By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
“You need to dominate the conversation,” Mark Schaefer said simply as he completed a lively presentation at a recent UT Federal Credit Union (UTFCU) celebration.
The well-known author and speaker on social media marketing keynoted UTFCU’s kickoff party for its “Line 12 Micro Fund” previously profiled on teknovation.biz. During his more than half-hour presentation, Schaefer used a combination of humor and exceptional insight to challenge a crowd of about 100 people.
Much of his discussion focused on the rapid evolution of social media as a marketing tool and the epic trends that he sees in the not too distant future.
“How much content can we consume,” Schaefer asked the crowd, citing a belief that we will experience a 600 percent growth by 2020 in information posted on social media sites.
“It’s more difficult (than ever) to get our message through to our customers,” Schaefer said in relation to a rapid evolution from the 1990s when companies simply established a website. Today, he said companies are spending $26 billion annually on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) “to trick Google.”
The current focus on mobile technology is going to be quickly replaced by a stage Schaefer calls “immersion.” He described it as an era when we will be dominated by wearable devices, augmented reality, and the ability to do better filtering.
“We’re a few years away from where the Internet surrounds us like air,” he predicted.
The challenge to companies striving to use social media to advance their message is further magnified by another interesting statistic – online content reading currently takes about 10 hours a day of an individual’s life, according to Schaefer.
“All our lives, we’ve consumed more and more, but there has to be a limit,” he said, citing a recent University of Southern California study predicting the amount of time devoted to online reading will rise to 15.5 hours very soon.
Allowing eight hours for sleep, Schaefer noted, “That leaves only 30 minutes for bathroom breaks and brushing our teeth. We’re getting into a crunch.”
So, for a business, he says the challenge is determining “how we get through this very narrow channel.”
Schaefer offered several ideas, all focused on much better content.
“You don’t have to be the best, just the first in your niche and overwhelming,” he said in describing a strategy that he called “shock and awe.” It is driven first and foremost by a blog.
To illustrate the success of this strategy, Schaefer cited a local plastic surgeon who used social media to post questions each week on his blog followed by a video at the end of the week answering the questions. This initial strategy generated good traffic, but the surgeon adopted another approach to stay ahead of the competition.
The new strategy involved the creation of a cookbook that caused individuals to discuss the surgeon in a different venue and way, specifically at the dinner table, for example.
How did it work? Schaefer said the practice’s revenues rose by 19 percent. In his view, the approach the surgeon used is a simple strategy.
“It’s how we own a disproportionate share of the conversation about our business in the community,” he explained.
Another of Schaefer’s strategies is what he described as RITE. The acronym stands for content that is relevant, interesting, timely and entertaining. Of the four, the last is most important.
“That’s the type of content people want to share,” Schaefer explained. “Entertaining drives traffic (to your site).”
Another way to stand out from the competition is to be more human.
“We buy from people we know and trust,” Schaefer said.