6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Setting Social Media Marketing Goals

In today’s digital landscape, chances are social media is a vital piece of your marketing mix. After all, people live on social platforms these days and projections show that worldwide social media users will surpass 3 billion by 2021.

But as brands and marketers fight for visibility in crowded, “algorithm-enhanced” news feeds, how many of you are actually reaching your strategic social media marketing objectives? Better yet, how many of you can say you have well-defined, relevant and measurable goals outlined within your social strategy?

As a marketer, you know there can be no strategy without goals. Goals are the foundation of your strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next. But how do you define those goals?

The truth is there’s a lot to consider such as your industry, overall business objectives, budget and resources. With that said, whether you need to start from scratch or it’s time to give your goals a refresh, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself along the way:

#1 – How does social media map to my overall marketing objectives?

Your social media marketing efforts are an integral part of your entire marketing strategy. As such, the goals you set should absolutely support what you’re trying to achieve at a high level. It’s as simple as that.


Your #socialmedia goals should absolutely map to your overall #marketing objectives.
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#2 – Who is my social audience?

You know that the foundation of any marketing initiative is understanding your audience’s pain points, motivations, interests and needs. But those defining characteristics may manifest themselves a bit differently on social media. After all, social media is a personal outlet for many, so their motivations for engaging with a brand may be different than if they received an email from you or found you via search.

As a result, in order to define your social media objectives, you need to understand why your audience is on social media and what they care about most on those platforms.

#3 – How does my audience differ across social channels?

Every social media channel offers something a little unique, which means your audience may differ from channel to channel. As a result, your goals—as well as your strategy to reach those goals—should reflect that.

#4 – What does my audience expect from me?

Let’s face it. The goals you set are going to be rooted in some type of audience action. But to inspire that action, you need to think about what your audience’s expectations are and how you’ll meet them. Is it quick and empathetic customer service? Conversation? Entertainment? Helpful information and resources?

#5 – What do I really want from my social media efforts?

Brand awareness and audience engagement are typically the top goals of any social media marketing strategy. But challenge yourself to go deeper as you define your goals. For example, if community engagement is a top priority, what does that actually look like to you? Is it likes, shares, comments, reviews, website traffic or a combination of them all?


As your define your #socialmedia goals, challenge yourself to go deeper & deeper.
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#6 – Are my goals measurable?

At the end of the day, your goals have to be measurable. How else are you going to know if you’ve actually achieved what you set out to do?

In Need of More Social Media Marketing Inspiration?

Then check out these helpful resources:


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6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Setting Social Media Marketing Goals was posted via Internet Marketing

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The Mighty Cheeseburger: How to Construct Your Content for the Perfect Bite

You might not know this but today, Sept. 18, is a national holiday to remember: National Cheeseburger Day. We know, we know, everyday now has an arbitrary national holiday that has little to offer outside of free food or funny tweets. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth celebrating.

For our own National Cheeseburger Day celebration, we took a look at what makes a great burger. From a perfectly toasted bun to secret sauces, there is a lot that goes into creating the perfect staple of American food. And as content marketers, we could relate to trying to find the perfect mixture of ingredients and techniques to create something that people love.

In content marketing, much like cooking, there is an overwhelming amount of options for composing content or content strategies. It can feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen, countless ingredients to choose from, or numerous recipes to follow that it becomes impossible to form a cohesive content plan.

So to help you break down the necessities and create captivating content, we gathered four tips for constructing delicious content inspired by—you guessed it—cheeseburgers.

Toasted to Perfection

Similar to the bun on a burger, the introduction and conclusion to your content supports the meat of your message. Set yourself up for success with attention grabbing, empathetic introductions and conclusions to drive your point home. While supporting the content on the page, the introduction and conclusion sections are also great opportunities to support your business as a whole. Mentioning your experience, products, or services help highlight your expertise and reinforce your credibility.

Even more important, no one likes a soggy bun! That’s why the best chef’s place the lettuce directly underneath the patty—it keeps the juices from seeping into the bun. Keep your content clean and clear and by writing distinct section headers. This will help structure your content in an easily digestible way and make sure your thoughts are well-organized.

