“Content marketing” has become quite the buzz phrase in recent years. Why is this? Is it just hype, or is there really something to it?
To be honest, there are a couple things going on with content marketing. One is that it’s not a new idea. The concept has been around for quite some time, but companies have only recently realized its value. Two is that some of the buzz around it is merely hype because the term is often misused. For instance, it is often confused with social media marketing. While the two work hand in hand and while there is some cross over in what they each do, the distinction is that a content marketing strategy needs to come before a social media strategy.
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
In a nutshell, content marketing is designed to be a soft sell to customers. Instead of pushing promotional items that they don’t really care about, content marketing adds value. If you, as a business, consistently provide information, FAQs, news, and more that is relevant to your audience, you are delivering content marketing. By doing this, you are giving your customers a reason to continually come to you.
In case you haven’t noticed, traditional advertising is not as effective as it once was. In the digital age of two-way communication, consumers have learned to turn a blind eye to it. Their expectations are high, and in order to reach and connect with them, you must add value.
Where does social media fit into the picture? For starters, social media serves as an incredible distribution channel. Whenever you publish content, you have the opportunity to tease and send your message out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and the list goes on and on. The great thing about social media is that you can serve your audience content based on their preference. So, for instance, if your customers are very visual, Pinterest or Instagram may be the best options for you to connect with them. If they prefer video, utilize YouTube. This is not a one-size-fits-all game – it’s completely customizable, which is the beauty of it.
Does it make sense now? Content marketing would not have the buzz that it has without the integration of social media. And on the social side, the content would be less than valuable if there was no strategy behind it.
But, as great as content marketing is, there are some stipulations. First and foremost, your content must be good. It seems basic enough, right? But, sadly, there are many companies that are fooling themselves into thinking they have a content marketing strategy when they really do not. In other words, if you are simply putting out promotional materials via social media channels, understand that this is NOT content marketing.
You have to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Do you care about something that only boasts the company such as an award? While it is a great feat, this is not something that adds value to customers. You also have to become an authority. You and your business will be respected more if you speak with authority. And in all honesty, you are the expert. Show off your knowledge to your audience and be confident in it. This is your time to shine, so showcase it.
You also must ditch corporate voice. As much as businesses want it to work, it doesn’t, especially not on social media. You have to speak the same language as your audience. Show that you are passionate about what you do. In today’s world, pretense is lost. Honesty and realism are appreciated.
It’s definitely a different way of thinking but there are brands that are getting it. In a recent post from Econsultancy, Ben Davis highlighted some companies including Red Bull and Louis Vuitton that are doing content marketing right. These companies are taking themselves out of the spotlight and are focusing on what their customers care about. What’s more, they have set the bar high for their competitors as well as other companies that are new to content marketing.
The overarching idea behind content marketing is that by constantly being in front of your audience, when they have a need or a want, they will come to you without a second thought. Why would they go somewhere else? You have enabled them to become smarter and more efficient at what they do by being a reliable resource for them. In turn, they will naturally become loyal, which is a win-win.
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