Facebook content strategy is a time bomb for inbound marketing

 

facebook content marketing

Every time I write a post that takes a slightly contrarian view to the status quo, I get hammered by the entrenched pundits who spin this into “Mark is saying that marketing is dead”…  or social media is dead … Or that kittens are bad. You get the point.

Today I am going to point out a THREAT to inbound marketing to make you think about what we have considered traditional dynamics of inbound marketing in a new way. I am not saying anything is dead. Really.

Let’s take a look at some of the current marketing trends and how they might make inbound marketing much more difficult in the future.

The goal of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a term coined by Brian Halligan of HubSpot to describe a way to promote a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to attract customers.

Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring high-potential visitors in, rather than relying on sales people having to make cold calls to garner “outbound” leads. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to your website like a magnet.

Hubspot tends to view inbound marketing as an engine for leads. I tend to view Inbound marketing as an engine for relationships. But in the end, the goal is the same — sales.

Inbound marketing is art and science, and done well it works really well. Because it’s so effective, most brands are spending dramatically more on content marketing, creating overwhelming information density in their niches (or Content Shock), but that is another story.

The game is changing

The economics of the social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are also driven by content, but their metrics are different. They’re not trying to generate leads for a discrete product. They are trying to:

a) collect more personal information about you so …

b) they can charge advertisers for targeted display ads.

The economic driver for both of these priorities is time on site, also known as dwell time, which is becoming a factor in SEO, Facebook content visibility, and content marketing strategy. The more time you spend consuming a piece of content, the more information is collected and the more ads you can see.

A few years ago, the major social platforms were happy to have your links to great content but now they are transforming themselves into virtual news and entertainment channels because they want you to spend time on their site, not yours.

For example the Facebook content strategy now includes a video viewer to keep people on their newsfeed they are wooing major content channels to publish directly on their site. LinkedIn has become a significant content publishing platform featuring some of the biggest names in business. Even Facebook ads will keep you on the Facebook app or site, interacting with advertising content directly within Facebook instead of clicking through to your site.

No content creator should be happy about this development but the biggest channels may get a cut of the action. Facebook has proposed hosting content from the New York Times, National Geographic,  Buzzfeed, and other major news sites and involving them in a revenue-sharing deal. (Here is a prediction: Facebook will eventually begin to acquire content sites and produce their own original content like Netflix).

The implications

So if you’re not The New York Times or Buzzfeed and can’t expect to make money from posting content directly to Facebook, what do these trends mean for you?

If you have been counting on Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms as a primary distribution strategy for your content links, increasingly, the best way to gain exposure in those places is to actually post the full-form “sticky content” on those sites to achieve massive dwell time. This is probably the best strategy to at least achieve exposure for your content through organic reach.

The option that seems to be developing is, post the full-form content or get relegated to the dustbin. And that means those posts are NOT driving people to your website like the good old link used to do. The inbound traffic is now headed away from you, to Facebook and LinkedIn, instead of the homebase. Now the content magnet is on Facebook instead of your site where you have all those dandy calls to action.

What’s a marketer to do? I don’t have all the answers. That’s why I have a comment section and a community of super-smart people. Let me know your thought on this, won’t you?

Something free for you! If you would like to download a copy of the infographic from today’s post as a full-size image to use in your own blog or presentation click here: The changing landscape of inbound marketing graphic (vertical) or The changing landscape of inbound marketing (horizontal). Please provide a professional level of attribution.

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  • Hi Mark,

    It’s uncanny how you always seem to post what I’m thinking about! In addition to what you mentioned in your posts, the announcement last week of Facebook’s lead ads is yet another reason for users to stay on Facebook to interact with brands (see http://www.jonloomer.com/2015/06/26/facebook-lead-ads/).

    As marketers we need to figure out how to turn these seemingly website-killing moves by Facebook into opportunities. Maybe the entire purpose of a brand website needs to change. Maybe we think about websites in an entirely different way. And we don’t have a lot of time to do it. I believe that Facebook’s search engine is around the corner, too.

