The Local Business and Government Marketing Dilemma — Top Eight Strategies Emerging Into the Post-COVID era 2021
As we learned in the Social Dilemma, a Netflix production nearly everyone in America may have found during the COVID lockdowns, our economy is most definitely an “attention economy” at this time. Online attention, to be clear — we are not yet rebounding offline. Time spent consuming digital media is the business goal of social media — to watch videos and their ads, to endlessly chat, vlog and game (seeing ads), to swipe, browse, tag, share multi-media carefully curated by humans and algorithms to maintain and influence attention, with space for advertising. You personally, online, are the product as your attention is captured, endlessly generating personal consumer behavior data.
As we’ve known but which became crystal clear this past year, social platforms online are in fact publishers — as they curate, craft, select, unselect, create, delete, promote media to target audiences, as a multi-billion dollar business model. Some “participate” more than others, supporting or suppressing content, paid or not. Yes, you may freely use the platform for your own communications purposes — but it’s not a garden walled from publisher-owner influence or governance, at all. Mobile phones and devices also are publisher tools — curating and presenting content informed by your physical activities — though this is becoming more difficult with crackdowns on mobile identification for personal privacy purposes.
What difference does this make to your business? Particularly the B2B, B2G, online B2C and nonprofit communities? (Setting aside brick-and-mortar retail for a while more).
Control Your Publishing Power
In short, this year, your own publishing power needs attention, to your own audience for attention to you. The publishing terms, pricing and business audience access are entirely out of your control, or simply not cost-effective as for smaller and more local businesses, when using 3rd-party publishers. What’s also dangerously out of control, is the “social media liability risk” that’s emerged in this recent era of online partisan advocacy and tribal dialog — tinder that’s easily lit and can’t easily be extinguished. Particularly within the legacy, giant social and broadcast media channels including Twitter, Facebook/Instagram, YouTube (Google), most cable news. It’s even intruding into LinkedIn (Microsoft) and Pinterest — but these may survive as the more objective publishers on digital social media and data platforms. Reddit simply can’t be messed with, proceed there always with due caution and transparent business interests (but it is time to seriously give it a look if you haven’t — including ad subject alignment in groups or “subreddits”).
To get the attention of your target audience, you must produce attention-maintaining content, and put it in the hands of your attention-consuming audience. Without them feeling like a “product”, but as a member, partner, friend, contributor, or stakeholder. A true customer. Note this is a focus on “marketing”, i.e. data-driven targeting and generation of leads and sales (for products, services, specific campaigns), vs. “PR”, which is more focused on brand, image and relationship presence (for the company, lines of business) that may be needed to define and inform the overall business strategy.
This content, however, should be published as possible on your terms, within your budget, using and generating your own data, stories, experiences — separated from partisan, tribal community dialog, influence, 3rd-party control and complaint. Nobody wants a bad Yelp or Google review, negative social comments or bad Karma — there’s little recourse or accountability at all for this kind of feedback, and the impact can be dire. Good reviews, comments, likes, shares, etc. are all indeed helpful and important online buyer signals — so be proactive about getting these, rewarding your audience with your best content as they engage.
How can this be done, what is the spending plan for local/regional business and nonprofit digital marketing in the post-COVID era emerging through 2021? Following is a prioritized list of the top 8 strategies that require attention, focus and investment — this is a summary, more detail and tactics are available from the Northern Virginia digital marketing experts at KME.digital.
Note: This guidance, while focused on digital marketing and PR strategies for business — is valid also for public sector and government digital engagement with citizens and constituents. While government Agencies aren’t seeking revenue from sales, they are seeking leads and visibility to G2C digital engagement (which may be their mission), information-sharing, outreach and public discourse. Therefore, Agencies will find use from these strategies as well — organized around a “Digital Customer Engagement Strategy and Playbook” — something I’ve developed within the government that must be continually updated during these times.
Read the details here, about:
- Online Search
- Email and Inbound Marketing
- Content Placements; Native Advertising
- LinkedIn and Professional Networking
- Brand Refresh