This is the first post in a series of articles that we’re going to publish on one of the essential tasks of anyone who wants to promote a business digitally: amplifying social reach. Getting more likes, followers, shares, engaging with new brand advocates, increasing your community of digital supporters. That’s the goal, so how do you do it?
Let’s say you own a small business. You sell a product, that you might make yourself or maybe you have it shipped in. For your customer base, you rely on foot traffic, word of mouth, and the excellence of your offerings. Everything’s going fine, you’re breaking even, but to be truly successful, you’ve got to grow. Problem is, your current customers just aren’t cutting it. They don’t buy enough themselves to rocket you to the next level, and they’re not promoting you to their friends like they used to. Understandably, you’ve built a website, or had one made for you, to promote your business digitally. All of your regulars have liked you on Facebook, and retweeted your “new website” announcement, but again, you’re stalled. No matter what you do, you can’t get your digital community of supporters to grow.
We’ve compiled a few tips to jumpstart your digital success. They’re all meant to improve your social presence, amplify your social reach. Where are those customers hiding, and how can you access them? You know that they’ll convert once you’ve had the chance to market to them, you just can’t seem to find them.
Content, Content, Content: The Search For Big
I’m not really going to count this as a tip for amplifying your content because, well, it’s the content itself. This whole process, amplifying your social presence and increasing your reach, it’s all based in the quality of the content you produce. “Content” is an umbrella term for a ton of different media styles; it could be anything from a 2,000 word blog post to a .gif image of a cat. Just do your research. What’s your demographic likely to be motivated by? If you’re trying to sell a lot of Red Bull, what kind of people buy Red Bull and what kind of content would they respond to? Hint: check out Red Bull’s marketing campaign.
Back in 2012, Dr. Peter J. Meyers, one of the SEO experts over at industry leader moz.com, began differentiating between “big content” and “small content.” It’s a distinction that still helps us think about our strategies in 2014, so I’m going to lay out its principles here.
Essentially, big content is your long play and small content is your short game. Small content would be posting a new cat .gif on Facebook every ten minutes. And big content would be creating a report on trends in visual cat culture over the last ten years. Which is actually a pretty good idea. Anyway, do you see the difference? Small content is easy, quick, and has short-lived effects. Big content, especially if you maintain it over time, takes more effort but can have exponentially greater consequences.
So, the first step is producing content. And most people in the industry will tell you that great content is what it all comes down to. That’s certainly what Google wants to present to its users. Google’s stated intention for the future is to present each search with a direct response. So if you search “best pizza in Philadelphia,” they respond with “Pizza Brain” (d’uh, I mean, why did you even have to ask?).
Mixing Messages: Quality Vs. Relevance In Google’s SERPs
But Google also seems to want to confuse us. A 2011 update to their search algorithms, dubbed “Google Freshness” colloquially, dramatically emphasized the “freshness,” defined by Google as “timeliness and relevance,” when returning results to particular search queries. Essentially, newer stuff ranks better than older stuff, at least when transtemporal or recurring events are being searched. But doesn’t that mean that older high-quality content will outpace new stupid stuff in the SERPs? Sort of.
It’s at least spurred content creators to pump work out at a faster pace, in the hopes of keeping their site “relevant” in Google’s cold, robotic eyes. The takeaway is that, to rise to the top of Google’s SERPs, you have to be really quick and really smart. Or really popular, a subject we’ll tackle in depth next time.