    And, Google needs to up their game and become more innovative. When the time comes that buying decisions start on Facebook, the entire game is changed.

    I would love to share ideas with other marketers…we are in for another crazy ride!

    Betsy

  • Hi Mark,

    It’s uncanny how you always seem to post what I’m thinking about! In addition to what you mentioned in your post, the announcement last week of Facebook’s lead ads is yet another reason for users to stay on Facebook to interact with brands (see http://www.jonloomer.com/2015/06/26/facebook-lead-ads/).

    As marketers we need to figure out how to turn these seemingly website-killing moves by Facebook into opportunities. Maybe the entire purpose of a brand website needs to change. Maybe we think about websites in an entirely different way. And we don’t have a lot of time to do it. I believe that Facebook’s search engine is around the corner, too.

    And, Google needs to up their game and become more innovative. When the time comes that buying decisions start on Facebook, the entire game is changed.

    I would love to share ideas with other marketers…we are in for another crazy ride!

  • Great read Mark. This is a huge quandary. As Facebook pushes forward in its goal to be the mother of all content providers, the content generators will suffer. You put effort into crafting your content to suit the audience it will be put in front of via Facebook (or if we’re honest, a sliver of any audience) but then the pay-off in terms of what we see coming back to our content hun (site) is so minimal. Yes, we may be seeing dark social traffic from FB, but at the standard business level (i.e. not one of the big-guns), it’s still not going to be staggering. Facebook push the small guys out more and more each day it seems. We could of course pay to put our content in-front of a targeted group via FB ads, but then you need to start thinking about the value of each click etc. Take it outside of FB and look at LinkedIn – it will cost you serious cash to create any real flow of traffic to your hub content, then what’s the path from there? I could talk about this all day! One area that remains fairly pure is email – grow that list, give value and lead people back to your content hub. I’ve seen success in using FB and LinkedIn ads to drive people to email sign-up landing pages. We’re staring down the barrel of a scary gun with social I feel – it’s a pay to play game now and the wastage I’ve seen is huge.

  • Michael Miller

    Aren’t we kind of moving in a circle? Digital and social disrupted the old model of marketing and advertising, but now we’re seeing the emergence of platforms like Facebook that are becoming the newspapers and TV networks of old. The disruption of digital seems to be a return to pre-digital principles. They own the audience and the most we can hope for is to get placement on the site (PR); or, if we have the cash, place advertising there.

    Our content has to now be compelling enough to move people to our websites and to provide a good enough reason for the audience not to just move onto the next video/article/graphic. Just like that article in the NYT your PR person placed all those years ago.

    It may mean a resurgence of outbound marketing. Or maybe an inbound/outbound hybrid. One big difference is this process has moved sales people into a new direction. More of them are playing the role of collaborative sales and opened new channels for relationships.

  • Sonja Jefferson

    That’s enlightening to say the least Mark. Thanks. LinkedIn and Facebook are becoming monster-sized content black holes. Against this backdrop:
    – Content has to be super-valuable to entice people back to our sites.
    – Relationships with our email subscription-based communities become more important than ever. Give people incredible value through this channel and motivate sign-up based on value-added content for members only. Think club rather than newsletter.
    I look forward to other ideas. And sincerely hope other social channels take hold with a different model. Off to re-investigate Ello…

  • Robert Brooks

    Thanks for the great post, Mark. I think you may have provided the answer to your own question.

    You say, “Hubspot tends to view inbound marketing as an engine for leads. I tend to view Inbound marketing as an engine for
    relationships. But in the end, the goal is the same — sales.”, my italics.

    I believe these relationships you refer to are the answer to Facebook’s and LinkedIn’s moves to comandeer inbound traffic to their sites.

