When outlining a content marketing strategy to new clients, the terms “blogging” and “social media” often raise immediate objections. I’ll hear about how they tried it a while ago, and it didn’t work. And they have a valid point; it usually doesn’t.
Why do blogging and social media efforts typically fail for small companies?
1) No time
Most small business owners are incredibly busy. Their titles include CEO, CMO, Recruiter, Trainer, HR Representative, Bookkeeper, Part-time Accountant, Sales Rep., Support Rep., Janitor and more. Responding to email and phone calls now ties up about half of their day. There is no way anyone can do even half of those jobs well.
On top of this already insane work load, they’ve tried to take on the role of Webmaster, SEO Copywriter, Chief Blogger and Social Media Ambassador. There will never be time to even learn how to handle the content marketing roles at a professional level, much less carry them out effectively. Where ten to fifteen hours per week are common time investments, for a small company, their blogging and social media have been very sporadic and ‘half ass’ at best. In all fairness, they never gave content marketing a shot.
It’s unfortunate, but there are many companies offering ‘quick fix’ alternatives to making a commitment to ongoing, quality content. “All you need is our system,” the phone rep. claims. They would have website owners believe they need only ten minutes a week to dash off one or two paragraphs, in a quick blog post, and the proprietary 3rd party software will automatically handle the social media. And then all they have to do is wait for a flood of leads. On the surface, these automated solutions sound like a good idea. Time leverage is a good thing in business, right? But in a sea of content without any substance, why would anyone take notice of one more piece of mindless crap in their wall or feed each week?
Astute business owners will focus on the one or two things they do exceptionally well, and begin delegating other tasks to people better qualified to see them through. Some companies will already have someone with writing skills, and a marketing background, and all they need is some coaching from an expert. Most small businesses, however, will only be able to capitalize on the power of the internet, with a measure of professional assistance every month.
2) No audience
Most small business owners are accustomed to the “good old days” of advertising. They purchased ad space in the newspaper, or a magazine and perhaps purchased spots on the radio. In other words, they presented their message to a well established audience. If a paper like the Vancouver Sun had a readership of roughly 450,000, Monday – Friday, you rented space in front of 900,000 potential eyeballs.
As traditional content on the printed page dwindles, readers are looking for their content on the web. The rising stars will be those companies that develop their own audience, by providing valuable content, instead of relying on outside media.
It is unrealistic to expect a few Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers to replace the audience of traditional media. Even a few hundred may not put a dent into the number of eyeballs traditional media provided. And while there are unscrupulous companies that will sell you large blocks of social followers, those can hardly be considered potential customers.
Building a sizable audience of qualified email list and blog subscribers, and followers in social channels, will take a lot of work, and doing so effectively is an acquired and very specialized skill. As a minimum, most companies will require some coaching in this area. As busy as most small business owners are, bringing in a social media pro is usually a prudent investment. Also, consider a social media makeover, to improve online branding, enhance your profile and perhaps weed out posts that aren’t helping your image.
3) No scalability
Businesses are either growing or dying. So, unless you’re a professional blogger, where writing posts and marketing them in social media are your job, every hour you invest into do-it-yourself marketing is competing with your ability to provide the product or service your business is known for, and building your success team.
Writing the epic posts that will become your ‘findable’ pillar content, and cultivating your audience, will simply be too time consuming to be sustainable over the long haul.
High quality, relevant and useful content, published regularly, and well marketed, does produce results. But, you have to be all-in to get the payback. If you’re running a company, it’s very unlikely you’ll have the time to become a content marketing expert as well, so you should be looking for someone to pass the baton to.