The f8 conference was an epiphany for me. I saw the rise of a totally vertically integrated media company where content, communications, commerce, audience and advertising were all neatly wrapped up with a bow on a single platform called Facebook.
One of the big ah-ha moments for me was when Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, illustrated the evolution of sharing. In the early days it was all about text. It then moved to images (hence the acquisition of InstaGram) and now video, where Facebook is rolling out a series of new video experiences for the user, for video producers, and for brands.
In the not-too-distant future, sharing will evolved to virtual reality experiences as well (think Oculus).
What was amazing to me was that this evolution wasn’t about the most life-like way to share a cat video or what you had for breakfast, it was about sharing and broadcasting content in general.
Any content in any format can now be targeted at exactly the right audience at the moment they are mostly receptive to it.
Facebook is a platform where you can browse for content and rely on serendipity for discovery, where content is recommended to you by your friends, and where content can find you based on your stated interests.
For the everyday consumer, that content could be the mundane (cat video) or it could be the profound, as in the example Zuckerberg gave of sharing moments of a trip to Venice.
Media companies and brands (which are rapidly becoming the same thing, but that’s another discussion) can use these same immersive, targeted experiences to tell stories and provide information to their audiences.
The sophisticated targeting on Facebook means you can aim both content and advertising at exactly the right audience. Want to target a piece of content to 35-45 years olds? No problem. Within that content, do you want to target advertising only to females 35-45 years old? Facebook has you covered. No wasted ad-spend here.
I recently heard the clever phrase “If content isn’t spread, it’s dead.” That is so true. As a brand, agent or advisor, if you have amazing content that isn’t shared by your audience to their audiences, it isn’t making any more sound than the proverbial tree falling alone in the forest.
Through its reach, targeting capabilities, and both organic and paid distribution options, Facebook is ensuring that content producers, be they cat and breakfast enthusiasts, brand or agents, or Pulitzer prize winning publications, can locate, zero-in on, and engage exactly the right audience at exactly the right time.
Content and content marketing is the hot new idea to make brands seem more human, empathetic and alive.
But what happens occasionally when a human business-person (think advisor, consultant, professional services) uses content marketing to project an image? Yeah, they may end up sounding kinda robotic and corporate. That’s a bit of a strange irony, isn’t it?
Even if you’re using a great piece of content, it is often easier to Tweet out “must read” or something similar to your audience and hope people will take your word for it. Such intros rarely engage an audience, so the point you where trying to make with the content is then often lost.
Certainly, I’ll confess to being guilty of publishing out the automaton-sounding social message from time-to-time in a rush to say something, but for my more thoughtful moments here are best practices I’ve noticed:
1) Skip to the end: Jumping to the last chapter and summarizing it is a time honored way to finish that college paper, the same can be said for content marketing. If you have a great piece of content you want to send out but don’t know how to introduce it, skip to the end and summarize in one sentence the conclusion.
2) Things that make you go “hmmm…”: One way to engage an audience with content is find those few sentences that make the whole piece interesting, and then distill those sentences down to one and use that to intro the post.
3) Answer your own question: Rather that saying “Interesting article about xyz…”, answer the question “This is an interesting article because….” and everything after the “because” falls into your intro. For example, if the article is interesting because it explains how to optimize returns bycutting fees with index funds, then title your post “Need to optimize retirement returns? Try index funds”, rather than the more automated “Interesting post on index funds.”
Finding great content can sometimes be easy. Finding a way to get your audience to engage can be harder. But looking to the content itself to find the one or two nuggets that really help the piece shine can also help your own posts sparkle.
In order to ensure people are always seeing highly relevant content, Facebook® recently announced that fewer overly promotional posts will appear in people’s News Feeds beginning in 2015.
As people connect with more friends and Like more business Pages, News Feed is becoming increasingly crowded. Overly promotional posts in News Feed add little value compared to other more relevant posts, so Facebook, after conducting a widespread survey, listened to people’s feedback and addressed this in their recent announcement.
As I’ve highlighted with other evolutions of the News Feed, high-quality, highly engaging organic content will continue to be featured. So for financial services professionals, if your posts are getting a lot of Likes and comments, Facebook will continue to feature them in News Feed; good content that informs, entertains and makes people think will win.
What does Facebook define as “overly promotional?” This will include posts that strictly sell and make no attempt to engage, such as:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
High-quality organic posts will continue to appear in News Feed. In addition, with Hearsay Social’s new promotional posts feature, financial services professionals can also use ad dollars that were previously wasted on low yield ads like billboards and instead invest them in higher yield Promotional Posts to get even greater reach.
Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.
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Financial services reps the world over are now using Facebook to connect with clients, share ideas and communicate thought leadership. While hugely effective, that is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how to effectively use Facebook in the financial services industry. In a recent article, I introduce strategies on using promoted posts on Facebook to further extend your reach. The benefits of Facebook promoted posts in a nutshell are: 1. Targeting: Promoted posts make it simple to target exactly the audience you’re seeking based on a number of factors, including location, age, gender, and other demographics. 2. Grow engagement: Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand the footprint of your Facebook Page, promoted posts help grow engagement through calls to action, such as inviting people to visit a website . 3. Get seen: With so much great content on Facebook, it’s difficult to ensure your content is seen on others’ News Feed’s. Promoted posts provide a great and simple way to boost your content higher in News Feed, so there’s a better chance your audience will see them. I drop more knowledge in the article here: Social Media Promotion – Life & Health AdvisorLife & Health Advisor.
One of the great things about working at Hearsay Social is the ability to experiment, try out ideas, and always find new ways to #GSD (get sh*t done!). One great example is the great podcast series my colleagues in marketing are doing. It is a lot of fun and a great way to learn about how social is impacting the financial services world.
I had the great opportunity to participate in the most recent podcast. It was a lot of fun and we also got a chance to dive in to some deep thoughts on:
- Social media as an extension of the human experience
- How social media is used differently around the world
- Hearsay’s approach to innovation and partnering.
There is also a small story about my craziest moment at Hearsay Social (hint, it involves a military coup).