    If we take the view that anyone visiting our sites as the result of inbound marketing is simply a lead, then we are missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with that person. Whereas, if we approach our inbound strategies as a way to build relationships with people, then we will have a much better chance of maintaining a connection to those people, and therefore not losing them to Facebook, et al.

    A strong relationship lasts, but it has to be developed and worked at first; and the mind-set of inbound marketing has to be geared to people and relationships before sales.

  • Mark,

    Something that has always bugged me is why marketers get so hung up on where the inbound leads actually come from. Personally, I could care less if the lead comes from Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog or roadside billboard.

    For tracking purposes, I get that its necessary to understand where business is coming from, but why do we care?

    If Schaefer Slacks are flying off the rack what does it matter if anyone ever finds your blog… As long as they are finding you and connecting with your message.

    Hanley

  • Kizmat Lester Tention

    Great post Mark. I’ve spent the last year attempting to build “relationships” with potential clients via FB. My husband has a company called WeNotice Marketing and he has always told me that I was depending too much on FB. However, when your list is so small, what other choices do you really have?

    I’ve finally began putting more emphasis towards directing traffic back to my site, and if I’m honest, FB has not really helped. Sometimes I do feel as though my hands are tied because so many people spend the majority of their time on social media.

    Well, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board again!

    Thanks again for a great post, and I guess I need to thank my husband for making sure it found it’s way to my inbox!

    Kizzymat

  • Mark, you raise a very good point – one that marketers really need to grasp in order to evolve with the system. Once again, Facebook has moved the goalposts and it’s our job as marketers to move with them.

    In the most recent issue of my newsletter, one of the links referred to a widely undershared article on Mashable concerning Facebook’s plans for mobile ads: keeping you on Facebook and allowing you to engage with the ad directly on the site or within the app. And with over 70% of ad revenue coming from mobile ads, this is the leading edge, so expect it to spill over onto the desktop experience as well.

    Ultimately, marketers need to think about content unique to Facebook that will do exactly what Facebook wants it to do: keep people on the site. And frankly, you’ve already laid out that formula in The Content Code. Understand your audience, create some compelling content and ignite it. Shareability is built into Facebook already. But wouldn’t it be amazing if an ad was constructed such that people were proud to share it on their own timelines? That’s the Holy Grail.

  • Michalusk

    Great food for thought. I think Mark nails the shift we have been seeing on Facebook and LinkedIn. I work for a small service provider, so our goal is to be top of mind when people need our service. We already publish long-form content on LinkedIn, Facebook, and our blog on our website. Based on Mark’s advice, I will make sure I put links back to our site, contact info, and CTAs in that content, so if a potential client likes our content, they have everything they need to take the next step.

  • I see our potential guests contacting and making booking requests directly with us via social media channels without ever looking at our website. #newrules

  • Kevkimkyl

    The methods we use to post are changing, but I still think that the content is what counts the most. As long as it gets read, we’re building awareness, credibility and relationships. Perhaps more leads and/or requests for information will begin coming directly from the SM platforms? — MJ

  • I kind of a agree but connecting to somebody on Facebook is different than hosting them on your website.

  • I think you are overlooking some implications. If you and I only interacted through Facebook, would you even know I sold Schaefer Slacks, would you know I was having a sale on them? Would you know I created a version called Hanley High Rollers just for you? This is a very subtle but important difference. The number one mantra of social media is “don’t sell.” And among mantras, that is actually a good one. But at some point you HAVE to sell SOMETHING. That opportunity will be diminished I think if you are not capturing leads through a website, building trust in what you do, hosting people in a place where they can engage on a higher level. We are going to be relegated to connecting to people on outposts.

    Also there is the factor or organic reach. If you create through your website, the hope is that you build enough signals and credibility that you raise site authority and Google juice. I think it remains to be seen how this will all play out but at least taken to an extreme, this would have a dramatic impact on your ability to attract organic traffic to your site. If I do a search for one of your topics, how many times does a Facebook post come up? : (

  • The gaming is always changing, so you need to follow the game for surviving include social media marketing. You need to follow behavior of most users on major social media sites.

