SEO Content is Core to Success

SEO Content is useful and relevant. It's written to answer search questions and help visitors.

Visitors use Google to find solutions many times a day. Search engines seek the answers. When a person enters a question, the search bot responds with answers they located. Search engines seek content that provides relevant, helpful answers to online questions. Quality SEO content is what Google wants.  

When you can’t find answers

I recently had to take on the challenges of helping an aging parent relocate. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t something she wanted. But the family, her doctors, and her rehabilitation facility all agreed that at 97, Assisted Living was essential for quality of life. 

After some serious research, I found a place about 20 minutes from my home that I felt suited her. She’s not the resort crowd. Instead, family is her core trigger.  Getting her relocated, I learned, was only step one.  Now I had to reconnect her with an entire team of doctors.

Most medical offices focus on existing patients. As a result, their websites don’t have much online information about what new patients they may accept. 

Google became my search buddy. “Doctors accepting new patients in city/state.”  

I quickly learned I had to look for entry dates. But, unfortunately, they were not something easily accessible. And if you did find information, there was no way to tell how old it was.  

The details of the information I needed were just NOT available online. So that left the old-fashioned method, phone calls.

After several, “Yes, we are accepting patients. But no, we aren’t accepting medicare patients,” I realized the problem was more complex.

The pandemic has left many doctors burned out. Many who had considered retirement did just that. If they weren’t happy with their location, they decided now was the time to take a break and look elsewhere.  

That left an elderly senior with significant health conditions 80 miles from her existing doctor. I needed to find someone—soon.

I tried one clinic, but she had two messed-up appointments. Both visits sent her home without being seen. That made it hard to trust them to provide quality care.

So, she is on a waiting list and dependent on a “walk-in” medical center for now.  If there is something better out there, Google doesn’t know about it—maybe the answers aren’t online.

Missing information is common 

In my experience as both a consumer and a content consultant, I frequently see where information is missing.  Have you ever noticed how many businesses don’t have their location above the fold?  Ever had to hunt for a way to ask questions?  

Maybe you wanted to do something, but Google only found limited options. For example, I needed to find a Citi bank branch so I could deposit a check. Unfortunately, there were lots of ATMs but no branches in my area. In addition, most ATMs did not clearly describe transactions handled.

We need to make sure websites can answer all the questions prospective visitors may ask Google. If we don’t, marketing efforts work under a handicap.  

We need to ensure our content is current, helpful, and answers all the potential Google questions to be effective and search engine optimized.

Don’t miss this tip

An adage says, “the winner is the company who can pay the most to reach their prospects.” However, that only works if the content provides what the searcher is after. And if the search engine can’t identify the answer, it doesn’t share it.

It’s essential to use SEO techniques in all content, whether you want to draw traffic organically or boost it with paid ads, including positioning.

3 techniques to enhance content with SEO

It’s paramount that we recognize the optimizing for SEO has changed dramatically over the past 15 years.  In the past, techniques were more manipulative, smoke and mirrors. Those techniques won’t work anymore.

Google and other search engines have evolved, and AI has become more sophisticated. So instead, focus on your goals, what your visitors are searching for, and is mobile-friendly.  In today’s world, users want their search to work equally well on all devices.

Identify your goals

It’s essential to know what your objectives are. For example, some businesses focus on Google rankings. Others prioritize increasing web traffic. A third group is looking for more leads and sales.  

If you don’t have clear objectives, it’s much harder to achieve them. So take time to clarify and prioritize what you want to accomplish with your marketing.

Identify searchers intent

It’s important to know what the person you’re trying to reach is thinking.

  • Who or what are they looking for?
  • What are their goals?  
  • Where do they want to go or what do they want to do?

We know they are searching.  The answer to discover is the intent behind the search.  Then we can make sure to include those answers in our content in a manner that will make the search engine act on it.

