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Don't waste my time with social media babble

Is anyone else exhausted from the onslaught of meaningless communications from companies you’ve registered with to get newsletters, liked on Facebook or followed on Twitter? 

Here are some recent examples: 'My monitor has died my kingdom for a monitor <squints at a laptop screen #dockingdisaster'; 'Youngest daughter asked “why is it called fencing not sword fighting” and I said “because…em” anyone know?'; ' Olympic Update: Congratulations to Jimmy Lidberg of Farsta, Sweden on winning the bronze medal in Men's 96kg Greco-Roman Wrestling.'

Who cares? It is easy to write content, or find a link to cool and interesting stuff. However, if it doesn’t build on a relationship or understanding of your brand, what is the point? It simply adds to the information bombardment we are all facing.

It seems we are all budding writers. In fact with the surge in ‘social’ we are bloggers, social queens, influencers and more. And many are prolific at it. I for one am more likely these days to ‘filter out’ than ‘in’ and in a world where access to the written digital word is so easy, quality over quantity must become paramount.

A fan nurtured and really engaged, because they know the things they receive from you are interesting, relevant and not useless, is one who is going to continue to read more of your content, respond to you and go on to think of you highly. A study by Nielsen in Australia shows 94 percent of people trust 'earned' media, such as word of mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of media and advertising. Recent research from Digital Surgeons in the US shows 51 percent of Facebook brand followers will purchase that specific brand and 67 percent of Twitter brand followers will purchase that specific brand. But if we continue to dilute this, the effectiveness of social will be lost.

Mainstream media campaigns create mass awareness, but artful digital media which uses interactions to strengthen, engage, lead and tip the audience at the desired moment is now instrumental within most campaigns. PR certainly has changed dramatically from ‘pure PR’ to marketing communications. And now content development is crucial.

PR is now much more than pitching ideas to journalists and looking for celebrity endorsement and ambient ideas to create a buzz. The best campaigns are strongly integrated with the media concept, with the creative concept and with the social element.

The challenge and focus now is to take this one step further and think about content as an ongoing feeding chain, ensuring that there is a seamless flow of messaging to transition a consumer wherever they might drop in on the purchase cycle.

And it is worth doing this given 67 percent of people gathered information online in the past four weeks of June 2012, while those who researched a product or service to buy online has grown from 18 percent to 29 percent from June 2009 vs. 2012, according to Roy Morgan. 

RedBull are masters of this. Having worked with them now for nineyears, it is clear they are as much a media company as they are an energy drinks company. Their engagement with their audience is unparalleled. They have a strong focus on extreme sports, athletes, brand ambassadors and events, weaving these seamlessly into all of their communications. It becomes content that is now in hot demand. However, it is not often that an organisation is this sophisticated and structured to deliver quality content.

PR companies are perfectly positioned in terms of skills and focus to be content developers with strong relationships with various distribution channels and then strategically getting this wider via aggregation by creating the relevant styles and iterations for each channel. The way we consume content across different channels such as email, mainstream media and blog sites is very different. It may be the same content, but our expectations around the pace that we’ll read at and how long we’re willing to read a piece of content for is very different.

Content is required for:

  • Facebook, Twitter
  • Video for YouTube
  • Strategies for SEM optimisations
  • Articles and images for blogging
  • Images for Pinterest and Facebook
  • Regular e-newsletters
  • Updating of Google AdWords in line with new campaigns
  • Content feeding into websites to keep them relevant to  campaigns
  • And the list goes on. 

As an example, in 2011 we worked with Sleepyhead to move them from the bed manufacturing company space into ‘sleeping and well-being’. That strategy involved many facets that the PR team championed in addition to the above the line campaign, from enhancing SEM via correctly written content on each page and identifying strongest keyword searches within health and well-being to target and write content around, to social engagement that linked with the overall messaging and a research component that armed us with information on content and PR angles, and finally a competition to drive databases and winners, who we engaged in social media content and photo shoots giving us even further content. 

Brands need to grow and maintain the right presence in everyday life. The more of these you have the more layers and support you have to generate interaction via a myriad of catchment points. These all require content. Good strong well-thought-out content that is probably more than a marketing assistant has the skills or the time to do.

Cue PR agency, combining public relations, internet marketing, online brand management and content marketing. If content is of high quality, authentic and useful, people will share it with friends, they will blog about it, link to it, like it, comment on it, spread the news via Twitter and email it to their friends – basically aggregate it for you. And the best one is rave about it, because loyal customers who respect, trust and love you will indeed rave about you.

Successful salespeople will tell you your customer needs to know, like, and trust you before they’ll buy. That’s exactly why good content marketing is so effective. Great content buys you the time to build that trusting relationship. So use that time wisely, and don’t waste my time with babble.

Anna St George is founder and director of Lassoo Media and PR and member of the CAANZ Marcomms Leadership Group. @LassooAnnawww.facebook.com/lassoomediapr.