If your online marketing agency has advised you to have a blog, a Facebook fan page, or a Twitter account so that you can get more content just to attain additional search engine rankings, you might want to stop and ask why. Many online marketing companies suggest these tactics to gain yet another ranking in the search engine results. While this tactic works at first, eventually, if your content isn't seen as valuable, you'll lose that search engine ranking.
Even if you manage to attain some higher rankings by implementing some of these online marketing tactics, it ultimately will do you no good if the person clicking on the link sees your content as totally irrelevant and not valuable. All you will have managed to do is align the term "worthless" to your search engine ranking and your site for that particular keyword you've implemented the SEO tactics for.
Value is one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating great content that will get audiences in social media communities to interact and engage with you. Without the value to the audience, you will get the inevitable "so what?"
Getting that "so what" means that you really aren't engaging or even piquing the audience's interest. Basically, you're just another marketer attempting to sell another bill of goods to the community you're trying to engage -- or worse, you're just another SEO trying to scam the search engine rankings to beat the competitor by using social media.
You Don't Decide the Value, Your Audience Does
The people who read your blog, engage with you on a forum or message board, watch your video, or look at photos in your photo group on Flickr are the people who deem whether that content is valuable to them. You can possibly influence their decision; however, you can't make that decision for them.
Mistakenly, marketers assume a lot about their audience in social media communities, so this is where companies must be extra diligent. Don't assume their need or their pain point can be influenced by your own pain points and needs. This is why it's vital to do the research around the communities you want to engage in and create content for.
Take the ShamWow, for example. The ShamWow is a chamois/towel that supposedly has super absorbent features that makes it superior to all other chamois on the market today. As their spokesman Vince tells in their video on YouTube, "it's made by Germans and you always know they make great stuff."
Their site touts this, and their literature and marketing all touts this, but I don't understand why they find that valuable to mention. As a U.S. consumer, I could care less who makes it (aliens could make it for all I care!) or how great they claim it is (everyone claims their product is awesome).
Show me how it's going to add value to my life. What pain point will it ease?
What I find of most value about the ShamWow is the part of the video where Vince pours the soda on the carpet and the ShamWow soaks it all up, including down into the carpet padding. That's value because that hits a pain point with me, having spilled many liquids on my carpet. The fact that the ShamWow even removes the brown color of the soda from the carpet is another pain point that is eased and viewers could find of value.
It could do the same thing for a glass of wine spilled on carpet. Imagine ShamWow doing a whole video about how their product picks up wine stains off of white carpets. Blush wines, zinfandel wines, port wines, cabernet sauvignon wines -- all of the "colorful" wines that can leave a huge mess behind if spilled can be effectively cleaned up by the ShamWow. Now if they sent that hypothetical video off to a few wine bloggers, they probably could have a hit because it would provide value by easing a pain point for people who love to drink wine.
What You Deem Valuable Could be Worthless to Your Audience
You may think that PDF spec sheet of the 10 best of features for your product or service is the best marketing slick ever. You've spent hours designing the marketing look and feel around it, you want to make sure that it's on your Web site and it's put into every sales packet. You believe this is the most valuable piece of content there is to sell your product.
Unfortunately, you aren't thinking from the end user's perspective.
A list of specs of features doesn't do the end user a bit of good if they can't even figure out how to use your products or services. Many times, companies mistakenly believe that adding more bells and whistles to their products is what customers find valuable. Customers use the product the way it gives them value. Most of the time, the bells and whistles don't give the value.
Listening to your audience talk about what the best features are of your product in social media communities should give you insight into how to provide them with valuable content. It can also help you improve your marketing efforts to reach and engage more people. Utilizing this kind of knowledge can help your marketing efforts in social media reach new engagement levels.
Content Isn't Just Text Anymore
Content can take many forms that your audience can find valuable. A simple video showing how to use the basic features of your product can become an invaluable resource to a new customer. In turn, they tell their friends how easy it is to use once your watch the video, which they share with their friends. Then, once those friends see the video, they realize, "Oh yeah, it is easy" and also end up buying your product.
Audio can be just as compelling. Sometimes your audience might not have the time to sit and read your blog or watch a video, but they might have time to download a podcast and listen to it on their drive to or from work. Podcasts can become a valuable resource to an audience that is short on time during the day to sit down and read, but yet has time on their commute to listen to an interview with an expert about the latest research in your related field.
While you may think what you provide your audience or customers is valuable, it would behoove you to take the time out to listen to them in social media communities. Be prepared, though, if you come from a traditional marketing background where slick ad pieces or literature was your way of communicating. You'll find that those don't work or aren't welcomed in social media communities and they'll let you know that right up front.
Audiences aren't afraid to tell you if the content you're putting out is just plain crap or is truly the best thing since sliced bread.
Meet Liana Evans at SES Chicago on December 7-11. Now in its 11th year, the only major Search Marketing Conference and Expo in the Midwest will be packed with 70+ sessions covering PPC management, keyword research, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, local, mobile, link building, duplicate content, video optimization and usability, while offering high-level strategy, keynotes, an exhibit floor, networking events and more.