Be mobile-friendly

Smartphones have changed the way we get information.  Now we want answers no matter where we are or what type of device we happen to be using.  That makes it essential for every business to make sure their website is easily accessible.  

Good web hosts can make sure your pages load quickly and are friendly to phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.  

Blending these techniques with top-quality content that is fresh, relevant, and SEO optimized can maximize long-term organic growth and enhance paid advertising.

When I work with clients

We first identify their marketing goals. Then we evaluate their site for accomplishing them with SEO techniques. Finally, we look for issues with the technical and creative aspects of content that may impact SEO results. 

Need an SEO Audit?  Contact judith@jculpcreativecopy.com for a free mini-audit. Offer expires 9/27/2021.

Let’s Humanize Marketing

To humanize marketing is to connect person to person instead of business to business.  We buy from the people inside the business, not the business itself.
Connecting with other humans is key to successful marketing.

We get all caught up in categories. We get hung up on names like B2B and B2C. Instead, we need to focus on how to humanize marketing messages by speaking directly to our prospects. We need to write H2H.

Humanizing marketing is making it personal so readers connect with us more easily. When our prospects connect with our message, they identify with our brand and what we stand for.  That leads to increased sales and higher Customer Lifetime Value.

“I need help!”

I see posts in chat groups and get emails like this regularly.  Usually, the comment goes something like the one my friend Teri sent me.

I’ve got a new prospect in my niche, but they are B2B.  I’ve looked in all the training I’ve taken, but nothing really focuses on B2B.”

“So what can you tell me about the prospect?  How big is the company?”  

He’s a very committed eager business owner. So I want to be sure an offer him the best B2B approach.”

Ah-ha!  This scenario is a common issue where I see many people get confused.   

B2B defines as businesses that sell to other companies. Her prospect matches that.

However, most B2B courses are focused on manufacturing. They are often larger companies where a whole buying process exists, more like dealing with a committee than a person. Each stakeholder comes with different needs and views.

This buying process isn’t the scenario Teri is facing.  She’s not dealing with a committee. Teri’s dealing with a single person. It’s much easier to deal with one decision-maker. She needs to focus on her prospect’s target market and help him craft messages to reach them effectively. The tone of the message content will be the only shift from standard B2C writing.

In my writing and coaching, I’ve seen this a lot.

For over twenty years, I’ve dealt with a branch of my business that sells B2B. But like Teri’s prospect, we aren’t classical B2B manufacturers.  Instead, we deal with licensed professionals who buy our products to use in offering services to consumers. So technically, it’s B2B, but it is closer to B2C in the decision-making process, just like my friend’s situation.  

The writing tone to small business owners is less formal than classic B2B. Our audience mindset is a combination. They think both like a consumer and a business owner. It’s essential to their success as they have so much on the line. Instead, they want H2H communications.

What I shared with Teri is to quit worrying about the labels. Instead, focus on humanizing—writing human to human.  

Business success is dependent on engagement. Without engagement, we can’t connect with another human being—our message gets lost. Companies don’t sell to companies.  It’s the humans inside those companies connecting with other humans.  Marketers and writers need to focus on those humans.

Keep this secret in mind.

In the fast-paced world of marketing, there are lots of parameters to consider. First, it’s critical to get the right offer and message. Then you need to deliver it to the right person. We become obsessed with subject lines, graphics, and coming up with the latest and greatest.

I’d like to suggest hitting pause. Think about the individual you are trying to engage. What are their goals, needs and how can you help them.  Then talk to them—one human to another.  Humanize it.

An honest, person-to-person approach is the best marketing.

3 techniques to humanize

Humanizing your marketing is all about having a conversation with another person. There is NO generic feeling.  There should be NO sense the same message is going to a group or list.  

Instead, the focus is more like sharing information with a friend over coffee or a glass of wine. The tone reflects your audience, ranging from more casual to professional. I liken it to attending a conference and visiting with a colleague at the end of the day.  You are engaging one professional to another but in a very conversational way.