  • I’m not even sure pay to play will work in the long term for most businesses. If Facebook does become the primary new channel, how much do think it’s going to cost to advertise there?

  • Your comment is really rich with ideas and insights Michael. I especially like this germ of an idea that you have to become the destination yourself. Seems kind of daunting but certainly and alternative.

  • Thanks for adding your wisdom Sonja. I’m glad you found this enlightening.

  • I absolutely love this thinking Robert. Thanks for helping me answer my own question : ) It does suggest a different mindset though, doesn’t it?

  • Thank your husband for me too! : ) Please come back.

  • Thanks for commenting.

  • Sure.

  • John G

    Looks Twitter will dominate the inbound marketing channel then.

  • Michael Miller

    Not necessarily a destination, but certainly the content we place elsewhere has to create a very compelling reason to go to our website, far beyond the “click to read more” approach. I think, to your point, we have to create content to live in other channels (just like the “old days”) and make the culmination of all of it lead someone to our website. The budget to advertise wouldn’t hurt either.

  • Michael Miller

    Think People Magazine rates.

  • @markwilliamschaefer:disqus You can “sell” on social media without “selling” though. Look at your own feed.

    Mixed in with the various pictures and comments of your life are questions, comments, articles, images from your worklife. What if I had no intention of ever visiting your website, but found enough information from your YouTube channel to pick up the phone and call you for a consultation.

    Do you care that I didn’t visit your website?

  • Kitty Kilian

    If you are selling places to sleep you have a different problem than people who are selling knowledge. Like Mark.

  • Kitty Kilian

    That is a strategy. Or you could put content upgrades on the website – if that is where you need people to go to. You want to keep your own domain ranking as high as possible, right? Because that is the main problem it seems – if everybody puts their content on Linkedin and Facebook and Medium, blogs and websites will wither, and hence their rankings. Basically, this will cause a secondary content explosion. Content will be spread ever wider and ever thinner over more platforms. Don’t you think so, Mark?

  • Kitty Kilian

    Nope. Content on social media platforms is way more dispersed. Also, you don’t get as much of a feeling for the person who’s writing. You can’t create your own context, it’s always that hideous Facebook layout etc.

    And organic reach is a big one.. I get most of my customers thru organic reach. Still, that is.

  • Very true. Although perhaps some people come to my blog to sleep : )

  • Kitty Kilian

    Right. I agree. That’s what it looks like. Seems like a lot more work.. building blog posts in two or three steps, piling content on yet richer content.. using content upgrades.. placing it on different social media platforms strategically.. As a one-person-small-biz I am not looking forward to it. Firstly because I am no good at playing chess. Secondly because big content-making teams will soon get better at this that me 😉

    I love the democracy of the webs. Seems like that democracy is almost over.

  • I think this is a very keen observation Kitty. Content shock spurs content shock.

  • Here’s the problem. The blog is where I establish myself as a thought leader. I don;t do that on Instagram or even Twitter really. I posted this blog post in its entirety on Facebook today and one person said “yuck. I don’t want to read this stuff here.” It’s different Ryan. Big brands hire me. How will I connect to them? I think there will still be a place for a blog but there is a shift going on and it is coming fast. Time to pivot my friend.

  • Agree with you. That is what we are being forced into.

  • Wow. What a comment. I need to think about that. Might make a great guest post? ” : )

  • Or Super Bowl?

  • Kitty Kilian

    PS Why don’t FB-posts appear in Google search, even if we switch our profile to public? May be I ought to know this, but I don’t. tweets do show up. Is that an on purpose FB-strategy or does Twitter have a search-advantage here because it has a different relationship with Google?

