One of the things that frustrates me with many businesses’ approach to the web is content, and a lack of real understanding of how people are likely to interact with it. Many make the mistake of jumping aboard the social media train, and lead their strategy by using the tools, rather than starting with the fundamentals. To use the analogy of building a house, I’ve seen many trying to wallpaper the living room, before the exterior walls have been built, with flippancy akin to some advice they’ve heard down the pub.
‘I need a blog, they are great for traffic‘,
‘The site must be linked to Facebook and Twitter‘ ,
‘How do I add my home page to Digg?‘
All of these things I’ve heard from clients and read in spec documents before. The examples I’ve mentioned are often treated as ‘to-do’ items, that are simply checked off the list, and are expected to result in miracles for site traffic once completed. The reality is, in many cases when you dig a bit deeper, no form of content strategy has been formulated, and there’s no real understanding about how to actually utilise the social web to further business goals, or how to craft content that is likely to make an impact within these networks.
Bottom line. Poor website traffic can’t be fixed by throwing tools at the problem. Blogs are only good for traffic, if they have content worth reading regularly added to them. Facebook and Twitter require daily attention, sharing other peoples content – as well as your own to build trust and a loyal following. Adding your home page to Digg (for most small business websites) has about the same impact as a streaker in a nudist camp.
No one cares about your website, and no one cares about your brand. You are going to have to work harder than that to make an impact online.
One of the best pieces of advice I could give someone looking to craft great content online, and build a decent audience is to go completely cold turkey from your business and brand. In other words, challenge yourself to create a week’s worth of content (on your site), that isn’t self promotional in any way shape or form. Don’t allow yourself to mention your products or services on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else. Instead, rely on the impact of the content you create and share to attract people to you, rather than treating the web as your own personal loudhailer. He who shouts the loudest, doesn’t get heard the most online. They simply get their volume turned down by unfollows, or people unliking you on Facebook.
It’s a tough ask, and appears to many at first to be counter productive. Many business are coming to the web from traditional marketing which is generally all push push push. The move to an economy which thrives much more on new socialism is difficult.
I guarantee however, that if you mention yourself less, and others more, people will start listening more intently, starting recommending your site to others, and effectively let you win business through brand recognition, rather than expecting it to come directly from 100 repeated tweets, facebook posts and blog posts telling us all how great your product and services are. That’s simply not going to cut it in today’s web economy. Selflessness is rewarded online, so shut up about your brand.