Humanize—Speak specifically to a person

Segment your audience, dividing groups to speak to them in a more specific way. Grouping allows you to hone into their interests, concerns, and needs. Segmenting makes your message more targeted, engaging and improves ROI.  

Sometimes segmenting may seem a little elusive. That’s because most B2B businesses attract diversity in prospects, even if they employ targeted marketing.  Segment them based on the company’s size, differences in what they offer/need, or the different pathways they found you.  These pathways may impact their level of awareness about your business.  

Segmenting by the level of awareness is a primary technique to share the message in the proper order and intensity. First, categorize your segments for your particular audience. Then, use the targeted approach to enhance message engagement and ROI.

Talk conversationally

Post your photo. When readers see a person’s picture, it’s easier for them to connect. You want your business to be the people that make up the business.  If you have a team, you can showcase your team, their goals, successes, and even outside activities. 

You want communications that come across as authentic, honest, and genuine. Share your story, how and why you built this business.  Maybe you were your ideal client. Now you’ve overcome a health, weight, or fitness challenge. Those stories let your prospects see hope and a chance for themselves. 

In today’s world, prospective clients also want to know what a business stands for. So share your values and opinions. For example, let them know how you give back, support the community, and help protect the planet.  

Be a giver

I learned this from one of the most engaging marketers I’ve ever listened to, Brian Kurtz. Author of “Overdeliver” and founder of Titans Marketing, he excels at giving prospects and clients more than they expect.  

Like all the presenters at this conference, he finished with an offer.  Buy the “offer,” and he included a collection of  “extra bonuses” that were mind-boggling. His sales rate was astronomical. Why? It was too good a deal to pass up.

Have I gone through all of the bonus segments? No, but I got great value from an excellent investment. (You want your prospect to respond the same way.)

If you want to connect with your target audience, be like Brian. Be a giver. Give them so much extra value that any other choice looks crazy.  You may not be the cheapest out there, but if what you offer is five-ten times the price in value, you will get their attention. You have become a unique and no-brainer decision.

The bonus value doesn’t mean the offer requires a slashed sale price.

There are many ways to offer a bonus or extra value. For example, consider a free report, checklists, guides, infographics, podcasts, or a recording from a live event. Amaze them with the extra value you include and a moderate-priced offer. In addition to a sale, you get their contact information. This pure gold allows you to add them to your list/funnels.

Focus on what will appeal to your prospective client. Then when you write for those clients, do the same thing for their target audience. Help them be a giver so they can reap the rewards that extend far beyond an initial sale.  


Judith Culp Pearson is a freelance copywriter marketer. She specializes in helping businesses build relationships that result in loyal customers with high customer lifetime value. Contact: judith@jculpcreativecopy.com or schedule a call here:

B2B Buyers Want B2C Shopping in 2021!

B2B buyers now want shopping to reflect that of their B2C experience. The lines are blurring.
B2B shoppers want B2C experiences

The face of marketing to B2B buyers is rapidly changing, and there is a lot of somewhat confusing information out there.  After sifting through mountains of information, I found three keys B2B buyers desire when looking for a solution.

In one sentence—B2B buyers want their experience to mirror their B2C personal shopping experiences.

My own experience as a B2B buyer

One of the hats I’ve worn was as the buyer for the B2B division of my company. As a distributor, we purchased from the manufacturer and sold to professionals who used the product in their retail businesses.

The twist is that I also handled customer service. So I felt keenly aware of our customer’s pain points and needs. I wasn’t randomly shopping for new items to add to our professional collection.  I was only open to things that could seamlessly integrate into our B2B buyer’s needs.  

Regularly, I got pitches from all sorts of companies who thought they had the hottest item on the market.  Many were duplicates of what we already carried.  Others were selling items unrelated to our niche. A third group sold devices only legal for medical professionals to purchase—less than 5% of our buyers.