Grade-A Beef

Just like a burger, content without meat (or protein for our vegetarian and vegan readers) just doesn’t cut it. Your content needs to be worth your audience’s time or else it won’t produce results. The secret to noteworthy, memorable content is offering hearty advice to your readers in the form of listicles, steps, tips, or guides.

One of the best ways to create valuable content is to answer common questions your audience might have and pack your answers with statistics, quotes, and anecdotes that validate your point of view. This ensures that your audience can find a solution to their problems with your content. And because you’re answering a specific, commonly asked question, this strategy could also help improve your ranking in voice search results.

The Right Amount of Crunch

Burgers are commonly found in grills and restaurants across the country, so to keep surprising guests with new inventions, Chef’s often experiment with different food textures. The same should be done with your content marketing. As content marketers ourselves, we know that reading several blog posts each day can get boring, so why should we put our audiences through that? We need to surprise them with something different.

Create crunchy content moments of your own by producing a mix of blog posts, podcasts, videos, case studies, and more. The variety helps break up any monotony in your current content strategy and entices audiences with new formats. In fact, four times as many customers would rather watch a product video than read about it, according to Animoto. And in addition, your mix of content creates cross-linking opportunities that will potentially boost your search rankings or traffic.

Secret Sauce

A good sauce is the difference between a great burger and an excellent one. It is one of the only burger ingredients that can completely change the flavor of each bite. In terms of content, we believe that the difference between great and excellent content is an oft-talked about, yet little utilized tactic: SEO.

Add search engine flavor to your content with SEO strategies like internal linking and optimized meta descriptions, tags, and headers. But before you start jam packing your content with keywords and links, make sure your internal linking fits naturally and has keyword optimized anchor text. And because engagement and external linking is an increasingly large factor in search rankings, add click to tweets and other easy-to-share links that make it simple for readers to circulate your content.

Need More Ingredients for Your Content Marketing Recipe?

If you’re starving for more content marketing tips, learn how to master the perfect content marketing recipe with these 30 savory and sweet content ingredients.


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The Mighty Cheeseburger: How to Construct Your Content for the Perfect Bite was posted via Internet Marketing

Digital Marketing News: Better Text Ads, Lifestyle Templates & AMP for AdWords

Seven Tips for Writing Better-Performing Expanded Text Ads [Infographic]
Writing text ads is a challenge – how can you be compelling enough to drive a conversion with such limited space? There are several tricks of the trade explored in this new infographic. MarketingProfs

Google to Advertisers: Get Your Mobile Landing Pages Ready
Google recently announced that in two weeks, AdWords advertisers can use AMP pages as landing pages for their ads. This provides a seamless user experience when searching through Google and could have implications for page rank. Search Engine Journal

The print catalog era is over — but Facebook wants to revive it on your iPhone
Do you miss the good old days of ordering from a catalog? Not many do. However, the lifestyle inspiration we all get from magazines is something that we haven’t been able to replicate as well with our digital ads. Facebook is trying to close that gap with their new ‘Lifestyle Templates’. Business Insider

Amazon Is Opening Up Its Ads Business, and Marketers See a Big Opportunity to Shake Up Search
According to AdWeek, “After testing search-based ads with agencies and brands, Kenshoo (a company that helps marketers manage search spend across platforms) is making Amazon ads readily available to all marketers through an API integration today.” AdWeek

Instagram Expands Access to Branded Content Tools
After months of testing, Instagram has granted access to advertisers to its Branded Content tools. These will allow advertisers simplify the process for working with creators (and vice versa). Social Media Today

Google responds to Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention with AdWords tracking update
The news of Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari has upset the advertising industry – but as usual, we have Google to the rescue. According to Search Engine Land, “Google has developed a new Google Analytics cookie that will be used to capture campaign and conversion data from Safari in a way that conforms with ITP.” Search Engine Land

Amazon ‘1-Click’ patent expires today, get ready for faster web-wide checkout
Amazon’s patent on ‘1-Click’ checkout has expired – this means that eCommerce platforms can now duplicate this functionality on their own sites. This is expected to reduce cart abandonment for shopping sites and make a more convenient user experience. Marketing Land

73% Of Broadband Consumers Want To Tightly Control Their Personal Data
According to MediaPost: “A large majority (73%) of U.S. broadband consumers express a desire to keep tight control over access to their personal data, with nearly half being very concerned that someone will access the data without their permission, according to a new report by Parks Associates.” MediaPost

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll come back next week with more top digital marketing news. Have something to share? Email the newsroom or Tweet to @toprank.

