Companies are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon in increasing numbers, investing in new content for articles, newsletters, whitepapers, blogs, and video to better attract and engage customers. Social media and networking offer an ideal channel for promotion but many marketers chase such tactics as if they were a one-night stand versus developing a valuable relationship that grows and builds momentum over time.
In a B2B Content Marketing study by Junta42, 79 percent of companies that employ content marketing have adopted social media tactics. Social networks and media sites are often centered on content so the relationship makes sense.
Marketers involved with content and social promotion often conclude that creative promotions are essential to jumpstart attention and traffic. In some ways they're right but many efforts at social promotion of content fall far short of their potential.
Whether it's to drive traffic to a new microsite or an attempt to revitalize attention to an existing blog, social promotion ideas pop like pick-up lines at a night club: "Let's do an infographic" or "We should run a contest." Better yet, "Let's create a viral video."
What's wrong with those tactics? When they work and work together, nothing.
Individual social content and promotion tactics can achieve a certain level of success on their own, but in many cases it's a bit of a crapshoot.
Approaching social content promotion purely from a tactical perspective often results in a mixed bag of results. Some succeed and some fail, giving businesses an unrealistic sense of how well social media can work or not for them as part of their marketing mix.
Another approach is to think about social content promotions as part of a continuum, not a single event. Instead of whipping out an infographic or online comic just because it's a cool and trendy thing to do, I'd challenge online marketers to think a bit more strategically about their social content promotions.
The ideal situation involves objectives, audience, and strategy where specific tactics are identified. Understanding customer triggers, keywords and buzzing social topics can be instrumental for mapping out a social content plan.
Within that plan certain tactics can be identified as best suited to advance business goals by providing value to prospects, customers, and influentials.
Video: Rather than shooting individual videos designed to "go viral" consider planning out a series of videos along a theme. Explore topics that support your customers' content needs according to their position in the buying funnel but that also trigger social sharing.
Individual provocative, creative and inspiring videos have their place. But also consider the value of building your audience and community from an ongoing series of videos tied together by your unique selling proposition and addressing key questions in your industry where the answers could involve your product or service.
Contests and ranked lists: If you run a contest or ranked list, think first whether it's something you could do at regular intervals like monthly, quarterly, or annually. Each contest builds credibility and your list for promotion of the next contest. Consider developing a contest where participation requires creation of content. Repurpose that content for promotions and build community around recognizing participants and winners.
A single contest or ranked list lights up like a firecracker and then dies out. A well thought out and executed contest that occurs at regular intervals is something people look forward to and can grow larger organically each time it happens.
Infographics: There's an art and science to effective infographics as a marketingtool. Many companies publish individual infographics as linkbait but never consider how a series of themed infographics can build a growing audience and contribute to community development.
The theme can be as simple as a common label that reflects a target keyword phrase or topic relevant to the business. For example, "Social Media Smarts: Content Marketing Best Practices" or "Social Media Smarts: Top Social SEO Tactics."
Hopefully this gives you some perspective on the pros and cons of doing individual social content promotions versus finding an approach that involves ongoing use of tactics that work together sequentially and cumulatively.Not only does it make sense to tie a sequence of individual social content promotion tactics together, but to coordinate content types as part of an overall content marketing strategy.
Create content customers will love, share, and look forward to and you'll find a lot more satisfaction and business results than from a series of disconnected, social content "one night stands."
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Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in helping companies grow online business and community with an "Optimize and Socialize" approach to content marketing. Odden has consulted for hundreds of B2B clients over the past 14 years including: McKesson, Marketo, PRWeb, and StrongMail. He's been cited by The Economist, BtoB Magazine, and Advertising Age for his online marketing expertise and publishes one of the most popular marketing blogs on the web: Online Marketing Blog, ranked the No. 1 content marketing blog three times by Junta42. Odden speaks on the intersection of search and content marketing, PR, and social media at conferences internationally and is the author of "Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing."
March 19, 2014