Mega Content: What It Is & Why Marketers Should Embrace It (Part 1)

MEGA content-01What if you could help create ready-made content for your social media sharing teams while simultaneously boosting the size of your targeted email marketing lists without dramatically increasing the work done by your content marketing team? It’s what every business wants, and it’s surprisingly possible with just a little bit of tweaking to your current strategy.

The History of Mega Content

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers and 69% of B2C marketers say they are creating more content this year than they were last year. Add in the need to serve up a steady stream of both original and curated content across various social media platforms and we sometimes find ourselves drowning under a never ending barrage of content requests.

Why so much content, and what are we trying to accomplish with it? This is what marketers really need to be asking. Study after study has shown increases in indexed pages, traffic volume, leads and sales for websites that have regularly updated blogs. But, the challenge comes in balancing the need to create strong brand building and lead generating blog posts with a slew of other social media postings that are more engaging for audiences.

This can make it difficult for businesses both large and small to balance the knowledge that content marketing produces long term leads with the very real demand for producing trackable data and results on a more immediate timeline. The key to good online marketing is figuring out how to reach both goals, but the jackpot of online marketing is achieving both goals with one set of deliverables.

Thus, the idea of mega content was born.

What Is MegaContentThe Challenges with Mega Content

It started out almost by accident. One of our clients is a prodigious writer. She regularly churns out volumes of outstanding content and has a very strong blog following. This traffic has great carry-over to her e-commerce site and is consistently one of her strongest sources of converting traffic. While this has provided a wonderful bedrock on which to build a solid online marketing business, the need to increase sales and conversions still exists.

Despite strong blog marketing and social media marketing, this client had not done much in the way of targeting or segmented email marketing. As the client prepared to launch a newer version of their e-commerce site with a more flexible backend management system, we decided to prep for more aggressive email marketing in the coming year. Of course, the biggest challenge in email marketing is building out a strong list with good targeting to allow for proper segmentation.

When the client delivered a blog post that clocked in at over 4,000 words, we knew we had a decision to make. We could break the post up into 3-4 posts that were more digestible, or we could beef it up further and consider its potential as an e-book or whitepaper. Since we had already started building out an infographic on the same topic, we decided to move forward with an e-book approach that could be used to draw a list of email addresses that were clearly interested in this specific topic and its corresponding product line.

As our design team worked out the details of the 24 page e-book, we decided to take a more visual approach to the design. Because the topic was targeted at women, we developed a PDF more in line with a pull-out guide from a women’s magazine instead of taking the standard text heavy whitepaper or e-book approach. We included our infographic as well as visual call-outs, quotes and other snippets of information aimed at creating a highly informative piece of content.

The Possibilities of Mega Content

Once our e-book was designed, we then took the time to break the content down into individual pieces of content that could be used on the client’s blog and/or for social media outreach. Two 500 word blog posts were pieced together from the content and paired with the infographic to serve as three separate posts on the client’s blog. Also, a series of images were created showcasing tips and facts about the e-book, which were then optimized for Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Next, we knew we needed to build out a traditional style landing page aimed at trading the e-book for an email address. We paired it up with the style, theme and information provided in our content package. We added testimonials from happy customers, and a few sound bites of information from the content piece. Overall, we ended up with more than a dozen “bite-size” pieces of content that could be shared on social media as standalone pieces of content, yet we still had enough meat to them to lead people back to the landing page to download the e-book.

MegaContent_Combines Best ImpactIs Marketing Mega Content Really That Different?

At this point, some of you may be wondering how this process differs at all from traditional e-book or whitepaper marketing. It’s a fair question with a very nuanced answer. E-books and whitepapers are traditionally written for the express purpose of creating a “prepped” buyer. Sometimes it’s about sharing research and data that draws in the exact type of lead you can feed to your sales team so they can pick up the phone and try to close the deal. Sometimes, it’s about sharing a case study or writing a story that leads people down a path to the right decision, right meaning your product or service, of course. And generally speaking, whitepapers and e-books are viewed as leading people into a fairly deep position in your conversion funnel.