  • Kitty Kilian

    I guess I should jump at that chance 😉 I am not sure I have much to add. I can see in my mind’s eye what it will look like. One of the techniques is in my mind. There will be many others to follow and it will all be a great hassle.

    I do think email will become even more important.

  • Glad to see people are finally realizing the reality of this game. The one who owns the channel of communication owns (will control) the communication provider and those paying attention to it. Without paying for access to the market (from either side), you lose by not being able to participate. Let Facebook control your business leads? What will you do when your competitor pays a higher price and FB moves your hard earned attention to someone else or keep it themselves? The titans are predators an you are their prey.

  • Ever since Facebook announced the whole “Instant Articles” game, and their whole push for video – it did become apparent that they want to keep people within their ecosystem for as long as possible and make sure that they don’t leave that specific ecosystem. A bigger push for this is the Shopify experiment they’ve been running which will allow people to make purchases via Facebook as well.

    Put two and two together, and it seems like Facebook is simply building a content platform for brands to be on, to create all of their content, live in, sell on – and do everything for them. Is this a bad idea? Templatizing every website’s content into the Facebook format (even long form blogs) – as well as videos, photos, albums, updates and what not? I do feel it is. Facebook wants small businesses to stay within the Facebook ecosystem for everything they do, because that’s how they envision not being just a platform to send traffic to your website and generate leads, and then engage them via e-mail and RSS feeds.

    Makes me uneasy, but that is what’s happening in my mind too. The biggest indicator for this will be whether or not Website Click Ads become more expensive as time goes on, I hope Socialbakers or Salesforce is putting together a study over the next few months that talks about how much more expensive clicks-to-website become, and whether that’s an organic progression of prices, or something that Facebook is manually inflating.

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  • I’d agree, but if Facebook is to be a part of a company’s activity, then they’ll need to pay, simple as that. Is the value there? Well, as you say, the more FB inches towards being a key content provider, the more it’s going to cost and require biblical spend levels. How that translates return-wise remains to be seen. Social has always been key to content marketing, but marketers are going to have to get smarter as the platforms get meaner, or look elsewhere, which is a whole different ball game.

  • To use a fishing analogy it sounds as if you are proposing we leap out of the boat and start spearing the little devils instead of calmly hooking them in, if that’s the case, I don’t agree. The game always changes but in the current state of the social arena I think we just need to change bait on the hook; at the end of the day unless you get the customer inbound you will never be able to present the journeys you want them to find and travel down. Yes, the old days of just presenting a headline are gone, so change the scale and provide condensed stories and more images and hints at the delights they will be presented with by following the path, use A/B on different social platforms and track the differences. And most importantly, make sure your inbound traveller finds beautifully crafted digital journeys once they arrive, which shouldn’t be that difficult given the state of Facebook et al.

  • Robert Brooks

    It does indeed, Mark. And I think you elaborated on the point brilliantly in your response to Ryan Hanley, above.

    In my opinion, it is paramount that we do overlook the H2H connection that Bryan Kramer has been telling the world about. In our ever-more-digitised world, where markerters spend infinitely more time looking at analytics and graphs than they do actually interacting with real people, it is (too) easy to forget that we are humans interacting with other humans.

    For millennia, our interactions have been predicated on very subtle emotional hints, facial expressions, body language, natural language, dialect, etc. To think we can ignore all that subtlety, but demand the same level of loyalty from people is, well, naive.

    I think Eric Wittlake’s post, “Stop Nurturing Me” on this very blog earlier this month was a great exposé of this kind of approach to marketing.

    Encourage people to trust you, and show them that you are worthy of their vauable time, and they will invest (in whatever form that takes) in you.

  • William Cosgrove

    One meaningful addition to your social strategy would be to create your own onsite community customized to your needs to nurture and engage employees, current and potential customers within your own ecosystem.

    There is no better or more economical way available that provides the short and long term benefits that can be derived from an onsite community if implemented and managed properly.