Digital Marketing News: Better Text Ads, Lifestyle Templates & AMP for AdWords was posted via Internet Marketing

Digital Marketing Tools & Tactics: What the Trends Tell Us

Digital Marketing Trends, Tools & TacticsAs the old saying goes: the more things change, the more they stay the same — a saying that certainly has resonance across the marketing industry right now.

As it stands, the top challenges many of us are facing in 2017 are, in essence, the same ones we’ve been battling for years. According to an expansive aggregation of digital marketing studies and reports from Getapp Lab, the industry’s top pain points include: lack of time, knowledge, and resources; difficulty converting leads into customers; and diminishing reach in an increasingly crowded digital environment.

The analysis offers a widescreen view of the current landscape for businesses, highlighting tactics that are leading the way, solutions being embraced to overcome prevalent hurdles, and emerging technologies that hint at the direction of the marketing industry for startups and enterprises alike.

With that said, below we run through some key takeaways from the roundup, as well as provide some additional insight and resources.

Don’t Sweat the Individual Techniques

Which digital marketing techniques are leading the way in 2017? Getapp shares a report from Smart Insights showing that content marketing and big data are leading the way in a preference poll, with marketing automation, mobile marketing and social media marketing not far behind.

(Photo Credit: Smart Insights)

Of course, none of these should really be viewed as disparate practices — rather quite the opposite. TopRank Marketing firmly believes in approaching digital marketing with an integrated strategy. For example, data ought to touch every branch of your marketing strategy. Mobile should be top-of-mind with all digital assets you produce. Automation can be integrated into almost every tactic for added efficiency.

But, with that said, it comes as no surprise that content and data lead the way as prioritized techniques. As our own CEO, Lee Odden, often says: “Content isn’t king. It’s the Kingdom.” So for us, these two cornerstones speak to the fundamental essence of modern marketing: understanding your audience and reaching them with relevant, best-answer content that informs, engages and inspires action.

Mobile is a Must

In today’s digital world, I think it’s safe to say that all marketers know the importance mobile plays in their digital marketing initiatives. But when companies or agencies devise and execute their marketing strategies, it typically happens in offices stocked with powerful computers and large monitors. As such, without concerted effort, it’s difficult to gain end-user perspective. But to put it bluntly, it’s no longer an option. It’s an imperative for success.

As Getapp’s report notes, mobile usage surpassed desktop a few years ago and now the gap is growing. Google’s mobile-first index punishes websites that aren’t responsive, and so do the users themselves, who are five times more likely to leave a site that hasn’t been optimized for the small screen.

https://giphy.com/embed/3o7btNRTJ700Vzmn5e

via GIPHY

Check out our post 4 Elements of a Mobile Strategy That All Marketers Should Pay Attention To for more insight.

Tools of the Trade

Operating in this constantly shifting domain can test one’s mettle. As a marketer, you’re busy enough doing your job and servicing clients or customers; add in a perpetual need to adapt as trends evolve, and nobody could be blamed for feeling overwhelmed.

The good news it that we live in an age of accessible tools for everything. The Getapp Lab report helpfully lists several solutions across categories such as Hootsuite for social media management, HubSpot for marketing automation and MailChimp for email marketing.

So, if you’re struggling with any of the three core challenges mentioned at the outset — lacking resources, conversion gridlock and dwindling reach — it’s worth investigating how new or additional tools might aid your efforts and enable you get more out of existing assets.

If you’re looking for a little help, check out our post on 100+ Digital Marketing Tools to Help You Become A More Effective Marketer.

Other Nuggets Worth Noting

Among the many digital marketing trends in the Getapp report, here are a few others that caught our eyes:

  • Segmented email campaigns have a 14.3% higher open rate than non-segmented campaigns. Are you still relying on spray-and-pray? (Source: MailChimp)
  • Twenty eight percent of marketers consider video to be a key channel for driving growth. I’d wager this figure will at least double within the next year or two. (Source: GetResponse)
  • Technical SEO is important, but 72% of marketers still say relevant content creation is their most effective draw for search traffic. (Source: HubSpot)

Future Fix

In wrapping up its snapshot of where digital marketing stands in 2017, Getapp’s aggregated report concludes with a look ahead, highlighting three frontiers that are distinctly visible on the horizon: artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality and virtual reality.

