content strategy

Rebecca Lieb's picture

Facebook Advertising Can’t Succeed (without Marketing)

Perhaps GM’s ad unit needs more of a social life.

It’s hard to believe there wasn’t some sort of agenda in telling the Wall Street Journal, three days in advance of what’s slated to be the biggest IPO in U.S. history, that advertising on Facebook isn’t working for GM, but that’s what the automaker did. If the company was looking for attention, they certainly got it – the media were scrambling for new angles on the week’s biggest story.

Sure, it’s a big deal when one of the world’s largest advertiser pulls back $10M in spend (or makes such a public proclamation). Perspective is also warranted in this situation.

Facebook’s success as an advertising medium, or a public company for that matter, is far from guaranteed. Blazes of glory in this industry are often nasty, brutish and short (AOL, Yahoo, MySpace). But herewith, seven reasons to temper GM’s very public proclamation against Facebook’s advertising:

Facebook advertising isn’t even 1.0. It’s still beta Facebook is developing new advertising products, refining them, killing others, and tweaking some more.  The company’s IPO is a $100B bet that eventually, they’re going to get the model right, just as the search ad model was (and remains) very much in evolution when Google went public. For many advertisers advances can’t come fast enough, but the old term “new media” is very much in play in this contest.

Paid media can’t succeed without earned and owned integration Shortly after the GM story broke, rival Ford tweeted: “It’s all about the execution. Our Facebook ads are effective when strategically combined with engaging content & innovation.” Sounds simple, but integrating paid, owned and earned media into a viable, sustainable strategy in which each informs the other is hard. It requires silo-busting, new metrics, and an entirely new approach to media. Yet it’s a task marketers and advertisers must master – first in social media channels like Facebook, then across the rest of digital as well as traditional media.

Advertisers are only now testing the waters. “We believe that most advertisers are still learning and experimenting with the best ways to leverage Facebook to create more social and valuable ads,” Facebook says in its IPO filing. Best practices for advertising on social networks, or integrating that advertising with owned and earned media? Barely even embryonic. Like Facebook’s evolving ad platform, how to effectively advertise in social channels is still in the earliest stages of evolution

Facebook advertising is not about direct response Those ads on Facebook about tooth whitening and belly fat? Going, going gone says the company. Yet GM’s complaint was that its Facebook ads weren’t moving enough car sales, a pretty disingenuous argument.  GM is certainly sophisticated enough to know that advertising has many purposed other than direct sales: branding, consideration, and purchase intent for starters. It’s very hard to believe the company expected to sell X number of vehicles per Y Facebook ads.

Display is down across the board Why integrate paid, owned and earned media? Because fewer and fewer consumers engage with display advertising. It would be a lot simpler if that weren’t the case. Advertisers could plop creative into ad units and meet goals. But banner blindness and declining click trough rates call for more creative and integrated solutions – again, particularly in social environments.

Content Counts Even GM cedes to Facebook on this account. “We remain committed to an aggressive content strategy,” is one of several quotes GM made in the wake of its ‘no-advertising’ bombshell.

Facebook is biggest media company in history Ever. Of all time. Why doesn’t anyone ever state the obvious? No print or broadcast medium has ever even remotely approached a one billion user base. That old adage about advertising going where the eyeballs are? There are more eyeballs in the world focused on Facebook than anything else man-made. That’s a pretty compelling argument to get this advertising thing right – both internally at Facebook, as well as for advertisers and marketers.

Addendum: I’ve done quite a bit of talking to the media about this issue. Here’s a particularly insightful article from Venture Beat’s Jolie O’Dell: Why Facebook’s GM ad drama won’t impact this IPO.

Rebecca Lieb's picture

Webinar Replay - Content: The New Marketing Equation

If you missed Jeremiah and I presenting our webinar Content: Thee New Marketing Equation, based on our recently published research report, you can watch it here or on SlideShare. Please share the video, as it’s freely available as open research.

How to Rebalance for Content as Part of the New Marketing Equation with Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang

View more videos from Altimeter Group Network on SlideShare

For those of you who were waiting for this post (several of you were kind enough to ask when it would appear), thanks for your patience. Our own technology was particularly disruptive the day of the actual webinar – the laptop recording the presentation went poof, then faded to black. The video above is, therefore, Altimeter Group’s first video “reenactment,” which is why the Q&A is missing at the end.

Cross-posted from the Altimeter Group blog

Rebecca Lieb's picture

Whose Job is Content?

Content marketing has been embraced by businesses large and small. They know there’s far less of a need to buy media when you can create it yourself. They’re aware that if you have a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, a Twitter presence, a Facebook page, or a host of other online offerings, then you’re as much (if not more) a publisher than you are an advertiser.

But strategizing, creating, assessing, disseminating, evaluating, and monetizing content doesn’t just happen by itself. Someone’s got to actually do it.

How do organizations determine who that someone is? There are certainly plenty of possible roles and responsibilities that can oversee, or play a role in, content marketing. Here are just a few of the most obvious examples:

  • Chief content officer or VP of content
  • Chief marketing officer
  • Everyone (or very nearly everyone)
  • Content or editorial director
  • Conversation or community director
  • Blogger
  • Social media guru
  • Copywriter
  • Copy editor
  • Outside consultant(s)
  • PR professional

Companies that really buy in to content marketing are increasingly taking the “everyone” approach. Or at least, they’re hiring a whole lot of people to be responsible for creating digital content because its worth has been solidly demonstrated.

Zappos is one such organization. It started testing video product demonstrations in late 2008. A year later it was producing 60-100 videos per day, with a goal of 50,000 by the end of this year. To that end, the company is upping its full time video production staff of 40, not to mention the scores of employees who appear in the vast majority of the demonstration spots.

