Your Content Marketing Vehicle Is Missing a Wheel

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As a content marketer, you’ve always relied on your trusty three-wheeler to get your job done. Oh, you didn’t realize you owned a tricycle? Well, analogically, you certainly do.

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Wheel 1: The Authoring Wheel

Like a spinning wheel, you continuously write, produce, or curate content. This wheel keeps churning out content, whether blog articles, videos, or whitepapers, with a distinct purpose for each piece. You know content is king, so this wheel gets the most oil to keep it from rusting.

Wheel 2: The Distribution Wheel

What’s great content without an audience to consume it? This wheel works just as hard to continuously broadcast your shiny new (and evergreen) content on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. You send emails to your subscribers, maybe dabble with sponsored ads on LinkedIn, whatever method works for you. It’s a no-brainer that your content will only convert if it has a healthy audience.

Wheel 3: The Track and Measure Wheel

This is probably your front wheel—the one that does the steering (with your hands on the handlebars, of course).

You use this wheel to measure how you’re doing—which content is resonating and converting or getting more shares. Without using this wheel, you’re basically throwing money at content with zero insight. (Picture falling on your face.) It’s like shooting from the hip.

For those of you who are absolutely crushing it, then you can stop reading. Your tricycle is just fine… or you’re not ready for a car.

Why You Need to Upgrade to a Four-Wheeler

The reality is most of us content marketers are never satisfied with our conversion rates. There’s always, always room for improvement. But the problem is— if our track-and-measure wheel tells us things aren’t working, what’s to blame? It could definitely be the content. Bad, unfocused, or simply unenjoyable content is just not going to convert.

But what if your content is great? Then maybe it’s your distribution channels. Have you not targeted or focused enough on your personas perhaps? It’s possible, but it should be fairly obvious if this is the case. So if your rear wheels are fine… what gives?

Maybe it’s time to park your tricycle in the garage. It can only get you so far. You see, you’re missing a fourth wheel that can no longer be ignored.

Wheel 4: The Experience Wheel

Why do we as marketers ignore the need for a great user experience? It’s so integral to conversion but somehow we spend the least amount of time on it.

How many times have you clicked on an article within Twitter on your phone, only to land on non-mobile-optimized completely unreadable article? And, of course, when that happens, you quickly abort because it would be insane to zoom and pan around the page. That’s just a crappy experience that will never convert anyone; I don’t care how good your content is.

As marketers, we need to delight, engage, and entrench our audience within our content experience.

It’s more than just mobile optimization; it’s about an immersive experience that takes users on a journey. I have news for you, one piece of great content is not going to convert everyone. Sending a visitor to a PDF not only doesn’t give you any insight into how engaged they were, but they also have no way to discover more content. Sending a user to a video on YouTube may get them watching, but how do you get them to watch another one of your videos?

It’s not rocket science. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have figured out how to keep you on their site or app for longer. They’ve introduced infinite scrolls, lots of imagery, and discoverability features to keep you there as long as possible. The more you stick around, the more likely you are to see or click on an ad—which, in their world, is a conversion. I’m sorry, but WordPress and a handful of plugins aren’t going to cut it anymore. In today’s world, users expect a better experience everywhere.

Here’s a short checklist of engagement tactics to see if you’re spending enough time on experience:

  • Discoverability: Can visitors easily find what they’re looking for, or are your resources and assets buried deep in navigation hell?
  • Responsive design: Does your interface suit users on ALL screen sizes from mobile phones, to tablets, to large desktop monitors?
  • Customized paths: Do you have a way of creating content stories for specific personas or topics, with contextual call-to-actions?

Whether you’ve got an internal development team, or you’re using a content marketing platform to manage the experience, all that hard work that goes into wheels one, two, and three deserves nothing less than a killer content experience. It takes a lot of work to get a visitor in the door, you know that.

Let’s face it: Your one-seat tricycle is not equipped to take each visitor on journey to Conversion City. You’ll need a four-wheeler to drive them there.

MarketingProfs All In One

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Social Media Selfies Pose a New Danger Behind the Wheel

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“Selfie” may have been 2013’s word of the year, but the practice of snapping self-portraits to post to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is creating new problems for law enforcement officials. As CNN recently reported, hashtags like #drivingselfie, #drivingselfies, and #drivingtowork are prompting a new trend among social media users, who snap photos and post them while behind the wheel. A recent article by Huffington Post counted more than three million photos on Instagram under driving-related hashtags.

USMC-111104-M-YP696-003While some of these photos may be snapped while drivers are at a complete stop, the danger with phone use while driving is that often drivers finalize posts after they’re in motion. According to Sharon Gilmartin, an analyst from the American Automobile Association (AAA), looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles a driver’s risk of getting an accident. Posing and snapping a photo generally takes longer than two seconds, with an additional three seconds or more to post the photo and compose a creative comment to go with it.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become one of the top dangers behind the wheel, falling just behind driving under the influence. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than nine people are killed and 1,000 people are injured each day in crashes where the driver was either visually, manually, or cognitively impaired behind the wheel. Because social media use engages a driver’s hands, eyes, and mind, it poses a greater danger than eating, which requires a driver to only periodically take his or her eyes off the road.

Criminal defense lawyers are seeing an increase in cases where drivers were impaired by social media use. While each state has its own texting-and-driving laws, when distracted driving causes a death, the driver who is at fault may be charged with a felony and subject to both criminal and civil penalties. In many states, simply being caught texting and driving results in a misdemeanor that comes with fines.

Social Media Laws

Most states don’t address social media directly, although some states ban cell phone use altogether while behind the wheel. Louisiana gained attention in 2013 by banning social media use while driving, although the law doesn’t specify such behaviors as snapping photos or videos while driving.

So far, the laws have been years behind the technology, with many states allowing drivers to continue to text and drive legally for several years after texting became mainstream. Once the nation has implemented social media bans, they’ll be challenged with drivers who continue to snap pictures while going 70 miles per hour down the interstate. Addressing camera use while driving won’t cover wearable technologies, such as Google Glass, which is still technically legal behind the wheel in most states. Many states have attempted to put a blanket statement over the behavior by proposing laws that ban “distracted driving,” but one Google Glass wearer is challenging her ticket, illustrating that the laws need to be more clearly defined when it comes to what a driver can and can’t do behind the wheel.

Don’t Selfie and Drive

As the practice of driver selfies continues, companies are stepping forward to reach the large number of teens now participating. Last year, Toyota reached out to teens with an ad that showcased a crashed car through a series of Instagram filters and the tagline, “don’t shoot and drive.”

The practice of taking selfies while driving is perhaps most disturbing because of its appeal to teens, who are often inexperienced behind the wheel in the first place. By continuing to toughen and enforce laws, states may be able to prevent some of the many deaths distracted driving causes each year.

Selfies — for their positive and negative components — will be a trend throughout many events at SMW14. Make sure you join us starting January 15th to explore this topic more!

Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter at @LarryAlton3 and LinkedIn.

Social Media Week

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