The traditional, established approach to online marketing is:
Host content on your website.
Email subscribers with website link.
Share on social media with website link.
It can all become overwhelming and time consuming—which is why I believe in systemizing what you can. Enter the bread metaphor...
Each piece of content you create is a loaf of bread.
Perhaps your "loaves of bread" are each episode in your web series, each concert or event you're participating in, or each update to your blog.
There's no right or wrong to forms of content... or the flavors of your bread! Content is content—whether it takes the form of live or recorded performance, blog, podcast, email, gram, tweet or status update. You'll want some variety (to keep people excited and engaged), yet maintain some consistency (to maintain trust and loyalty).
Share (or sell) bread in your own bakery.
Once you know what the bread is, the first step is hosting that on your website. Traditional online marketing always drives people back to your website to view content. This is sometimes called "inbound marketing" because you're attracting people to your website through magnetic content. The big benefit in bringing people to your website is that they won't be distracted by anyone else's content. We'll explore some other benefits as well as alternatives below.
Deliver a free sample to each V.I.P. email subscriber.
Your email subscribers get first dibs because they are the most loyal. You don't want to share the whole loaf of bread with your subscriber, just give them a slice. Also, do not write your email to a group. Treat each subscriber like a VIP member of your family or your inner circle... because they are!
Think of your email like a taste test at the grocery store or fragrance sample at the department store. You're capturing attention and creating interest... then getting them over to your website for more. Besides being an environment that you own and control, another benefit to bringing them back to your website (or bakery) is that they might be inspired to consume your other content. They might also follow you on social media, contact you with a job, or even pay you for your products or services!
Share on social and/OR encourage others.
Social media is very important and very powerful. Traditionally, you use each social network to get people over to your website to consume the full content.
Remember how word-of-mouth marketing is the secret to every successful business? It's more important to make your bread (or content) so good that people will spread the word for you. If your content (or bread) suffers because you're metaphorically running around the Facebook Festival or Instagram Island trying to "sell" yourself... well, your bakery and the bread it produces won't have a long life.
When you do promote yourself on social media, recognize that each social platform has it's own culture. Stay connected with your audience and what resonates with them. They are social networks, not social markets. Build a relationship so that you can promote periodically—you don't want to "sell" 100% of the time. It's much better to give than to ask. As such, make sure you're sharing real value with what "bread" you put out on social media.
- Facebook needs to take a personal tone. Think of serving a story about the bread... perhaps paired with a photo or video.
- Twitter gets croutons. Make each tweet a delicious treat.
- Instagram needs media... obviously. It's up to you whether you go LIVE (making or delivering your bread), post a video (showing us behind-the-scenes), boomerang (eating the bread) or post a still photo (some #nomnom #foodporn).
I know this might sound like a no-brainer, but you want to aim for engagement on each social network... which is why you need to treat them uniquely. All of the social algorithms honor engagement. While "likes" and "comments" offer more reach (or exposure in the competitive newsfeed), aim for shares whenever possible. The biggest power of social media is the speed at which things can spread. Social networks have sharing built in... but make sure your website and email campaigns encourage sharing, too!
While the bread metaphor aligns with traditional inbound marketing, don't be afraid to examine the opposites. Perhaps you want to invest solely in Instagram, YouTube, or even email marketing (such as Gilt or Groupon). In these instances, you eradicate the need for multiple platforms! While you may see (or feel) bigger results by focusing, you do run a big risk by putting all of your eggs in one basket.
Hopefully this examination of traditional online marketing has given you some deeper strategy to have people eat up everything you're putting out in the world! Make sure you have really great content... then make it easy for yourself and others to share it.
How will you apply the bread metaphor? Comment below!
Tony Howell is a digital strategist dedicated to helping you design your future—creating offline success from your online presence.