Lee Odden

Content, Social & SEO Lead Customers to Great Experiences

Content Social SEOMy friend Bob Knorpp has a good piece on AdAge this week:”Why Marketers Should Break Free of the Digital Content Trap” about the fallacy of content. He makes some good points about companies going through the motions of creating and promoting content on social channels with motivations of retweets, likes, shares and links over real engagement. I have to agree where he says, “content alone is a dead end for ongoing engagement”.

While many savvy online marketers don’t see content as a shortsighted substitute for social strategy or simply as a SEO tactic, but a proxy to creating customer experiences, there are even more who do.  Content is a vehicle for discovery, engagement and sharing.  Content is the mechanism for storytelling and if social and search optimization are also involved in a qualitative way to aid in discovery and sharing of those stories – then all the better.

Bob makes great points about the need to think of new ways to approach digital storytelling beyond single dimensions like videos that “go viral” and infographics that spread like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook. Engagement is indeed more than a click, a share or a link.

In the way that many business bloggers and marketers approach online marketing with an egocentric perspective, promoting messages they want to persuade audiences with vs. empathizing with customer needs and interests, many agencies that create content are more interested in creative self expression over experiences that are truly meaningful to customers.

In our Hub / Spoke and Constellation models for content marketing, we emphasize an understanding of customer needs and behaviors through persona development and attention to variances during the buying cycle. Those insights, combined with ongoing monitoring and engagement, drive content marketing strategy and the creative mix of content objects designed to help prospects have meaningful experiences with the brand.

The content itself is made easier to discover in more relevant ways through search engine optimization and social media optimization. A “Socialize and Optimize” approach to content marketing increases the connections between consumers that are looking (i.e. searching) and discussing (social networking) topics of relevance to the brand solution.

I’ve said it before, great content isn’t great until it’s discovered, consumed and shared.  Littering the social web with scheduled Tweets, status updates and blog posts alone is not engagement and certainly not creating the kind of experience that builds brand or motivates customers to buy, be loyal or advocate.

What say you? Can great user experience and storytelling co-exist with social media marketing and SEO?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. Interesting and important questions here. I suppose it’s a bit the chicken and the egg argument, in some respects. It also calls into question the “holy grail” of engagement. What does that *really* mean? What is its value? Is it really the most important thing to all brands creating content? Should it be?

    I think the point here, that we need to be courageous about, is asking these questions – and answering them for your business – and not just assuming that everyone else’s answers are your own.

    • “not just assuming that everyone else’s answers are your own” an insight observation for consuming marketing advice in any scenario I think 🙂

  2. “promoting messages they want to persuade audiences with vs. empathizing with customer needs and interests”

    This is a powerful statement.  Online content is intended to educate, not persuade.  Many bloggers coat their content in a thick layer of salesmanship. It can be clearly seen and is very off-putting.

  3. Dougc52 says:

    You had me with – “empathizing with customer needs and interests,” but you lost me with this self-expressive corporate-speak paragraph.

    In our Hub / Spoke and Constellation models for content marketing, we
    emphasize an understanding of customer needs and behaviors through
    persona development and attention to variances during the buying cycle.
    Those insights, combined with ongoing monitoring and engagement, drive content marketing strategy and the creative mix of content objects designed to help prospects have meaningful experiences with the brand.

    • Models of approach guide organizations and the people within what to do. If the the target customer segment loves Facebook, videos and cars then we’ll be on FB, making videos about cars. If their interests change to specific models of cars or car attributes, then we pay attention and adjust our approach accordingly. Paying attention to customer behaviors tells marketers what to do when planning and creating content. There – I said the same thing differently and I hope it makes sense. 🙂

  4. If it is great content, how is it not engaging? If the content is some 30 second spot or inconsistent budget line item from a brand, it will not create long term wins. But if you are building a library of helpful, relevant content that others would call “great” then there is engagement there. If people are coming back and some of them are converting, then it is working.

    I am not sure I understand the fear here. That the content cost money but is not seen?

    • The issue is that marketers are creating content for the sake of creating content without being thoughtful about outcomes.

      Sure, there are some who will spew content out in creative forms and some of the people who interact with it will convert – but that kind of “throwing spagetti against the wall to see if it sticks” approach can get expensive, hard to duplicate and scale.

      A positive experience and engagement are a proxy to conversions and sales. If there’s great engagement but no sales – then, “Houston, we have a problem.”

  5. Zeshan Noor says:

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  6. Sydney @ Social Dynamics says:

    There is a huge difference between churning out posts just for the sake of quantity, to posting quality, well-written and relevant content. The Internet is quite infamous for quick and easy information, though we all should start sweeping dodgy content, for the sake of our sanity.

  7. “Content is a vehicle for discovery, engagement and sharing.” 

    This is exactly how I landed on your blog.  I was searching for online marketing blogs and yours came up on the top of all Google results.  Apparently, it’s your story telling along with the help of seo that brought me here.  

  8. Hansvonsmythe says:

    If your business does not have a good SEO background you are virtually invisible. I think that SEO should be the base and everything else like storytelling can defiantly co exist!

  9. Lee…Love your qoute “Great content isn’t great until it’s discovered, consumed and shared.” As far as storytelling goes…This goes back to cave men day.  People love stories.  It’s our nature. The more creative ways we can come up with the make stores colorful and lively (thru video, audio, etc) the more valuable they become to our cause or brand.

  10. Content is the mechanism for storytelling and if social and search
    optimization are also involved in a qualitative way to aid in discovery
    and sharing of those stories – then all the better. I agree to this… both content and SEO, in my view, are important.. Quality content is necessary but without SEO marketing is incomplete.