What's your favorite type of content? Given that content includes written articles, videos, podcasts, photography, and every other type of creative digital experience. There's a labor cost associated with creating a digital experience for your customers, a cost that's not easily understood by small business owners.
There's also a competing value of the content that swings between the long term value to attract quality customers and the short term value of getting a lot of attention. Sadly, many content marketing and social media management agencies have hypnotized the world with fancy reports of social engagement and customer reach without being able to substantiate the benefit of all that social media interaction.
Truthfully, social media engagement is a very important piece of the overall online marketing puzzle, but it's only one part of that puzzle.
Recently, I started to analyze exactly what the other pieces of the puzzle might be. With all the data at my fingertips, I carefully reviewed how each of my clients was using social media and producing content and how those components worked together to build sales.
Although my conclusions are not all that Earth shattering, they did outline a formulaic approach to both content building and content curation, and what role a business owner should play in the process.
This is part three of my in-depth explanation of, what I refer to as, a 6 level approach to content creation and content curation.
Here are those 6 levels, 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. In The Value Of Content, Part 2 I explained the items three and four on that list. Today I bring you the last two.
Even though content includes everything that creates a digital experience, I've simplified my evaluation by limiting it to blog writing and how you would share the blogs you find.
Hire Content Curator or Task an Employee
You should either designate one employee or hire a freelancer to curate additional content for you. The strategy here is to give them a list of topics, hashtags, or the social accounts for highly reputable sources that always provide valuable content to their readers.
The curator then searches Google, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook once per week for content that matches your guidelines. An employee will probably have a more discerning opinion of the content to curate and share, while a freelancer will share whatever they find according to your instructions.
In this previous Nugget I explained that you, the business owner, should write a commentary for all the content that you curate. Similarly, at this level of content management, you want to the curator to write a brief description of the found post. Keep the description short, perhaps no more than 50 words, and even shorter when shared to Twitter. Let customers determine for themselves if they want to click the shared link.
There are several content curation services that you can use to publish newsletters of all the curated content. With this strategy, it's best to group sections of the newsletter to a single hashtag. You could also publish a different newsletter every week using a 4 week schedule of typical topics. The first week of every month could be designated as the birthstone newsletter.
Although using curation services makes the process easy, it's better to establish a way to curate all that stuff on your own website as well as sharing it socially. Although the descriptions are short, posting these to a section of your website will also build organic traffic.
When curating the content to the social account, make sure to use one of the scheduling programs like Hootsuite or Buffer to sporadically post over the next 7 days.
Although you can use systems like http://paper.li to create automatic daily curation newsletters for you, the process I'm explaining here has more value than those automated systems. You can assign this job to an employee for 2 hours every week, which should be enough time to find 7 good stories to describe and arrange in a scheduling program. I'm assigning a labor cost of $25 to this activity because it should take no more than 2 hours.
This activity is certainly a "top-of-funnel" type of activity and it will attract attention from anyone searching for the hashtags strategically included in the social shares and newsletters. This activity won't build sales, but it will build awareness of your brand.
Hire Social Media Agency
Of all the content levels I've explained, this one is probably the most widely used, and least understood. All too often I hear business owners saying "I need to be on Facebook," yet they can't tell me why. There's a real attraction to using Facebook for business now that they claim to have more than a billion active monthly users.
Google+ is far better for search engine optimization purposes, but it doesn't carry the same appeal as Facebook, and many owners simply do not understand Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram yet. Business owners who attempt to use social media, Facebook in particular, usually end up in complete frustration because they spend so much time managing it, yet very few, if any, sales come from it.
They assume they are doing it wrong, when in fact they are probably doing it right. The missing piece to their puzzle is that they've not built any supporting content for their audience to have that digital experience.
Assuming you've realized that you need to use social media daily, you must next realize that you, the business owner, should not be the one doing it. That entire daily social media posting takes too long and is a complete distraction from the work that makes you money. Therefore you need to hire an agency or an in-house social media manager to take care of this level for you.
On a daily basis the agency/manager will need to:
- Write a one-sentence intro to your in-depth stories and share it to all platforms. They should do this the day that you publish your monthly in-depth story.
- Write a one-sentence intro to each of the curated blogs prepared by the business owner, then share that to all social platforms. This has another compounding affect because you are creating a web of shared links that jump from social accounts, to the on-site blog, and then to the original curated content. The agency/manager should not simply repeat your summary, but write a description or it.
- Write a one-sentence intro to every content marketing blog you paid for, then share that to all platforms. In fact, the agency/manager should always socially share all the new pages of the site, especially after you've added new designer information.
- Share the link and hashtags to the curated newsletter you created using an online service or published on your website.
- Maintain a calendar of posts that will create customer engagement. They call you to participate when they need guidance on how to answer a customer.
The activities of your social agency/manager will be noticed by people. It has a visible effect of letting new customers know that you are there and approachable.
What most business owners fail to realize is that direct money is rarely made from daily social media engagement. This daily engagement is necessary to grease the wheels of discovery for all the other content management levels explained in Part 1 and Part 2, but it has a negative and frustrating affect if attempted in a silo.
Paying someone to spend the time to socially post is akin to unlocking your store in the morning, flipping the "open" sign, and turning the lights on. Those activities alone will not make you money unless you have supportive sales staff, merchandise, and other advertising to draw customers in. Your online staff, merchandise, and advertising are all created by the content creation and curation methods I've explained in this series.
When you measure the cost of every activity in this list of 6 different levels of content management, the cost for each daily social media post will be lower than any other individual activity. An inexpensive social media agency will charge $400 per month, which is about $13.50 per day.
Although it's good to maintain a close personal relationship with your customers, as the business owner you don't have time to be friends with everyone, or be the first salesperson to speak to everyone. You need to use your talents when and where they are best needed.
A business owner should not be directly involved with the large scale customer acquisition process or website visitor building process. Your business will never thrive if you don't assign that work to hired help.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this 3-part series as much as I did detailing it for the first time. I've put together this infographic for you to print and hang on your wall so you can refer back to the 6 content levels explained above.