Tag Archives: content marketing

Successful Social Marketing – Integrating Content and Community

The ultimate social marketing success is having a platform that stands out as the go to place for your target audience. If your product/service aims to capture an audience with special interests, you should consider a social strategy and plan that integrates content and community. Special interests groups could include fitness minded, wines enthusiasts, tech innovation, pet lovers, executive peer groups and many more.

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As I have stated many times, content is the core of social. So brands should think of themselves as publishers. Every brand should have a digital platform where they produce and curate industry related content of great value to their target audience. Do not think of this as product or service literature. Produce content that addresses the needs and interests of people within your brand’s industry.

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Launch your own brand’s digital blog, magazine, or journal.

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Be committed to continuous production and updates so that your audience is inspired to keep on returning and builds strong affinity for your “Brand Digital Media” platform. You want to build a reputation as being the go to place for your industries information, insights, and entertainment.

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In order to accomplish a “go-to reputation” you should consider a number of different types of content, which include original content, curated content, and UGC (user generated content).

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As example, consider the slide below as the “BRAND Digital Media” content hub for your brand…

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Determine a finite set of topics you will cover. Use the navigation bar to list these topics and allow your audience to click through directly. Build frames to pop in various content types. Try to keep a set template for these content frames so you can condition your audience to access information they desire and know how to easily obtain it. Update at least one frame a day. Include social sharing and follow buttons.

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Once you have established a “BRAND Digital Media” platform, use your social channels to proliferate the content. Include content reference updates on these social channels.

And make sure you are tracking how well the BRAND Digital Media content hub is performing. Consider metrics as follows …

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Once you have built a successful BRAND Digital Media platform, now you are in the position to launch an industry community platform.

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Assuming you have an audience coming to your content hub for information, why not give that audience a place to engage with your brand and one and other.

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As people come to your BRAND Digital Media site for information, give an opportunity to sign up and sign in to your community.

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The BRAND Network is an extension of your BRAND Digital Media hub. It is a place for people to connect, converse, and network.

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While anyone can get content at the BRAND Digital Media site, only members can comment on content, engage with other users, set up meetings, and network with peers. For starters, consider the following BRAND Network feature set.

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The power of having your brand serve as an industry related community is that your brand delivers great value to the target audience. Strive to be the industry digital leading member’s forum. Avoid overt product push. Just aim to be an extremely valued industry information and networking source.

And like any other marketing effort, you need to track success metrics. Consider the following for your BRAND Network …

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So think about what you can do to deliver a BRAND Digital Media hub and BRAND Network. If you deliver stellar content and a networking platform your target will truly value your brand.

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Yes, building an industry leading content and community front takes much effort, time, resources, and budget. But do you want to be a recognized industry leader or is just being part of the pack good enough? If you want to be a leader, demonstrate leadership. Building the industry best BRAND Digital Media platform and BRAND Network demonstrates leadership.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, community, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

A Content Marketing Approach That Works

Content marketing seems to be the new buzz. Everywhere you turn, you see another piece of content on content marketing (pun intended). eMarketer reports that “59% of marketing professionals will increase [content marketing] efforts this year.” But content marketing is not a separate marketing effort. In fact, well over a year ago, I reported “Content Marketing / Social Marketing – You Can’t Have One Without the Other.”

And yet, companies continue to struggle with content marketing.

emarketer content marketing
(http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Content-Marketing-Struggle-Start-Finish/1010550)

The big problem is to know what content to deliver such that your target audience values what is delivered. When we think about content relevance, the main challenge is coming up with content that resonates directly with each individual within your vast target audience. It is hard to balance one-to-one marketing versus mass marketing. If you write content for the mass target audience, it likely will not resonate with any individual. Conversely, just about all companies cannot scale for production for one-to-one content marketing. So how do you solve this problem?

Let’s start by reviewing target audience dynamics.

customer audience

You want your content to appeal to that small group of ideal customers, but at the same time you want to attract a large enough audience to meet the required scale for business profitability. Look at the bulls eye as a metaphor. The challenge has been determining how far off the center circle you need to go to win the right number of customers while not watering down your content such that it is not compelling to the ideal customer.

Consider listening to the entire target audience mass. Understand what they are saying and segment the audience in subgroups based upon their behavior as determined by their conversations. Then produce and curate content that resonates with the segments and point those segments to the applicable content.

