Posted on 15th March, 2017 in Digital Marketing

Content Marketing: Adding Value & Maintaining Engagement

15Mar

It’s not news that Facebook and Google are committed to changing their algorithms to provide users with the best experience possible. After all, that’s exactly what we do in our own businesses right? If you work with a contractor who’s performing poorly and not meeting yours or your customer’s expectations, then you make suggestions or you change contractors. Facebook and Google are no different. It’s time to give your content marketing strategy a rethink.

Why do Google and Facebook matter?

Digital marketing in 2016 wouldn’t be what it is without Facebook and Google. These two platforms leave their competitors in the dust with their exceedingly high traffic volumes.

This post from Smart Insights exposes some incredible statistics about web and social media use in 2016. As of April 2016, Facebook surpassed 1,500 million active users. While, Search Engine Land reported from sources at Google that in the last four years they have handled over 1 trillion searches per year, that’s over 2 billion a day!

Facebook and Google have saturated their respective markets and, as such, have an astounding level of control over how we interact with media. Which means, as digital marketers, knowing exactly how Facebook and Google’s algorithms affect our content is critical to figuring out what to create, how to create it and how to promote it.

The Evolution of Content Marketing

There was a time, and I’m sure we all remember it (much to our chagrin), when quantity was king. It was a time when all websites were producing content at ridiculous rates. The internet was littered with pages and pages of content that made very little sense. It was the equivalent of publishing every page with lorem ipsum.

“The problem with producing high volumes of content is ensuring that it’s high quality. And it wasn’t … Both Facebook and Google, while still valuing quality, are more focused on key user metrics like: time on page, bounce rate, average pages/session, etc.”

The problem with producing high volumes of content is ensuring that it’s high quality. And it wasn’t. We also need to remember that this was the era of keyword stuffing. Where every 10 words or so, content creators were dropping their focus keywords. Which didn’t make for a terribly engaging read.

Since then, we’ve surpassed the quantity over quality debate. We’ve even moved beyond a focus on quality. Both Facebook and Google, while still valuing quality, are more focused on key user metrics like: time on page, bounce rate, average pages/session, etc. etc. ad inifinitum. On top of this, users are getting smashed by the volume of content being pushed in their faces.

As a result, we’ve transitioned into the era of content marketing for value. Content marketing must now focus on delivering value to the user to maintain their interest and their patronage in order to appease the Google (and Facebook) gods. Check out our list below for best practices to improve your content marketing.

Stahp the clickbaiting!

You’ve probably noticed (or maybe you haven’t), a severe reduction in the clickbait articles that you’ve been seeing on Facebook. It was mid-last year that Facebook’s clickbait algorithm update was implemented. To cut a long story short the update was designed to remove or reduce the frequency of news feed links like this…

That classic headline, “You’ll never guess what she did when/next…” was charged with withholding content and found guilty! Part of the problem is that this form of clickbaiting is solely designed to get traffic to sites whose advertising is based on a cost per impression. This is obviously great for the website and terrible for the advertiser. Not to mention, it’s advertising revenue that is dripping through Facebook’s fingertips.

Death of A Salesman

When Facebook launched their algorithm update the two key focuses were that the your newsfeed should inform and entertain. While this was also a reaction to the accusations laid of FB’s news cherry picking, it was a bid to move away from content that was/is overly promotional.

The algorithm update attempted to decrease the occurrence of posts that:

  • Solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  • Push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Reuse the exact same content as ads

Now it’s obvious that this certainly serves Facebook’s advertising revenue stream. However, it also improves the quality of the content available to users. In the same way Google’s algorithm preferences sites that have better time on page, lower exit rates and better user engagement in general. The reason behind this, is that these metrics indicate relevance and resonance with target audiences. Keeping these metrics up, is key to maintaining great SEO practices.

Providing Users with Content They Truly Value

Both Facebook and Google are dedicated to giving their users the most relevant content at their fingertips. Facebook does this by allowing you to curate your news feed. Google does it by analysing your search queries and returning the best results that are most relevant to you.

“Developing different content for different platforms is critical! Also, no content strategy will float without at least a modicum of user profiling. Once you’ve taken these into account and really looked at how your users interact with your brand you’re sitting pretty.”

Facebook stated explicitly that it would privilege information from friends and family. It’s important to keep that in mind when you build your social media strategy into a content marketing strategy. In that case, LinkedIn may be a better place to drop your information heavy blogs. Regardless, there is an increasing focus on providing the right type of value to the right user on the right platform at the right time.

That’s a level of granularity that is probably overwhelming at first but less so if you’ve given some serious time and consideration to your content strategy. Developing different content for different platforms is critical! Also, no content strategy will float without at least a modicum of user profiling. Once you’ve taken these into account and really looked at how your users interact with your brand you’re sitting pretty.

“Do they look to you for information, guidance, rad products or great service? How can you fill them in on what they want to know? Analyse their profile, interrogate their motives and identify their problems.”

Part of this can be producing information that is timely for your users or taking a different spin on old content. It’s a great idea to start thinking about how your users, prospects or customers may be looking to interact with your brand. Do they look to you for information, guidance, rad products or great service? How can you fill them in on what they want to know? Analyse their profile, interrogate their motives and identify their problems.

Maintaining User Focus and Engagement

Relatively recently, Facebook fessed up to miscalculating the average viewing time for videos. This has now been replaced with two new metrics: video average watch time and video percentage watched. These give an even deeper insight into user engagement. This is just a minor example of Facebook’s committment to providing content managers with information to support their ongoing efforts. On top of this Facebook (like Google) preferences your news feed based on “time spent viewing”.

This means that keeping your users engaged for longer is critical. The only way to do that is to produce content that offers them something of value which is relevant to maintain their interest.

Reach and Referral – Make Your Content Go The Distance

Creating content that is shareable is pretty key to every single content strategy. Moreover, with the changes made to Facebook’s news feed sharing your posts will mean that your users’ family and friends will see your content. Your reach and referral traffic will always be linked to the value your users find in your content. The more content is shared the more people it will reach and the more time people will spend on your page. If you can get this rolling you’ll have Google and Facebook frothing all over your content.

The Scattergun Theory

It may be a shock to those not in the know but Google and Facebook preference multimedia content over text. Videos, images, gifs and the like provide significantly higher engagement User experience is key, so if users aren’t engaging with particular pieces of content then ditch them and focus on the ones that work

Scattergun theory revolves around the understanding that different individuals learn differently. Some people read to learn, others watch, or learn best from graphic and visual presentation. Others learn better kinesthetically (sometimes know as tactile learning). So, by using a range of different media to engage users in a different way, your message is more likely to resonate with a higher percentage of your audience.

So what does this mean for me?

“Generally speaking, it now means that just developing content is no longer good enough to remain competitive in the age of digital marketing.”

Well, that depends on how serious you are about content marketing. Generally speaking, it now means that just developing content is no longer good enough to remain competitive in the age of digital marketing. If you’re serious and keen on improving your content strategy then follow these tipes:

  • All content should deliver something of value to your users
  • Understanding how your users engage with your website is critical
  • Kill the sales pitch and clickbait headlines (they undermine your credibility)
  • Use multimedia to better communicate your messaging
  • Focus on keeping users engaged!

To chat all things content, drop us a line on our contact page.

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