Not a Bot in Sport Jacket: The Future of Content Marketing is Deeply Human, Part 2:2


In this two-part article of ‘The Content Marketing Revolution’ series, Steve Watt of Grapevine6 writes about the content marketing best practices that marketers can follow in the post-COVID world.

David is not his real name, but he is a real person. I think. He lives in my city, works in marketing for a well-known company and recently sent me a LinkedIn connection request.

I’m pretty sure he’s real, but he could be a bot. Sometimes it is hard to tell.

His efforts to help his company’s brand on LinkedIn are real, that is for sure. He has amassed more than 10,000 connections. That is a top-tier body count. I hesitate to say it is a top-tier network, because I think he is entirely missing the point of LinkedIn. And I don’t think it’s his fault.

Learn More: Content Marketing KPIs Your Brand Should Care about the Most

A Robot in a Sport Jacket

Imagine handing out brochures at a networking event. Leaving little stacks of glossy product sheets on the bar, and more on the food table.

Perhaps you could maximize your reach by standing just inside the door, handing one to every person as they arrive. Do not smile. Do not speak. Do not engage in any way, this might cut into the efficiency of your brochure distribution approach.

David’s Diligent and Entirely Ineffective Content Strategy

David shares lots of content on LinkedIn. Lots of branded content. In fact, 100% of his posts are branded posts.

Three or four times a week like clockwork, another brand post. No added comments. No personal take on why this or why that. Just another glossy product pic that links to the company’s corporate blog.

He doesn’t engage with anyone else’s content either. No likes; no comments; not even a hint of conversation.

LinkedIn is a one-way street for David. It’s a bullhorn. And I’m pretty sure no one’s listening.

Is David Actually Accomplishing Anything?

With more than 10,000 connections, you’d think he’d get some engagement, wouldn’t you? Some people get all sorts of engagement with a much smaller network.

Sadly, for David, and for his employer, it looks like there is very little to show for his diligent efforts to amass connections and push outposts.

Nearly all of his posts have zero likes and zero comments. I scrolled back a few months, across dozens of posts, and the best I saw was five likes and still, no comments.

I presume at least some people clicked through to the blog. I’d love to know what that number is. I bet it’s really low.

What Gets Measured Gets Done

It’s not hard to discern what is valued by what is measured. And clearly, concepts like “engagement”, “advocacy”, “word of mouth”, “thought leadership” and “customer love” would elicit puzzled looks from David’s manager.

David’s leadership cares about reach. About impressions. And next to his colleagues with their puny reach, he probably looks and feels like a star.

I’m absolutely certain that David has a KPI to grow his connections by something like 50 per week. There’s also a KPI for posts, probably no fewer than three per week. Come review time, he’s golden.

But has he actually accomplished anything? Is all this effort more valuable than spending an extra few dollars on advertising?

At $10 or so cost per thousand impressions (CPM) for an untargeted audience, which is exactly what David has assembled if his connection request to me is any indication, I bet David is saving the company less than fifty bucks a week in ad spend.

Imagine What is Possible

Imagine an entirely different mindset. With different objectives, different metrics, and different activities.

And above all, entirely different outcomes.

A Real Human

Imagine if David showed up not like a robot, but like the totally amazing person he very likely is. His LinkedIn profile would be authentic and customer-centric, showcasing who he is, who his company is and how they make their customers’ lives better.

And imagine if he engaged with relevant, interesting content posted by others. Liking, commenting, conversing and adding value with genuine enthusiasm. 

He’d learn more about his industry. He’d begin to build relationships with influencers, fans, leaders and practitioners of all stripes.

He’d get on their radar. He’d nurture goodwill and a growing sense of reciprocity.

Learn More: What Is B2B Content Marketing? Definition, Channels, Best Practices with Examples

Here Comes the Content

And then imagine how differently David could approach sharing content.

Instead of check-the-box blasting of corporate blogs he could add real value to his network. He could share interesting and insightful content of many sorts from a wide range of relevant, credible sources.

He could be someone with his finger on the pulse of the industry. Someone who not only knows who’s who and what’s what, but someone who cares. And this passion and humanity would show through in the way he shares his company’s content too. He’d work his company’s content into the mix too, for sure, but in a way much more likely to build engagement.

Adding his own thoughts. Adding his own voice. Excitement where it is warranted, admiration where it’s appropriate, personality, and humanity at every step.

With this on top of the foundation he’s building by being a value-adding participant in the broader conversation, the content he shares would gain far more traction. Far more engagement. Far more enthusiasm.

The Potential Is Massive

His posts could easily get 10-times the traction. Maybe much more. Likes, reshares, comments, real conversations.

And his network would become more relevant and focused over time, as people who care about the same things he and his company care about join his growing tribe.

And yes, he’d achieve greater reach and generate more impressions too, but critically, that’s not the focus. It’s the engagement that matters. It’s the conversations that matter.

It’s the tangible business outcomes driven by a vastly more effective approach to social that matter.

Multiplied by Hundreds…Thousands Even

Now look beyond David to his hundreds of coworkers. Their networks may be much smaller, but their total reach is massive.

The opportunity to engage is massive.

Even a few dozen new Davids would be impactful. What if you could inspire, educate, and empower hundreds or even thousands of new Davids? What would that mean for his company and yours?

It’s a Journey, not a Destination

Like most change management initiatives, it’s not all that complicated, it just takes time, commitment, and perseverance. The steps are pretty straightforward:

  1. Educate critical stakeholders about the opportunity to rise above your competition and paint a picture of a shared success that everyone can co-own.
  2. Align around that vision and commit to work through all the challenges you’ll face, together.
  3. Pull together a cross-functional team of enthusiastic champions. You are the role models others will follow and you need to lead.
  4. Get clear on how you’ll measure success, at least initially, and on the fact that this will take time.
  5. Teach. Inspire. Empower. Repeat. Repeat some more. Keep modeling and celebrating the right behavior.
  6. Celebrate success along the way, at an individual level, a team level and as a company.   
  7.  Invest in a social engagement tool to give each person a unique feed of highly relevant, brand compliant (and regulatory compliant if necessary) third-party content, together with all the brand content your marketing team creates.
  8. Make sure this tool provides powerful measurement not available on LinkedIn and other platforms. Additional insight into what sorts of content drive the most engagement at the individual, team and company level are powerful motivators to keep things moving in the right direction.
  9. Bask in the results of your ever-growing mastery of one of the most critical and under-utilized power boosts for any business.

A Bright Future

Accelerated growth. Enhanced brand power. Greater employee engagement. Perhaps even a leg up on your competitors in hiring the best and the brightest. After all, we all want to work for companies that help us thrive. This is content marketing in a COVID and a post-COVID world.

So, did I accept David’s LinkedIn request? 

You tell me in the comments below OR send me a LinkedInOpens a new window request and let’s start a real conversation!

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