Social media and content marketing are coming of age and growing in synergy. Companies are finally taking these practices seriously and recognize that they both fit into a comprehensive marketing plan, requiring them to refine their activities to prevent “random acts of marketing.”

Content Marketing Strategy and Social Media for Businesses

Content_Marketing_Social_MediaThere are currently a lot of marketing terms being bandied about: social media marketing, in-bound marketing, content marketing, brand advocacy programs and out-bound marketing. Generally, these words have been used to create thought-provoking communities that focus on these specific, yet similar topics. Regardless, none of these marketing tactics can be accomplished without content – the fuel and base. Eventually, content is synonymous with all things marketing.

Content, however, is but half of the equation. Social media is the tool that illuminates the content being produced. It is critical for brands and companies to adopt the mindset of becoming publishers. Companies are now able to create their own channels and build their intended audience/s with social media. They are no longer dependent on the traditional lines of communication: TV, newspapers, magazines and radio. Creating a social media channel is free, allowing for two-way interaction with fans/followers and posting content is now easier than ever. To do this right, you must “think like a marketer and act like a publisher.”

“With mobile technology, Google, the Web and social media, brands no longer control their marketing. The real marketing force is the consumers who are out there talking about your products and services, turning them into brand advocates,” said Nate Riggs, recognized marketing specialist in content marketing and social media business strategies. But it’s still easy for them to forget you and your content without constant reminders. “Content needs to be telling the right stories, keeping them engaged by being compelling, personal, timely and relevant. How many folks do you think would read the New York Times if they only published four news articles per year?”

Keys to Success for Content Marketing and Social Media

Own your marketing space online. If you’re not marketing your own social media channels, it can turn into a black hole that consumes your resources and time while hindering your organic ranking potential. Use social media to direct your audience to all the channels you feature. They might only be on Facebook and are not aware of your stellar SlideShare account. If you don’t promote the channels you have and the work you put into them, your content is going to have limited success. And if traction is not eventually built on all your channels, refrain from using the ones with no audience.

Streamline your marketing processes. One of the best practices you can pursue in your efforts to socially engage with customers is by creating processes that are done by habit. As Nate explains, “That’s where I think the next set of best practices is going to come, how organizations are actually building it into the cultural habits of the organization so that it becomes automatic.” If your C-Level management needs to approve content, create a system where they can do it quickly. Publishing or customer experience teams need to be streamlined so that they can create, monitor and respond without hesitation. Once content creation, approvals and engagement are habits, the process becomes automated.

Get everybody on board with the plan. To formulate a content marketing strategy along with social media, “You need everybody in the organization to buy into the plan rather than having a bunch of rogue departments. It has to be a unified front,” says Nate. “My best advice, particularly to CEOs/CMOs, is if you’re feeling pressure to get into content and social media marketing, the first thing you should do is start using social media on your own. Go out and find three or four of your other friends that are CEOs or executives—follow them on Twitter and just pay attention to what they’re doing. It will help you get familiar with the tools and will provide context around the conversations that you’re going to have. The stressing point is that you can’t do it for your business if you can’t do it on your own.”

Taking Action

As the scope of content marketing has expanded, so has the need for additional content. Instead of generating just one to three campaigns a year, companies need to have an ongoing, consistent stream of fresh content that is pushed out to multiple social media channels. But remember, quality content always trumps quantity. To create consistent high-level content, you may need to adjust your existing marketing strategy to include the processes and people necessary to support sufficient quality content production.

Once your content is out there, you need to be able to measure results. Regardless of the social media platform/s you use to measure your B2C or B2B marketing strategy, the metrics gathered need to be tied to your objectives or goals. Ultimately, leads are what matter to the CMO, but it is important to figure out who your target audience and market is composed of before content production can begin. Only by providing content they find interesting/informative, can you expect people to fill out your lead forms.

To begin, look at your website/social media traffic to define your target audience:

  • Who’s sharing your content and with whom are they sharing it?
  • Who’s engaging with you?
  • What types of comments are people leaving (questions/complaints/praise)?
  • How do they behave/lifestyle?
  • What do they search for?
  • What sites do they visit and for how much time are they on the sites?

With your audience and market defined, turn to your editorial calendar and production capacity:

  • What type of media formats should be created for the week/month/year?
  • When will they be published?
  • To what channels will they be published?
  • Who will be contributing to each broadcast?
  • At what rate are you able to consistently produce content?
  • Are you going to create the content internally or externally?

Once your calendar and capacity are defined, produced and published, look at the people who have become leads:

  • Are they the target audience that you expected?
  • Do you need to realign your goals with the observed results?
  • Is your primary objective being accomplished with the given Key Performance Indicators?
  • Is the content that’s being posted speaking to your target audience’s lifestyle?

Pushing out content on why your products/services should be bought will not generate substantial leads; a hard sell is a turnoff. Address the needs of your target audience and provide information that contributes to their daily lives and builds a relationship of trust.

Join the Conversation:

  • How do you maintain integrity between your social media and content marketing strategies?
  • What KPIs do you have in place to measure the impact of each of your social channels?
  • What types of content generate the most engagement/interaction/leads from your target market?
This article highlights selected excerpts from CMX’s interview with Nate Riggs, marketing strategist, and Martin van der Roest of the Examiner on the topic of Converging Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing – July 3, 2013.