AV Industry Social Media: Quantity vs. Quality

AV marketing professionals spend countless hours pursuing more reader likes, more engagement, more content, more metrics and frankly more of the same in a never-ending hype cycle. Social media is merely another function where marketers are stuck in tactical due to feeling the pressure to produce something — anything — in order to somehow drive awareness, engagement and adoption through a seemingly infinite loop of social media activity.

The spin cycle of publishing volumes of low-quality content is a recipe for employee burnout, rocketing unsubscribe rates and audience fatigue. What AV industry social media managers need is an alignment of strategies and tactics that move their organization’s needle towards delivering more value instead of valuing more deliverables.

When you find yourself in a hole, the first step is to stop digging

When any marketing effort starts in tactical, there’s a good chance of AV marketers spinning their wheels or even going in the wrong direction. Resist the urge to ‘do something’ and instead consider the overwhelming research and stats which indicate a clear strategy with a focus on desired, measurable outcomes is the key to sustainable success.

For example, behind the Digital 2019 report is author Simon Kent of DataReportal.com, who suggests that the most consistently successful online social media brands have one key in common: they focus on creating high-value stories and avoid “endless corporate propaganda and trite advertising” and instead “use their marketing budgets to create things of value for their audiences.”

Social media users over time, 2014-2019

Kent, myself and others have taken a page from the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry and co-opted the term Marketing-as-a-Service (MaaS), which is markedly differentiated from viewing marketing as an expense or merely a support group within a brand’s departmental hierarchy. While MaaS doesn’t roll off of the tongue as nicely as SaaS, the mass effect (see what I did there?) is notable: There’s a gravitational pull towards compelling, story-rich narratives that helps brands compete for attention and market share.

With the saturation of multiple social media platforms splitting user’s attention for an average of about two hours per day spent on social media, marketers must produce highly compelling content for their audiences in order to cut through the noise of four billion social media users worldwide. The scarcity of user attention has social media managers rushing to pump out brand-focused content marketing where quality has been eschewed in favor of high-volume content quantity.

Social media seen as tool to accomplish key strategic objectives for the company

The CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Survey from February 2019.

Move the needle towards delivering more value instead of valuing more deliverables

Social media managers need to lead the conversation within their teams first to link social marketing metrics to business outcomes and not merely the volume of content outputs. Here’s the difference: marketing content deliverables such as posts, memes, digital downloads, webinars and blog posts are deliverables (outputs), but are not outcomes in and of themselves. Using a threaded story arc, marketers can reimagine content delivery as being strategically aligned so that both the activity of the user is measurable (metrics) and the tracking of those actions can lead to conversions.

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In this way, threaded content helps to convert users into prospects and prospects into marketing qualified leads (MQLs), with the goal of creating sales qualified leads (SQLs) or even direct purchases. The coordination of creating content that follows this threaded story arc is not linear but always connected so that users can insert themselves at any point and still end up with enough information to build awareness, engagement and eventual adoption of a brand.

One of the most successful frameworks to help marketers, social media managers and community managers alike bring focus to these story formats is the content pillar. A content pillar framework is a way of organizing content around a central story idea and building out new material and/or repurposing existing content to help illustrate the value promised to followers, prospects and clients. Strategically, the work is front-loaded so that the marketing, social and community teams are aligned in generating story content by talking with clients, prospects and brand followers to create targeted and focused deliverables. By dividing up the work into a phased-in approach using A/B testing the delivery, promotion and feedback loops to shift away from cranking out more content, marketers gain metrics quickly and can adjust new deliverables which lead to new clients or sales opportunities as measurable outcomes.

The content pillar approach

Reimagine how to measure outcomes instead of delivering outputs faster

The onus is very much on AV industry marketing leaders to reframe the conversation around their brands’ content marketing strategy or, at the least, to have the first conversation about getting unstuck from tactical outputs and activity measurement and move into strategic, story-focused, customer-centric outcomes with actionable key performance indicators (KPIs).

Social media managers must create an alignment of strategies and tactics to move their organization’s needle towards delivering more value instead of valuing more deliverables.

Unchecked and unchanged, marketing, in general, and social media, in particular, will simply be buried in busy work by continuing to dig a hole to nowhere.

What say you? Do you see AV industry social media accounts largely using quantity over quality tactics? Comment below.