It’s the end of the year and that means that if you aren’t thinking about the tactics for next year, you’re definitely reviewing the past year to see what worked and what didn’t. I love this time of year, because the hustle and bustle eases and we can all take a big deep breath and reflect on the plan. Instead of running from one fire to the next, from one demand to the next, we can plan.
So obviously, you want to get involved in the new channels, like content, in all sorts of variations: blogs, video, employee-generated, podcasting, employee profiles, reasons why someone should work for you, etc. But you also know you need to stay in social media. Facebook, while 12 years old, is still “the place” to reach people. And LinkedIn is still the primary watering hole for people looking for jobs, so you have to be there.
But when push comes to shove, you have limited budget resources. You can’t buy everything you want, so you have to prioritize. So, if you are down to your last proverbial budget dollar, where do you spend it? Social media, or content?
Let’s start by looking at social media. These days, Facebook is a pay-for-play network. You only reach 1-3 percent of your organic audience, and Facebook just announced that posts that are purely promotional (“Buy this!” “Download this!” “Apply here!”) will be downgraded even more. So if you want your job posting to be seen by more than the tiniest fraction of potential fans, you need to pony up the cash. Remember when social media was cheap? That seems like a very long time ago.
While Twitter isn’t as bad as Facebook, it us already talking about filtering content as well, not pushing your job posts to all your fans. Again, bring your checkbook.
And LinkedIn? It also filters all traffic you see in your news feed. So all the time and energy you spent getting 100,000 fans wasn’t that productive, as you can’t really reach them all without spending money.
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Let’s not forget that the big pitch social media gave us was “Sure, we have low click rates, but it’s all so cheap, who cares?” Now that it isn’t so cheap, low click rates aren’t so enticing.
Content is labor intensive. Even if you can magically grind out a short press release or blog post in an hour, the time to proof, edit, review, and approve it makes it expensive. And if you want something grander than just a blog post (said the guy who writes a lot of blog posts all day), the price tag goes way way up.
But content has a few things going for it that lower the price tag.
- Long tail. That great employee profile about a mid-level manager who went above and beyond — and really embodied what your company is all about, may not have been easy. If it took 10 hours — let’s price it $1,000-$1,500 — it sounds like the Porsche of marketing. But that profile will be useful for years. Your company values aren’t changing, so why would the story be worthless in a week or a month or a year. If you publish it twice a year for the next five years, that’s 10 uses, making the content $100-$150 per use.
- Tell your story. Social media is small. Very, very small. But content can be big. You’re already several hundred words into this article because you are getting something out of it. If you tell your story the same way, it will also attract and engage prospects, and you aren’t limited to 140 characters, nor to one image, nor to a tiny, little story. That story is what will convince someone high up the ladder, someone who will impact the bottom line of the company, to think for the first time about changing their life and working for you.
- Completely portable. Let’s say you make a two-minute video using your phone. What can you do with it? Post it on YouTube. Post it on Vimeo. Embed it in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Put it in a blog post to illustrate a point. Put it in a different blog post that collects related videos. Put it in your career site next to related jobs. Embed it in a slideshow. Short videos are great on mobile phones, so make sure you put it on your mobile channels. One piece of content can be used dozens of places, dozens of times.
- Future-proof. Five years ago, no one thought Facebook would start to close the door on free organic reach. Four years ago, LinkedIn’s prices were dirt cheap, so every recruiter could have a seat. Three years ago it would have been crazy to think Twitter would filter its traffic. Two years ago, who thought about Instagram as a way to market your company or that Facebook would swallow it whole? Every day, the social media landscape changes: new channels appear and old ones evolve far beyond their initial intention. You don’t know what tomorrow holds (or what’s going to happen later today), so building strategies on social is building your house on sand. Content, because it has a long tail and is completely portable, doesn’t fret in the face of changing landscapes: it endures regardless of today’s fashion and continues to drive value, come what may.
So with that last dollar, we suggest you think twice before you spend it on social media. In the long run and the short run, content may be the far more effective and valuable investment.