Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Forget that content crown! How many hats do you wear?

If 2012 marketing conferences were all about proclaiming that CONTENT is KING, 2013 has been spent (so far) discussing MOBILE MARKETING. 

I have participated to countless discussions on both topics and offered my 2p on that old chestnut, SEO IS DEAD, but what I have realised, both as a marketing consultant (remote) and as a contractor (inhouse) is that the content crown has been replaced by a multitude of hats. This has created a kind of professional identity crisis: what am I now? 

By Marcus Hodges
To be honest, I'm not bothered, but it bothers other people, especially those who are very fond of pigeonholing. At a networking event, recently, I had to explain what I do to people who don't know what SEO is (they still exist, despite all the LinkedIn discussions, the DIY tweets - mine are called #TweetsforSEO and my moniker is @simonecas - and countless features in trade publications). 

At this business networking event, I started saying I do content marketing and SEO, then tried copywriting and website optimization, then went for "I rank websites on Google, I do social media, I monitor online reputation..." 

At some point I got asked if I was in marketing or PR. And to confuse the issue even further, I still do some editing and journalism work. Now, correct me if I am wrong but these used to be different 'fields' only a few years back:

Journalist: objective communicator
Editor: objective and subjective operator
Copywriter (ad copy): subjective
PR: subjective communicator (aka mouthpiece of brand)
Marketeer: mostly subjective but with some room for objectivity, for instance if raising awareness about an issue
SEO/social media bod: subjective (you bark for the client).

A few years back if you moved from journalism to marketing/PR you crossed the other side, as if a Darth Vader of commerce was lurking across an imaginary line, trying to seduce you to lose your objectivity. 

Are professional boundaries being blurred? You tell me.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Is social media a candy shop open 24/7?

Brian Solis & JESS

An incident this morning gave me an idea for this blog post, alongside something a business coach once told me: "People should not hire somebody else to do social media for them". I just stared at this 'rude person' who knows me professionally, after all that's how I make my living and while I agree that a small business might not be able to afford to hire a consultant, I think this is the silliest piece of advice I have ever heard. 

The reality is that all main social media platforms are free and there are so many of them you can easily be a victim of a pick-and-mix greedy attack: I'll have a bit of this and of that and the other. And what you see on the wheel pictured above, which I used to illustrate a client's business blog last year, is not all - platforms are invented at a fast pace. It's the same for blogging, one blog doesn't feel enough for certain people (I do declare my humanity here - and fallibility - by saying I have five blogs, which keep me quite busy. My excuse is that writing comes easy to me).

Anyway, back to social media, if you decide to have a bit of everything you will end up not being able to handle anything well (unless you make social media a full-time job, that is). Social media is time consuming and while it's necessary to build a business reputation, it's also true that you don't need to spread yourself across the net and be everywhere to succeed. 

Fist of all, what is your business? B2B or B2C? Where do your potential customers hang out? I will be honest and say that I have encountered businesses that don't need social media to survive because they have strong sales teams. A bit of a shocker for an internet addict like me. However unless you are a strong salesperson who thinks cold calling is fun (it's effective still), you do need to use social media as it's a cost-effective way of marketing a business.

Sounds easy but it's not. It's all about branding, which is a fancy way of saying, if your website or social media accounts don't explain clearly and consistently what you do, you will struggle to get customers. That's where a business realises they might need help - if they haven't got a marketing person, they either hire an agency or a consultant. 

I know anybody can write a blog post, but can you write copy that increases your sales? Can you craft posts on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook (depending if you are selling to consumers or businesses) that invite people to visit your website? Can your website's copy retain visitors' attention (ie the bounce rate) and translate browsers into buyers? 

Now, do you think that anybody can run a social media strategy? Can you analyse what you are doing, pivot if it doesn't work and try something else? Can you find the right channels for your businesses? Are you wasting time on Pinterest that could be better used on Facebook or Twitter? Decisions, decisions... Can you update your blog on a regular basis? Can you do all that while meeting clients, implementing your services and sourcing/dispatching your products? Can you also keep an eye on your competitors? Can you integrate all you do so you can build a solid reputation online and offline?

I'd love to hear how you have juggled all this and what you have learnt. I'm open to share my own journey.