Get Serious: Why You Need a Professional Content Writer (SMO)
“Excuse me, Judy, but who’s running our twitter?” – Bill the Owner.
“Sarah is, Bill. ‘Social media competency’ was listed on her resume.” – Judy the Manager.
“Every resume said that. Why did we pick her?” – Bill the Owner.
“She had the most twitter followers.” – Judy the Manager.
Does this conversation sound like a company that takes its marketing and brand management seriously? Let’s face the facts, everyone has a twitter, FB, IG, etc. these days, but that doesn’t make them competent enough to manage your SM presence. It’s an art; a skill; social media management is a craft. You wouldn’t hire someone to manage your accounting just because he or she does their own taxes, so why are you hiring an amateur to run your internet presence?
You have four options when it comes to social media and content creation. First, you can ignore it and hope it’s just a phase – in other words, fail. Second, you, the business owner, can try to manage it yourself. This always sounds like a good idea, until you’re doing all your tweeting at midnight when no one is awake. Third, you can have an employee with little experience run it. Again, they never have time to post properly, and it often detracts from their primary job. Finally, you can start taking it seriously and hire a professional.
Since my time at the Eli Broad college of business, I’ve learned content creation is one of the single most important aspects of marketing companies don’t take seriously. I hate to get into jargon, since everyone and their brother is writing a post on “SEO tricks,” but I can’t help but mention the 5 P’s or marketing. I think we all agree social media falls under the last P, promotion. It certainly is promotional, yet classifying your internet presence as just part of promotion is a dangerous game to play. If it weren’t for its lack of starting with a P, I would make social media an honorary member.
Your internet presence is your voice. To illustrate, are you an upscale real-estate company? Then your website should be elegant, your writing erudite, and The New Yorker’s handle should be found somewhere in the top five of your “FOLLOWING” list on Twitter. Don’t take lightly the importance of high quality content. Every owner wants the easy “black-hat” solution to internet success, just like everyone wants to believe stock market analysts, yet the route to profits is this: you must publish high quality, empathetic, and insightful content. Further, this content must be consistent and focused on your market.
What is a professional content writer? A professional in today’s competitive market is equal parts a marketer and equal parts a writer. You must keep in mind, the content you are creating is essentially communication. If he or she doesn’t write well, then you’re wasting your money. A professional has experience. This is a specific skill set, which must improve with practice; even The Beatles had to put in the hours. Finally, a professional understands a target market. The best content creators give their market the information they need in a friendly, empathetic, and intelligently humorous manner – NEVER hire a writer without a wholesome sense of humor.
Below are three reasons your company needs a professional content writer. If you’re committed to proper branding and marketing, then I suggest you take them seriously.
1. A Consistent Branding Device: You are What You Don’t Post
Being aloof to social media is being aloof to branding. You know it’s there, yet you decide to ignore it. Let me put it this way, your company’s image, core values, and voice are interpreted by the internet whether you like it or not. If you opt-out of the social media world, then you come off as inconsiderate. That’s right, it’s rude in today’s world to not provide adequate information on the web, since everyone uses it to make decisions.
Have a Twitter with 36 tweets in one year? I hate to tell you this, my friend, but if you answered yes, then you also have a weak voice, an established laziness, and are losing money. Allow me to illustrate this with a story. A few years back I managed the social media account for a local company. Like every other boss, he was hesitant to hire someone, yet knew he needed it. In his defense, he had taken the proper efforts in starting a Facebook, Twitter, youtube channel, and blog. Sadly, his efforts ended there. This is an epidemic amongst small business owners. They believe they are doing the right thing by launching such platforms, yet don’t take the time – or simply don’t have the time – to consistently post. You wouldn’t purchase a print ad then leave the space blank.
Though he hired me to manage all his social media accounts, he remained skeptical that having a professional do this wasn’t necessary. I took into consideration that he did have great vision for his internet presence, he just didn’t have the time or knowledge to enact it. Using his suggestions, as well as my understanding of the market, I was able to grow his audience organically. Through consistent, empathetic posts, I was able to turn his Facebook page into a community for his target market. In addition to our own services, I posted about the latest trends in our industry, giving us established ethos. People appreciate a company that stays informed and shares beneficial things for the sake of helping the customer. As a result, our audience grew exponentially in only a few months, then he terminated my contract.
It had only been one summer, a small amount of time in the internet rankings world, yet he felt our enhanced audience and internet presence wasn’t helping the bottom line and that he could do what I was doing on his own. Since that time, I remind you this was years ago, the last status on his Facebook was the last post I made. Tell me, if you were to visit a company’s FB page and saw their last post was made years ago, wouldn’t you think they had gone out of business? At the least, you would think they were lazy and uninformed.
A professional allows your branding to remain consistent while saving you time.