    It is time for businesses to optimize their own available resources and take a course that can reduce their dependence on third parties that are expensive and getting less effective with each new change that’s made to further their own agendas-Their own bottom line.

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  • @markwilliamschaefer:disqus I’m certainly not advocating NOT blogging or sharecropping, but I guess I’m just pro YouTube video and Facebook native video provide incredible opportunities to get your message in front of people in the space that they live in…

  • How is that opportunity different today than it was six months ago other than it doesn’t direct people back to my site? I don’t see the positive in this for anybody except Facebook. Which is OK. We’ve been marketing on borrowed time.

  • Similar to SEO, right?

  • Solid thinking as usual, my friend. Another thing I was thinking about is the “templatizing” you mention. Everything on Facebook is stuffed into these little boxes with one typeface, one size etc. It is so awful and uncreative and yet we are pouring MORE of our creative effort into these little boxes. What an ugly and limited world. Reminds me of this funny little post I did: http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/08/08/andy-warhol-on-social-media/

  • Honestly, you kind of lost me. I guess to use the fishing analogy, the new developments mean that Facebook is driving the boat and keeping all the fish. And oh yeah, we’re buying the gas.

  • I can’t imagine that building, maintaining and fueling a platform independent of Facebook and KEEPING people there would be “economical” in any sense, especially when people really do want to spend their time on Facebook, no matter what we think of it.

  • William Cosgrove

    Onsite community platforms are economical and the benefit is long term. If used in conjunction with your social channels and other online marketing initiatives then can make for a meaningful addition to any marketing strategy.

  • Yes, SEO is another example from my perspective. In fact anytime a third party is enabled to effectively manage your client communications, you are giving them the keys to your kingdom. To see this in action, just review the TOS and the rights you are giving up. As stated clearly in your next post about privacy, consumers unintentionally gave up certain rights and are now fighting to get them back. This is no different. Companies are being “lulled” into submission (like the spider to the fly). Some things are made cheap and easy for a reason. And here it comes, when something is free (cheap and easy)………yup, you become their product.

  • Mike Hind

    OK, I’m feeling kind of dumb here in that I’m hearing (and agreeing with) what Mark says, but wondering why Facebook sucking in ALL THE CONTENT prevents businesses from being capable of converting or taking the conversation offline at the appropriate point – just as they do now, with their own real estate.

    I’m launching as an independent PR consultant and all I’m thinking now is that FB & LinkedIn have already done all the hard work I would have had to do with a brand new website, so why would I now bother? It means we just have to be really good at Facebook & LinkedIn and get those conversations offline as soon as we realistically can.

    If you can’t beat em etc

    Or am I being really stupid?

  • @markwilliamschaefer:disqus I think I’m missing the point. I thought we were talking about getting the phone to ring. Why do I care if someone calls from Facebook or my website?

  • As always great insights Mark. Thank you.
    So, while Medium wants to move from a publishing platform to a social network, Facebook incorporates publishing and slowly, but surely starts “killing” brands´ blogs out there, attracting the conversations about anything and everything.
    We live in interesting times.

  • Respectfully disagree. I think a private online customer community is rarely cost effective or realistic for most businesses.

  • Well … first of all, YES you need a website. It’s the only thing you own and control. As we have seen the social platforms change the rules of engagement constantly.

    The main issue is discovery. If you post something only on Facebook, will it ever be discovered in a Google search? No. If you post it on your website you have some chance if you work the content well and publish consistently over time.

  • Good thoughts Corina. Thanks for the contribution!

  • if people want to find you on Google and you do is post on FB or LinkedIn, will you turn up in search results? You have to be found before you get the call. Maybe FB will BECOME the web and then the problem is solved. : )

  • Mike Hind

    Perfect sense, Mark – thanks (so I WAS actually being dumb). I guess one analogy would be trying to get a date. I could have a lifestyle of couch surfing around a bunch of wealthy friends with fabulous houses. But few potential mates are likely to be interested if I don’t at least have my own apartment.

