Meet copywriter and content manager Anna Sandahl, who explains why most companies still fail in social media.

anna sandahl

Hi Anna! What do you do at Ode?

– I’m the COO and manage the creative work. I founded the agency last year and spend about 50% of my time writing content for websites, newsletters, press releases and social media, and 50% managing projects and sales. A couple of times a month I give seminars, courses and workshops on writing for the web, both for businesses and as external lecturer in digital media at universities.

What’s your background?

– I like exploring new fields, so I got a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Linnaeus University, a good way to learn how to do quick research and turn complex things into something more sexy and interesting. I worked as a news reporter and freelance magazine editor for more or less 10 years, delivering content to publishers like Aller Media and Egmont Publishing. I am TV-trained by SVT (Swedish national television) and radio-trained by SR (Swedish national radio).

I also studied sustainable tourism at Linköping University, language philosophy and Spanish at Lund University and media activism at Södertörn University. I co-produced a documentary about Kilimanjaro in Kenya with Engineers Without Borders and co-founded the publishing house Grönegatan Förlag, websites/magazines Spring and Matkärlek (now part of TheDietDoctor.com). The last five years I’ve been working as a copywriter and content manager.

What do you think is the main challenge for marketers today? 

– To cut through the noise and to actually convert new customers. Companies tend to be present on Facebook, Instagram or communicating through websites and newsletters, but they don’t see any actual results. It’s because it’s not enough to just publish stuff, you need to produce something of high quality that’s useful and therefore will go viral and drive sales.

– I understand that it’s hard to stay up-to-date with social media algorithms and updates, they’re constantly changing – but good content is pretty much timeless and will live on.

And the most common marketing or communication mistake that companies make?

– They may have switched from print to digital channels, but I still see a lot of companies doing traditional advertising and PR, which simply doesn’t work. It’s also quite expensive. New channels require new ways of communicating. You don’t reach your customers anymore – you need to focus on making them find you. This is what needs to be the focus of every post, text, image or video.

What do you do at work, when you think that no one sees you?

– I take pathetic selfies where I try to look professional with my laptop. I always fail.

Where do you find inspiration?

– I’m inspired by businesses that have the courage to make fun of themselves. Parody and satire will be great for marketing campaigns and messages in 2017. Situation-based storytelling like the posts of Humans Of New York, or long blog posts that go viral because they use great formatting and narratives, headlines and tonalities like Wait But Why, inspire me.

Paid advertising, sponsored posts, Google AdWords – or content marketing? This is a decision every marketer needs to make, every year. The best way to know how to spend your budget is simply to look at the return on investment over time. This is what it looks like.

When you Google ”Which online marketing strategy has the best ROI?”, you find a wide range of articles that say the return on investment of online marketing is too difficult to measure.

A lot of them also tell you that it’s almost impossible to compare the results of these methods.

But you can measure it. In digital communication, you can track every lead, every click, every subscription. Unlike traditional print ads, you can measure not only how many people have seen your banner, but how many have clicked it and bought something.

To see which marketing method is more effective, we only have to look at the statistics. 

Of course, it depends on what you’re selling and to whom. Maybe your customers are not on Facebook. Maybe they’re all about newsletters or Snapchat, and the time and budget needed for those channels may differ.

But we do know that only the messages that they find useful, viral, engaging or truly interesting will bring results. By posting useful content in your digital channels regularly – website articles, videos, photos, infographics, newsletters, blogs and social media posts – you will increase your sales. Statistics show that half of B2B buyers first consume 3 to 5 pieces of content before engaging with a salesperson. That is content marketing.

Here’s what the marketing statistics say

… and the sources, if you want further reading (inspired by this post by Curata and this post from CMI):

  • Website conversion rate is nearly six times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters

What costs more, then? Paid search or content marketing?

Just like INC puts it in this article, time and money are both investments:

”If ROI were a simple matter of money in, money out, it’d be much easier to estimate and compare. However, some strategies require more of a time investment than a money investment, which adds another difficult-to-measure variable to the process.”

Long-term results are also different from short-term results. We know that over the course of five years, a long-term investment will pay off far better than a short-term one.

However, you want immediate results. Depending on the size of your company, statistics show that

Content doesn’t come with a deadline, which paid search does. Paid advertising might work during that limited time, and it may be a good complement to boost a post, but it doesn’t build your brand continuously without good content.

As an example, I wrote a blog post for one of our clients in 2014. That blog post is still (today, January 2017) the one piece of content that drives the most traffic on their website!

Compared to paid ads, good content reaches your customers because:

  • You deserved their attention by being interesting, relevant and attractive
  • They chose you because you seemed different than the rest
  • Someone recommended you
  • They Googled a question, and you provided the most relevant information and answer to that question

It’s all about long-term branding!

You can pay for better ranking on Google, but the day you stop paying, the effect will stop. If you build your ranking with organic search instead, it will last. And once you’ve created a post that drives traffic, people will keep finding it, every day. Traffic drives traffic.

Building a ”content bank” is building your brand. The more high-quality content you have that is search engine optimized, the more traffic you will get, and the better you will rank. Which increases your traffic, which in its turn increases your ranking …

Therefore,

So why aren’t more companies doing this?

They are. But:

Being a content manager is almost like being a journalist or editor: you must know what’s interesting to your customers. Don’t tell them about your company or products all the time, give them something useful and interesting.

Like what? Well, you’ll find all those stories inside your business, it’s all there. It requires skills and experience to make them useful, but it’s worth it.

Business happy woman jumping yellow marketing
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