Many were non-US-based firms wanting us to import their items. They’d gotten our contact information from who knew where and were mass marketing.  It was immediately clear from the pitch email the sender knew nothing about our business.  

  • I didn’t know the email sender. 
  • Their spam approach screamed at me. 
  • There had been no attempts to build trust. 

It felt like a guy trying to get you to jump into bed at the first meeting. Ick. Turn and sprint away.

The companies I built relationships with were for the long term.  We wanted products that our buyers could trust would be there and always meet specific performance standards.  They were companies we learned we could depend on.  

Trust was a huge factor.  Support and accessibility to information, quick customer support, and a willingness to work with us to resolve any challenges. 

We’ve done business with one of these firms for well over 20 years. It’s not something the buyer thinks of, but I can’t even guesstimate the CLV of our monthly purchases over that time frame. 

B2B Buyers and Marketers have a lot in common.

With years as both a marketer and a B2B buyer, I’ve noticed the two have a lot in common. Both are putting their business, reputations, and jobs on the line with every purchase they make.

Both buyers and marketers are deluged with proposals and pitches. They both have to sort through masses of emails to identify any nugget that might be of real benefit to their business situation.

Recognizing those experiences and the similarities have helped me help my marketing clients. We build the relationship as team partners to discover solutions and create a strong ROI. Perfectly done with a successful marketing campaign or project, it’s a win-win for both.  

Here’s a secret to keep in mind…

Stakeholders view things differently—it’s vital to recognize that each person with a stake in the decision views the process a little differently. They come at it from different departments, different needs, and even different goals. As a result, their risk factors may be higher, and decisions more complex. 

They may need different types of answers. Communications need to help each person feel comfortable with the decision. 

We need to keep in mind, each stakeholder probably feels their reputation and job is on the line. It’s not about our marketing. It’s about their comfort zone. So focus on answering their needs with relevant information, including the know, like, and trust factors. Easily accessible information and answers are the best paths to help them decide to buy.

3 key ways to help your B2B buyer

When we focus on the B2B buyer’s needs, it is all about quickly and efficiently helping them find what they need.  Depending on the type of B2B that you work with, this can be very complex. 

The higher the ticket price, the more information, details, and data are needed to support the decision—and the more people will be involved. It’s a longer, more complex process with higher stakes.

Content – useable, findable, relevant

Buyers need detailed information designed for quick, easy consumption.  They may or may not be the technician or engineer working with a complex piece of equipment.  However, they may be responsible for identifying possible solutions and then sharing them for input before making a decision.  

Keep in mind B2B buyers want content as quickly readable as when they do their B2C shopping. So make layout and content designed for easy reading and rapid assimilation.  Include whitespace, supporting graphics, and bulleted lists.

Offer cross-links and “also relevant” links to help them find additional information.

Be sensitive to what’s happening in the real world.  We’ve been through a lot of turmoil in the last 18 months. Now things with a twang of nostalgia offer comfort and a sense of security.  However, include nostalgia only if it fits and makes sense.  

Be interactive

B2B buyers are looking for instant information. They don’t want to send an email and wait a week for an answer.  The best interaction helps them quickly find what they need, now.

AI, chatbots, and the like can fill in an interactive gap.  Of course, the better they interact and offer more specific answers, the more valuable they become.

Include all the frequently asked questions your customer service team hears.  The more you include, the happier the buyer will be.  

Analyze surveys or questions that have come up on social media. These offer tidbits of information the buyer needs. 

Make the interaction smooth. Create a feeling of ease that includes transfers across support services. In addition, increased seamlessness increases the buyer satisfaction rate.

Retention saves B2B relationships and dollars.

Having a great experience and a trusting relationship make the buyer’s next purchasing decision more straightforward. If there is plenty of retention-focused TLC, you become their trusted resource.

Trust is imperative to keep the buyer coming back. Help them feel valued, respected and that you are there as a team partner to solve problems. 