Let me give you an example … say you are marketing a fitness club.

fitness club target audience

The ideal customer is a fitness zealot. The largest group of the target audience would include anyone interested in looking good, feeling good, and/or losing weight. If we listen to the large mass of the target audience, we would likely learn the entire audience can be segmented in groups including a) health conscious, b) interested in losing weight, c) looking good is more of an issue than fitness and exercise, and d) an aging group wanting to stay fit. (Of course there are other possibilities, but this is just an example.) Thus, you would need to produce and curate content that appeals to those audience segments and reach out to them to share.

fitness club target audience segments

This approach solves the issue that mass content marketing does not resonate with individuals because the content is too generic for individual’s interests. (Please note that it is still important to have individual conversations with influencers of your target market … a different topic I have covered in the past.)

Net – net … as content marketing begins to get much greater attention, marketers are going to jump on the bandwagon, if they haven’t already. In any event, marketers should have a content strategy that works for their target audience. The content strategy should quantifiably increase your audience stickiness and advocacy, and attract new people as well.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, content marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

4 Musts for Your Social Marketing This Year

It is the beginning of the year and you want to make sure you kick off your marketing to drive success in your company. With this in mind, let me give you four musts for your brand social marketing.

must do social marketing

Throughout my entire marketing career, I have continuously examined brands’ audiences to drive strategy, plan, and execution. I label marketing as the “psychology of business.” And with this in mind, I have identified four areas that you need to focus on with regards to your social marketing efforts to drive audience adoption, brand preference, loyalty, and advocacy.

1. Listening and Responding

There are three types of social marketing listening that are required.

a) People talking to your brand – there are going to be people that use your brand’s social channels and other channels to talk directly to your brand.
b) People talking about your brand – while not directly speaking to your brand people will mention your brand in the vast digital world.
c) People talk about a subject relevant to your brand – while not mentioning your brand, people touch on a subject area that speaks directly to a topic that is relevant to your brand.

You must monitor for all the cases listed above. In the first two cases, you must monitor and respond. The best way to tell your audience you don’t care about them is to not listen to them, or not respond to them. Only respond to mentions if you care about their business … that should include every mention. In the third case, you have an opportunity to expose a new audience to your brand. Do not respond with product information, but rather valuable information. Gain awareness and start to build a great reputation by delivering unexpected help.

2. Content

The way to keep your brand in the minds and hearts of your target audience is produce content they value. The way to prove you are worthy of people’s business (beyond having a truly valued product/service) is to be helpful and entertaining. Brands are often shared between people via content. Thus your brand needs to think like a publisher and produce weekly content (at a minimum). But your content plan should not be limited to original content. Consider how your content strategy will include curation from other sources as well as UGC (user generated content). Your content strategy should also include a plan to capture earned media. This leads to the third focus area …

3. Influence Marketing

In influence marketing, first you identify those individuals and publications that influence your target market. Once you identify the influencers, you work to build a relationship with them by providing them information that is valued by THEIR audience. It is not about pushing your agenda, but finding the intersection of what your brand represents and the information that identified influencers want to deliver to their audience. Influence marketing will continue to gain importance because objective advocacy is much more compelling than subjective brand communication.

4. Personalization

I touched on personalization when discussing “listening and responding.” But personalization needs to go beyond listening and responding. Users are tiring of email blasts and other brand communications that are nothing more than an extension of advertorial programs. What if the brand communication was driven by consumer intelligence? What if you integrated digital behavior and purchase history to deliver contextual relevant communication to your audience? Certainly your audience will feel “special” if you deliver communication and content relevant to their history, interests, and behavior. Personalization means that brands deliver contextual relevant communication and content. Look into tools that allow you to correlate and integrate different data points to produce a data driven view of your consumers.

The four areas of focus I suggested above are not driven by technology or marketing hype, but rather by examining user behavior spawned by new digital technological advancements. Far too often predictions are driven by technology hype rather than user behavior driven by new technology advancements. If marketing is the psychology of business, understand your target audience behavior and implement social marketing accordingly.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, content marketing, influence marketing, loyalty, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Content Marketing – A Must for Marketing Communications

Everyone is talking about content marketing like it is the new messiah of marketing. Hasn’t marketing communications been producing content for years?

Marketing communications are messages and related media used to communicate with a market.” The key point of this definition is “communicate with a market.” What type of communication grabs the interest of the market? The behavior of today’s consumers and b to b targets dictates that the communication must evolve and change. As a function, marketing communications can no longer simply rely on press releases, corporate styled marketing brochures and web presence, and pitching their goods to media outlets. Yes, these are still important activities. But if you look at the way most are attracted to information about products and services, brand marketing communication needs a new approach.