    Supplementary question: if I post the same content on Facebook, LinkedIn and my own site, does Google penalize my own platform’s ranking & therefore damage my discoverability?

  • Mark, Here is an article I just read this morning that shows the value that communities can add to any marketing strategy. Communities are a valuable addition to not a replacement for your social networks as demonstrated in this article at CMS Wire and there are many others. http://goo.gl/hFjDdf

    Hopefully this article will help you rethink you view.

  • I agree that building one’s own online community instead of renting a community on Facebook is of course the ideal scenario, but building that online community is anything but economical – it consumes a great deal of resources over a long time time period. I think William might be talking about the actual tool or platform one can use to build a community on within your blog or site, which may be budget friendly. But given the sheer amount of time, money and actions you have to take with this strategy, I’d say that it is out of reach for most small businesses.

  • I was following a thread on that today. That does not seem to be the case, but the “rules” are always changing.

  • Agree. Thanks for adding your perspective.

  • Hey Mark
    Agree with what you say here, makes total sense.

    But what about this as a ‘workaround’ (in reality I know there’s no such thing – maybe ‘compromise’ is a better word): taking a blog post as an example, post an extract, which could be a couple of hundred words, onto your Facebook

    Page/profile to create the ‘feel’ of sticky content in Facebook’s robotic eyes, but leave a link to ‘click through and read the full thing’. This seems to be the most effective use I’ve seen on LinkedIn Pulse.
    Best of both worlds, or beneficial for neither?

  • Really great points. I wonder if a social content viewing app could be a solution. Ex: embed a neatly optimized window on your site that has all of your/your company’s Linkedin Pulse articles etc. Like embedding youtube or vimeo videos on your website. It would have the same functionality as a blog but would just be provided by whatever network you were posting on.

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  • Thanks for the keen insights Scott. Always an honor to have you comment here!

  • I like that a lot. I think that sort of hybrid model is what will evolve here Paul. Many thanks sir!

  • I would have to think that through but my initial reaction is that would not work. We have to go where the people are, not expect them to come to us.

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  • Boutique communities are viable, but tend to be a B2B/niche thing with a small number of entrenched suppliers.

  • Dexter Patterson

    In the end, our focus should still be on creating great content. If the eyeballs come from Facebook and LinkedIn it’s our jobs to engage with those people on those platforms and create opportunities on those platforms for the sale. The digital space is always changing and the best of the best always seem to find a way to make it work. I look forward to the challenge!!! Great post Mark

  • Thanks for commenting Dexter.

  • samanthastone

    This is a timely discussion for me. I’ve recently noted that my content is being consumed more through LinkedIn posts than LinkedIn updates driving to my blog. At first I found this discouraging, but after giving it consideration I have accepted it as an opportunity to reach new audiences in their day to day context. One way to capitalize on this new reality is to build call to actions into your content rather than to be dependent on landing pages. I’ve started to experiment with this approach and early results are promising. Effective measurement of these offers does mean we have to take new approaches instead of relying on website analytics as our primary mechanism to measure visitors and engagement. I’ve seen some really neat technology dabble in this area and I’m watching with keen interest how well they are adopted.

  • Great success story Samantha. Sounds like the “pivot” is working for you!

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  • Great read and great points. It just sort of feels like a “it is what is is” situation. If this is the current game for marketers, than we really have no choice but to adapt and play.

  • Fonts! My kingdom for fonts on Facebook!

  • I’m in the same line of work and I agree. Facebook just announced the ability to take customer service issues to private messaging when they are posted as comments. I can imagine soon there will be booking directly on Facebook

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  • Jochem Koole

    Not only are Facebook and LinkedIn’s strategy a time bomb for content marketing, they are also a horrible lock in and a never ending drain of funds that organisations really should think long and hard about, before they invest any serious amounts of time, money, and resources in establishing their brands on these platforms.