While they’re still in relatively youthful stages, these technologies open new possibilities surrounding automated customer service (chatbots!), interactive or experiential marketing (glasses and headsets), gamification and more. For example, when it comes to AI search engine developments at Google, our own Kevin Cotch, SEO Manager, said it best:

“Artificial intelligence will change, and has been, changing how search marketers should be optimizing websites [and content],” he says. “We have a lot of opportunity to focus on aspects that will provide a better experience for our users than traditional tactics like optimizing the metadata of a page. Of course, those metrics will still hold some relevance to search engines, but we can instead focus on what really matters to users.”

Check out our post, Back to the Future: 5 Marketing Predictions That Were Right on the Money, to get a look at where we’ve been, where we’re going and gain hopefully gain some insights that will allow you to put some of the recurring challenges you’re facing to bed for good.

Interested in reading the entire report from GetApp Lab, check it out here.

Right now, what are your biggest marketing obstacles and favorite tools for overcoming them? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Digital Marketing Tools & Tactics: What the Trends Tell Us was posted via Internet Marketing

Our Top 11 Content Marketing Takeaways from #CMWorld 2017

Last week, thousands of marketers from all over the world descended on the Rock N’ Roll capital of the world, Cleveland, OH, for the seventh annual Content Marketing World Conference and Expo. Featuring more than 130 speakers, keynotes and panelists, dozens of different tracks, and a whole lot of orange, the four-day event was exciting

Our Top 11 Content Marketing Takeaways from #CMWorld 2017 was posted via Internet Marketing

4 Tips to Stop Killing Your Content Team from Workfront & Nordstrom

The pressure is on! Content marketers are being expected to create more with less. And often, that means creating more content without adding additional team members. Unfortunately, the content copywriters are often the ones that bear the brunt of these situations which can be exhausting and cause content burnout. To help ease the pain, Workfront’s

4 Tips to Stop Killing Your Content Team from Workfront & Nordstrom was posted via Internet Marketing

How to Find the Stories in Your Data for Compelling Reporting

Google Analytics Data Visualization Adam Singer

Our hyper-connected digital world is defined by an overabundance of data. Everything’s measurable, trackable, and quantifiable. Want to know how many people died on screen in your favorite movie? Or how much ice cream the average American eats per year? The data’s at your fingertips.

The ready availability of data is great for marketers. It helps us optimize performance, personalize content, and prove our value to the business.

But data in a vacuum isn’t informative or useful. It’s not about the facts and figures themselves; it’s about how we shape that data into compelling stories.

As an Analytics Advocate at Google, Adam Singer has years of experience finding and revealing the meaningful narrative in datasets. His presentation at Content Marketing World 2017 was all about how to create clean, informative, compelling data visualizations.

Here’s a quick visual summary of his entire presentation, courtesy of Kingman Ink:

My favorite part is the lizard that represents your limbic brain. Visuals cut straight to that reflexive part of your brain, making a point quicker than listing facts and drawing conclusions.

Here’s how Adam suggests creating data-based visuals that speak directly to our inner lizards.

#1:  Prepare Data for Analysis

Great data visualization starts with…well…data. More than that, it starts with a meaningful and manageable data set. The data you choose to include should be tailored to both the story you want to tell and the audience that’s going to receive it. For an example, when pulling internal data, your CEO might just want to know whether marketing is contributing to revenue. By contrast, your CMO will want revenue, engagement, and sales enablement data.

Adam recommends these three steps for data analysis:

  1. Filtering: Make sure you’re getting high quality data. For example, in your website analytics, exclude bot and spam traffic from your traffic reports.
  2. Sorting: Use the sorting that makes the most business sense. In most cases, a combined and weighted sort will be the most useful, organizing data along two variables.
  3. Grouping: In Google Analytics, you can group data into categories. This can help you create more specific, focused visualizations.

