In this quickly and continuously evolving marketing environment, it can be difficult to know which digital marketing and social media activities are most likely to provide results for a business. What might be effective for one industry or product may not work as well for others.
The only thing that is certain is today's competitive businesses are willing to invest significant time and resources to develop their content marketing and social media strategies.
As Linda Abraham, comScore's CMO and EVP of Global Product Development noted in their 2013 U.S. Digital Future in Focus Report, "Navigating this changing landscape requires a holistic understanding of the key trends, underlying drivers and new opportunities that the digital ecosystem will bring in the year ahead.”
Today's marketing and advertising executives need a solid understanding of how customers respond to content marketing such as blogs, websites, online videos, and social media posts. Recognizing the basic characteristics of great content and identifying trends in customers' online and offline reaction to it enables marketing departments to focus their strategies on the areas that will bring results in the form of increased sales and more customers.
The Intersection of Content Marketing and Social Media.
Content marketing refers to providing information in a variety of forms to market a business. Whether this information is a direct call to consumers to buy a product or service, or a more subtle presentation of useful or entertaining information to attract potential customers, businesses of all sizes are embracing content marketing as the future of advertising.
According to the study B2C Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America, completed by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 86 percent of business-to-customer organizations use content marketing to reach their customers. Of those, 84 percent use social media rather than blogs as part of their content strategy. Businesses see the potential of digital content and social media, but of the many ways to distribute content using these channels, which ones provide the best ROI? What type of content gets the best results in terms of customer engagement?
Storytelling is proving to be an effective method of grabbing and engaging the customer, and lends itself well to a variety of content marketing methods. While the traditional storytelling techniques of case studies and testimonial have a place on company websites or print marketing materials, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and even YouTube are exciting venues for visual or video storytelling.
Sharing information in the form of a story is a more personal approach to marketing. People like to hear how others solved a problem or achieved success, and are more likely to remember and share that content with others than if the same information is presented in the form of a dry product description or list of statistics.
Online users have short attention spans and may be viewing content on a tablet or smartphone while they perform other tasks, so grab their attention immediately with compelling images or messages. Businesses can invite user-generated stories from social media followers by asking them to post their favorite stories or images.
Influencers and Brand Fans in Social Media Communities
The power of social media as a form of content marketing lies in the ability to attract brand fans and influencers who will share the content with a wider range of consumers, increasing a business' digital reach. Brand fans are those individuals who love a brand so much they will retweet or share content with their own social media followers based simply on their loyalty and love for a brand.
Influencers are third parties who have large social media followings that include the same demographic a business targets. Their opinions matter, and people listen to their recommendations and reviews. Celebrities, academics, recognized subject matter experts, and even some bloggers can now be considered influencers.
Businesses can nurture relationships with brand fans and reach out to influencers through social media. Something as simple as acknowledging when content is shared, posting their user-generated content, or engaging in a public online conversation can help build these relationships and expand the social media reach of a business.
Making Your Social Media Content Search Friendly
The best content in the world is ineffective if no one reads it, and with the explosion of Facebook posts, tweets, pins and YouTube videos this is especially true of social media. Content must be easily found by both search engines and human users. Using hashtags, words or phrases preceded by the # sign categories social media posts and allows users to easily locate what they are looking for.