    Let me clarify this with two examples:

    A well known Dutch insurance company only had a couple of hundred Likes on their Facebook Page. As stated, the company is well known, so the amount of Likes was hardly representative. Therefore, they decided to invest in Facebook ads to acquire new, relevant (!) Likes for their page. In the end, the company managed to up the number of Likes into the thousands by paying a calculated estimate of € 3,- (almost $ 3,50 !) per Like.

    Great, you might say: thousands of extra relevant Likes. However, the average interaction rate on their posts doesn’t get above 0,13%, unless they pay for extra ads or hire an agency to create ‘really cool and fun’ content. This will then up the engagement rate to (a whooping) 1,3%…

    If you think, LinkedIn is any better, think again. A leading global supplier of software solutions managed to acquire over 40K followers on their LinkedIn Page. Hooray! However, when you look at the average engagement rate on their posts it hardly gets above 0,06%…

    So, before you invest in creating reach or brand value (let alone leads) on Facebook and LinkedIn, consider the costs. And also consider the fact, that you will need to keep paying extra (for ads) if you’d like to reach your target audience.

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  • If you don’t have the answer, I don’t feel so bad. Is it possible Mark that we’ve already experienced the ‘golden age’ of content marketing and Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. have replaced the publishers and editors from which we thought they would free us? In any case, the ‘golden age’ seems to already have come full circle or reached a logical synthesis. At least in the old model authors were compensated. Now Facebook profits from free content without revenue sharing…

  • I agree with you, Mark. I think the idea of being able to build a compelling community is getting more and more difficult.

  • Thanks Mark! Killer article and given me lots to think about.

  • Amen

  • Wow. Great anecdote. Thanks for passing this along!

  • I think content has probably always been at the heart of marketing, even when that content was “ads” : ) I think we will need to adapt and adopt but content will be there in some form. Certainly the idea of “content marketing” is less easy that it was two years ago.

  • Awesome. Good to hear from you Andreas.

  • SmithContent

    The modern equivalent of what happened to publishing when Amazon arrived – except much more dark arts here.
    A possible benefit for businesses is that it will challenge them to define their service in a much more rigorous way than ever before. If people, after reading all the content on social media platforms STILL want your service then the service needs to be pretty damned good.
    However, if the platforms become full of shoddy content of dubious merit surrounded by an irritating plethora of algorithmically targeted advertising, then the platforms themselves will become an irritant.
    An interesting side effect might be an increase in the use of old techniques of marketing. I noticed a statistic today which said that 52% of B2B companies still intend to use print marketing.

  • Very interesting perspective sir. Thanks so much for taking the time to contribute this comment!

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  • Marie Di Benedetto

    Well companies always want people on their own website because that is the only environment they can fully control. But let’s face it: we need to touch base with our customers where they are, and today they are on social. They won’t visit a website just to be nice with us. So we have to make the best of this situation, keep giving value and engaging content where our customers are (and yes, this will change overtime, platforms go and others appear). Also we now get data everywhere, so the thinking that we have no info on customers if they don’t come to our website is not true anymore.

  • Emily Hooper

    I still find LinkedIn to be an extremely effective platform for my professional services firm. Our content marketing efforts on that platform generate engagement rates that range between 1.0% and 3.9%—never below 6%—and LinkedIn is the second largest referrer of traffic to our blog. I think it’s about engaging an audience around relevant issues, and providing value to them in everything we post.

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  • BiggsMontana87

    Meet the market on the market’s terms. If more ppl are going to facebook and linkedin, blow them away on those platforms. If you really are doing a good job with content promotion, folks should end up on your site as a result. If you are a site that relies on advertising, it is a little tougher, but come up with premium content like you mentioned on the marketing companion with the John Travolta name pronouncer to get people to your site.

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  • Great comment Marie, thanks!

  • Excellent work Emily!

  • I like your style sir and I agree 100%. Submit to Facebook

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