Sunday April 26, 2015

How content works with social

Use social media to get the most out of your content marketing activity

To succeed in building market share these days, we need something more than the transaction-based, “I’ll stay till you sign on the dotted line” approach. (And yes folks – that’s a real-life quote from a kitchen salesman I crossed paths with in the 1990s).

Luckily, we have that something in content marketing. It’s new (relatively-speaking and in name at least), it’s “in” and it’s got a proven track record. That last coming from the fact that it’s been around in one form and definition or another, for donkey’s years.

Long ago and far away

Yesteryear’s “helpful hints” and free “how-to” guides were all hard-working content marketing initiatives long before content marketing was even a twinkle in the salesman’s eye. And key to their facility for building brands and sales, was that the successful ones were strategically positioned where their ideal, target audiences were hanging out.

Mrs Thompson's hairpiece ad

This 1886 ad for hairpieces didn’t appear in a health and beauty publication, but in a magazine devoted to cultural matters and covering science, philosophy and current events. The entrepreneur, Mrs C Thompson, knew her customers and understood that improving the mind did not exclude the idea of also wanting to look one’s best.

Mrs Thompson's hairpiece ad

She was also ROI-savvy (Return on Investment) – asking anyone who came to her via this ad to mention the publication, “The Chautauquan.”

Back in Mrs Thompson’s day, communication channels were confined to point-of-sale, print and word of mouth. Today the channels available for disseminating information are multiple and ever-expanding but that “being where your audience is” thing still stands. And that’s why content marketers (or publishers – and if you have a blog that’s what you are!), need to keep social media in mind.

Get content and social working together

It’s not about choosing either content marketing or social media marketing, but about understanding the natural flow and relationship between the two. That deadline-driven hit of the “publish” button does not mark the end of content creation but rather signals the start of a new phase – getting it seen, read and acted upon.

When you promote your content on the social platforms that you’ve identified work best for you, you’re doing several things:

1) Targeting

Targeting specific and distinct audience groups; always keeping in mind that different platforms favour different approaches, LinkedIn is more formal in tone, while you can adopt a more irreverent tone on your Facebook Page.

2) Amplifying

Amplifying your created and curated content. It’s word-of-mouth turbo-charged in a way Mrs Thompson could never have dreamt of.

3) Seeking interaction & engagement

Analysis can provide you with statistics that show your content’s reach but getting people sharing and talking is what you’re really after.

4) Listening

Listening to your audience: finding out what engages them – what gets them commenting and sharing, and what more you can do to serve them. Then adapting and fine-tuning the content you create and curate from that.

Although the term “content marketing” is a business/marketing department construct, what it refers to – content (from memes and quizzes to expert analysis) – is what drives social media activity.

Of course you need relevant, timely, well-thought through and ‘good,’ content to keep your audiences attracted, engaged and willing to be persuaded. But how you market that content via social media is also vital.

How to promote your content

As you don’t want that piece of content you’ve slaved over to sink without trace, steer away from the “so what?” tweet or post:

“Read my latest blog post on #contentmarketing…”

And make your tweet, Google Plus or Facebook post one which can be a starting point for a conversation around your post. Appeal to the reader’s self interest:

“Here’s a baker’s dozen of #copywriting tips to super-charge your content straight away!…”

Or ask a question:

“Where do you go to get your best creative #contentmarketing ideas? We talked to three entrepreneurs, here’s what they said:…”

Remember, how you present or “frame” something is really important. It sets expectations; for more on this, read my blog post on overcoming the expectation/experience gap here.

Unexpected benefits

Everything and yet, very little, has changed since Mrs Thompson’s day.

Content marketing has though, by its very nature and the technological landscape it operates in, yielded some serendipitous benefits and pleasures.

Read & forget? Or, share & remember?

I get excited when I come across something that I identify strongly with or that I feel can help friends and colleagues in their businesses. Instead of reading and inevitably forgetting, or reading and filing away under “this could come in handy one day,” with say, Evernote. When I share or reference content socially, it sticks with me and I can recall it that much easier for further inspiration at some later date.

So, happy creating, curating and sharing!

And do let me know any unexpected bonuses you’ve come across in your social media marketing.

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