Content marketing has become a must for marketing communications. There are those that say say mar comm people have been producing content for years and that is true. But the stylization of the content they have produced is corporate speak and insufficient. Audiences are not motivated by this flavor of content and do not react to produce desired business results. I will get to the change required in a bit.

If you believe that content marketing has been around for years consider what others are saying. Forbes asks the question “Is Content the Future of Marketing?” And another recent article claims “Content Marketing Goes Mainstream.”

So let’s just agree that content marketing has been around for some time, BUT requires a dramatic change if brands want to provoke desired outcomes and measurable results that contribute to their companies’ KPI (key performance indicators). As I have said for a number of years now, brands need to think and produce like a publisher.

What is Your Story

This exact mentality was captured well in an article in AdWeek titled “Genuine Brand Publishing Needs to Trump Generic Content Marketing.” There is some great advice provided there. They state, “The first step is to switch the language and change the content marketing moniker to brand publishing. A valuable piece of brand content doesn’t exist in a vacuum, despite what some publishers would have you believe. In fact, content is an effective medium for brands because it maps back to a broader narrative—the story a brand is telling about itself.”

The story – this is the key change. A brand story is not product speak. We see brands getting caught up in this mistake over and over again. And marketing communications must stop this approach because it is turning off their audience more than turning them on.

When you think of brand stories, think about how people use your product/service. How did the brand get it’s start? What are the people like that manufacture the brand and bring it to market? What stories do your users want to tell? Let them tell their stories. How is your brand supporting a particular community? What are special rituals within your company? These are the types of stories that resonate with today’s audience.

If you want to keep your brand top of mind of your potential marketing, tell great stories. Doesn’t everyone want to hear a great story?

How high can you reach? How far can you see? How big can you dream?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

End of the Brand Websites?

For the past couple of years I have been hearing many people state it is the end of the brand website … I could not disagree more! I see proclamations like

• The end of the website due to the rise of apps
• The end of the website due to the rise of mobile devices
• The end of the website due to the collapse of civilization

as stated in an article I read this week. This mentality is completely backwards.

For far too long, marketers have regarded websites as a place for purchase first and information second. Yes, a website should be a place for commerce, but it needs to be a source of content first. Content that provides entertainment, subject matter expertise, and information. The content needs to be crafted such that it promotes the brand’s target audience’s lifestyle.

Let me give you an example to start and then I will come back to points of consideration. Look at Red Bull’s website – they have nailed it. Yes they could try to sell Red Bull on their site, but their audience would be completely turned off by that approach. Instead, Red Bull uses their website to be a media company. They understand their audience and give their audience content they want. Content on extreme lifestyles of adventure, motor sports, biking, skateboarding, snowboarding, and music. They do not push their brand, but they sell a brand lifestyle. This reinforces the position of their brand and the feeling they want their target audience to have about their brand.

Now Red Bull does take my point to an extreme. I think it is worthwhile to have some brand soft sell on the website – coupons, sweepstakes, ecommerce – but all of these marketing touches should not overload the web content and overtake website real estate.

Many digital marketers focus on their brand’s play on social and mobile marketing. There is definitely a need to have strong brand presence in these digital areas because of today’s audience behavior. All marketing efforts must be driven by target audience actions and motivations. Now at the same time, we want brands to have a core, consolidated portfolio of content and information availability.

Almost one year ago, I wrote an article on the importance of content on a brand’s website. I brought up this concept of a content hub. Your brand website should include this content hub, and the content hub should be a primary part of the website. Then, social channels, mobile, and apps should be used to reference the content, proliferate the content, and to engage with the target audience.

core content

I argued that while social marketing is not about direct sales, certainly we do not want to miss the opportunity for sale conversion if the reader has that interest. Having the content directly on the site where there is also product information and ecommerce creates increased consideration and sales opportunities. Social marketing and the wide spread use of mobile should be used to leverage the brand content and direct people back to a place where all content resides. This approach allows the audience to see the breadth of valuable content provided by the brand as opposed to simply putting content in social postings. The audience will gain an appreciation for the breadth of content and spend greater time on the website. This may result in greater brand preference and ultimately greater loyalty and advocacy.

As an audience gains appreciation for the brand content, they should be able to use the brand website as a utility for purchase as well. Include ecommerce and shopping cart technologies on the website, but once again, do not hog up website real estate. Yes, I understand this is a brand’s primary interest – to sell. But we must be cognizant of audience motivations or lack there of. They do not want a hard sell.

Gain trust and reputation. Then make it easy to purchase. Your brand website design should be driven by these objectives, in that order.

