The pub is not a channel .

31421  social stat

Over the past week a few of my specialist search and social friends have been talking non-stop about first click analysis and that social is not a channel. As someone who mainly focuses on platform and conversion I have tended to bundle social in with natural search, pay per click and email etc. however, the mists are now clearing and suddenly I understand why social is not a channel.  

It's for the same reason that the pub is not a channel, or the school gate (for those that do the drop off) or the gym or anywhere that you meet your friends, shoot the breeze, chat about the weather and admire one another's personal achievements, laugh at each other's epic fails and praise or punish the things that you've bought and done. These places are not channels but they are where life happens, decisions are made and ideas are spawned.  

You can probably see where I'm going with this now but to make the point, social media is like all of these places. It's where society now meets and shows off, asks and imparts wisdom or sympathises, shares life's good bits and bad bits and asks for help.  

Just like the physical places where we meet, social does offer advertising spots, like the billboards near the school gates or the posters in the pub. However, social has the benefit of knowing who is in the pub, what they like, their age, demographic and geographical location and so the ads that can be placed can be better, be optimised, speak to the viewer in a way that they understand. Similarly, the websites that the viewer then visits can also be personalised for the customer. However, this is the channel side of things and my opening point was that social is not a channel - well, just to annoy my social friends, it still sort of is, however, it's not all that is.  

I saw some really interesting stats on Black Friday recently showing that social only contributed 1% of conversion referrals to top US websites. However, step back from this and look at first click and suddenly social is where the buzz for Black Friday started two weeks prior and the brands that tapped into this, providing good social content, are the ones that benefited most come this actual annual shopping event.  

This is the essence of good social - fuelling the conversations 'in the pub' before the event and not trying to just directly refer traffic at the time. So the next time you're in your planning stages and wondering where social might fit, go a month ahead of your timeline and look at what you can do to start creating a buzz beforehand - a buzz that can fuel the jokes in the office, the water cooler moments and the banter in the pub.

Image courtesy of Immediate Future


Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Nick Towers
Nick Towers
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
Co-Founder, CEO and self-confessed massive geek, Nick has been in digital since graduating from law and moving into technology many years ago. Through a combination of building awesome client relationships, crafting a formidable team of digital experts and consistently delivering results for our clients Nick has taken Sagittarius from being a successful small agency to the global digital customer experience consultancy and Sitecore powerhouse that it is today.
Nick Towers

Nick Towers

10 Nov 2014 - 5 minute read
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