2014: The Year of Native Content


The evolution of content that drives social media engagement is clearly moving to a level that will test the skills and commitment of online business marketers.

One reason for this is that we are no longer just working with, but also living in a world that expects content that perfectly suits their every need and desire.

In other words, online content is becoming universally accepted for educating, entertaining, inspiring, and informing. Therefore, it’s time to raise your game to meet the new expectations that people have for the media they prefer to consume.

The Community Determines What is Native

Native content is what works best within the context of a particular social media platform. It’s native or familiar to it.

For example, personal content that entertains or celebrates relationships with friends is native to Facebook – business advertising is not.

In my former career as a landscape architect, we occasionally designed landscapes that incorporated native plants – those that are indigenous to our region. These landscapes were typically the exception, because the generally accepted and desired plantings in the neighborhood communities we served were not technically native to the area.

Thus, the community determines what is native – not the marketer.

This is one reason native advertising is controversial. The term native advertising refers to paid or sponsored content that is designed to be native to the platform, having a look and feel that signals its value, while also subtly mentioning the brand or business that is sponsoring it. Pulling this off is with a discerning audience is no small accomplishment.

Native advertising is not going away. In fact, The New York Times just announced plans for native ads. However, for native advertising to work it will have to add significant value to the user experience.

Understanding your Customers is Now Paramount

It is indeed possible to develop advertising that respects the context and favorably contributes to the media experience, with Super Bowl advertising being a noteworthy example.

Nevertheless, despite the significant investment in those Super Bowl ads, many have been known to fall short expectations that are rising to new levels or every platform.

Native content by definition meets or exceeds these community expectations.

Therefore, the challenge  for every business that practices content and social media marketing is to recognize that these forms of social marketing are multidisciplinary, requiring business, social, and technical skills, and usually in that order.

Native content cannot be neatly defined. You simply know it when you see it.

Thus, to create true native content necessarily requires being sufficiently engaged with the communities your business serves. Only then can you know what the community would ask for if it knew how you can help them.

Get ready to better understand your customers in 2014. That immersion into the process of delivering exceptional customers experiences will help any business navigate the changes ahead.

I’ll see you there.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world.  Connect with  Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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Consistency Builds Social Media Communities

Community Leadership

Consistency may be the most powerful quality that small businesses can implement to build an active online community.

Be honest: Could your social marketing be described as randomly jumping from one social network to another to get your message out? That approach simply doesn’t work in a digital world where precision is possible, and therefore, should be leveraged.

Consistency happens to be a rare quality, which is why it is so powerful for differentiating your business. Use it to build and sustain your online business communities.

Repetition is Memorable

Marketing should be memorable. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, such as being funny, creative, or provocative. Yet, even though the best minds are hired to create memorable Super Bowl commercials, why is it that only a few are later remembered?

You need to consistently repeat your message for it to be memorable.

Even if you have huge budgets and lots of talent, building a memorable brand can be challenging. In contrast, being consistent with your marketing is a simple as building systems that ensure everything is implemented well, and on time.

When your newsletter, blog post, or other online content is delivered on a consistent basis, you set the expectation of “being there” for your community, thereby encouraging everyone to tune in.

In addition to that, even if you audience does not show up when you publish, the mental association of your digital channel with that particular time will serve as a reminder to tune in the next time.

Consistency Honors the Community

Consistency speaks to your professionalism, commitment, and quality. We all have unforeseen events and circumstances in our businesses that work against this. However, the nature of digital gives you a means for managing it all.

Start building an inventory of content so that you can get and stay up to a month ahead of schedule. This allows you to take time off when you need to, while never letting your community down. This is what I plan to do leading up to the launch of my small business podcast in November. I’ll have at least 25 shows under my belt before we go live.

Attracting an audience is just part of the online marketing equation. You have to continue to earn their attention by engaging with them on a regular basis.

Need a good model to follow? 

In an earlier article I shared 9 tips that help to keep my social media marketing organized. Maybe some of them will work for you.

Another idea is to build a structure that in some way mirrors your life habits. For example, I get my deep thinking done on weekends. This is when I flesh out at a rough draft for my articles, newsletter, etc.

This gets the heavy lifting out of the way, leaving the balance of the week for commenting and sharing in short bursts whenever there is a few idle moments between projects.

How about you? How do you make consistency work to advantage your business marketing?

Leave a comment below?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)

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