If you had to choose between developing your social media audience and investing in content, what would you do? You have heard stories at conferences about how so-and-so developed their big list of Facebook followers or LinkedIn connections or Pinterest users. You wonder if you should hire a social media services firm who promised to get you lots of new Facebook followers. Your advertisers say they want “Social Media” solutions. They want your help with building their own Facebook or Twitter followers, etc. etc. etc. How can you determine where to invest to build your business?
Pricelines’s CEO isn’t confused about where to invest his dollars. More on that later.
Advertising sales-driven publishers, tens of thousands of you, from national consumer magazines and newspapers to business-to-business magazines to hobbyist magazines to local magazines and weekly newspapers have been buffeted by advice for 20 years now. Since the first tidal wave of digital media hit the publishing beach, publishers were challenged to allocate resources in a smart way in the face of an uncertain future. Recall the fast growth and decline of AOL discussion-boards, later Geocities and other first-generation socially-built media, and then MySpace.
But business school classes and strategy books and advisors have long touted the wise answer of divining your “core business” and staying focused on that. Yes, it’s true that skills and tactics around the edges of your core business will require attention and development, but it can be a real aid in making investment choices if you can feel comfortable you know your core business strength and be sure it gets the investment it needs first.
So it should be reassuring that the market has now come around to make your core strength precisely the “strategy du jour:” Content marketing! Your company is an expert on building content readers trust. Your content matters because it has the right voice for your market, has timing that is a step ahead of the readers’ needs, and because it has authority built from years of experience and represented by your brand reputation in your market.
High quality content, and more and more of it, is your social media strategy. People share content, and comment on content, via social media. No content, no sharing. Build your content first. Readers will share on their social media of choice. When Facebook declines they’ll share it on the next platform, be it Snapchat or Instagram or a new social platform we haven’t yet heard of.
So it was interesting to read about Priceline’s advertising spending in recent quarterly earnings comments from CEO Darren Huston. “For Facebook and Twitter, we have endless amounts of money,” Huston said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. “But we haven’t found anything there.” Google, on the other hand, delivers results, and gets 90 percent of the spending from Priceline.
For publishers the implication is clear, invest in content because your high quality content does win on Google over the advertisers. Since approximately 80% of the Google traffic clicks on a ‘natural search’ result, your content can be there picking up the traffic missed by the search advertisers. The same content will be the driver of social media sharing. Finally, and most importantly, you can then sell the advertisers a second crack at that ‘poised to buy’ traffic you won and they missed on the search engine. But only if you have invested in the content it takes to win traffic on Google.