In the world of marketing the message can soon become mixed and the playing field regularly shifts.
What worked even two years ago in terms of websites and social media may now no longer be reaching the market a business is seeking to reach, and there’s a good chance the format of content has also changed.
The reality is today’s audience is busier than ever before. They’re also more socially savvy about brand messaging, have less time to consume content and now expect it to be delivered to them in bite sized pieces in the format they prefer.
Which begs the question for any business, where should your marketing attention lie and what content works best on what media?
Here’s a quick guide to the many channels of digital media and what works best where when it comes to getting your message out.
In the digital age, a website is like the front door of a business. It’s the place where a business clearly explains who they are, what they offer, and how consumers can interact or buy their products and services.
Research indicates 70-80 per cent of people research a company online before visiting the small business or making a purchase with them. Meanwhile 93 per cent of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 47 per cent of people click on one of the first three listings.
Yet in Australia, studies have found the majority (59 per cent) of businesses do not have a website, and without one they’re missing out on a valuable marketing opportunity.
Primarily a website serves two important purposes:
- It allows a business to be found online
- It acts as a point of reference for consumers looking to understand and compare products and services
When it comes to what content a website contains, it can vary depending on the style and purpose of the business behind it incorporating images, videos, blogs and general information.
A great website always starts with the basics:
- Who the company is (Home Page and About)
- What they offer (Products and services)
- Where they’re located (Contact)
- How people can get in touch (Contact – and booking forms for service based or hospitality businesses)
On top of this a website should be employing best-practice when it comes to search engine optimisation, which allows the business to rank with search providers like Google so a business can be found easily online.
In an age where most people search for products and services on their smart phone, the business website should also be mobile-optimised.
Websites and content
In addition to the general information websites provide, they also offer a publishing platform for businesses to consistently demonstrate their authority and expertise to customers through engaging content.
This is where the business engages in an ongoing conversation with their consumer offering tips, insight and knowledge via blogs and even video.
Not only do blogs and regular content assist a consumer in understanding what the business offers and what they believe, the upload of regular content also serves to raise the businesses SEO ranking through keyword optimisation.
A website might be the front door of a business online, but social media is where business truly engages in a conversation with their consumer.
Social media offers a series of platforms, all suited to different content, where business can quickly interact, establish a presence and create a loyal and engaged following.
Not all businesses use all social media, but most engage with at least one or two channels, with Facebook the most popular.
In 2018, Yellow found the proportion of Australian businesses with a social media presence had reached the highest level recorded.
“More than half the small (51 per cent) and medium businesses (58 per cent) have a social media presence, while for large businesses the incidence is 85 per cent,” they found.
Of all the social media channels Facebook is the most popular. Yellow notes 90 per cent of businesses with a social media presence have a Facebook profile.
Meanwhile in 2017, Sensis noted 24 per cent of Australians used social media sites like Facebook to follow or find out about particular brands or businesses in general.
Its popularity relates to its affordability, ease of use and the fact Facebook offers immediacy and interaction.
It is a place where consumers can ask questions of a brand, offer feedback, seek information and see visual imagery.
Facebook also caters to a variety of content types – from the quick meme to the Facebook Live explainer video, photographs, short posts and even links to longer blogs.
In a content marketing strategy, Facebook is used to drive brand awareness and traffic to a website, further boosting that SEO strategy.
However, Facebook also plays an important role on its own bin building brand awareness.
Best practice for business on Facebook involves engaging with the consumer while offering interesting information.
Less formal than a website, it allows a business to establish a tone, offer incentives, stage competitions and provide general tips or insight into the working of a business.
It also tends to be more immediate than a website, allowing a conversation between a business and its consumer, and between patrons of that business.
For small businesses, Instagram remains the second most popular platform (up eight points to 27 per cent, according to Yellow.
The advantage of Instagram is its speed, simplicity and aspirational nature.
Relying heavily on imagery, it allows a brand to paint a visual picture of services and offerings along with the location and environment in which it operates.
For example, a giftwares store can effectively use Instagram to showcase its incoming product lines, and beautifully illustrate via photographs how those products look when in use.
Meanwhile, a real estate agent might use Instagram to highlight the attributes of a region like best dining spots, views, vistas and properties new to the market.
Like all social media, Instagram best practice involves driving traffic to the business website or allowing consumers to directly purchase from it.
As Yellow explains, Twitter has a much stronger appeal to large businesses than medium and small.
They found in 2018 Twitter usage was up five points to 60 per cent for large business, while medium businesses were up nine points to 45 per cent.
On the flipside, small businesses reduced their usage of Twitter by 10 points to 14 per cent.
Twitter is often considered a PR tool rather than a lead-generation social media channel. It allows a business to update consumers on their thoughts, initiatives, and incentives via short sharp messaging.
But as CIO notes, it can also be employed for further uses, including recruiting, market research, or by answering the questions consumers in your market have.
YouTube is emerging as a hugely important tool in the business of showcasing products and services, while answering common questions like “How do I?”
In fact, Internet expert Mary Meeker recently highlighted the emerging popularity of YouTube, noting it’s now the second most popular social media channel for users after Facebook, with 27 per cent of internet users now accessing YouTube.
Her latest report indicates over the past six years, YouTube has emerged as a learning tool, last year clocking up 4.5 billion hours of “how-to” viewership.
In fact, 59 per cent of Gen Z-ers cite YouTube as their preferred tool for learning.
YouTube presents an excellent opportunity for business to illustrate how products are made and used, to introduce staff, and to educate consumers on services.
Again, YouTube can help drive consumers to a company’s website, while YouTube videos can also be embedded within blogs and content, allowing business to vary their content delivery and appeal to more users.
For medium and large businesses, LinkedIn is the second most popular social media channel in Australia, while it ranks third most popular for small businesses.
Yellow explains 48 per cent of medium business using social media have a LinkedIn profile (up seven points), 73 per cent of large businesses utilise it, and 23 per cent of small businesses showcase their expertise on LinkedIn.
In many ways LinkedIn is a very different channel to other social media platforms. It offers a space for the individuals behind a business to showcase their expertise.
LinkedIn is the place where professionals illustrate their previous experience, their industry insight and their contacts with the wider business world.
It also offers a space for excellent commentary via blogs, where business can link to the content on their website that showcases their authority in a sector.
It starts with great content
Regardless of what social media channels a business selects or how extensive their website is, maintaining a brand profile and engaging in a conversation with a consumer always starts with good content.
This content should be current, insightful, valuable and reflect the ethos of the brand. It should offer a place for consumers to come back to where they will find unique expertise and value. It should be regular and current, providing a real reason for consumers to continue their engagement and conversation with a brand.
At Openseed we specialise in planting the seeds of customer reach through compelling brands and SEO optimised websites. We then nurture kernel of great content, devising strategies and storytelling to support business in their ongoing conversation with their customer. Ultimately it reaps an ongoing harvest that delivers business real and proven results.