seeing shares of external links, so such link posts tend not to perform well. For me to share a link to someone’s content (and take the risk of angering the algorithm gods), that content needs to be comprehensive and genuinely valuable. If it’s not an authority piece, why would I want to foist that upon my followers. I wouldn’t.”
“Remember that your social sharing habits are part of your digital fingerprint. Don’t leave smudges.”
If people are just not interested in sharing what has already been said or represents an angle that is devoid of being genuinely valuable, then that leaves you in a pretty vulnerable or worthless space.
Creating an experience where you talk in the language of your audience, not yours, is where the opportunity sits. When you communicate directly with your audience ie. email and messenger groups and not solely via a third party who decides if it gets across the drawbridge ie. Facebook, this is where the power starts to shift.
The Opportunity (From Another Report)
In the recent Econsultancy, 2018 Digital Trends report, the single most exciting opportunity for businesses (from just under 3,000 respondents) is the optimisation of the customer experience. This is defined as the complete set of interactions a company has with its audience. Communication today doesn’t sit behind the full blown corporate video of the owner at a desk pretending they are on the phone, but the touch-points, both on and off-line.
Within the Econsultancy report there is a section that contributes to the indulgence of content and the rising commitment for businesses in 2018 to focus heavier within content marketing. With more people fighting to be heard, points to a rising tide of sameness. This in turn, provides an even stronger opportunity for businesses to have something to say that defines their own soul. Look at it this way, you produce limp content, you get limp leads.
What About You & The New Lido?
If you can build an audience who trust you and the conversation and interaction doesn’t solely sit within a social space, then you can leave the panicking to everyone else and they can worry about the dwindling engagement rates.
Lets look at it this way. Imagine there is a lido that has opened down the road from you. It’s big, it’s new and sells pulled pork brioches. The sun is out and everyone heads down to sit around the same swimming pool. Naturally, it gets crowded. A week after the lido opens, you decide to open your back garden. It is smaller, the grass is patchy in places, the shed has seen better days, but the deckchairs are really cosy, the garden always faces the sun and the fridge is always stocked. It’s not for everyone, but the people who come over, you can get to know them a bit better and the interaction can only get better.
This is what creating a better experience signifies. It is about the other person and then you personalise it. Rather than just adding a recent buzzword in their, lets define a bit more, the ability to create a better experience for others.
This is what you can do:
Be better than the download, the white paper, the webinar or anything else that sits in isolation. You can’t build any momentum when you put all your effort into one thing and one thing alone. When you show up in someone else’s space and they decide to engage with a piece of content and then you turn into a gas and disappear, that’s bad. Any means of keeping an interaction going is limited to the relentless Paper.li posts on Twitter that doesn’t mean anything to anyone. The original investment becomes a waste of time (and resources). Building authority and reputation, whilst hard work to gain attention and trust, eventually allows others to associate with you. If you want people to share, as John (Espirian) said, you need to make it, ‘genuinely valuable.’
Create inclusion and make people feel part of something. The best example of this that I can share from my own first hand knowledge is the whole You Are The Media philosophy. It is an email that brings people together, so there is the You Are The Media Lunch Club to make everything one to one. However, what continues is the social proof, whereby LinkedIn effectively becomes a very open forum, where things are shared in an open space.
However, before this happens, everything is within a much more closed circle. An email is sent within two hours of the end of each Lunch Club. This consists of a round-up email covering the main messages from the session and associated links to read more. During this period and when everyone is cc’d in an email is when there is most activity to the pages that follow up on what was discussed. Page views are higher than any other time during the week, within a four hour window (between 3pm and 7pm).
Within the BuzzSumo report, the nod to LinkedIn was evident. It stated, “LinkedIn may represent a better opportunity for business to business sites. Many businesses were building their presence on Facebook but the recent algorithm changes could prompt a renewed focus on LinkedIn.”
Help connect people who have made a choice to be with you. This isn’t just about you and them, this is about making a rich tapestry for others to know that they can give and take value away. For instance, on the weekly You Are The Media articles, this will include the voices of others, who don’t normally have a wider outlet to share, but have something to say.
I realise that you don’t have to live in a vacuum where you only have to ask the great and the good, who everyone else asks (I did this with the Talking Content Marketing project from 2013 to 2016). Over the past year I have featured more people within my weekly articles. To most people, these are strangers, but those within a community, these are faces whom others can relate to.
Be in places where you comeback regularly. A believable objective is to become the authority within your marketplace. If someone can recognise your point of view and you don’t deviate too much, by being consistent can help gain trust. In the recent article focusing on the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, people trust other people, we haven’t given up on each other. Rather than look to build a clear space between your elevated status and the rest of the world, what there needs is the ability to be honest. Creating personas that do not resonate with others, only contributes to people turning away and to be forgotten.
Creating and nurturing an experience where others feel part of something, encourages inclusion and for them to actively want to be a part of something.
In an interview with Faris Jakob, author of Paid Attention, Faris gave a nod to building something substantial around the relationships we own, “Brands like to see massive spikes, not slow and steady builds over years, but that’s often where the value lies in an audience first approach, especially in business to business communication, where becoming a trusted resource takes significant time and investment, but may pay back with huge contracts in years to come.”
Lets Round Up
If you can build a track record where you become recognised as playing a role within your industry, you compete in a different place where emphasis is not placed on social reach, but association from others. As Lauren McMenemy rightfully said, “Don’t hide what you’re trying to do. Don’t beg or push.”
It feels far better to interact with someone you are aware of and they have made that choice, rather than put your message in a room full of strangers because you paid someone to have access. Whilst content promotion is imperative to building an audience, if what you say supports, entices and relates to someone else where they perhaps taken on board your perspective is where the difference lies.
You can’t neglect using social media as a forms of distribution, but at the same time, there is importance to build something that is yours whilst over places become over crowded. This is so you can address people directly ie. your subscriber/email list. No matter what algorithm change rears its head over the coming months and years, you have harvested something that is yours. Being relevant by keeping a relationship personalised, can become a genuine content marketing changer.