Mega content, on the other hand, is about building a launch point for your conversion funnel. It’s about gathering a lead that can be fed into different parts of your marketing machine over time. It earns you an email address and a topic of interest, just enough to start reaching out. In other words, you have to accept that you are getting a lead with less immediate value than you might gather using traditional whitepaper marketing.

Why Mega Content Works

The appeal to mega content is that the lead isn’t your only value. Your social media team also receives a nice package of content that can be released across social media channels over the coming weeks or even months. This not only reduces the amount of time spent curating third party content for sharing and increases your ability to share a wider range of original content that can stand on its own, but it also has the potential to drive people to your landing page.

What’s more, this leads to the amazing potential for both traffic increases and lead increases, but you’ll have to tune into our blog again to find out how that works. For the next post in this series, we’ll map out the value of compound growth when it comes to long term lead generation and explain exactly how mega content fits into that process.

MegaContent_Breaking It Up

Understanding and Establishing Micro Goals for Your Social Media Campaigns

A few weeks ago I wrote a handful of articles on how to develop a proper social media strategy by developing goals, breaking those goals into supportive goals and matching goals to appropriate tactics. Those three articles outline the foundation that needs to be laid for any good social media plan, but your job doesn’t stop there. In fact, if you want to do things properly, your job is just getting started.

First, let’s quickly recap what your process would look like if you were to map it out based solely on those three articles. For each of your primary goals, the process might look a little something like this:

You would have started with your primary goal, broken it down into supportive goals, matched those goals to appropriate tactics and determined which social media outlets best allowed you to implement those tactics. After a few weeks or months, you’d sit down and ask yourself if you’d met your primary goal.

There’s really nothing wrong with going about the process this way, but there is a better way. What you need to do is understand the area between the outlets and success…that grey area where things can go right or wrong and you can be completely oblivious.

Understanding Micro Goals

Within that grey area is where our micro goals are going to live. These goals will sound familiar to most of you, because they’re actually the types of “goals” that get kicked around by people who know very little about social media strategy. Things like number of Facebook followers or number of RSS subscribers. Things that on the surface are almost worthless, but when combined with a solid strategy actually become crucial to the long term success of your campaigns.

Micro-goals are basically the various numbers you can tally up from your involvement in different social media outlets. They can easily be tracked and tallied over time and they give you a concrete gauge of your interactions with consumers and how those interactions are changing over time.

Establishing Micro Goals

You’ll need to have worked your way through your strategy to the point of selecting your social media tools before you’ll be ready to establish your micro goals. For the most part, there are universal micro goals that will need to be tracked across the board for all companies. These will serve as the starting points to help you realize what you should be tracking.

You’ll also need to have a solid understanding of your goals and supportive goals so you can fine tune your micro goals to your specific needs. For example, everyone will want to track the number of RSS and Email subscribers to their blog, but only some companies will need to track the number of PDF downloads or the number of leads generated from the blog.

Here are a few examples of specialized micro goals that might be tied to specific campaign goals:

If you are using Facebook to drive people to events or sales, RSVPs will become an important part of you campaign and an essential micro goal to track. If you’re using Flickr to build up press relations with bloggers and mainstream media, tracking the number of times your Creative Commons licensed photos are used will be important to track.

Sit down with your team, talk through your strategy and examine the list of actions consumers can take on each of the social media platforms you plan to utilize. Then add these to your list. Your finished product should give you quite a hefty list of things to track over the course of your campaign.

The Next Steps

Now that you understand what micro-goals are and how to establish them, you’re ready to learn how to put them to work to improve the performance of your campaigns. In my next post, I’ll talk about how to use these newly defined micro-goals to fine tune your social media efforts as you’re moving forward with your campaigns.

Strengthen Your Twitter Outreach with New Data

HubSpot has released their Third Annual State of the Twittersphere report and for those of us who keep tabs on Twitter from both the marketing and social interaction perspective the results are interesting. HubSpot analyzed the more than 5 million Twitter accounts and 6 million Tweets that have been collected by Twitter Grader.

