How can I create the impression of a regularly changing online presence when I have no time?

You need a Plan!

When we take on new Online Marketing clients it’s a very common occurrence to hear that the businesses haven’t had the time to maintain a sufficiently interesting and unique presence online simply due to having too much day-to-day work to do. Obviously, this is one way an agency can help.

It’s not uncommon for clients to have tried to solve this in one or all of the following ways, each of which has a downside.

1)           They delegate the task to an office junior. This tends to create an obvious knowledge gap in content as they won’t have the experience of seasoned professionals in the office nor the expertise of an agency regarding how to research to appear more knowledgeable quickly. This method does have the advantage that the opportunity cost is reduced but if people are learning on the job, it still adds up to a large ongoing cost and inefficiency.

2)           Delegating a smaller task to every staff member who is asked to post something online on one of the various social channels monthly or weekly. This has the advantage of increasing the average skill and knowledge ratio but poses two major issues. Firstly it gives every employee an opportunity, potentially, to mess about on Social Channels when they should be doing the day job – as it’s hard to spot the difference! Secondly, with more experienced and costly staff doing a bit, the costs can really rack up even though the strategy is still unfocused and unplanned. I won’t name names but we worked with one company using this approach and allowing 250+ staff half an hour a week to dabble socially on the companies behalf. That adds up to circa 250 x £75 x 2 = £37,500 in lost billable hours at even a modest rate card. They could have commissioned a better quality job from an external agency for probably 10% of this cost per month, maybe less.

3)           They do nothing and don’t update any aspect of the website or news/blog areas from one month to the next. Plainly this won’t encourage the search engines to improve your business’s status in the rankings as without changes it’s very unlikely you will be that topical and on-trend.

4)           Some decent content is created and posted to one Social Channel, say, Facebook or Twitter depending on the target audience. The same content is then duplicated down every other social channel as an almost exact copy. This is a very common approach and again it won’t win points out of the search engines as even if they can’t read all the content on these sites (which don’t tend to collaborate that much), they are adept at noticing how quickly browsers jump back when they find something that doesn’t interest them. And why would your clients, prospects, or potential employees find it appealing to keep coming across the same repeated content?

5)           Occasionally we see companies being lazy or misguided in pumping out the same old same old boring information about client wins, also repeated down every channel.

The solution to these problems is a lot easier than it may seem.

Firstly, you probably need fewer new things happening than you might imagine. For most businesses, one new content piece per channel per month is normally OK, so this translates into just one bit of new content each week.

If you simply must rehash some old news, it doesn’t take that long to rewrite it and add a bit of new sparkle or a slightly different angle so that each channel does in fact say something slightly different.

If you remember that even the most dedicated of supporters won’t want to only consume information about your business, they do have an outside life as well. This means it’s OK to talk about a wider range of topics than just your products and client wins. It’s generally not great unless this IS your business, to discuss politics, religion, or gender topics but why not make a comment about, say, the football or Royal Jubilee. And in any industry, there will be peripheral stories you can mention about say the history of technology, art, design etc. It all helps add variety.

We apply this latter approach a lot with our clients – leaving their experts to talk very occasionally about highly detailed technical topics they understand best and around this we can create padding with general interest stories but those that are still on-brand. These latter stories will often mention names and hence get followed by big businesses. It all adds up to good teamwork.

The final part of the jigsaw that solves this particular challenge is to develop an advanced content plan or calendar covering the year ahead. By giving advance thought and preparing ahead for things like Christmas, Easter, Bonfire Night it’s possible to take the stress out of managing online content and ensure you are never caught unawares with a last-minute panic. Once a plan like this is in place, mostly with generic content, it’s an easy matter to slot in your very specific expert stories into the mix to ensure you have a strategy that’s timely and more than sufficient, and yet doesn’t that much in terms of budget (if you seek help) or time. And you can save even more time by reenvisaging seasonal pieces each year with updates – far better than just republishing last year’s news with a new date stamp – Google won’t be fooled and neither will your prospective customers!