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The content, for which Google+ and Facebook are changing how digital marketing should be perceived

In this article we will not be talking about copyrighting rules, content management or content marketing. In this article we will be talking about the online content conjuncture of some important changes that, in 2014, will change some of the perceptions about digital marketing.

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Google+ and Facebook are your biggest competitors and friends!

Facebook is one of the many opportunities businesses have, which they learned about and invested in at a very late stage. The same is happening with Google+ now.

Our conversation with clients and coleagues recently helped me recall how back in 2010 I was making presentations and teaching classes about the almost unknown Facebook.com, and how I was preaching the many opportunities businesses have by advertising there. In reality many people sought the prospects to become visible on Facebook and they still bare the good fruits of their investment. Many other, that did not initially join, were forced by the market to do so and a huge percentage of the latter have no idea how and for what should Facebook be used. This is the deja-vu of our niche, something that was valid about search engine optimization a few years back. Back then only a handful of people took on the task to pursue business representatives and tell them about the advantages of SEO.

Have you ever gave it a thought that you, Google and Facebook, all have the same target? Each one of you is trying to keep the audience to themselves, and by using different free tools Google and Facebook skillfully take YOUR audience for them to keep and make YOU pay for it. In the case you haven’t yet found out – there is no such thing as free lunch, you should not be angry at anyone. I remember how in 2010 and 2011 I had classes, teaching that no matter the fact that fan pages are free your biggest asset remains your personal web site. I often remind my audience about that here. In the past 2-3 years very few businesses succeeded redirecting fans from their Facebook pages to their web sites. Their web sites became their social network, which today gives them bigger benefits for less cash. The majority of businesses fought for more fans, paid for email marketing, promo sites, offline advertisement and what not, only to make all their target fans land on their fan page. Now all those businesses pay for that, and they pay big, only so that they have more fans visit their fan page. Incredible but true.

Don’t miss out on new opportunities!

Today Facebook makes it so that we should first pay for advertisement that bringsfans in, and later on for advertisement that shows our content to those same fans. A logical question arises – how feasible is that? At the same time Google tries to enforce Google+ onto us at almost all price.

Both companies justify what they ask for with “quality content”. Whatever it is you will be rewarded by Facebook or Google for it.

Is the creation of content, though, a good enough reason?

What is good content?

This is a question I get asked lately time and time again. My answer to that is very concrete and definitive:

Quality content is the content that people interact with the most

… which means that you have to accomplish several tasks to achieve quality content:

  • create content according to users’ expectations
  • have traffic sources that bring in interested users
  • have different tools in place, which users virtually interact with

Content according to users’ expectations

The easiest way to find out what that content is, is by grouping things into different topics (areas of interest) and analyzing them. Both Google and Facebook have different tracking tools and different program formats (microformats, microdata) for searching and categorizing the different topics. “Tags”, “categories”, “topics” – it doesn’t really matter what you call them. Just make sure that whatever content you publish has a clear andthematic topic.

Thematic content is something that all colleagues in the field of content marketing, social media marketing, and SEO profess to have the greatest chance to successfully place in the digital channels today. You can direct Google+ and Facebook to your thematic areas of your statuses using hash tags, as well as by sharing links to pages in which the same topics have been described using programmatic development (ex. open graph protocol).

Thematicity and how intriguing the content is to the users is far more important than periodicity. For that reason it is better to write 1 useful article than 20 uninteresting and useless ones.

Traffic sources

This is the second of the three tasks for quality content I wrote about above.

This is not an easy topic to contemplate about either. In my interview for “Capital”, Maria asked me whether the use of Facebook as a marketing tool doesn’t make us more dependent on it. She was absolutely right, it does. That is the fact.But the real problem is actually elsewhere, and I already talked about it in the beginning of this article – we don’t have the habit to invest in new channels, unless someone or something makes us after the fact.We wait for the new channels to become atrend when it is already too late. The same way we waited for Google to dominate the search market.After all competition outcasted us – we had to invest much more to catch up to them.We waited for Facebook to become a prominent social network and only then we found out that it was neither free nor easy to manage, but it was too late… and we, again, had to invest much more to be able to use it effectively.