Perhaps the biggest news in the report is the slowdown of Twitter’s phenomenal growth over the past few months. Twitter hit a peak of double digit month over month growth last spring when the service was responsible for breaking several news stories and when celebrities like Ashton Kutcher gave the service new exposure.

In the last half of 2009 however, growth of the service started to slow a bit. That’s not a bad thing, it simply means Twitter is starting to level out into a more realistic and sustainable growth rate.

Twitter User Growth

Twitter Users are more Engaged

It’s worthwhile to note that while growth is starting to slow, Twitter members are maturing in their use of the service. The average Twitter user is now following around 170 people (as opposed to about 40 people when HubSpot first analyzed this stat) and is being followed by an average of 300 other people.

Those numbers are some what skewed by power users, however. Twitter users like Ashton Kutcher literally have millions of followers, bringing the average numbers way up. In reality, most Twitter users are still operating with a fairly small network. In fact, 82% of Twitter users have less than 100 followers and roughly the same percentage are following less than 100 people themselves.

The average number of tweets per Twitter user has also increased dramatically, showing the users who stick with the service are taking the time to become truly invested in the conversation.

Twitter Users are Profiling Themselves

HubSpot also notes the number of users who have taken the time to write bios, specify their location and add a URL to their account has doubled since the last time they reported on Twitter. This again tells us that Twitter users are becoming more mature in their use of the service and they’re making sure they’re leveraging it properly.

Interesting Data on When Twitter Users are most Active

HubSpot also has some excellent insight into when people are using Twitter. This is essential data to have a grasp on if you’re looking to build a Twitter marketing strategy. After all, getting your message heard above the chatter on Twitter is difficult on a good day…post it on a day or at a time when no one is paying attention and you’re entire campaign can come to a screeching halt.

The highest usage days for Twitter are Thursday and Friday. There’s a sharp drop-off over the weekend and a slow ramp up that begins building again on Monday.

Twitter Usage by Day of the Week

Most Twitter users are night owls, actively tweeting in the evening between 10 and 11pm while wrapping up work or watching TV at home.

Twitter Usage by the Hour

By mixing this data with information presented by HubSpot’s Dan Zarella at last November’s PubCon, we can really start to build a picture of when the best times are to launch information you’d really like to see spread on Twitter.

At the show, Dan shared the following data:

  • The highest click thru rate on tweeted links occurs between 2 and 3pm. (Followed by the 8-9pm time slot and the 5-6pm time slot.)
  • Thursday, Saturday and Sunday experience the highest click thru levels, consistently beating the average.
  • The more links you tweet, the less likely people are to click those links.
  • Tweets that include links are far more likely to be retweeted than tweets without links.
  • The highest percentage of retweets occurs on Fridays at 4pm. (Monday afternoons also have high retweet rates.)

Dan also had some great data on the types of content that are most likely to be retweeted:

Types of Content that gets Retweeted

So How Does This Impact You?

There are several strong strategic points we can take away from this data.

We now know if you’re looking to use Twitter for viral purposes to get your message far and wide, it’s important to launch your efforts on those Monday and Friday afternoons when the most retweeting is taking place. We know it’s important to include links in those tweets and including links tied to breaking news or that are designed to inform and educate will increase our chances of being retweeted.

We also know if you’re looking to use Twitter purely for the click thrus and you already have a strong following, you’re going to want to focus your efforts in the early afternoon, around dinner or right around prime time. We also know you’ll want to be very selective in how often you tweet links so the ones you do share are well received and have the chance to increase your credibility.

Twitter can be a very effective way to spread the word about your business, but as with all other forms of marketing and advertising, it’s important to understand the dynamics of its users. The latest data from HubSpot proves the idea of day parting your message is just as effective on Twitter as it is elsewhere.

For more insight, you can download the full report as a PDF, or read the summary over at HubSpot.