Have you put all of your marketing eggs in one basket? If you're like many small business owners and entrepreneurs, using earned and paid channels—social media being the most prominent example—tend to be the most popular avenues where you share content and promote your brand.
But this leaves you at the mercy of third-party companies, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Clubhouse and TikTok, who can unexpectedly shut you down or penalise you with the press of a button. Recent changes in the media landscape highlight the need for all businesses to refocus their attention on their owned channels, and have a content strategy contingency plan in place should a third-party platform make changes that negatively impact your brand. If 2020 has taught business owners anything positive, it's to be more strategic and intentional with our brand and marketing strategies.
Social Media Fail: Does Your Content Marketing Strategy Protect You From Sudden Changes on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?
Case Studies: Real Examples of Why You Need to Own Your Promotional Channels
Regardless of your political stripes, you're probably very aware of the recent decisions by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and other social media companies to shut down or ban certain politicians from their platforms.
But you don't have to be the former president of the United States to be affected by sudden changes in the social media world.
Take Australian businesses as a recent example. In the early weeks of February 2021, Facebook's negotiations with the Australian government broke down. Without any warning, Facebook banned hundreds of Australian publishers, businesses and government agencies from its platform, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that even senior government officials were "caught off-guard by the ban."
If you were one of those businesses or publishers affected, and all of your content and promotional efforts lived on Facebook, you would have seen your marketing completely implode – literally overnight.
While that's an extreme example, it shows just how unpredictable and unreliable it is to centre your entire content strategy around channels that you have no control over.
And it's far from an isolated case:
- Hubspot reports that Facebook's organic reach has been steadily declining, dropping from 16 percent in 2012 to less than 7 percent just two years later.
- in 2021, some brands and small businesses have seen their Instagram engagement suddenly drop-off due to purported "shadow bans" and algorithm changes.
- Search engine algorithm changes can happen, too. For instance, former content powerhouse Demand Media built its entire company around Google, and a single Google algorithm change cost the corporation $6.4 million in a single quarter.
Social media, search engines, and other third-party promotional channels will always be a foundational element of any content marketing strategy. However, the above case studies highlight the need to refocus your investment into your owned channels:
- Your website
- Your blog
- Your email list
- Any other promotional channels you use that you completely own (i.e. print newsletters, text messaging lists, etc.)
Prepare For the Future: Shift Your Content Strategy Today
The only constant with social media is that it changes, and it changes fast. No matter your industry, your niche or your brand, your best strategy to becoming a future-proof business is to invest in channels that you completely own.
1. Reframe Your Social Media Philosophy
Instead of thinking of social media as one of your primary marketing drivers, flip your content strategy script. Social media can support your content marketing strategy, but it should no longer be what your entire strategy is built on.
Social media is also no longer seeing the organic impact it once started out with, it is no longer a free marketing channel to find new leads or audiences. Start viewing social media as more of a paid ad platform (companies like Instagram and Facebook are increasingly transparent about their efforts to limit organic reach to push businesses to buy PPC and PPV ads).
This means you'll need to refocus your time and energy on prioritising your website and blog.
2. Reallocate Your Content Strategy to Your Website and Blog
Every brand has a limited budget. But if you don't have ample marketing spend, it is far better to reallocate your focus, time and money on building content on your own site first. Then, focus on reach as a second step.
While social media platforms like Facebook offer savvy tools for inbound marketing and lead generation (for instance, lead collection through the Facebook Messenger bot on your Facebook page), all it takes is for the media giant to de-platform you or change its coding to leave you out in the cold.
When you make your own website the primary channel by which you build traffic, generate leads and trigger sales, you will future-proof your business and create a safety net should any of your third-party channels implement changes that affect your company.
Start creating content on your site that:
- Educates your customers.
- Answers their most pressing questions and solves their most urgent problems.
- Highlights all the ways that your products and services benefit their lives.
- Points to ways that your audience can engage with your brand. So that you can market to them and fully own the entire promotional funnel (i.e., a lead-generating form for a free ebook or download, or a sign-up form for a webinar or digital event).
3. Focus on the Right Content Types
As you adjust your content strategy, don't spread yourself too thin. There is a lot you can do, but trying to do too much will simply lead to low-quality content that underperforms.
To start, prioritize long-form content on your blog. An estimated 50% of customers say they read a company's blog before making a purchasing decision. Plus, building your long-form content will:
- Improve your organic SEO, so most potential customers can find your website when searching the web.
- Build more trust and credibility with your leads, thus increasing your future sales.
- Establish your brand as a thought leader or trusted authority in your field.
- Enhance your brand recall, helping you to generate more sales from returning customers.
4. Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose
With your owned channels as your focus, find ways to repurpose your new long-form content into additional pieces for other channels (using many shorter pieces is key). This gives you the most marketing bang for your content buck, and helps you diversify your reach while still keeping your website/blog as the centrepiece.
This might look like:
- Emailing your new blog article to your email list.
- Pulling out succinct tips and quotable strategies, turning them into short tips, and sharing them on social media (here at Marketing Your Brand, we've done that with our Insta-Tips series that drive our Instagram audience back to our main website).
- Repurpose the content even further into video, infographics, etc. (look at your audience analytics and identify what types of media your audience engages with most, then convert your articles into these formats).
A Quick Content Strategy Checklist
Free yourself from the whims and fancy of the social media giants and take back control of your marketing. As you look at your content strategy, consider these tips and steps to make sure you're checking off all the right boxes.
- Build long-form content on your website and blog, all ending with a clear call-to-action, lead form, download or other actionable content that collects the reader's info.
- Repurpose that content into shorter pieces that you can promote on social media, but driving back to your website/blog.
- Observe what types of content performs best with your audience, and what they engage in (e.g. infographics, quizzes, video, audio, podcasts, etc.).
- Repurpose your long-form content into these alternative content formats.
Social media is unpredictable, and putting all of your marketing eggs into a proverbial basket that you have no control over, could end up sabotaging your business success in the long run.
Take back your online authority, build your brand, and future-proof your long-term success with a content strategy that focuses on your own website and blog. If your existing content strategy doesn't do that (and most businesses have yet to prioritize this approach), contact Marketing Your Brand today! Our friendly experts will help you build a strategic approach to content that meets your business objectives and keeps you in full control of all your marketing.
When the only certainty in social media is uncertainty, businesses must re-prioritize their most reliable marketing asset: Themselves! Marketing Your Brand is available to help you do that today.