by John Graham
Digital marketers are facing a serious dilemma. Whether you’re a social media manager, a content marketer, or a blogging superstar, you’re faced with producing results for a client or a brand. The dilemma we face however is one that has no simple answer but deserves a serious dialogue. What’s more important? Likes or Love?
I recently had a conversation with a producer friend of mine who created a very cool cooking show series for a major broadcast network. The show was geared towards a Millennial demographic (24-35 yrs old) and has all the makings of a strong digital property that could generate some serious revenue. However, the show is only being uploaded to YouTube and gets very little promotion beyond the occasional post on FB and any incidental shares that occur by happenstance and most importantly, it
doesn’t have a landing page. Without a landing page they’re missing a huge opportunity to provide a deeper experience to customers. My recommendation was to develop a strategy to distribute the content via the “Shotgun” approach that brings the viewers back to a landing page where you can feature more information and related products. Sounds simple enough right? There are a few challenges to actually pulling this simple feat off in a multi-billion dollar company.
1) You need executive level buy in to do anything different. The first concern from any exec is going to be cost. Once you can prove that this method is a cost savings with high return potential then you can move on to the next challenge.
2) You need buy in from the people who would actually be executing the strategy. No one likes doing something because they’ve been told to do it from on high. If the owners of the platform (Social media team, email marketing team, etc..) are not down with the plan than your executive level buy in means squat!
We were able to get past the first challenge through a great conversation with a VP who owns the production side. He loved the idea of the impulse buy factor mixed with the building of brand trust through value added content. I proposed a low cost means of leveraging our existing content distribution channels and the gates were magically opened up for me. It was the second challenge that I was not expecting.
After some chatter amongst the Social team about my proposed ideas I found myself in a meeting trying to convince the very person who I’d have thought would need the least amount of convincing. When I explained the notion of providing value upfront and minimizing the product sell in these short shareable video pieces I thought I’d have a slam dunk. What I learned next caught me completely off-guard. The manager of social media proceeded to tell me that “No one is sharing YouTube videos like that anymore.” Then she said she gets more views with the Facebook embedded videos. I mentioned the fact that the videos play automatically just by virtue of you scrolling past them in your newsfeed which doesn’t imply viewership or engagement. She was completely ok with that. So I asked the most straightforward question I could. “Are views more important to you than creating engaged and loyal brand connections through value added content?” Her reply without hesitation was “Yes!” I was floored.
What I discovered in this encounter is that this enterprise level Social Media manager has been forced into thinking that vanity metrics are the best way to show the value of her efforts. If the video had 100k views but only drove 3 shares then is that content really effective? Don’t get me wrong, “Likes” and “Views” have their place in helping to establish social proof, but in this case they have somehow trumped value added content and its benefits. That is scary to hear let alone witness firsthand.
This is a common conundrum I come face to face with when dealing with clients who are frustrated by the low numbers on their content. The desire to be liked by the audience is something everyone can understand. The measure of this social acceptance is captured by the vanity metric currency that is exchanged on digital platforms. Likes, views, retweets, favorites, shares, and comments are the desired outcomes for those who are most concerned with the illusion of social media success, but the most important factor is being ignored. Relevant, entertaining, or informative content that provides value to your target audience is the most important piece of the equation. If people do not find value in your content than you’ve missed a valuable opportunity at either gaining a customer or keeping an existing customer engaged. If you had a leaky faucet and went to YouTube for a DIY tutorial then what would be more important? Would you trust a video with more views but didn’t solve your problem or a more relevant video with less views? Don’t answer that question. It’s rhetorical.
To sum it all up the point is that being a “View” whore or a “Like” monger doesn’t produce the best content. It doesn’t make you the most relevant resource or position you as an expert in your field. It doesn’t produce brand trust, or extended the lifetime value of your customer base. It only produces a false sense of success for those who don’t know any better. In a world where likes, views, followers, and comments can be purchased for as low as $5 then what is to separate the real from the fake? Relevant content and genuine connection all day everyday. I’ll leave you with this point of fact: The most viewed video of all time is Psy’s “Gangnam Style”. This video was released in 2012. It’s now 2015 and when’s the last time you heard of Psy since? Don’t worry… I’ll wait!
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