According to Clara Shih, CEO of social marketing firm Hearsay Social, the biggest challenge facing social marketers is content.
For the last six months, her company has been working to ease that pressure and is today rolling out its Context Exchange, which features articles from Thomson Reuters, Tribune Media Services and Demand Media that brands can pull from and post to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. “The demand is increasing for brands to post great content, but it’s still a painful and tedious process to get that content,” said Shih.
Hearsay crawls its content partners’ sites for keywords and lets clients schedule posts, so a brand like 24 Hour Fitness could decide it wants to post a series of cycling-related articles in the week leading up to the Tour de France. The health-club chain could search the content exchange for “cycling,” surface articles from Demand Media’s Livestrong.com and schedule when each post should run that week.
There’s no cap on how far into the future a brand could schedule posts, said Shih, but she doesn’t expect many brands start queuing posts a year ahead of time. The product was inspired by iTunes playlists with the idea that brands can queue content so their posts aren’t just reactionary, Shih said.
In addition to surfacing relevant posts, Hearsay’s crawlers can check through an article’s content to make sure that it complies with any regulatory restrictions a financial services or health brand face or if a brand just doesn’t want to promote content containing certain words such as profanities. Brands can also find articles according to their locale, date or topic.
By default the article’s headline, intro text and corresponding image will post to Facebook, but brands have the option to edit the post. The content providers aren’t being monetarily compensated for making their content available on the exchange. Shih said the value for them is the increased distribution of their content and the analytics associated with that reach, such as likes, comments and shares.
Shih said the shared content is more credible than an ad, positioning brands as thought leaders. The idea is that if someone like Northern Mutual posts a lot of relevant financial services-related articles, consumers will come to trust the brand’s authority on the subject and be more likely to turn to them when in need of financial advice.