While it’s only one facet of our social output, Twitter often offers us a good overview of general trends in site traffic and response for Econsultancy, making it a good benchmark for content marketing performance.
A while ago I wrote about identifying and addressing the churn from your Twitter account, and it feels to me as though this churn highlights a more widespread problem with content marketing: The need for consistency.
Let’s start by taking another look at the churn on our Twitter account:
This map shows activity for the last 120 days.
As you can see, the peaks and troughs actually match each other fairly closely. In theory, this is quite good news, as it implies there is at least some intelligent motive behind follows and unfollows.
We publish a piece of content that people have an opinion about, and it drives them to either follow or unfollow us according to their stance on a given issue.
This is a rationale that suits such a granular metric; the effect on our audience of an isolated tweet. Analysing at this level will help us tweak copy so that our tweets (hopefully) attract more relevant users without turning too many people away.
Job done? Not quite.
As with anything these days, Twitter doesn’t live in a silo. Those tweets are tied directly into our wider content marketing efforts, so considering these can help us with our broader business aims.
Content marketing as a discipline is still in its infancy. While marketers are generally agreed that ‘putting useful and interesting things on the internet’ seems to be a good thing, we’re still tying a lot of our efforts to campaign-style engagement.
Econsultancy is a publisher, so whenever we have a new piece of research on the horizon, our editorial efforts swing slightly in that direction.
This means that people may notice we’re putting out a lot of posts around Pinterest. If they’re interested in Pinterest they’ll follow us on Twitter, but as we move toward promoting the next piece of research they’ll start seeing more and more about PPC and less and less about Pinterest, and away they go to find another news source that covers Pinterest more often.
For us, there are positive and negative aspects to this.
If you’re only interested in one particular subject, then of course we’d like it if you buy a report from us, but ultimately we’d prefer that visitors become subscribers and start accessing further reports and training, use the jobs board, come to events, and generally allow us to develop a deeper relationship with them (hopefully one that’s valuable to both parties).
In real life things don’t always work this way. A number of people still purchase single reports from us, presumably because they’ve been tasked with a job and need to gen up quickly and get on with it.
The only real answer for this is for us to cross-sell more effectively on site, which still doesn’t help us with all that social churn.
How do marketers address this?
As a publisher this is a more obvious problem for Econsultancy, but it’s still fairly common. As your audience changes over time, your social media strategy needs to evolve. The more content you have, the faster your churn, and the more risk that your strategy will accidentally end up following a ‘spray and pray’ model.
One of the core problems here is resourcing. Unlike the Amazons of the world, very few companies can produce content that is all things to all people.
There’s also no way we can keep producing something about Pinterest every single day, and even if we could, it would likely result in flooding that would turn away more people than it attracted.
Evergreen and specialist content
In order to address this, marketers need to invest in two types of content consistently: The evergreen, and the specialist.
While it’s almost impossible to consistently produce content on a single subject (for those of us with more than a single-product offering at any rate), it’s easy to invest in content that has legs.
David Moth’s recent set of articles looking at how brands use various social media channels are a great example of this.
While the brand content they cover may evolve, the strategic insight remains consistently useful. We’ve also found that posts about tools and services that help readers accomplish specific tasks may not provide a huge initial traffic rush, but do have a long tail and appeal to broad and specialist audiences.
Meanwhile our higher-end technical SEO posts attract specialists and advertise the depth of our content.
Think continuity, not campaign
At a more strategic level, it’s time to stop basing all our content around defined campaigns.
For years we’ve spoken about the brand value of social media, and this applies equally to content.
While the measurable value of a campaign is important and useful, it’s equally important to remember that in content marketing there is no down time.
Those gaps between campaigns need to be filled with a continuous stream of useful content to help minimise customer churn at the top of the funne
It’s important to make sure you have continuous, quality messaging. Think about this when alloting budgets and planning your team's time.
Content should be good, but it doesn't have to be incredibly time-consuming to produce: articles, images, hangout videos - all of these are inexpensive and can be produced regularly.
Unfortunately it may be difficult to measure the value of this immediately, but it's still important. Content is your brand voice. If it's live, it's one of the first places many customers will encounter your brand.