jeff gibbard

Jeff Gibbard is a social media and content marketing strategist who founded True Voice Media, which helps clients redesign their businesses from the inside out. We recently chatted with Jeff about current trends in digital marketing, and also learned a few tips about how a site can leverage content to improve
its web presence.

Tell us a bit about your background. Why did you decide to start a digital marketing agency?

Upon graduating with my MBA in 2008, I saw a huge opportunity to become a leader in the new world of digital marketing that included social media. I knew that since everything was brand new, if I worked harder than anyone else and committed myself to the craft, I could be among the best.

If someone were to say to you, “I don’t think it’s cost-effective to pay someone else to handle my company’s social media,” how would you respond?

We actually agree with that. In general, we don’t advise clients to outsource their voice. Social media management can be handled cost-effectively by an outside agency, but our best recommendation is to keep it in-house. Instead, companies should leverage outside agencies for help creating incredible content, running advertising campaigns, and reviewing the analytics.

What’s the difference between a social media strategy and a social business strategy?

To us, it’s honestly just semantics. Often what people mean when they say “social media strategy” is “social media marketing strategy,” which is really just the marketing element of a social business strategy.

Social media are merely tools. When a strategy is designed to use social media in service of a business objective, it’s essentially social business strategy.

What do many social media marketers tend to do wrong?

I think there is an overemphasis on “engagement.” I’m not saying engagement is not important, but I do think that people overestimate the impact of engagement on actual business objectives – and it puts all social media practitioners in a tough spot. Because engagement as it relates to ROI is so difficult to measure, social media marketers do themselves and their peers a disservice by focusing on engagement and vanity metrics.

At the end of the day, clients want to see results – and likes won’t cut it. We need our industry to get a seat at the table, and the only way we’ll do that is by being honest about what we can or cannot impact, and with what measurable activities.

Name the single-most underutilized social media platform, technique, or tactic in business today.

Without question, the single most underutilized social media technique or tactic is scaling one-to-one engagement. When you actually care about each individual person and engage with them as a human being, the results are infinitely higher than trying to crack the one-to-many puzzle. Social opens things up, gives people access, and encourages collaboration; but when it’s shoved into the advertising box, it falters quickly.

Other than being “original,” what does digital content have to do or be in order to be effective from a marketing standpoint?

There’s a lot of research around psychological triggers that encourage sharing or action; but in order to be effective, the starting point is to be goal-driven. If you don’t know what the purpose of your content is, how can it be successful? You need a clear objective in order to accomplish it. The clearest way to choose the direction of your content is to focus on who the content is for and build it for them.

Talk about video content for a moment. Is it appropriate for every type of business? Will it soon replace written content in the digital marketing space?

Video content is undeniably important, but it will unlikely replace written communication entirely. In fact, if it does, it would be a sad day for humanity.

There are several reasons video is important and should be seriously considered for a variety of uses. For one, it is highly engaging since it is a more passive form of media consumption that also allows for rapid transmission of information. Another reason is that each of the popular social networks now either feature video content or heavily promote it (see Facebook’s favoritism in the newsfeed for Facebook Live video). Things appear to be trending in the direction of video; especially as the technology catches up both in resolution and bandwidth, but also as virtual and augmented reality begin to become more popular.

What do you foresee for the future of digital marketing?

It’s really anyone’s guess at this point, especially when you consider how much has changed in about a decade. At the same time, people have remained fundamentally the same for thousands of years. The same motivations drive us, and our technology adoption curves are typically predictable (though moving more quickly).

If I had to look into the future, I’d say digital marketing spend will continue to overtake traditional marketing and advertising; and the vast majority of our media consumption will become digital, leading to a constant land grab for attention. Networks will rise, networks will fall, and something will come out of nowhere and shift things in unexpected ways. We will still likely use email and search for information on search engines; but beyond that, I suggest you just buckle up and enjoy the ride.

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