#2: Tell Your Data Story

With the data in hand, you can create a visualization. Aim to create an image so simple, specific, and clean that it’s readable at a glance. In other words, the opposite of this: 

Notice how your eyes flick back and forth between the legend and the chart, trying to make sense of it all. Compare that chart to this one:

There’s a mountain of data behind that visualization, but you can instantly grasp the point: vaccines eliminate diseases.

Such a stunning visual doesn’t happen by accident. It takes careful planning. Adam recommends “storyboarding” your visualizations before you even pull the data in. Nail down who you’re talking to, what questions you’re answering, and the story you’re telling before you create a single chart.

#3: Best Practices for Compelling Data Reporting

As with any kind of storytelling, the best way to visualize your data depends on your audience and your story. But there are some consistent best practices to follow. Adam recommends following these guidelines for visualizations in your internal reporting, regardless of audience or intent:

  1. Keep charts and graphs simple. Don’t graph every data point–just enough to show the trend. Focus on what matters most to your story.
  2. Tell the user what the point is. Your audience shouldn’t have to guess at the conclusion you want them to draw: Put it right in the title of your visualization.
  3. Don’t spin the data. Ever. The point of data visualization is to get at the facts, not obscure them. Don’t abuse your audience’s trust with misleading visuals.
  4. Make reporting part of your process. It’s easy to think of reporting as something tacked on to the end of a campaign, a final housekeeping task. Better to see reporting as vital to our ongoing marketing efforts and approach it with dedication and enthusiasm.
  5. Use the right data for the right stakeholder. Make sure you personalize your reports for different audiences, sticking with only the most relevant data for each.
  6. Be creative and have fun. Solutions like Google Data Studio make it easy to pull in data and play with visualizations. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Data Points

When done properly, a single chart or graph can convey paragraphs of information at a single glance. Choose your data carefully, keep your visualizations simple and purposeful, and you can create a report far more compelling than a list of stats and figures could ever be.

Speaking of beautiful data visualization, have you seen our interactive influencer marketing infographic?

 

How to Find the Stories in Your Data for Compelling Reporting was posted via Internet Marketing

12 Questions You Need to Answer if You Want to Launch a Video Content Strategy

There’s no question that video is an increasingly important digital marketing tactic. Humans are visual creatures by nature and, when done right, video allows brands to tell their story and create meaningful, emotional connections with their audience.

For California-based Jordan Vineyard and Winery, video content has become a central piece of their marketing strategy. Lisa Mattson, Director of Marketing & Communications, shared how they’re winning at video during her Content Marketing World session “How Jordan Winery Crushed Content Marketing With a Video-Centered Strategy.”

For a little background, Jordan Vineyard and Winery has been around since the early 1970s, and until Mattson came on board, they’re marketing strategy hadn’t changed in more than 40 years.

“Even the finest wine has a shelf life,” Mattson said in reference to a brand’s image and personality. “You have to innovate.”

But before you get started with video content, Mattson said you need to answer some critical questions if you want your venture to be successful. Below I outline some of the key questions you need to consider.

#1 – Do you have the upper management support?

This one’s pretty simple. The success of any of your marketing initiatives, especially if you’re looking to add a new tactic like video to the mix, depends on getting buy-in from the top. When the leaders at the top support what you do and are excited about it, that trickles down.

#2 – Are you willing to embed yourself in other departments?

In order to create dynamic video content, you’re going to need to lean on folks in multiple departments. Not only are your colleagues going to be a source of inspiration for the type of content you create, but they may need to actually participate in the filming.

#3 – Are your spokespersons comfortable on camera?

Quite obviously, anyone you put on camera needs to feel comfortable there. If they aren’t, that discomfort will be obvious to your audience and turn them off.

#4 – Are you prepared for resistance from co-workers?

As mentioned above, you’re going to have to work with several people from several departments to create awesome video content. But video is time consuming. And your colleagues are busy and this will add more to their already full plate. As a result, you need to be prepared to be met with some resistance, and have a plan to help you work around it.

#5 – What are the best video stories to tell?

At the end of the day, you’re creating video to help tell your brand’s story. So you need to think critically about what types of stories are a good fit for the medium.

#6 – Can you run lean and mean?

