How to amplify your content when your direct customers aren't sharing it.
You’ve been busy developing and posting thoroughly researched and well-written content, but it has barely generated a blip in your analytics. Frustration and desperation are starting to set in, and you’re contemplating pushing the panic button and exploring the idea of buying links.
WAIT! There’s a better way!
Step away from the ledge and read below to learn how to start gaining traction with your content. Whether you’re having problems with your customers not spreading your message because they aren’t necessarily tech savvy, or are in “listen only” mode, the steps outlined below can help you get the ball rolling.
The key is to go around your passive audience and talk to those who are inclined to share your content. You need to influence the influencers. Target the media outlets that appeal to your potential customers and impress them. This involves both the online world, which includes blogs, search engines, and social accounts, and the offline world of trade publications, trade shows, classic media, etc. By winning over allies in these areas that are more willing to share your content, their voices will be heard by the customers you want to attract.
The omnipresence, utility, and convenience of the Internet have become so central to our business and personal lives that it causes us to forget the importance of offline marketing. Video conferences and high speed Internet allow for instantaneous communications and sharing of ideas, yet business travel is still expanding with 467.3 million domestic business trips forecasted for 2017. Conferences and conventions are still a fundamental part of marketing and networking, which make them a great place to show your brand’s value to people who WILL amplify your content. The key to remember however is that the content that appeals to this group of influencers is different than that which is directly sought after by your customers. The content and messaging you use to target the influencers is often much less transactional, “salesy,” and often provides a general solution to a problem, rather than pushing your own products.
Regardless of your particular industry, your goal should be to provide value to these influencers. Value can take the form of a useful tool (digital or physical) that somehow makes a process in your particular industry easier, or something unique (research, content, expertise, etc.) to further the conversation of innovation. Creating excitement and intrigue within a group of influencers in this environment often transitions to the online world through blog posts, referrals in trade publications, and social media praise.
Example scenario: “Open Workspace,”a specialty furniture design company that focuses on the needs of today’s office workers and the importance of ergonomics, decides that it wants to bring value to this industry and establish itself as a thought leader. It knows that many office managers and COOs don’t keep up with all the advancements (and costs) in standing desks, pleasing illuminations, open workspaces, etc. To demystify this topic, “Open Workspace” creates a microsite with an interactive calculator that helps determine how many standing desks and other advanced furniture pieces can fit in your floor plan, along with how much it would cost on average. By taking a vague idea and putting it into concrete and easily understandable terms, “Open Workspace” is encouraging the adoption of these new technologies across the industry. Although this rising tide (interest) lifts all boats (all companies in this industry), because “Open Workspace” did such a great job breaking down any possible questions and objections, it’s established itself as the go-to company for this furniture.
"Partnering should be wielded as a sword, not a shield. It best suits companies with aspirations that exceed their resources. You should be driven by a motivation to reach out and gain market share, develop new markets, and leverage your current position."
- Curtis E. Sahakian
Many of your potential customers base their purchase decisions off of search engine result rankings, subconsciously assigning more credibility to those brands that display towards the top of search results. Often seeming like a “Catch 22,” placing well in search results to gain these potential customers is difficult when your brand isn’t being shared or mentioned online. Partnering with local business can be the catalyst your brand needs to get the online awareness flywheel turning.
Example Scenario: Looking to boost exposure via an untapped client base, Water Sports ‘R’ Us partners with a local hotel that hosts large conventions and conferences. Intending to provide value and convenience to customers of the hotel, it sponsors helpful real-time weather updates and tips to know about the local environment for first-timers. By solidifying their value as a resource in the consumers’ minds before arrival, the company is now in a better place to connect with a more receptive audience once they check into the hotel. Building on this momentum, they work with the hotel to provide shuttles for those interested in going to a session of jet skiing and paddle boarding between conference down time. While this injection of sales is certainly welcome, the overall goal is to build their online presence. Therefore, it presents these customers with the option of sharing their great experience online and on social media, like Yelp, for a 10% discount.
This strategy of earning links, rather than buying them can go a long way to boost the rental company’s position in both local search and overall Google search rankings.
The perceived ease of sharing content on social media gives many businesses a false sense of confidence, which can easily lead to ineffective social campaigns. Understanding the difference between which social platforms your customers are frequenting, and which the influencers you’re targeting are using is critical for success.
Social Media is a broad topic, but not all platforms are treated equally. For example, you may think that because 71% of adults use Facebook, whereas 28% use LinkedIn, that Facebook is the best way to get your message across, and increase the amount it’s shared. It’s important to consider how the content your direct customers like differs from that which their influencers find sharable, and pick the right social platform to broadcast it.
Facebook is a great platform for brands that can build excitement through controversy, passion, excitement, and tribalism (think CrossFit). However, if you’re in an industry like Medical, Law, or Finance, and are hoping to earn social shares on a platform like Facebook, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, tailoring content for LinkedIn or even Twitter will connect with members of those technical fields much better. Even so, you need to remember that your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to target your customers’ individual online presences, but instead the source of where they search for ideas and inspiration. By tailoring content specifically for respected industry experts or providing studies and statistics for trade publications, your chances of being mentioned in respected circles of influencers are dramatically increased. This attention to your brand from the influencers will eventually trickle down to the audience you’re ultimately trying to convert, and it will carry more weight having not come directly from you.
After posting an update on LinkedIn for example, compare the analytics with your other posts. If it earned organic success with the influencers you targeted, then don’t be hesitant to pay for sponsorship of the post. Using the detailed data segments that LinkedIn offers, you can exponentially increase the reach of your content and build link-earning momentum. The online interaction with your brand originating from these industry experts can be crucial in shaping the opinions of your direct customers and validating your credibility.
Hopefully these ideas will inspire your brand to explore ways to get around the problem of non-sharing customers and earn links in a more roundabout way. As the old saying goes, “Why rent (your links) when you can own them?”