It used to be that creatives made content, revised it, and released it into the wild. A marketing team might help promote it if you were lucky. Then it became incumbent on creatives to start promoting our work on our social media, and now—should we have a blog/website of our own—we need to also be skilled in SEO optimization, creating conversions, and analyzing metrics.
If you're thinking, "Ew, gross," I get it. That’s not what most of us want to focus on.
I’ve found it helpful to think of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as more of a matchmaker or dating app. Digital-marketing tools are there to help us attract an audience who is a good fit, plain and simple.
Think of "key words," in particular, as breadcrumbs to you.
When we supply “key words” (the words we anticipate people might type into their search bar to find content like ours), we leave a trail of breadcrumbs for our potential audience to find us and get to know us better. It’s like posting a profile on a dating app. You can have the most appealing profile in the world but who cares if no one can see it—or if it’s only viewed by people who already know us? The majority of us want more like-minded people to know we're out here and available for mingling (content-wise, obviously). If we didn't want to be noticed, we wouldn't make our work public.
It's on us to stay genuine and not try to “game the system.”
I think where a lot of creatives, including myself, get turned off is by the idea of establishing marketing tools ahead of the actual content we create. If you’re thinking about which engaging key words to use, or optimizing titles, more than you are thinking about the ideas you want to express, game over. Back to the dating-app metaphor: You don’t want to spend more time anticipating what potential suitors might want in a date at the expense of expressing who you really are. Digital marketing brings you a bigger pool of suitors who already connect with you on at least some level.
Metrics are there to help us, not insult us.
Lastly, metrics, like a good matchmaker, keep it real. Numbers don’t lie, and it’s important to know if people are visiting your site and reading your stories (also, are they skimming for 10 seconds and moving on, or spending several minutes)? In the dating-app metaphor, wouldn’t you want to know if people weren’t reaching out to you after checking out your profile for some small reason? What if you could easily fix it; wouldn't you want to make some adjustments and try again? The same is true with metrics; they give us a chance to figure out how we’re going wrong in finding potential readers/viewers so we can make our breadcrumbs more relevant and enticing.
We creatives don’t have to fall in love with digital marketing anymore than we'd be expected to fall in love with the matchmaker. We can be willing to experiment with it, learn from it, and possibly even appreciate its value.
If you like this, check out "3 Questions to Ask Before Seeking Publicity for Your Project"
Michelle Cove is a journalist, filmmaker, author, and founder of the nonprofit MEDIAGIRLS. She uses storytelling and media to encourage, challenge, empower and inspire others and is seeking a job that allows her to put these skills to use; check out her resume if you may know the right fit. Michelle's favorite stories involve resilience, a blend of soft humility and sharp humor, and a belief that the universe is conspiring to help us all grow. Find her at LinkedIn.
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