If you’re just starting out with video, you likely don’t have a huge team of resources just yet — and maybe you never will. So, you have to be able to commit to running your video strategy “lean and mean.”

#7 – Do you have IT infrastructure?

Video content can take up a lot of bandwidth, so it’s essential to consider your IT needs from the beginning. Mattson recalled an instance where the retail sales department couldn’t process online customer orders because marketing was using so much juice to upload videos to YouTube. So, it’s absolutely critical to make sure you have the right IT infrastructure.

#8 – How big and thorough is your budget?

While it’s widely known that video costs more to produce, Mattson said you don’t need to have a huge budget. You just need to know what your budget is and make a thorough list of what needs to be included.

“Little things add up,” Mattson said. “You might need a little bit of stock footage, or maybe you need to buy some props, and that all costs money.”

She went on to share some of the specific items you’ll need to budget for upfront, including: lenses, camera body, external drives, iMac, lighting, tripod, audio, editing software, and miscellaneous. She estimated the investment to be about $14,000, which seems high. However, hiring a production company to create just one three-minute video, she said, could cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.

#9 – What are the right skill sets and job responsibilities?

Of course, in order to produce high-quality video content, you need capable people to actually do it. Mattson suggested in embracing multi-talented positions, and hiring candidates with core skills and be willing to cross-train them. In addition, she noted that it’s important to know what skills simply can’t be taught, and that it’s important to set job expectations early and clearly.

#10 – Do you have an editorial plan?

For Mattson, consistency is the key to video success. As a result, you need to have a strategy content plan that helps you keep a cadence that will keep your audience coming back and make an impact.

As an extra tip, she also suggested leaving a little wiggle room in there to take advantage of what’s trending. For example, the song “Despacito” is going gangbusters on the radio, and they created a parody video about bottling their wine. You can watch it below.

#11 – Do you have distribution?

According to Mattson, content might be king, but distribution is queen. Once you create an amazing video, you need to set it free to your audience and go beyond social media.

Some of the distribution considerations mentioned included: where you’re hosting your video content (i.e. YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), paid placement, influencers, and search.

#12 – Do you have an audience?

This is the big one. At the end of the day, if you’re going to do video you have to make sure that you have an audience for it. Depending on your industry, product, service and type of customer, video may not resonate.

One Final Thought

When it comes to creating and executing on a video strategy — or your overall marketing strategy for that matter — there’s one big thing that Mattson said that really resonated with me:

[bctt tweet=”People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. – @lisamattsonwines #video #CMWorld” username=”toprank”]

For me, this comes down to storytelling. You need a compelling narrative that’s hyperfocused on why your organization does what it does.

Stay tuned for more #CMWorld coverage and insights on the TopRank Marketing Blog. In addition, follow myself and the rest of our on-the-ground team members on Twitter at: @CaitlinMBurgess, @Tiffani_Allen, @leeodden, @knutesands, @NiteWrites, @amywhiggins and @azeckman.

12 Questions You Need to Answer if You Want to Launch a Video Content Strategy was posted via Internet Marketing

Stop the Marketing Killjoy: 5 Ways You’re Turning off Audiences with Bad Video

It might only be 1pm in the afternoon, but it’s five o’clock somewhere – a perfect time for a great dry martini. Research “how to make the perfect dry martini”, and you’ll get over 1,560,000 results. Ask a content marketer “how to tell a good story”, and you’ll get about the same quality of results

Stop the Marketing Killjoy: 5 Ways You’re Turning off Audiences with Bad Video was posted via Internet Marketing

Make Your Audience a Community: Put Culture at the Core of Your Content Marketing Strategy

Frank Thomas of adidas

Frank Thomas of adidas

Jean Giraudoux once said, “The secret to success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

It’s a funny indictment of how to take exactly the wrong approach to authenticity. But too often, brands and marketers miss the sarcasm. We target an audience, then carefully cultivate an image to appeal to them. We create the appearance of a culture that matches theirs. And then we’re surprised when our target audience sees right through it.

What if we stopped trying to fake sincerity and turned the whole process inside out? Instead of crafting a culture to match an audience, why not attract the audience that matches your culture?

