Baer Facts, Content Marketing

Don’t Ignore Content in Favor of Engagement

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In this edition of The Baer Facts, I talk with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget about whether you should be spending more time on content creation, or on engagement via social media. Evidently, Kyle heard a statement at an event recently that brands should be spending 90% of their time on engaging with customers, and 10% of their time on content creation. The example used was Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV, the long-running video blog that made him a business star. 

Content is the Enabling Agent for Engagement

I have a few reactions to this notion of 90/10 time spent on engagement, but my summation is that it’s both wrong, and dangerously poor advice.

First, while I like Gary and very much respect his abilities, he is the exception that proves the rule. Indeed, Gary devoted a majority of his time to answering emails, tweets, and forum posts, and used that 1:1 engagement to connect and build a following. Just because he did it, doesn’t mean you could or should do it. Gary has an insane work ethic and drive, routinely clocking 120 hour weeks when Wine Library TV was in full roar (and before he started a family). Is that what you want? Also, with the exception of a couple of part-time assistants, Gary created the content and handled 100% of the engagement himself. There was no “team”. Is that what you want? Is that even viable for your company? And lastly, to suggest that by answering emails round-the-clock like a post-modern John Henry (the folk hero, not the Red Sox owner) Gary was able to create his success, is a massive confusion of correlation and causation, and a slap in the face to the man’s innate talent to boot.

Second, Gary was able to engage BECAUSE of his content, not in spite of it. The more content you create – and the more time you spend building and polishing it – the more engagement opportunities you create for yourself, and for your brand. I’m no Gary Vaynerchuk, but why do you think I publish five blog posts a week at C&C, plus create a weekly Baer Facts video, plus send out a daily email newsletter, plus record a weekly Social Pros podcast, plus write books, publish ebooks, and give speeches all around the world? It’s because EVERY one of those pieces of content creates interactions between me and people who consume my work. I probably spend 70% of my non-consulting time on content creation, and 30% on engagement because without the former, the latter would shrivel up like the Jets’ quarterback situation.

Third, by focusing so much on engagement and comparatively little on content, you rob your organization of top-of-the-funnel attention. You know who engages with you? People who already know you. Content is useful not only to convince and convert people whom have already been introduced to your brand, but is also informational chum that brings new potential customers to your front door. Spending 90% of your time on engagement will diminish your Youtility, undercut your inbound marketing considerably, and ensures that you’ll spin your wheels having Twitter and email conversations with the same group of customers and fans ad infinitum.

I’m a big proponent of answering just about every question asked of a brand in social media, but if being responsive in that way is taking up 90% of your time, you need to rework your effort allocation.