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The end is nigh! (Create original content and ye shall be saved)

Posted by Dan Hatch on 8th October , 2019 in The Write Fit
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There’s a trope you often see in disaster films: a manic street preacher (sometimes wearing a sandwich board, sometimes holding a placard) standing on a corner prophesising the end of the world.

“Repent!” he urges. “Repent!”

Instead of listening, the good people of New York/Los Angeles/San Francisco/Insert highly populated US city here shove past him, going about their business – even as dark storm clouds gather overhead.

Got that picture in your head?

Good. Now let me tell you the really crazy part.

That guy’s marketing strategy is more effective than posting on Facebook.

If you’ve tried posting something on Facebook lately, that statement probably rings true. But don’t rely on my say so and your gut instinct. Let’s hear from an actual expert.

Christopher Penn is co-founder of Trust Insights, a US-based marketing analytics company that recently put out a report called Social Networks 2020: Where to Invest Time and Resources in Social Media Marketing. (You can get it here.) If we’re going to listen to anyone on social media effectiveness, he’s probably the guy.

In a post on Medium a couple of weeks ago, Chris put the effectiveness of posting on Facebook like this:

“When four out of 10,000 people are reached by your Facebook posts, you’re better off standing outside on a sidewalk handing out brochures to random passers-by.”

(Hat tip to Ann Handley’s newsletter, where I first read this ripsnorter of a quote.)

The Book of (Social Media) Exodus

Facebook and other social channels keep changing the rules. Businesses have seen the effectiveness of organic reach plummet to below two per cent, as Facebook pushes us towards paid advertising.

Anyone who has built their audiences on the “rented land” that is social media will be starting to feel the effects. Just ask “influencers” how they feel about Instagram’s decision to do away with likes in seven countries, including Australia, with a possible global roll-out to follow.

But audiences are shifting, too. The Trust Insights report shows people are fleeing Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and even TikTok (which most of us didn’t even know existed until recently).

Back in June, at the State of Social Conference in Perth, a panel of experts explained why people were deleting their social media accounts:

  • A lack of trust (Facebook has been particularly affected, following the Cambridge Analytica revelations);
  • The lack of privacy (people don’t want to post publicly any more).

Consumers are moving their conversations to private spaces, such as WhatsApp groups.

This, as you can imagine, is going to be a huge problem for businesses that want to reach consumers with their messages.

Fortunately, there is a solution. But you need to start now. Here’s what to do.


The Genesis of Something Great

  • Build your email database. Don’t build your house on rented land. Instead of creating your audience on social media (and submitting to play by Facebook’s rules), focus on collecting email addresses so you can contact your audience whenever you like, without a middleman.
  • Start an email newsletter. Don’t just collect email addresses, use them. A regular email newsletter is a fantastic way to keep your brand in front of your audience. Offer really useful information, insights, or entertainment, to keep your audience interested and engaged. (The best way to do this is to write and share original content.)
  • Build a community. Find ways to build an engaged community that doesn’t involve social media. Here in the UK, marketer Mark Masters holds a monthly “lunch club”. It has become a huge social event for the business community in his hometown of Bournemouth, with special guests, a weekly newsletter, a podcast and now an annual conference.
  • Create great content. Tell your story and tell it well. Whether it’s regular blog posts, long-form interviews, a podcast, a book – it doesn’t matter. Create informative, educational, insightful and entertaining original content that turns your real estate (your website, your event, etc) into a destination.

This isn’t to say that there’s no place for social. Of course there is. Social should be a part of a healthy and balanced marketing diet.

You don’t need to repent for your use of social media, you just need to build an audience you can reach without relying on it.
Dan Hatch
8 October 2019

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