...because all roads lead back to content.
Without content on Facebook, you have this:
Without content on Twitter, you have this:
Blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, Slideshare, Tumblr, etc all are merely content holders. Without content, you have tools. Without content, nobody has a compelling reason to click the follow/like button, let alone get interested in your product. Yes, you can listen and have conversations, but when someone decides to check you out...there is no reason for them to engage.
In my favorite analogy, the sad, empty wineglass at the top of this post represents a container without content and the happy, full wineglass represents content. In the same analogy, you want to fill that wineglass with something great, because bad wine will not bring anyone coming back for a refill.
What about PR? Advertising? Search marketing? Influencer marketing?
All of these roads lead back to an even stronger case for great, engaging content. You get good press? Great! What makes the person reading the article want to engage? You just paid for lots of advertising? What is that compelling thing that drives them to click? Where do they go? What do they see? Are you engaging anyone? And any good SEO expert will tell you that content that appeals to human beings will help you with your search results.
Truthfully, "content" is such a dry, bad word for such an essential, fantastic, nuanced thing. And it's often bundled together with the social media tools as something that just happens. Companies outsource it like it doesn't matter. It's an afterthought. An annoyance.
"But good content takes time! And it's expensive!" they might cry.
Yes, but not more expensive than the ads companies buy to try and capture attention. Think about it this way:
Company A hires amazing content people at a rate of $10,000 month. This content, underscored with a small amount of advertising (sponsored posts, etc) starts to gather attention. A small increase in followers at first, but then it fans out. Soon the company has 10x the followers and can cut back on their advertising altogether and continues to get traction from the great content it's produced over time.
Here is a real-life example: Just For Laughs Gags on YouTube. Disclosure: my boyfriend runs their YouTube channel. They've actually never bought advertising, but they have amazing content. All day, Carlos picks the best of their content and makes sure it responds to the needs of their audience. They have over 3 million followers and get an average of around 1 million views per video. This didn't happen overnight, but it was the focus on great content and making sure that content gets in front of the right audience that makes them THE most popular comedy channel on YouTube. In the world.
A more attainable example is one of their content partners, Roman Atwood Pranks who I've written about before. This small team (Roman and his buddy Dennis) work hard to please their audience and have built it from zero with a very low-budget. No advertising, just plain content that people love. They have over 1 million followers and get an average of 750,000 views per episode. Some of their episodes are seen by nearly 14 million people!
So what happens when you don't focus on content?
Company B doesn't really have the time or patience to build an audience, but wants to get their new fancy video in front of as many people as possible. So they purchase $100,000 worth of ads (which guarantees around 1 Million views). Of those views, a teensy percentage sign up to follow their channel because they haven't created anything really worth following. Their content is sporadic and self-promotional. So six months later, when they need to run another campaign, they have to throw another $100,000 worth of ads to get it seen.
You recognize the companies who do this when you see this (low subscribers with high views):
(IF each person saw a video only once, Garnier Canada gets a 0.07% conversion on their ads, L'Oreal Paris gets 0.03% conversion)
Just For Laughs
...on a zero dollar ad spend (those subscribers are watching multiple videos as videos are posted daily at JFLgags and weekly for Roman, so the conversion is probably pretty high). Every time the channels with high subscribers upload a video, they get access to millions of people who have subscribed to their updates. Thousands of those people share the videos so they have access to even more.
So what is more expensive then? Great content, which may cost a premium to make (but doesn't always have to, but it does take many hours to get it right), but saves you lots of money in the long run? Or big ad buys that you have to purchase over and over again. Take a look at Garnier Canada's videos that don't have advertising behind them (hint for those who don't want to click. Less than 300 views.) to understand how little engagement they get from ad buys.
Great content can build relationships and real engagement that is lasting and is way more likely to get your potential customer from AWARE to ENGAGED to even EVANGELIZED (see the social engagement ladder here). It's worth the investment. In fact, you can't ignore it. All roads lead you there.