I had an interesting conversation the other day with a businessman from New Zealand, talking about the impact and effectiveness of social and content marketing.
A little context: He is the founder of an enterprise seismic software solution. His company is pretty active on LinkedIn, he regularly writes LinkedIn articles, and their company blog on niche seismic stuff gets an impressive amount of traffic.
When talking about what works well in their strategy, two major themes arose:
- Don’t get lost in vanity metrics
- You can’t fake genuine engagement
Don’t get lost in vanity metrics
Marketing should help you make progress toward your organizational goals. Impressions and likes are not an end, but a means to an end.
This guy’s primary goal is sales (like most businesses). As we talked, he reiterated on multiple occasions that he didn’t give a lot of weight to the reach of each of his posts or the number of likes they got because those numbers didn’t give him nearly enough information to know if they were being effective.
He gave more weight to likes than impressions but knew that a lot of the people liking were already friendly (current customers and friends), not necessarily potential customers.
Know the role vanity metrics play
Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. It’s not like there isn’t anything to be learned from vanity metrics. If you can learn to see the correlation between vanity metrics and key needle moving activities you can find useful data points to help inform your strategies moving forward.
For instance, let’s say email blasts are a major conversion tool for you, and one of the primary ways you grow your email list is through an opt-in form on your website’s blog. Finding the conversion rate between blog visitors and email opt-ins will help you improve over time.
5 steps to get more use out of vanity metrics:
- Know your goals
- Identify the most important activities that move you toward your goals
- Benchmark metrics for all of your marketing activities
- Calculate your current conversion rates
- Test and improve your conversion rates over time
You can’t fake genuine engagement
Tools like LinkedIn can create the false impression of being relational when in reality you’re still being a pushy salesman. This approach treats relationships as nothing more than a something to extract value from.
In contrast, both social and content marketing are about building relationships around shared interests. Building trust and credibility adds value over time through direct and indirect interactions and exposures.
You may get away with faking it for a little while, but you’d be building relationships on a weak foundation.
Show up & engage authentically
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Social media can be a powerful promotional tool, but first and foremost it is a communication medium. It is most valuable when it’s used to make frequent, relational touchpoints with your network.
Relationships are not built asking, “what’s in this for me?” Instead, seek to give more than you take. I believe Adam Grant says it well in his book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, “If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed. We can’t pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships.”
5 tips for cultivating relationships online:
- Listen to your customers and target audience. Get to know their challenges, interests, and goals.
- Share content that is interesting, relevant, and helpful to your target audience
- Ask questions and engage with any responses
- Regularly engage on other people’s posts. Like, comment on, and share posts from both your community and people you are trying to build relationships with.
- Know when it’s time to take the conversation offline and pick up the phone or set up a lunch.
Our conversation reminded me…
If you want your marketing efforts to help move the needle on your important organizational goals you need to focus on what matters and look at it as a channel for authentic engagement.
It may not be novel, but hopefully it’s a welcome reminder.