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Executing a Social Media Exit Strategy

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It’s a fact of life. Everything comes to an end sooner or later. The same goes for social media campaigns and accounts. The trick is knowing when to pull the plug and move on to something bigger and better.

One of the biggest reasons to hit the delete button is to avoid a social media time suck that drains budget resources and doesn’t provide a healthy return on your investment. You also may find that the property has exceeded its shelf life and you’re not generating optimal levels of traffic and engagement anymore. Whatever the reason, you’re now faced with the decision of what to do.

Obviously, you’ll need to consider the platform carefully. Whether it’s a blog, community, microsite or social networking account, each will have its own factors to consider. But once you put an end to that social media fossil, chances are you’ll find more time and energy to focus on something new. The guilt and baggage from those dated social media accounts will free you to do more. So here are a few things to consider.

Dead Blogs and Communities Serve Up SEO Benefits

If you decide that it doesn’t make sense to sustain your blog, don’t delete it without careful consideration. Blogs, and online communities for that matter, are fantastic repositories of knowledge and opinion for readers seeking out specific content. Depending upon the subject matter, they could yield a wealth of information for many, many years. More than likely, your posts and the reader comments are attracting a fair amount of visitors on a regular basis. You may find that much of the content is still valuable and people are coming across it through their online searches and via your SEO efforts. Check your analytics to determine the level of traffic that’s still coming to the blog, as well as where your visitors are coming from (referral traffic) and the search terms they’re using to find your blog or community. This data could certainly help you shape future marketing strategies or even help you plan your next blog. Make sure you draft and publish a final post explaining the reason for the termination of the blog or online community and thank your readers/contributors for their participation. Don’t forget to include a link they can click to find your organization online, join an affiliate community or a recommended group on a social network like Facebook or LinkedIn.


Expired Campaign Microsites Leverage Inbound Links

Your company may have built an online destination with a very specific purpose in mind. These microsites are usually tied to a creative campaign to drive visibility around a product or service, promote an event, or may even have been used to hold a contest or sweepstakes of some kind. Even though the product has been discontinued, the event has passed or the contest has ended, you may still be attracting visitors from inbound links. Again, it’s about taking advantage of that web traffic (and your brand equity) so don’t cut off that funnel of interested visitors wanting to know more about your organization. Go ahead and tear down the site (make sure you archive your digital assets) but hang onto the domain URL (those are super inexpensive and worth the cost if it means generating an additional stream of traffic). Use a website redirect to your new campaign site, social media page or official web property to connect them with content that’s current. Of course, if you’re not generating traffic than it won’t make sense to keep the domain name.  Hit the delete button on the whole thing.


Unattended Social Media Accounts Aren’t Exactly Social

It’s disappointing to come across a business account on a social network that’s been abandoned or doesn’t respond to comments or customer inquiries. Of course, there could be several reasons for this such as budget cuts, inexperienced community managers or a poor social media strategy (brand conversation monitoring is required for all social media programs). Unlike blogs and online communities, social networks operate on a real-time basis. They are meant to provide ongoing dialogue and can become stale and out-of-date rather quickly. If that’s the case, an exit strategy is probably needed.

I wouldn’t recommend deleting brand name accounts on social networks. I’m talking about branded vanity URLs such as pinterest.com/KLMConsulting. While it’s common for businesses to quickly jump onto social networks to secure their brand names (before cyber squatters beat them), the accounts shouldn’t resemble a ghost town with tumble weeds either. If you’re not ready to activate the account, try to make it hidden (Facebook allows you to do that with pages and groups). If you can’t do that, why not post an initial message stating the obvious – “Thanks for visiting our page, we’ll be launching shortly so come back soon!” If it’s a mature page and you’ll only be gone temporarily, then state that in the last post you publish or in the profile. At the very least this sets the tone and shows your commitment to transparent communications. It also tells the visitor that there is some strategy being developed behind closed doors.

Research from Burson-Marsteller cited that the average number of social media accounts is 33 per company. If you have secondary pages that aren’t performing or you simply can’t sustain or maintain the dialogue, then you may want to consider deleting those. Frankly, they could be doing you more harm than good. Most likely, these will be social media accounts that aren’t imperative to your business and do not contain your brand name in the vanity URL. If that’s the case, you’ll want to send a message to your fans or subscribers letting them know the end is near. Just do so with caution since social media accounts cannot be undeleted.


Three Basic Principles of Content Marketing

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One of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is developing valuable content for online consumption. Tom Foremski said it best when he proclaimed “every company is a media company.” Witnessing a sea change taking place in Silicon Valley a few years back, Tom realized that all companies needed to transform themselves in response to shifts in technology and communication. Understanding this new model of business communications may make it easier for marketers to adapt. While almost every company has added social media to the marketing mix, many still don’t understand how to approach content production.

To be successful, a solid content marketing strategy should include three principles:

  1. content must be focused on the needs of your audience(s)
  2. content needs to be formatted to match the channel it’s being delivered on
  3. content should be optimized in order to attract a broad base

Create Content That Focuses on Your Customers and Market

One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make is talking about itself too much. Customers see through self-serving content and it usually has a negative effect.  While it’s critical to promote what your organization is selling, the spotlight should be on your customers and market. Make sure you talk about how your organization and its products or services are adding value, solving problems or evolving the industry.

I’ve always recommended a two-pronged approach to creating content that pulls from both internal assets and external information. Internal assets include press releases, case studies, executive speeches and so on and can take on many forms such as blog posts, videos, infographs, etc. That’s the easy part as long you use some creativity and imagination in your repackaging of assets.  External information is a little more challenging because it involves staying on top of what’s happening in your industry. The key is to show your audiences that you know where the market is headed and what your customers are demanding. This is where content curation or a monitoring program are critical in staying on top of real-time trends. Developing content based on information such as analyst forecasts, shifting demographics, or new technologies will position your organization as a knowledgeable leader that shares information freely.

Customize Content Based on the Digital Channel

I’m sure you’ve seen this before: companies that push out collateral to every possible digital touch point without customizing the information for those specific channels. Whether it’s a press release, case study, video, and other type of asset to leverage, it needs to be repackaged for added value, easy consumption and sharing. Think visually, too. Give thought to how you can convey your news or story in pictures and video.

IBM is a great example of customizing content in multiple formats with its recently released 2011 Global CMO Survey. The company developed several delivery methods that included webinars for executives to discuss the survey results, a dynamic video posted to YouTube that spotlighted some of the participants surveyed, and a dedicated web page with infographs, and so on. By packaging up the results in numerous ways for various channels, IBM generated an overwhelming response rate that yielded maximum impact.

Optimize Content for SEO and Social Sharing

Online content has no value if it can’t be found. Make sure to optimize your digital assets with keywords and phrases that your audience uses. This is where you should be integrating the keyword research from your search engine analysis into your content. Many companies have sophisticated paid search campaigns but aren’t leveraging the keyword research and applying it to their organic content. Kill two birds with one stone and increase your ROI.

In addition, provide your readers with links to additional content you’ve developed so that they can easily navigate and find what they need. This will help to build interaction with them and increase your SEO success at the same time (aka link building). Also, don’t forget “call to action” links that move your reader in one way or another to share the content. If you don’t have social sharing capabilities baked into your content platform, you’re losing out on potential buyers and prospective evangelists for your business. As a last step, you should be promoting content though your social media channels to entice and attract a broader audience.

By applying these three basic principles to your content marketing strategy, you’ll be firing on all cylinders and finding much more success overall.

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