The results?  A higher customer lifetime value and wins for both buyers and marketers.


Judith Culp Pearson is a result-oriented relationship-building and empathy-based marketer specializing in B2B wellness and information. Reach her at judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.

Marketing for Beauty and Wellness?

Beauty is more tied into cultural standards for ideal mates while wellness is about healthy lifestyle choices including exercise, nutrition and spirituality.
Beauty and Wellness Attributes

Beauty and Wellness comprise over a 4.2 trillion dollar market and growing exponentially.  But the terms can be a bit confusing or vague. So, as a marketer, how do you pick the best words to reach your market? A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania showed that while there are some commonly associated definitions, there is also a broad diversity. 

That study focused on semantics and looked at term associations based on age groups and gender. My concerns were as a marketer. How do we choose the correct terms to reach our target market? Do people understand what wellness encompasses?  What about beauty?  How do people actually think about it, define, it and engage with it? 

What do those in Wellness say?

This spring, I interviewed over a dozen different people in the wellness industry.  Marketers, beauty and supplement manufacturers, coaches, fitness experts, nutritionists, and more. As much diversity of the sector as I could connect with.  

My core question was how we could make wellness more understandable in our messages. Do people really “get” how diverse it is? The responses were all over the place.  Some had found phrases or words that connected with their specific segment of the public. 

Others were all about expanding the dialogue about how to better share wellness concepts. They agreed there is an opportunity for a lot of improvement.

Effectively marketing beauty and wellness depends on the audience.

As with all marketing success, communication is the key. First, you have to hone in on your target audience.  The more you know about your ideal client, the easier it is to select the best terms to connect, engage and move them forward. This identification is essential considering the diversity found in this study.

In this study, they found that some terms are cross-generational.  Others terms are age-related. The more life experience, the more it colors the way we think.  And yes, it makes a difference whether you are selling to men or women.

When working with clients, experienced marketers focus on these differences. The more we understand how our target group thinks about beauty and wellness, the more we engage them.

Here’s a secret they discovered

We can’t discount the survival genetics built into our primal brain.  Ancient ancestors’ survival depended on selecting a suitable mate.  Attributes of attraction were those that indicated the ability to survive and procreate. Those would have been considered beauty.

For both sexes, this meant appealing, attractive features, good teeth, and a strong constitution. 

The most desirable men had a body built for successful hunting and protection. The most beautiful women had a body configured for pregnancy and to nurture children. Attributes related to healthy and fertile mates.

Those with less desirable features or lacking other attributes slipped down the selection pyramid from the top choice. These preferences are still clearly evident among animal groups today. A puny, weak animal isn’t going to have the opportunity to procreate. It was about the survival of the species.

Look at any magazine or marketing advertisement today, and you can still see these biases in action among humans. It’s only been very recently we are embracing and recognizing the value in those who are unique or different.

Three considerations for key term selection

The study findings divide into three categories. First, there were terms common to all age groups and both men and women respondents.  Second, generational dependent words. And third choices that were different between genders.

Generally accepted terms for beauty and wellness.

The survival considerations that guided our ancient ancestors evolved over the millennia. Greek and Roman influence involved more intellectual pursuits and lifestyle, as well as that of seeking pleasure. 

Beauty today is most often associated with lovely, feminine, gorgeous, elegant, stylish, and sexy. Elegance and grace are different from sexiness, but there is a clear overlap in the association with beauty.

Key wellness alternatives include fitness, aerobics, health, lifestyle, nutrition, thrive, holistic, and meditation. 

They also verified what the marketers I interviewed noticed. 

  1. Generally, there is more clarity and uniformity on the term beauty. 
  2. At the same time, there is more diversity in the meaning of wellness.  

The term beauty is more related to physical and cultural attributes. On the other hand, wellness relates more to active practices that promote health and thriving.

Generational differences on beauty and wellness.

