UWA Business School Blog Hub

Where to start with social

Paul Harrigan

By now most organisations are on social media. That doesn’t mean that most organisations are doing it well. Social media really does call for a different approach to marketing; one that really focuses on providing value to consumers with every piece of content that is posted. This is not like traditional marketing, where brand messages tend to be pushed on to consumers who may have unwittingly signed up for an email list in the distant past.

My research looks at how organisations can best use social media and what consumers think about this. Of course, this is a massive area but it’s my job to research it! In this blog post, my first for the new UWA Business School Research blog, I will focus on a trend called content marketing. Fitting really, because this blog is a great example of content marketing.

There is a lot of hype, confusion and anxiety around using social media for marketing purposes. Often, managers come to decide that social media is necessary and delegate the task to more junior managers with little thought about a strategy or resources as basic as time. Approached like this, social media will fail. However, there are enough success stories to keep faith in the power of social media for marketing. What doesn’t often get recognized, though, is that every single one of these success stories took time and effort. If you want to promote an event next week and decide that you want to use social media to do it, you’re probably already too late.

Content marketing is the approach to take to be successful. Content marketing is basically a strategic approach to using social media, posting a stream of content that will actually help your followers. You could entertain them, educate them, convince them or inspire them. The following matrix illustrates examples of these four types of content. I have borrowed it from a great blog that I follow, Smart Insights by the digital marketing guru Dave Chaffey.

I would recommend any organisation, or individual within an organisation, to use this matrix as a point of reference for their social media marketing. Is what you are posting doing one of these things for your followers? If it isn’t, then why are you posting it? Content must serve the follower’s need; and not their need as you define it. Let’s take an example of a university. One of its main markets is Year 12 school students. What content would they really value? A branded video hearing about the university’s research achievements, or a short, sharp video by first year students with tips on how to do well in their upcoming exams or how to write a good application? It doesn’t mean that the branded videos are dead, but there has to be at least a 2:1 ratio between that traditional promotion and content that actually provides value to your market.

For more great examples of content marketing, you can check out Joel Hauer’s recent blog post: http://blog.thundermetric.com/great-content-examples/.

Let me just finish with a simpler idea, in case you’re thinking content marketing strategy seems unachievable with current resources. What about just answering questions on social media? Open up your Twitter account, Facebook page, or even Instagram account to actually draw on the interactive power of social media. For organizations starting out on social media, social customer service is an ideal strategy. As the below diagram  borrowed from the KISSmetrics blog shows, it is a starting point on the path towards content marketing and a social media marketing that will reap rewards.

After this short post, all that’s left for me to do is thank you for reading this far! I hope what I said was of some interest to you. This research really is my passion so if anyone would like to chat, I am always available.

Thanks and talk again soon.

Dr Paul Harrigan – Senior Lecturer in Marketing, UWA Business School


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