Content marketing strategies are great for delivering information but often fail at really connecting with the reader. Columnist Jen Schrauben makes the case for incorporating friendlier, more authentic content into your overall strategy.
It’s no secret that a well thought out content marketing strategy can boost a brand’s visibility. If executed properly, it generates leads and has a positive effect on ROI. However, many businesses still struggle to utilize content effectively.
Here, I’ll explain the value of being relatable and provide three suggestions to make your content more personable and profitable.
A typical content approach
Too frequently we see blogs that are keyword-ridden and usually competing against 10 to 20 other pieces with almost the exact same title and step-by-step instructions, or white papers that spew keyword-stuffed stats and data. This type of content serves a purpose, but ultimately, it fails to connect in a way that engages an audience or promotes sharing. This is why I urge marketers and businesses to incorporate a different type of content: the personable kind.
Benefits of the likeability factor
If you haven’t seen the “stinky fish video” yet, I encourage you to check it out. It’s a hilarious, family-friendly video involving opening a can of “surströmming,” a type of fermented herring common in Sweden. The video features Joe McCloskey, a local insurance agent for Farmers Insurance, and his family.
I stumbled upon his video in my Facebook and Twitter feeds; my husband and I watched it together and laughed hysterically. Without knowing what Joe does for a living or what his purpose in making the video was, we liked him. And so did others.
I took a peek at Joe’s Facebook page and saw that he now has over 50,000 followers. Even crazier, since the release of that video, Joe has received 256 five- or four-star reviews on Facebook.
The kicker is that if you read the reviews, you’ll see that people are rating Joe based on their perception of him — his “brand,” if you will. These aren’t current clients; rather, they are people who like him based on his family’s silly stinky fish video!
What I also found interesting (not to mention likeable) is that Joe actually takes the time to interact with these people via his social media channels — all without being “salesy.”
Google continues to give weight to reviews and social cues. Here are the top eight local search ranking factors, according to Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors Study 2017:
Based on this, I wanted to know if all of this hype was translating into actual customers and affecting Joe’s bottom line.
Bottom-line business impact
So, I reached out to Joe, and here’s what I found out:
- He does his own marketing and finds online promotion to be significantly cheaper than traditional efforts such as billboards or ads. He prefers social networking.
- Pre-stinky fish video, he had only 400 followers on Facebook. Post-video, more than 50,000!
- He estimates that the video has generated one to two viable leads a day.
- He is now getting licensed in other states to accommodate this increased demand.
Comparatively, another local insurance agent I talked with indicated that he considers three to four viable leads in a month to be outstanding.
Don’t overthink every piece of content
Having had countless conversations with different businesses on how to create an effective content marketing strategy, one of the first things I say is to stop overthinking it. However, I find that very few businesses are interested in creating content that doesn’t immediately generate leads. But, I ask this:
When’s the last time you were so touched and intrigued by a white paper that you felt compelled to share it on social media?
I say there’s a strong case to be made for promoting your brand in a way that is less focused on being “salesy” and more about connecting on a personal level. According to a Nielsen Harris Poll, 82 percent of US consumers seek personal recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase, while 67 percent say they’re more likely to make a purchase based on content shared by friends or family via social media or email.
Marketers are wracking their brains trying to find a way to reach more people and get more reviews — all in an effort to boost the visibility of their business. However, most fail to remember a fundamental rule of any business: Be likeable!
One way to solicit a higher number of reviews and be seen in a positive light is to digitally connect on a personal level with your audience. And therein lies the root of Mr. McCloskey’s success.
3 tips to connect
Here are three suggestions to make your content more personable and effective:
1. Loosen the reigns on blog fodder.
Let employees use those selfies they (inevitably) take at networking and company events and post them on your company blog, with a short blurb on what they’re doing, who they’re with and where. No word count minimum, no optimization. Just let them post.
Cue the audible gasps. But hear me out: I’m not saying you shouldn’t review posts. It’s a good idea to make sure you don’t end up with a photo of the CEO after a few too many at the company Christmas party in nothing but reindeer antlers. I’m saying don’t try to redirect the post, add keywords or edit it if it doesn’t violate any legal or ethical guidelines.
This approach not only makes the employee personally invest in the company image, it communicates that she/he is trusted as an active part in your brand and its personality. It also entices them to share it with their friends and circle, thus widening the proverbial net and giving more of an inside look at your company and culture.
2. Stop promoting your good deeds.
I may get some backlash for this, but I don’t think it is a company’s job to toot their own horn when they work on projects that help the community or less fortunate or whatever the case may be. And the truth is, I bet your website stats will show that this type of self-promotion doesn’t usually equate to more business.
The thing is, if you’re handling your brand effectively in the first place and doing activities from the standpoint of really wanting to contribute to the community, then other parties will write and promote it for you — which is a more genuine account of what happened, when, why, and who it impacted.
3. Be vulnerable.
When I say this, please understand that I’m not saying, “Be susceptible.” Vulnerability comes in allowing a real-life account of an experience or thought to translate into something relatable or entertaining to the general public. Think outside the box on this, beyond keywords and optimized titles with calls to action and the right images. It’s about being real.
Here’s where Joe got things right from a content perspective: His stinky fish video is an entertaining peek into his family. It gives a sense as to the value he associates personally with being a family man, shows that he has a sense of humor and, more importantly, makes him appear vulnerable and relatable. He didn’t end his video with a sales pitch asking people to contact him about insurance. But guess what happened? People responded. They related, shared, laughed and engaged.
This is not meant to devalue the importance of a strategic content marketing plan. I’m in no way encouraging businesses to throw their current content to the wayside and try to create the next viral video or blog post.
But I do encourage digital marketers to lighten up a bit. Stop overthinking your content strategy, and add elements that enable people to connect with you and your business on a more personal level.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.