The study included people from Gen-Z, Millennials, Gen-X, and Baby Boomers. It acknowledged there are individual differences within each group despite the commonalities. 

Life experiences influenced the term associations.  The study proposes that with the accumulation of life experience, we increase the tendency to segregate semantically. As a result, the terms become more specific. 

Our increased lifespan, and therefore increased level of experience may also contribute to differences.

Another attribution for the difference is age heightens socio-cultural awareness and related stereotypes.  Most often, these are related to the words attributed to young, beautiful, healthy bodies.

In the past, men identified with looking rugged, macho, and exhibiting athletic superiority. However, younger men today are increasingly concerned with personal image and appearance. These shifts may result from the changing employment culture’s impact on social values.

Variations by gender

It’s interesting to note that semantics, the meaning of the words used, were more structured among women than men.  

When considering the terms beauty and wellness, women segregated them more. For example, education had been classified initially as a wellness term. But among both women and boomers, it was attributed to beauty.

Another example is that delicious, exotic, and talent were initially classified as beauty terms.  But in some groups, they are more associated with wellness. So again, it’s about researching and knowing your specific group.

When I work with clients

I help them match their message, the terms used, and the SEO to their targeted audience. It’s complex and requires segmenting the audience, tracking, and testing to assure the best outcome. https://www.jculpcreativecopy.com.
For the complete details and the full article, you can read it here.

Tell Your Story—They Want to Know You

Your story helps buyers get to know you. That's the first step in know, like and trust so they feel confident to buy.

Telling your story is the first essential step to sales. People need to know you so they can like you and start to trust you. So to help them get to know you—tell your story. Who you are, what you stand for, and what makes you unique.

Avoid being like these guys.

Internet and phone providers have about the worst reputation for engagement and finding ways to bond with customers.

I recently had to deal with helping an aging parent transition to assisted living. Ugh, in anyone’s book. But mom didn’t want this even though she needed it. So I had to help her make it happen.  

She just needed internet and a telephone line. But, unfortunately, as an existing customer of the company that provided service in her facility, it got way more complicated.  

Their automated system kept trying to tie me and my account into what I created for Mom.  

While they spend fortunes on marketing, it’s all about the product. People put up with the system because it is an essential service in today’s world. 

There is NO way to reach support on their website or phone tree. Not even a contact number anywhere on their website. You have to Google to find one. Everything wants doing online.

AI wraps you into a maze without resolution.

I spent a frustrating two weeks trying to get internet and phone established. When I did finally reach someone, they told me the new account had been incorrectly set up. 

It’s no wonder so many people are disconnecting from cable and looking for alternative providers. But, unfortunately, the system is very broken and unfriendly. No news to you, I’m sure.

No differentiation in your story? – no USP

As a freelance marketer, I’ve seen businesses spend vast amounts of money trying to sell their products. 

One sale after another becomes a pricing competition when that isn’t the deciding criteria for many people. 

Today’s marketplace is crowded. As a result, products or services can tend to look alike. So they up the advertising budget without considering why prospects aren’t buying.  

In the customer’s eyes, they may see no difference between brands X, Y, and Z.  No differentiating uniqueness from one business to another. That’s why your unique story is so important to share. 

It’s an asset that businesses often overlook.

Keep your target customer in mind.

When building your brand and your product, it’s essential to keep your target audience in mind. Each generation has differences. However, today’s buyers all care about similar things—value, culture, and customer care. Our cable company failed in all three.

3 Things your story must share and prove

All customers are looking for products and services with value. Products that aren’t high enough quality to warrant repeat sales will undermine business success. 

Buyers want to know what you stand for and how you give back.  And they want to know how you take care of them as your customer.

Value

Many businesses focus on price as value. However, price is only a small part of value.  Today’s shopper is more concerned about the value they receive for the price paid instead of just the price itself.

Therefore, in your story, you need to share all the components of “value” included in your offer.  

