Sunday, June 14, 2009

Will Premium Content Cross the Last Mile?

The last mile in social media has proven to be a long one.

Several weeks back I published a blog post entitled the Three Phases of Social Media Maturation that generated significant interest. It attracted more than 2,000 readers in a week with nearly 25 re-tweets and a set of excellent comments.

The post overviewed a set of lessons learned we’ve picked up at Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) in the execution of social media campaigns on behalf of global leaders like Microsoft, British Telecom (BT), BearingPoint and Sun Microsystems, as well as emerging growth companies such as GovDelivery and Epok.

The initial two phases focus on defining program goals, establishing an editorial content strategy, publishing on a consistent schedule, and promoting in targeted social networks and online communities. When successful, the result is the attraction of a loyal, thriving and expanding community of readers and followers.

The third phase – what a client of ours at Microsoft referred to as the last mile – involves tapping this community of followers to identify business leads and opportunities. Of course, the tactics employed must remain consistent with the tenets of appropriate social network participation. This means no spamming or shameless self promotion. Rather, the mission is to motivate the right targets to raise their hand and express the desire for a more meaningful business dialogue.

It’s during the last mile that the return on investment (ROI) of a social media campaign becomes real and measurable. This is why the frustration meter at Strategic is on the rise. We’ve had success in enterprise sales support and, when coupled with competitive intelligence gathering, we are set to deliver on deal capture programs for multi-million dollar procurements a client may be pursuing.

Yet, the area of straight lead generation remains a work in progress. We’ve employed a number of approaches -- including an e-book offer, survey requests and wiki collaboration -- with marginal return. Perhaps the give-away hasn’t been compelling? Or the survey participation required too much time? We are still thinking this through.

We are also now evaluating how to effectively incorporate premium content into the editorial strategy of our social media campaigns. Tech blog extraordinaire GigaOm has given us a model to emulate. Their recent introduction of a $79 a year subscription service called GigaOm Pro creates a potentially lucrative new revenue source, without negatively impacting the loyalty of the blog’s readership base.

For Strategic’s clients, we do not anticipate publishing premium content via our social media efforts for direct revenue generation. Rather, the offer of high-value case studies, white papers, customer interviews, etc could be the tactic that helps us cross that last mile.

1 comment:

Tim Lloyd said...

Interesting post - have you had your content independently assessed or produced?
I have found that sometimes what you think the audience may be willing to read, or the information you think they may be seeking, can differ from what is most wanted.