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To no one’s surprise, content and social media are two of the fastest growing focuses in digital marketing today. Within these are niches, such as analytical data, front-end web development, blogging, and so on.

In the time that I’ve been an online writer, I’ve come to accept certain caveats of the industry, maxims, and tidbits of advice I believe everyone (business owners, new marketers, etc.) should be aware of.

Here they are:

1. Numbers Aren’t Everything

When I first began to blog on a personal level, I felt every view, click, link, and Tweet was the greatest thing in the world. This is still true, mostly, though there’s a lot more to it than how many people follow your business on Twitter or like your Instagram photos.

On the non-numerical side of things, the overall aesthetic of your online assets is just as important as numbers. What does that mean? Well, it is almost like how certain people can look suave in a $200 suit while others can’t even pull off one worth $2,000.

Numbers are deceiving

Though I may never capture all the clicks in the world, I still take pride in how my blog (and blogs I write for) look and feel, and are received by readers who actually care.

2. Quality Trumps Quantity

As a blogger and content crafter, I frequently encounter the classic “Quality vs. Quantity” question. I’ve shared my input before, as has just about every other marketer on every marketing blog out there. But what you need to know is short and sweet:

No one will read the world’s longest novel if it’s full of crap content; even fewer will read the world’s shortest novel if it’s full of mediocre content.

What I’m getting at is that it all boils down to how well you put together your posts, Facebook statuses, Tweets, landing pages, and other content. The shorter the piece, the more attractive it is to certain readers. You’re never going to capture everyone’s attention with the same blog post, though, which is why it is important to mix it up and give length and effort to the topics that deserve it.

3. Professional Shoplifting is “OK”

Writers are thieves.

We steal bits of dialogue we hear on the street, run with ideas we see on other sites and try to do them better, and do everything we can to use inspirational input as fuel to output better content.

Content Shoplifting

It is really easy to see “shoplifting” in action when you visit a major news site, read the latest article on Google Panda, and find a repurposed (possibly worse) article on a competing website. There is nothing ethically wrong with writing on topics people want to read about as long as the content is original and any “borrowed” information is linked back to the original source.

4. Social Media Is Hard

At least, this is true for small businesses with admins who have no clue what they are doing.

The thing about social media is that no one has to like or follow your pages — and if they do, they don’t ever have to tune into your messages. In fact, why should you expect a real person to willingly choose product promotions from an impersonal brand over status updates from actual friends and family members?

You can’t expect this from your customers. Instead, you have to convince potential followers that the content you publish is informative, entertaining and worth its place on a newsfeed. Inexperienced marketers (or interns, assistants, etc.) responsible for a company’s Facebook page might go into it expecting 1,000 likes and shares a day only to be shocked at how challenging it is to gain traction.

Patience pays off on social media, as does research, awesome writing, and a touch of creativity.

5. You Can’t Do Everything

When I go into a small businesses and see a sign that says, “Follow us on Facebook! Google Plus Us! We are on LinkedIn! Find us on Twitter! Connect on Instagram, Pinterest, our blog, YouTube, website, Tumblr, and everywhere!” I get annoyed.

Social Media Buttons

Companies that don’t yet understand etiquette in a social world are quickly demonized — or worse, ignored.

Brands should start slow with no more than two platforms that already captivate their target audience. Do you own a crafts store? Pinterest and Instagram are obvious go-tos. Are you a concrete contractor? A YouTube channel for short films is not recommended.

Pick your battleground wisely, and remember that it is a war zone out there where you must constantly fight for users’ attention.

6. There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Answer

Social media and content marketing frequently evolve. People are coming up with new tools, platforms are becoming more interconnected, and on and on. It is unclear how things will be in a year’s time since consumer habits and technology change at such a rapid pace.

One important thing to always remember is: don’t let the self-proclaimed experts fool you.

The best advice is to take recommendations and the things you read with a grain of salt. Some people definitely know what they’re talking about, others don’t. When it comes to social media and content, do what you are most comfortable with as long as it shows a modicum of results.

7. Online Marketing Is Indispensable

If you are not currently marketing your business online, you should be. Why? Because your customers are all over the web (and on mobile).

People shop online, chat with friends, share new products they bought on Facebook, compare prices, look up directions and hours of your place of business, and so on. You need to develop solid digital assets because that is what consumers expect.

It does not matter if you run a bakery, a call center, marathons, or whatever — social-content marketing is the only way to network in the digital age.

Final Thoughts

Before wrapping up this post, here is an important cautionary warning:

Overdoing it is almost worse than not doing it at all.

Over-aggressive sales and messaging is the quickest way to lose customer faith and followers. You will also burn through money and patience, but that’s a conversation for another day.

About the author: Brennan Girdler is the Content Writer and Editor for Chic Marketing by Grammar Chic, Inc. Follow him on Twitter @ChicMarketingGC and find his thoughts on digital marketing here.

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