The more value enhancements you offer, the higher the price the buyer is willing to pay.  

Bonuses, reports, guides, support, quick delivery, rewards, and your culture are all part of your value.  They are also what makes you unique in an ocean of similar choices.  

It’s essential to include these in your brand story.  To keep the message simple, straightforward, and targeted, you may find that you need to break it up. Tell your story in easily memorable segments.

Culture

Millennials lead the movement in choosing businesses they deal with to have a positive planet-friendly and people-friendly approach.  They don’t want to do business with those who cause harm to others so that they can buy.  

In your story, share how you give back to the planet and the community.  Company size doesn’t matter, that you are concerned about others does.  Share this culture with your audience. 

A friendly giving culture that isn’t just words but really happens can be the tipping point in deciding where to purchase.

Customer Care

Customer service is a huge issue. It’s one many companies have struggled with during the pandemic. Some companies already had excellent customer service and continued it. 

Others are still struggling to make it happen. It comes across almost like they are using the pandemic as an excuse for whatever they don’t want to address.

If the only message they receive is “sale,” that’s not customer support.

Look for every opportunity to stay connected with buyers. Create social media chats.  Generate email thank you sequences, updates, e-newsletters, nurturing, and rewards. 

When I work with clients

I look for all the things that set them apart and make them unique. We craft and share these stories to help buyers get to know, like, and trust them.  We cultivate those buyers into long-term relationships with a high customer lifetime value.  judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.

Digital Sharecropping Risky Business?

Social media marketing is like sharecropping and the game of monopoly. You land on real estate you don't own and you have to pay rent.
Social Media Marketing reminds me of playing Monopoly™.

Familiar with the term Digital Sharecropping? It’s a phenomenon that most people don’t understand. An SEO guru colleague, Heather Lloyd-Martin shared a newsletter email regarding it and got me taking another look.

Digital sharecropping refers to social media channels and how people and businesses interact with them. The earliest concerns about it date back to 2006. 

The term derives from the sharecropping, (aka feudalism) that happened after the end of the US Civil War. People had no money so paid to use a landlord’s property with a share of their crops. They didn’t own the land or even the tools they used. 

In the game of Monopoly™, when you land on a property that is owned, you have to pay rent just like sharecroppers did.

It’s happening today—digitally. And it can be very risky for your business if you are dependent on it.

Social Media Digital Sharecropping

In the last few years, many businesses, especially B2C, have shifted their marketing to focus completely on social media. Some skip a website altogether, focusing instead on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Simple. Easy. Sweet.

What they don’t realize is they have no real control over what the social channel does. The channel owns the real estate. The channel is their landlord.

So they post lots to get more likes and more fans. They work hard to build a social empire of followers.

So what’s wrong with that?  It works great to stay in touch with friends. It’s been a way to stay connected during the pandemic.

However, did you know that once you post pictures the channel actually can now sell the images someplace else without your permission and without compensating you?  It’s in the fine print and it’s been this way for years.

Social was designed to be gathering spots, like the water cooler or watering hole. People visit, put up posts, and share for free. In exchange, the channel sells advertising to monetize users. It’s quite profitable, ask Mark Zuckerberg.   

However, what if you are a business owner? 

Matthew Inman, creator of Oatmeal comics got hit with the dark side of his social media empire. 

Inman’s had a website for years where he publishes Oatmeal comics. But to make it easy to stay connected with followers he shifted to build a huge following on Facebook and Instagram. People love his posts. 

According to a recent The Oatmeal Instagram post, Facebook has decided if Inman wants to reach more than a fraction of his followers, he needs to pay them $2000 PER POST. And this is content he’s putting up free for his nearly four million followers. 

In his Instagram post, he explained the situation and invited people to sign up for his newsletter where they can be guaranteed the full dose of his comic goodness.

He’s also started only sharing part of “something too big for Instagram”, or Facebook, and sending the reader to his website to see the rest.