In his presentation at Content Marketing World, adidas’ Frank Thomas shared how the athletic wear company defines their culture and broadcasts it to their potential audience. Frank and his team created Gameplan A, a content hub that expresses the company’s culture.

The twist is that the site is for internal and external messaging–same channels, same content. They’re not crafting an image, they’re broadcasting their identity. The content on Gameplan A clearly says, “This is what we are like. If you’re like us, this is your community, too.” That approach makes it easier for people to connect and form a lasting relationship with the brand.

Here’s how adidas puts culture at the core of their content marketing strategy.

Culture Is Content Marketing’s North Star

According to Frank, the digital world is so complex and volatile that our go-to tools for audience identification are no longer sufficient. Personas, scenarios, observed past behavior–they all change as fast as we can construct them.

Instead of trying to become what an ever-changing audience wants, Frank says, make culture your north star. Define what your brand stands for and you can become a beacon to your most valuable audience.

Frank identified four crucial components of a brand’s culture:

  • Values. What ethical notions form the foundation of the brand?
  • Ideas. What unique ideas arise from these values?
  • Convictions. What beliefs drive the brand’s actions?
  • Behaviors. How does the brand express these convictions, ideas, and values?

Added together, your values, ideas, convictions and behaviors form your identity.

Once your identity is established, you can move from product marketing to culture marketing. As Frank said, “We’re not selling shoes. We’re communicating on behalf of the brand, building trust in our target audience.”

Gameplan A aims to build a community of like-minded people, including employees, potential recruitment candidates, but also consumers who might become advocates for the brand. The brand’s culture, expressed through Gameplan A’s content, acts as a beacon for those who share the brand’s values.

How to Express Your Culture Through Content Marketing

When you filter content through the lens of your brand’s culture, you can form stronger, more valuable connections with your audience. Frank explained how his team uses Gameplan A to promote adidas’ culture:

#1: Align Internal and External Messaging

According to Frank, it’s crucial to start by engaging your employees. Make sure they understand your culture and believe it’s sincere. Then employees can help spread the message to your audience in a more authentic way.

When your internal and external messaging share the same culture, you can have a meaningful exchange of ideas with your community: Your audience can actually bring value to your continued cultural evolution.

 

#2: Find Your Uniqueness and Focus In

Sports are adidas’ primary focus. But they’re not just addressing people who love sports–that’s too large a segment to create a meaningful connection with. So they refined their audience segment further, zeroing in on people who are creative, collaborative, and confident: Entrepreneurs and drivers of change. Then they further focused in on those who are actively trying to make a difference, continually self-improving, striving for the new.

This process of segmentation, refinement, and focus can help you find the audience most aligned with your brand’s culture. That is, the audience most relevant and receptive to your messaging.

 

#3: Make Your Personality Shine

Once you establish your brand’s culture, don’t hide it on your “About” page. Apply your cultural filter to every piece of content you create.

For Gameplan A, Frank created a culture guide that creators can follow to make sure each piece of content meets their cultural DNA. The guide outlines what Frank calls “Mega Themes,” the key topics of interest where their expertise intersects with audience needs. Any new content must address one of these themes to be considered for publication.

 

#4: Commit Yourself for the Long Haul

It takes time to build a culture-driven brand, to build a community with content that expresses your brand identity. So it’s vital to set expectations and allocate resources accordingly. Prepare your team for a marathon, not a sprint, before you step onto the track.

 

#5: Involve Your Role Models

The people who inspire your brand’s culture can make powerful collaborators for co-creating content. Gameplan A curates content from their heroes, and works with them to create original content.

But it’s not just about working with influencers–some of your most inspiring role models are right in your community. Gameplan A offers their community the chance to suggest topics, ask questions, recommend content, and even submit proposals for drafting content to be published on the hub.

Keeping It Extra Real

To start building your community of like-minded individuals–your most relevant audience–don’t try to fake sincerity. Start by firmly establishing your brand’s culture. Document the values, ideas, convictions and behaviors that define your identity. Then make that culture the guiding light of your content marketing strategy.

When your culture is genuine, shared throughout the organization, and expressed in all you do, you won’t have to chase your most valued audience: They’ll be drawn to you.

Make Your Audience a Community: Put Culture at the Core of Your Content Marketing Strategy was posted via Internet Marketing