If you hang in any sort of tech-savvy circles, you’ve likely been asked if you’re on Ello yet; if you work in digital marketing, you’ve likely been asked what your Ello strategy is.
When Ello—a new social network positioned as the anti-Facebook—went live, invites started pouring through news feeds and comments. Social media managers, and their bosses, must have noticed, because in no time brands were jumping on the promised ad-free network.
So it’s understandable if you’ve been asked what your Ello strategy is. It’s also understandable if it makes you want to (1) panic or (2) roll your eyes.
These kinds of questions are a symptom of a larger sickness that plagues digital marketing.
We obsess over channels, to the point that the value we need to deliver takes a backseat. Whenever there’s a new channel, we’re quickly trying to develop an untested marketing strategy around it.
I honestly can’t predict whether Ello will be a hit or a bust. But I can promise you that another channel will arrive right behind it. And I know that if you’re chasing after channels, rather than creating a strategy around the content you need to deliver on those channels, you’re going be constantly behind the 8-ball.
You see, as digital marketers, we’ve become obsessed with the changes and disruptions we see—and feel—around us.
Our goal is to build an audience and engage buyers. If we’re honest, engagement takes the form of online actions: clicks, downloads, form submits, etc. And so we chase after any new channel that emerges in an attempt to “engage.” In the process, we forget the reason why people engage with digital channels at all: for the content.
A good story, an excellent insight, a critical data point…these are the reasons customers take action, not because they get joy from clicking buttons or filling out forms.
I’m not telling you anything revolutionary. And maybe that’s a good thing.
Maybe we need a trip back to the basics.
People assembled around fires to hear Homer tell his epic stories. We read print not for the ad spreads, but for the articles. And I’d still argue that the majority of us tuned into the Super Bowl for the game, not the commercials.
The same is true on digital channels. Content that informs and entertains buyers is the reason why anyone would click on your online ad, convert on your landing page, or open your email. But as a practice, we pour our resources into adapting and managing channels (pop quiz: how many channel managers do you have at your company?), rather than operationalizing around the content that customers will actually find valuable.
Digital marketers need to stop chasing channels, and start building a content marketing operation if we want to actually engage customers.
In a content marketing operation, the focus is on establishing a process for producing, distributing, and analyzing the content that will be published and promoted through your various channels. The focus, then, is on creating value for the customer. Your marketing is customer-obsessed instead of channel-obsessed.
Operationalizing content allows you to optimize for the channels you’re using today—and the channels you’ll use tomorrow, next year, and the next decade—because the content you deliver is targeted to your specific buyer, addresses the key themes they care about, and answers the questions they’re asking.
This is why several of the best organizations are building a content marketing operation. It’s why some of the best analysts are urging companies to operationalize around content. Adaptation to new delivery mechanisms is easier when what you’re delivering is relevant and really good.
As digital marketers we need to tune out a lot of the noise around the next big thing, and focus on why our buyers would listen to us in the first place.