2. A Filter for Emotional Blogging
Let’s revisit the second social media option: running your own blog. As the owner of your company and veteran of the market, you carry the much sought after position of expert. Put simply, Google loves experts; people love experts. This is all and good, however, until your emotions start mixing with your expertise and eschew your intent. Let me give an example. Last week, while visiting my family in Detroit, my father and I had a brief discussion over the shift in the area’s construction market. Jobs were, after years of recession, suddenly in abundance. Though elated over the chance to create, my Dad now faced the challenges of low-bidders, non-unions, and the desire for low-cost over quality.
A man of his convictions, my father stated, “I wish there were some way I could tell managers that the money they save on the lowest-bidder becomes the money they lose. Once the job is done – that is, if they even complete it – the company has to pay a competent contractor to come in and fix all the mistakes.” I told him a blog would be a great venue for relaying such knowledge to the right people. He went on to tell me more stories of woe and frustration as I sat there and pondered how I would craft this story into a post.
Yes, a blog is perfect for a discussion with your customers, but there’s something I’m not telling you. My father wasn’t quite so polite in his characterization of low-bidders. In fact, if I were to put in all the vulgarities, my WordPress would most likely get flagged. This isn’t anything against my Dad, that’s just how construction contractors talk, but it could be trouble if it ended up on his blog.
As a boss you have much to say and little time to say it. Often, you’ll find yourself becoming frustrated that your market doesn’t see eye-to-eye, and you’ll want to blog about it. Just remember, this isn’t your personal diary. What you publish on your blog is free to read by anyone and, therefore, free to offend anyone. My point being, a professional content creator will craft your knowledge in a smart, presentable way. Rant to him or her, they can take it!
After a stressful day on the job, it’s easy to vent through social media. Keep in mind, this can lead to a loss of customers, networks, and reputation. A professional social media manager will allow you to get your concerns across in an appropriate way.
3. Drowning in the Sea of Information
UNPAID INTERNS CAN’T EFFECTIVELY MANAGE SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS. Let me explain. I’ve seen it too many times, a company publishes a want ad on craigslist for an intern and ends the whole bit with, “social media skills a huge plus.” Why is that? Unless the internship is a “social media assistant” position, and they will be learning first-hand from a professional on how to run the campaign, this shouldn’t be a huge plus. I say this because their true intentions are to have the intern do everything.
This is an unpaid intern. He just posted a cat video to your company’s wall.
Social media is only slowly creeping into contemporary marketing classes. I’ll admit, I learned an awful lot about marketing in school, yet not one professor ever mentioned SEO. Most interns are still in college, which means they are not in a position to run one of the most important aspects of your brand management. Most owners think they’re saving money by doing this. Here’s the reality, you’re losing money and risking a potential PR disaster.
There’s simply too much information out there for an intern, boss, or non-marketing employee to take on the entire campaign him or herself. To make it even more difficult, most of the information is rubbish. You’ll spend hours online reading E-Books on “how to get a million twitter followers”only to find most of its content is obvious, misleading, or a tease into getting you to subscribe for “more secrets.” A professional content writer will know how to weed out the bad information from the good and stay up-to-date so you won’t have to.
Trying to run a company and learn everything about social media marketing takes too much time and effort. You’ll only end up doing both sloppily. A competent, professional content writer will save you much needed time to run your business.
4. You’re Only as Good as Your Last Mistake: Pay More, Get More
I’ve been freelancing my content writing abilities and expertise for a while now, and I can tell you with confidence that I’ve heard it all. It’s almost as if companies are doing everything they can to not pay for content creation. For instance, one company offered me free acupuncture if I blogged for them twice a day. I often wonder, would they be sticking the needles in while I wrote? I’m sorry to rain on your twitter feed, but it’s marketing and it costs money. Why? Because it’s a craft; the more you pay, the higher the quality.
Writing isn’t something everyone could do if they had the time, it’s something few people can do well. In fact, only a meager amount of business grads can write well. I recall group projects in my classes where we split up a ten-page paper. I ended up rewriting the entire paper due to amateurish grammar mistakes. Now, I’m not a stickler when it comes to one or two, but when every sentence has the wrong “its” you know there’s a lack of competence.
High quality content takes time. During a discussion with a small business owner, the debate on “how long it will take to write a post” came up. He argued a 500-1,000 word post would only take a half hour. This most likely explains why his blog, consisting of posts he had written himself, was full of grammar and factual errors. A quality post should take at least two hours. Why? Because a professional writer takes his or her time in the research and editing phases of the writing process – YOU WILL NEVER WRITE A POST WORTH SHARING ON THE FIRST DRAFT. In today’s world of long tail keywords, fact-checker, and competition, a writer must make sure every word is used correctly.
A marketer who writes well is a rarity, which is why you must pay competitively when you find one. Remember, having a sloppy blog is losing you money you aren’t even aware of. It only takes one factual error for a customer to look elsewhere.
Showing a desire and interest in taking your internet presence seriously is the first step to doing it right. Still not convinced? Look to your competitors. Odds are, they have a well-managed blog and are taking your business.