4 Honest Ways to Evaluate Your Content Marketing

Ah, the irony of the impatient marketer.

Don’t assume that the “social” in social media equates to an immediate response. If you do, I guarantee that you will be disappointed.

The digital age has helped us to be so efficient. Campaigns and initiatives that were months in the making in the offline world can now be planned, launched, and over within a matter of weeks. This has led to a new phenomenon that I call The Impatient Marketer. When it comes to social media, if there isn’t an immediate and significant response, then it was a waste of time.

Don’t be so quick to judge – give your content marketing effort an honest evaluation against four key criteria:

1. How useful was your content?  Translation. Why Should I Care?

Unless your blog or tweet or LinkedIn discussion is really useful to the audience, it gets lost amid the flood of blogs, emails, videos, articles, tweets and commentary and won’t get read much less shared.

So what exactly is useful content? Any content from which viewers extract some sort of value. It can tell me something I don’t know and is relevant to what I do. For example, in a recent ThomasNet Industrial Purchasing Barometer survey of over 1,200 manufacturing professionals, more than 63% of respondents indicated that they use social media at least once a week, and nearly half use these tools multiple times per week.

Of course, there are other kinds of content usefulness. Tweet to clients that you’ve got some free tickets to a VIP event is always a winner. First come, first served. If you’ve got a good job opening at your company, (or heard about one somewhere else) reach out to your social communities and let them know.

Then there are the occasional announcements that clients will find interesting. Where they can find you at a trade show or a new service or product you’re launching. Keep it short and sweet and benefit driven. Whatever you write it needs to answer the question Why should I care? 

2.  Are you inviting engagement?  

Effective content compels the viewer to participate. It can be a discussion on a controversial industry subject.  Don’t be afraid to use an old marketing trick and lob a really challenging question. For example, ThomasNet recently asked: Is manufacturing suffering from an image problem? The number of ‘Yes’ vs. ‘No’ responses is irrelevant. What’s important is that the discussion was launched and ThomasNet got the credit for it and, in doing so, enhanced our reputation as industrial marketers. People love to rise to the bait, especially when it directly calls their own companies into question.

Of course, you can create engaging content without controversy, too.  Everyone wants to be the one who comes up with a solution to a problem. “We have a vendor that has supplied us with XYZ for years but their product has started to go downhill.  We don’t want to be disloyal. But we also want to do what’s best for the company. What should we do?” Who doesn’t have advice for that one? Peer learning is a really sticky content strategy that helps build and retain an engaged social media community.

Then there is the classic call for war stories. “How far have you gone to win over a new customer or retain a current one?” “What’s your worst day in the business, ever?” You can add a contest to it: win tickets or a gift certificate to a really good restaurant.

3.  Are you giving up before you’ve really started?

Not only do you need engaging content to build a strong social media community, you need to give it time. Be patient. The old marketing cliché applies to social media as well:  Just when you start getting sick of running that ad, your customers are just starting to notice it.

Ask yourself how often you can realistically post, tweet, join in a LinkedIn discussion. Make time for it just as you would any other marketing task and follow through. A steady drumbeat will eventually get attention and once the momentum starts, it will build pretty quickly. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, there are very experienced marketing firms who know exactly how to work the social media platforms for you. They’ll supply the topics and the content, monitor and contribute to discussions and even track engagement results for you. Equally important, they know how to tell your brand story in a consistent and impactful way so that it builds awareness and credibility over time.

4.  Are your metrics realistic?

I see too many marketers give up on social media because they expect a tweet or blog to instantly bring in sales. It doesn’t work that way. What you can realistically measure is engagement. Retweets, shares,  LinkedIn discussions and YouTube forwards. These represent actions taken – and actions taken indicate a level of interest and awareness that goes beyond a simple impression.

Today there are platforms such as HootSuite and HubSpot that help you automate, track and quantify content engagements so you can actually see your efforts working to build community and affinity to you and your company. HubSpot now offers closed loop reporting via CRM integration. This means you can finally get a better handle on ROI by tracking initial impressions all the way through to sales.

Related Class: Social Media Metrics that Matter

Useful and engaging content, patience, diligence and realistic metrics.  Follow these four rules of thumb and your social media efforts will start to pay off.

It’s just a matter of time. To get started on your path to becoming well-rounded in your knowledge of all social media, understand the baseline principles that drive success on any platform, and have the skills to impact ROI, enroll in OMI’s Social Media Certification Program today!