“Can we increase our blog readership by 50% in the next 6 months?”
If you’re a digital marketing or social media professional, questions like this are probably pretty familiar.
For many companies, specific goals are a godsend since social media marketing is still a bit of an uncertainty. It gives those who are responsible for implementation something more tangible to focus their efforts on. I’ve seen it happen many times where an objective like this is communicated by a marketing director or VP and the marketing team jumped all over themselves and each other to provide compelling answers.
But I have to just shake my head when that happens.
It’s so easy to jump in to creative ideas and formulating what’s possible with tactics and tools, all focused on hitting that mark, whether it’s 5,000 more Twitter followers, 10,000 more Facebook fans or 50% more organic referred search traffic to the company blog.
But there’s one thing that’s missing. It’s really the most important thing.
It’s more important than a clever social media ad campaign that boosts visits or a contest that attracts blog subscribers.
The thing that really needs to be nailed down when it comes to blogging or any other social media effort, is the answer to this most important question:
Before you dismiss this as obvious, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a group of smart, accomplished marketers just assume the person in charge of the directive has a well informed answer to “why”.
If you’re a social media marketer, content marketer, copywriter or in another role where blogging is part of your responsibility, try to start asking “why” when you receive directives related to growing community, affecting a certain kind of traffic or other key performance indicator.
If you get a reasonable answer, then you’ll have better context to achieve the goal. If you don’t, then it’s an opportunity to collect the information necessary to make your efforts more productive for you, the company and the audience you’re targeting.
There are several ways to approach this, but one of the most straightforward schemes for asking and managing the “why” is through a cycle of hypothesis, implementation and optimization. For example:
- Data informed Hypothesis – Our web analytics show a correlation between the number of new blog subscribers and the number of referring visitors to our company site that turn into sales leads. If we attract more new readers on topics of interest, we can increase qualified leads.
- Plan – Let’s investigate the highest performing sources of new subscribers as well as the content categories of interest so we can focus on optimizing tactics necessary to increase new readers and referrals to the company website.
- Resources and Tactics – A review of web analytics, social media monitoring and information provided on inquiry forms informs the topics that will drive blog content, advertising and social network promotions to attract new readers. Referring sources that drive new blog readers will be engaged for co-created content, sponsorship, curation and syndication opportunities.
- KPIs – Key Performance indicators measure progress towards our goals of achieving more blog readers, referred traffic from the blog to the company website landing pages. How much traffic is coming to the blog from what referring sources according to our hypothesis? What content topics are most engaging? What topics drive traffic to landing pages? What are the trends?
- Outcome – How many leads are generated from visitors referred from the company blog posts created as part of this plan?
- Optimize – Review KPIs and outcomes to determine performance optimization: content topics, messaging, CTAs, frequency, promotions. Consider hypothesis revision as necessary.
If your social media marketing doesn’t follow a process like that exactly, no problem. You can still ask how the directive rolls up to your business goals. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of connecting the dots and making sure everyone is on the same page.
Just don’t assume that the “why” is clear or commonly understood. Make it part of your process to gain clarity so there’s meaning behind your social media marketing actions. Few online marketing and social media strategies are refined to the point of having all the answers, but making sure the structure of your strategic approach allows for questioning of purpose can mean the difference between activity and productivity – blogging and social media ROI.
What’s your approach to making sure you have the “why” answered for blogging and social media marketing tactics? Do you use a brief or other structured documentation?