Zappos’ content team senior manager Rico Nasol has said that the company sees conversion increase up to 30 percent on products that are accompanied by video.

Think this commitment to content is relevant only to B2C companies? Think again. Recently I spoke with Rick Short, who heads marketing for Indium. His team publishes a staggering 73 blogs on the topic, which in turn is translated into seven languages.

Seventy-three blogs on soldering supplies?

“A lot of people have same reaction you have,” Rick assured me. “They’re surprised a topic like soldering would be worthy of this kind of social media attention. Bottom line is that’s all I do. That’s my job. This isn’t arcane and weird. I’m surrounded by 600 colleagues who are really into it. We’ve dedicated our careers to it. These topics that we in our industry are consumed with are very rich, complex, and rewarding. The team is bona fide, qualified engineers. What a great marketing tool! Why would I hire anyone to rep me when the ‘me’ is better than anything out there?”

Short then said, “If I’d put someone between me and my readers it would read like another press release. We went right to authentic and real. We’ve got to get rid of the Mad Men, take them out of the equation, and go to the market one engineer to another. These guys are smart. They’re PhDs. We can’t think we’re impressing them in this old school, go-to-market style. I want you to be the one who speaks, who takes the picture, whose work is expressed in your own voice. They started seeing that I was sincere, and the customers sincerely appreciate it.”

How did Short arrive at 73 blogs? That’s the number of keywords he identified that the company’s clients searched on when looking for Indium’s products and services.

Clearly, when the job is creating lots of content, it helps to have lots of contributors. Yet putting someone at the helm of those initiatives is critical — as critical as putting an editor-in-chief in charge of everything published by a newspaper or magazine. Consistency, style, voice, adherence to mission, editorial judgment, and ethics are just a part of the role.

Joe Chernov, VP of content marketing at Eloqua, defines his responsibilities as being able to “identify content that will be share-worthy to the company’s audience, and to figure out how to procure that.”

Chernov challenges companies to ask themselves if they have “resources in-house, the skill set to collaborate with demand team, [and the ability] to distribute content through channels that make the most sense.”

“The aperture is set kind of wide regarding what content marketing is,” Chernov said. “In some ways, I wonder if companies that have a blog could check that ‘content marketing blog’ box and move on. They’ll never do the real content marketing labor, which isn’t just tweeting out headlines that are related to your industry, but instead creating substantive, share-worthy content that gets people to talk about you and spend time on their website and gets them to engage in the things you want them to engage in.”

OK, but Eloqua is a B2B technology company, not an e-commerce player like Zappos. So how does Chernov measure the impact the content he’s creating and overseeing has on the bottom line? He admits it’s not a clear equation, but counters with a question: “How many shipwrecks did a lighthouse prevent?”

In order to assess the skill sets required in a chief content officer, Joe Pullizzi recently published a highly detailed job description template. Take a look, and adapt it to your organization’s content marketing needs.

Note: This post was adapted from a chapter in my book, Content Marketing, as well as a column in iMediaConnection.

Image: http://best-conductor.conductorss.com

Share

Rebecca Lieb's picture

Content Strategy, Influencers, and Leftover Turkey

At ad:tech San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, I caught up with Marketo’s marketing team. Jason Miller and I sat down to talk content marketing. He very flatteringly turned our conversation into a blog post.

Here’s an excerpt of our talk – but you have to click if you want to get to the bit about the turkey!

What are your best tips for businesses that are struggling to find content?

Rebecca Lieb: For one thing, businesses have to start thinking like publishers in order to not only define content, but also to effectively use content. It’s very daunting to wake up every day and find a blank page to fill, blank air time or blank podcast time, which is why “real” publications have editorial calendars. And while the New York Times doesn’t know what breaking news will be on page one on Friday, they do know it’s Friday so they’re going to have a weekend arts preview and a movie section and a theater section and perhaps an interview with somebody opening a new play on Broadway.

There’s a degree of predictability in content that’s not only very helpful to the business or the publisher who’s publishing that content, but also to the audience. The regularity of these types of features keeps people coming back. This is why newspapers have evergreen content like horoscopes and comics, they know that readers will develop habits and pick up content for that reason. So in order to constantly create new sources of content you need a plan, you need an editorial calendar.

The second phase of this is for brands to think of how to recycle and repurpose content. Not everybody likes the same content in the same channels. Somebody might be very happy to listen to this interview as a podcast while other people just want to read the text. So why not make it available in both formats on two different channels? Or if you have a live event, you can chop that event up into content that will take you down the road for weeks or months in the form of videos, infographics, or blog entries.

Next: Why content is like leftover turkey. You’ll have to read that part over on Marketo’s blog.

Rebecca Lieb's picture

Publishing In Today's Digital, Social Reading Environment

Reading. It’s a fundamentally solitary pastime that’s becoming increasingly more social given the baked-in functionalities of e-reading devices (Tweet this!).

It’s also – surprise! – an activity on the upswing for a couple of reasons: a proliferation of e-reading devices that are plummeting in price, and consumers’ broad acceptance of reading content on phones and computers (not necessarily on Kindles and Nooks), as a new e-reading study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project reveals.

Let’s look at some of the findings from The Rise of e-Reading, then indulge in a bit of speculation about where all this digital content consumption might be headed.

Pew found that consumers who read on digital devices not only read more stuff (not just books, but magazines and other long-form content), but they also buy significantly more reading material. This cohort is growing in numbers at an astonishing rate.

Read the rest of this column on MarketingLand.com.

Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb is a strategic advisor, consultant, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist.

SEE MORE

Get in touch