- by Lauren Campbell-Kong
(This is a piece originally published on "The Culture of Send", a blog for BrainBox.ninja. Yes, that's a domain you can visit. BrainBox ltd is a new kind of content company that combines a social purpose for sustainability with a focus on education to bring new perspectives on content marketing. Stay tuned for more from the BrainBox.)
There has been some big news recently in the social media sphere: In the month of October alone Infusionsoft announced a new $55 million round of funding (spearheaded by Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs) and Hubspot went public, raising $125 million during their IPO. These are both huge developments in the world of digital marketing, specifically content marketing.
Inbound/Content marketing has taken the sector by storm, creating entirely new ways to attract potential consumers, clients, and leads. In the past, marketing functioned as "bring the ads to the people" through advertising in magazines, trade shows, etc. but when Inbound marketing revolutionized the industry with the "bring people to the ads" mentality, the ground underneath many advertising and marketing agencies shook; to be honest, I don't know if it is done shaking.
The idea behind this "bring people to the ads" is to produce high quality, highly informative content (blogposts, white papers, articles, etc.) to show potential purchasers that "you know what you're doing," building credibility and developing trust, increasing SEO in the process. The theory is the more content you generate, the more you increase your odds of showing up in search engine results (after you've optimized your site, your blog, your content of course). This coupled with the idea that you then promote your message on social media is supposedly the 'holy grail' to marketing in the digital age.
But is it?
With all the articles out there on "how to generate content" and the conferences surrounding "Inbound Methodology" and the multiple Google hangouts I get invited to weekly to help "Make Sense of Google Analytics", I honestly wonder if this is the 'Holy Grail' or if marketing is lost, wondering in a sea of digital misinformation and trendy band-aids (you know, like the Spider Man Band-aids that are available after a movie launch, but can't be found anywhere 6 months later).
Hell, I read an article today from a well reputable and highly credible social media online community discussing the issues that B2B marketers have. The top 3 issues were: Measuring Content Effectiveness, Producing Content Consistently, and Producing Engaging Content; cornerstones of the 'Holy Grail' approach. Doesn't sound like a 'Holy Grail' to me.
Never once in the article did the author truly dig down deep into the meat of the problem to offer up good, well worn advice. Instead, band-aids were handed out: Make sure you promote an interoffice culture that embraces social media, have a meeting that tells everyone how to properly engage and interact on behalf of the business, think like your customer etc. The issue with these 'tips' is they don't actually look at an individual company's situation and attempt to help, they throw a large blanket to the social media wind and hope your company falls under it.
I guess that's why many companies pay an organization like Hubspot or Infusionsoft to help them. Infusionsoft offers automated marketing software that is supposed to decrease time spent marketing on social media platforms, allowing you to schedule posts and not worry about getting them out in the interwebs. Hubspot, prides itself on the one-on-one customer service you receive with your membership payment, to help address your content marketing issues, but even the service reps regurgitate the same information that has been pushed their way; "be sure to provide quality content, post 3-4 blogs a week," etc. They also offer many Webinars, newsletters, and emails to educate you on Inbound Methodology, but again, they apply a broad overview of this methodology and think it applies to everyone's process. In a world of target marketing, with big data to back it up, I thought the 'throw it against the wall and see what sticks' mentality was gone.
But it isn't, it is just disguised as something else right now.
Quality of engagement is the crux of all of this. How can we measure quality of engagement? How do we know the value of allowing your consumers contact you in real time via social media or the value of sharing a video that can inspire others. We don't know how far this reach can be, let alone how to measure it. Especially in different industries where the culture of engagement is different throughout.
The point is, you can't measure quality of engagement in Google Analytics (Google offers some really neat measuring capabilities though). In an industry that sees the never ending opportunity that the digital age has provided us, the process in how to interact and engage is only half of it, the other half requires a shift in the measurement process and moving away from "three sheets to the wind" mentality. After all, no one wants to rely solely on the wind to spread your message: that's why we developed technology.
Read the follow-up post about some solutions to help you think outside your 'Marketing Box'