What is the real value of the content you produce? Should you be creating your own content or hiring someone to do it for you? What about content curation?
This is part 2 of my in-depth answers to those questions. I've identified 6 levels of content and list them here in order of their most valuable to least valuable:
1. Business Owner Creates Content
2. Business Owner Curates Content
3. Business Owner Socially Engages
4. Hire Content Creator or Task an Employee
5. Hire Content Curator or Task an Employee
6. Hire Social Media Agency
In The Value Of Content, Part 1, I explained the first two items on that list. Today, I'm continuing with the third.
My continued evaluation below explains how content creation and curation fit together. For simplicity sake I'm only using "blogging" as the "content" being created or curated, even though content actually includes other stuff like videos, podcasts, and photos.
Business Owner Socially Engages
Spending time on social media is the biggest time waster for any business owner. The easiest way to waste away your morning is to log onto Facebook as soon as you get to work! Resist the urge!
Save your personal social media activities for your lunch break and after hours. The only social activity you should be doing during the workday is answering customer questions when your social manager doesn't know the answer, and replying to newly found online reviews.
On Facebook, you can reply to customers who've commented on previous posts, the same on Google+. On Twitter, you need to answer anyone who is directly mentioning your name, brand, or designated hashtag you're using in current marketing.
Another important part of this content level is the occasional times when you need to reply to online reviews. You should reply to all online reviews, good and bad.
When answering customers through social media, my recommendation is for you to respond using your personal identity. If a customer is complaining about you, don't hide behind your store's brand and simply say "we're sorry." Take control of the situation and specifically take responsibility as the owner of the business by using and signing with your name.
The time you spend engaging socially is not directly linked to any sales, but your customers will appreciate, and remember that you, the business owner, were willing to provide a personal touch and that you were approachable.
All of your online engagements don't have to be perfect, but they do need to be honest in order to protect and continue to build your reputation.
I'm estimating $25 labor cost every time you reply to a social post since it will probably require 30 minutes of your time.
Hire Content Creator or Task an Employee
While many companies throw around the phrase "content marketing" as some all inclusive plan, I view content marketing as a low cost, blanket strategy to flood the internet with the information that you feel is needed to attract new customers.
The content created for "content marketing" is formulated based on previous measured keywords, or because you want to target a specific market segment. Every time you buy into a new designer line in your store, you need to create content to help tell the world that those products are now available.
Content marketing usually includes several blogs on the chosen topic. Those blogs are intended to attract organic visitors from Google who are searching for that product or service. You usually need a few blog posts on your site before you start to appear in Google's search results, but you shouldn't spend your time writing them.
This is the job for a freelancer or one of your employees.
This is also the minimum level of content building that you must perform. Without this type of content marketing, all other methods of online marketing will not have supporting information and yield very unsatisfactory results.
As the business owner, you will provide the outline of what topics to write about and the keywords that need to be used. Don't worry too much about keyword count; just instruct the writer to be natural, and use the keywords as often as is appropriate. Most likely these blogs will have an unavoidable higher density of keywords that you shouldn't worry too much about.
You'll probably pay a freelancer a flat fee for every post they write, regardless of the number of hours they spend. You should expect that your employee will spend at least an hour, but no more than two, writing a blog. I estimate that the labor cost here is from $13 to $25 per blog. That doesn't include your own labor cost to find keywords, choose topics, and review the blog before it's published.
The purpose of content marketing is to rapidly build organic search traffic, but most of that organic traffic won't convert into customers like your in-depth stories explained above. So feel free to include other offers, product ads, photos, and flash headlines on the screen to draw the visitor deeper into your website. The only conversion optimization technique needed on these pages is to get the reader to click 1 page further into your site.
We've been using this strategy for several years and the typical results we see are more than 50 organic visitors to a website every month for every new blog post. The results are compounding over the years as Google drives more traffic every month that a new post was added.
Hopefully you would see the same results.
This topic continues to be much larger and more in-depth than I expected, so I'll have to conclude it on Monday because tomorrow is the usual Friday Review.
Make sure to come back and keep reading because I'm putting together a really cool infographic you'll be able to refer back to.