Will we afford to wait for Google+ or some other social network to become a prominent choice among the digital channels before we pay proper attention to it?

All traffic sources are not free for you! They never were, and never will be!Unfortunately many people believed that Facebook and Google are the unique kind of good people that give out free goods: fanpages, statistics, cool buttons and what not, things that seemingly would bring in cash at no cost. Today most of those instruments are either unavailable or have paid options.

“Why should I pay for that social network if nobody is using it?” is already your argument. Every channel should be equally important for you so that when it becomes fully developed you can be an active part of it. You should be more acute in your choices of digital channels and tools that propagate your content. Otherwise people will be unaware of it. At the moment it doesn’t really matter that Google+ is not as used as Facebook – what is important is that it helps you with one of your most important traffic sources – the Google search engine. What is also important is that it has its own instruments for interaction with the social signals.

Choose your digital channels not based on whether your competition uses them, whether they are free or popular, but based on whether they have the potential to be the source of your targeted traffic and your social currency.

Recently, measuring the effectiveness of the different sources of traffic is much more relative than it used to be. The reason for that is the need for more long-term effects such as brand awareness, attracting specific groups of people (influencers, prosumers), etc., in contrast to just generating ROI. We face big difficulties explaining that to a large portion of the business, especially the one that was just able to assimilate the already chewed up strategies of the past few years, which the big players like Google and Facebook changed fundamentally in a matter of few months.

“Facebook doesn’t generate sales” does not mean Facebook is useless for your business and you should leave the cursory support of this channel in the hands of one of your colleagues. Facebook may not sell your product, but it might be the place where you solve one of your client’s problems before they became a crisis. Facebook may be the place where you find friends of your clients who in turn become your clients.

Today we pay attention not only to our users, but their friends and the friends of their friends, etc. In other words, the social networks give us the opportunity to propagate their opinions (influence).

Traffic sources often provide opportunities for online reputation

Tools for interaction

This is the third task for quality content

Facebook, of course, would be a much stronger traffic source for your site if you had a “Like” and “Share” buttons in it, a fan page, and an open graph protocol, etc. The same is equally true about Google+ and all other social networks.

Good content has less chance for viral effects if such instruments are not available.

The fundamental change we have yet to explain to our customers is that their success is not measured only by the amount of sales, impressions, likes or comments, but by the interaction with the audience. And this measurement is not some kind of whim we have invented, but what Facebook and Google use and impose even more so.

Your high reputation mark is what will bring you your true return on investment in digital marketing.

Quality sources of content

One rigid idea is that if you have a news section or blog in your site all content problems are magically solved. A few press releases after that fully confirm the success, which in reality, isn’t entirely true.

Of course, having a blog or news section helps, but if you want to build resistance against the whims of all big players like Google and Facebook, you will have to build partnerships with opinion leaders and owners of thematic web sites, that in combination with Google and Facebook will be your sources of targeted traffic.

Two-three years ago nobody was talking about authorship, authority and branding in Social media marketing and SEO strategies. Today these things are the real accent.

Thematicity and quality content will not have the same effect if you don’t have a real clever and flexible strategy for its distribution.

Content with mission

It is not just enough to have content stored somewhere (this is clear for those businesses that used sites like bg-mamma, for example), we need content that has its own leitmotif – a singular vision of our brand that we can proclaim everywhere. We can’t afford to publish pictures of cute kittens on Facebook, while sporting links to our furniture site on Google+.

The content has to have its own mission, something that makes people share it. Something that people will interact with. Something that will lift you up in the eyes of your potential clients online.

In today’s digital marketing, if we search for successful practices, we are already late. When we create successful practices we are the most successful.

Article’s author: Ivo Iliev, CEO at InteractAGE Ltd.

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Digital Marketing specialist, Art Director at Interactive Age Ltd.

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