≡ Menu

How to convince traditional marketers to create non-promotional social content

In 2002, it was standard operating procedure

In 2007, it was cute.

Now, in 2012, it’s somewhat absurd.

Yet somehow, in the present day, there are still all sorts of companies – big and small – that simply cannot grasp why they would ever create web content that was explicitly geared towards selling something.

From blog posts promoting the latest product line to Facebook updates with lead-generation calls to action to a Twitter stream filled with nothing but coupons, call-outs, and daily specials it seems like there is still a very strong contingent of marketers that are unable to break away from the traditional broadcast, interruption marketing model. And when a business applies this approach to social media channels everyone loses.

Mind you, I’m convinced that in many cases – especially at the mid-tier to enterprise level – this adherence promotional content creation is the result of a marketers that are unable to convince their superiors that there is indeed a different, better way. If you’re stuck in this predicament, here are a few recommendations that might help you break through to your internal stakeholders and subsequently break away from promotional social posts:

  1. Sell it – Don’t just tell people that they should be building non-promotional social content (e.g. stuff people actually want to read and share as opposed to stuff that’s explicitly selling something). Put together a formal plan. Build out a good-looking Powerpoint presentation. Show the math (e.g. the ROI potential). And perhaps most importantly, learn how to tell your story in compelling way.
  2. Get buy-in from parallel stakeholders – If you talk to enough people within your organization, you might just find that there are hidden advocates that are ready and willing to back you up and vouch for the effectiveness of modern content marketing strategies. It could be the PR team, or maybe the copywriting/creative team, or maybe even a heady stakeholder in the finance division that’s into digital trends. The point is that you need to talk to folks and tell your story so that you can build up a groundswell that your superiors will find difficult to ignore or reject.
  3. Find a reputable third-party that can help advocate – There are a lot of very well-respected agencies out there that have the necessary industry accolades and case studies to help you sell your story internally. Find them and bring them in to help pitch the idea. Sometimes, an executive stakeholder requires external validation before he/she before giving the green light.
  4. Use SEO as the roadway to measurable ROI – social media content initiatives rarely drive direct response, so it’s hard to justify them in terms of lead-gen, e-commerce revenue, etc. However, if you can lucidly explain the clear link between social media content efforts and incremental SEO revenue, it will become that much easier to get the internal buy-in you need to change the content paradigm.

And lastly, be tenacious. Don’t give up on your efforts to usher in this paradigm shift. It could take months, maybe even years, but the long-term ROI is well-worth the sustained effort.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://twitter.com/content_muse Anthony Pensabene

    Good points, Hugo. It is a long(er)-term strategy; but, infusing branding elements into marketing rather than pointblank advertising goods/services can and often does make an impact.

    In many verticals, rather than find the Google-est way to out-Google the next guy, perhaps consumers will be more influenced by the ‘personality’ of the brand as modeled through content. SER rank is not very personally tangible, but wrapping one’s head around brand content does offer a number of tangible elements.

    I think in a number of cases, securing allegiance is much like building a personal relationship. Theoretically, one can be ‘friends’ with anyone; yet, why are some people better friends with some than others?

    I believe in many cases, consumers would like to see more of the content you describe above. I never really understood some lines of thought regarding ‘commercials.’ The exuded aura is not very personable and quite sterile. Moreover, the ads are obviously a means to an end. Alternatively, offering some sort of story or sequential logical path to a conversion, aligned with the brand and what is offered, seems like a more viable way to ‘get friendly’ with consumers.

    Brian Clark made an excellent point in an interview. He stated he never “asks” directly what his consumers want; yet, he is VERY in-tune with supplying them with what they want via observing and paying attention to the psychological elements of marketing and his specific market.

    Many brands seek ”codes’ to unlock the mystery to more consumers and more revenue. I’m not sure you can get these ‘codes’ from machine-like marketing because I’ve never heard of a machine-like consumer. Consumers are real people; marketing needs to attend to this never-ending fact.

    Some resources:
    Brian Clark interview

    Supplements your first point:

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Anthony! You make some interesting points. I try to keep it real simple. Tell a story, make people laugh (or think) and basically make truly useful content that you yourself would want to read and share even if it wasn’t about the brand you work for.

      Seems simple enough, and yet so many brands fail to execute.

      P.S. I think that brand messaging can also easily miss the mark because it often has a subtle “selling” angle and can often exclude real value (e.g. how to, humor, etc.)