He is moving away from being dependent on social media. Inman has learned the risks of being a digital sharecropper. Now his focus is real estate he owns and controls. His website and e-newsletter where there are no middlemen charging fees.

Why is digital sharecropping important to understand?

With social media, the rules change with little notice. 

Paid posts, or rebuilding a following on a new channel, are expensive.

Inman worked for years to build his following. Then the rules changed. Without paying huge fees, only a tiny portion of his followers would see his posts.

You don’t want your business to be in Inman’s situation.

How would it impact your marketing if you had to pay for every post you put on your business page?

For your business to succeed long term, you need a plan to take control of your social marketing. 

I’ve discovered the ways to fight back and I’ll share them with you. 

First…

Here’s something most people don’t think of…

Where will you be if a different new social channel becomes the big buzz?  Think it won’t happen?  Where’s MySpace? Friendster? Google+? MySpace still exists, but it’s pretty lonely there. It went out of favor.

And a recent Social America report shared that for Gen Z and millennials, Facebook has lost favor. Instead, they are using Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. And this will change again, it’s inevitable. 

Every social empire you build is only temporary. So if you want to depend on social, get prepared for changes and having to rebuild.

3 ways to offset digital sharecropping

When I work with clients we use social media as part of the mix, but we focus on things they have 100% control over.  We focus on enhancing their website, connecting with emails and newsletters, and building a reputation for offering value.

Website

Your website is something you have complete control over.  Wherever you market, drive the traffic to your website. Make it the hub of your marketing efforts. 

Start a post on social and send them to the website to see the rest. Share a new product or service and direct them to your website to learn more. 

Invite visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. You can increase the number of signups by offering something useful or of value as a reward for subscribing. 

Send them emails with links to information or products on the website. 

Direct mail pieces have gained favor since there is a lot more in our inboxes than in our mailboxes. What you send is more apt to be seen. Use mail as another way to bring people to your website. Drive them to a special report, service, or offer.

Assure your website offers a positive experience and is easy to navigate. 

Contact information needs to be easy to find, preferably on every page so the visitor doesn’t have to hunt.  


People have become more skeptical. Use transparency to boost trust. Consider putting a contact number in a narrow banner at the very top of each page. It’s validation you are a sound trustworthy business. They may never call, but it makes you seem safer than a business without it.

Newsletters and emails

Using email to connect and share is one of the best investments in your marketing mix.  They come from you. 

Whether a short post or a newsletter, they can be informational, educational, and entertaining. They can also drive clients back to your website. Introduce an article or blog with a link to where the complete story resides on your website.  

Email communications are a great place to share more about your team, your brand story, and your products or services. Share your uniqueness, your visions, and your social conscience.

Emails are bond builders.  People love to be part of a group or a tribe.  Your emails and newsletter are exclusive for your subscribers—a place they can hear your news before the rest of the world does.

The right emails nurture new buyers. They help them have the best experience with their purchase as well as get to know you as a brand.

According to a recent study by SubjectLine.com, emails that promote a one-day offer get 21% higher opens than if you just announce a sale.  Words like “today only,” or “one day sale,” get attention and people don’t want to miss out. They create a sense of urgency and exclusivity.

Value reputation

Use content as a way to share and display valuable information you put out.  Content that’s fresh, relevant, useful, and focused on your target audience’s interests and concerns. 

Avoid any techniques or content that seems spammy or pushy/dodgy. 

Your value content is the reputation your business earns. Quality and value are the keys to attracting and keeping your ideal customers.

So where does that leave social?  Social channels are useful tools to support your website…the real estate you own. Use social as a part of your marketing mix. Mix is the keyword. You are using but not depending on channels that you have no real control over.


Judith Culp Pearson is a digital content marketer helping businesses gain and retain customers for a higher lifetime value. Result-oriented relationship building and empathy-based marketing. Reach her at judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.