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Social Media for Content Marketers: Reach vs. Depth

So you think you have created first rate content. It’s fresh, useful and well written. Now you want people to see it. So you do all the right things. You post on Facebook and Twitter; you add posts on Google+, LinkedIn and maybe a few other social networks. Then you sit back and wait for people to visit your site, where all that great content awaits.

And people do come. Your analytics show that unique visitors to your site have gone up since you started doing thoughtful content marketing. But your goal in doing all of this wasn’t just to get people to visit your site. You probably wanted your visitors to take an action — like making a purchase or requesting a proposal. So your real goal is not just to get visitors. It’s to drive business. For that you need people to engage with your content. You need depth, not just reach. And when it comes to referring visitors who will engage, some social networks are better than others.

Depth of Visitor Engagement from Social Sites

In a study released earlier this month by Shareaholic, YouTube was found to be the top source of engaged visitors to websites. Google+ came in second, followed by LinkedIn at third. This surprised some people, who assumed that Facebook, with its 1.19 billion users1, would have been at the top of the pile. But think about it. Facebook may have the most users, and it may even refer more visitors to your site than do the other social networks. However, that doesn’t mean those visitors from Facebook are truly engaged with your content or likely to become customers.

Visitors who were referred from YouTube spent an average of nearly 4 minutes on the websites and viewed nearly 3 pages. Bounce rates from YouTube referrals averaged  43.19%, a low number by any standpoint and spectacularly low when compared with, say, Reddit, whose referral bounce average is over 70%!

As for Google+ and LinkedIn, while those platforms drive the fewest numbers of visitors, the ones they do send are among the very best in terms of engagement. Visitors from Google+ spend just over 3 minutes on a site, while those from LinkedIn spend just over 2 minutes. Their average page views and bounce rates are also good — 2.5 pages and 50.63% for Google+ and 2.23 pages and 51.28% for LinkedIn.

So what does this mean for content marketers?

  • As far as website referrals go, consider trading reach for depth.
  • If you don’t produce much video content, now is the time to start.
  • Boost your activity on Google+. Indications are that people trust links on Google+ because it has a higher standard of transparency than some other social sites.
  • Likewise, amp up your LinkedIn presence. Don’t just post to the entire network. Join some groups that are related to your industry.
  • Continue to use Facebook and Twitter. These are important platforms and their Shareaholic numbers are good, just not as good as the top three.

Of course you will want to focus on referring sites that provide you with visitors who represent your target audiences. And you will want to look at other measures of success beyond those examined in this survey. The main point here is that big numbers don’t necessarily foster engagement that is deep enough to drive business objectives.

Keeping Up With Constant Changes

Speaking about referring sites do you know where your visitors are coming from? Sometimes it seems that the consumers of content are changing faster than the content itself. Just when many businesses have wrestled their social media and content marketing activities into a predictable routine, the target audiences begin to change things up! So before you sit back, secure in the knowledge that you’ve finally figured out this social and content marketing thing, check out these five new developments from the field.

1) According to Nielsen, over the next five years the local TV audience will be increasingly multicultural and multiscreen. In this context ‘multicultural’ is defined as Hispanic, black and Asian, and this group will represent 40% of the US population. Think about the implications for local search. People expect their culture and values to be reflected in their media, so the subjects and type of content you present may have to change if you want to capture business in your community.

2) Speaking of multiple screens, IDC recently predicted that within three years 87% of connected device sales will be tablets and smartphones. People will be watching television while they monitor what others are saying on Twitter, Facebook or some other service that has yet to be born. Our content had better be designed so that it looks attractive regardless of the screen it’s viewed on.

3) Among smartphone users, women spend more time on media via apps and the mobile Web than do men. In Q4 2013, women spent an hour and a half more time than men using mobile apps. Couple this with the well-known information that women are the primary purchasing decision-makers for most households and it becomes crystal clear that women should be a priority content target.

4) WedDAM recently reported that 43% of traffic from Google’s organic search results goes to the first item listed. So, yes, SEO still matters and we all need to consider that as we develop quality content that will generate shares, leads and conversions.

5) Expert reviews are the most powerful digital content type for influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions. The fact that content consumers believe third-party experts are less biased than sellers will surprise no one, but according to Nielsen they also prefer experts over reviews posted by other users. This indicates something I’ve suspected, and that I will be writing more about in the future — traditional tactics from the public relations field will play an increasingly important role in content marketing.

As people change their habits and hardware, social media and content marketing will continue to evolve and we must remain flexible enough so that we can change with our audiences.

The Two-Part Equation to Influencer-Driven Content Marketing

Influencer-driven content marketing can be a marketer’s best friend – it’s a strategy aimed at fostering credibility, influence and, ultimately, action. “By incorporating relevant influencers that can inspire action with your content marketing efforts, you can reach new audiences with brand messages that are credible and trusted.” Yet in order to see success, you must use a two-part equation to maximizing your influencer-driven content: how you identify the influencers and how you collaborate with them.

The Two Part Equation to Influencer Driven Content Marketing image influencer venn diagram

Identifying influencers, the thoughtful way

Influencer marketing makes sense—consumers are consistently inundated with content and they don’t have enough time to act, let alone even digest, the information. Consequently, consumers rely on referrals or advice from outside sources. These sources are not related to the brands themselves and they may not even be acquaintances. They are influencers within each industry, topic of interest or community.

The ideal influencer is an expert with an audience, an individual with authority who is a trusted source for information. There are many people who are influencers and many people who are experts; but within the scope of influencer-driven marketing, the ideal candidate possesses both of these qualities.

Your ideal candidate is someone with a following in her community. This means an influencer’s reputation is nearly everything, so when asked to support a specific brand or share content, the influencer is wary at best. The influencer will consider not only whether this is something her community is interested in, but she’ll also consider her own personal brand. Is this an organic relationship? Is there genuine support for the content?

These concerns are warranted. This is why we as marketers need to choose influencers carefully and reach out to them in a thoughtful and respectful manner.

Always consider your approach from the perspective of the influencer before reaching out. This leads to the second step of the two-part equation: the type of collaborative relationship to foster with influencers.

Co-creation over crowdsourcing

Co-creation should be the end goal of collaboration with influencers. Co-creation means both shared goals and a mutual, deeper investment in the end product. Crowdsourcing is surface-level and implies an open forum where a large group of people are openly-sourced—answers, thoughts and ideas are collected and only the best are selected.

Expecting influencers—or anyone for that matter—to participate in a creative process through crowdsourcing implies that their time and ideas are not necessarily valuable, but one of many voices. By contrast, co-creation fosters a valuable relationship between the creative team and the participating influencers.

Co-creation can include a give-and-take in which influencers have more of a stake in the creation of content. Influencers are not just given credit for small insights or answer to poll question, but rather play a crucial role in the initial brainstorming, refining of concepts and eventually executing the big ideas to create problem-solving content.

The future of influencer-driven content marketing

This two-part equation for influencer-driven content marketing is a recipe for content marketing inspired by consumer generated ideas. This is how we generate genuine engagement, which yields genuine trust in brands. Powerful influencers in each community have opportunities to interact with their audience on a day-to-day basis, so why not give these same influencers the opportunity to interact with the brands also?