The end of the website – definitely not. But rather I see the stylization and utility of brand website needing a dramatic change.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, content marketing, marketing, mobile, social marketing, social media, website

You Talking Product or Lifestyle on Your Brand’s Social Media Presence?

Have you ever have had a conversation with someone where all they do is just talk about themselves? How many friends do you have like that? Probably not many. No one likes to be on the receiving end of blatant over self-absorption and indulgence. Could your brand possibly be socializing like that?

Stop to think about how your brand is socializing? Does the brand constantly talk about its product? Are you using Facebook, Twitter, or other social channels as an excessive advertorial, promotion, and product dumping ground? If this is the case you are turning off your friends and target audience.

Let’s start by stating the obvious … I know … You want your product to have strong sales success. It pays your salary. But far too many brands are taking this mentality and lure to their social media channels.

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I always tell people that social media should be the marketing of a lifestyle. What does the your brand stand for? What are the stories you want to tell that resonate with your target audience? Think about drawing your audience in, keeping them interested, and engaging with them.

So how might you go about this? Let me start by asking a simple question … What is the personality of your brand? (For that matter, does your brand have a personality?). I usually put this in the category of message strategy. The personality of a brand comes out in the message strategy, or is it that the message strategy comes out from the brand personality? In any event, you need a voice, tone, persona, and overall feel for your brand that resonates with your audience. You see, the brand personality should not just be a reflection of your corporate culture, but also have depth in what your audience wants. And that is a big difference between personal socializing and brand socializing … In professional marketing you should be willing to change your brand’s personality and manufacture talking points to please your audience. Case in point – a pinnacle example is Coca-Cola’s digital presence. Look at their digital presence. (homepage, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr)

Brands need to change. Social channels should not be viewed as selling channels. Too many companies are lured into a sales mentality and throw too much product material on their social posts. Brands need more of a story-telling, lifestyle, entertaining, and/or expertise of media mentality, presence and engagement on their social channels. If you take this approach, your social presence will help you sell. Down the road. With greater conviction. With greater help selling to an extended audience via referral and advocacy. That is if you take time, patience, and investment to become a producer of media and engagement as opposed to being an advertising exec on your social endeavors.

Now I am not saying you cannot or should not mention your product or run a promotion on social channels. Certainly you can and should, but some words of caution … Do it in the context of social engagement. Not “down your throat advertising.” Integrate promotion and sweepstakes in the look and feel of the set brand personality. And limit social channels for product speak. The number of times you mention your products in posts really depends on the vertical you serve. But I would limit it to no more than 15%, 20% of the time, max.

If you follow steps to think like a media producer and media director as opposed to an advertising exec when utilizing your social channels, you will see much greater empirical results. Use social the way the audience values brands on social. The audience is not looking for another advertising channel. They are looking for digital presence that reinforces their lifestyle and aspirational desires. Can you present your brand personality in this manner?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under ads, brand communication, brand marketing, content marketing, digital media, marketing, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Know Your “Ps” When It Comes to Content and Social Marketing

Way back when I got my master’s degree in Marketing they used to teach the four Ps of marketing – product, place, promotion, and price. While I think there is still some validity in this model, the digital age has caused a need to revamp marketing executive’s approach. This was covered in last week’s post “The New Customer Demands New Marketing.” Use this approach to yield social marketing success and consider the four Ps of content and social marketing.

Content marketing and social marketing go hand-in-hand … you cannot have one without the other. When developing your content strategy to reinforce what your brand stands for, consider People, Publishers, Producers, and Passing-on. These are your four Ps of Content and Social Marketing.

4 Ps

People – as always, you must start with an understanding of the people you are talking to and engaging with. Forget about the content you want to push. Be sensitive to the content that your audience wants and will value as it relates to your brand category and beyond. For example, if your product is a packaged food, you can offer recipes that include your product as well as tips on healthy living. But, always make sure the content excites your audience.

Publishers – marketers must think and act like publishers. According to Wikipedia, publishing is the process of production and dissemination of literature, music, or information. This is exactly what marketers must do to keep their audience interested and engaged. Publishing compelling content keeps the audience loyal to the brand and strengthens user experience.

Producers – the role of a producer is to oversee all aspects of multimedia production ranging from idea development, character development, and shoot supervision. The producer is responsible for the overall quality and survivability. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_producer) There are two reasons why a producer mentality is important for social marketing. First, visuals drive more traffic, click-throughs, and engagement in social marketing than straight text. And the second reason is the need for a storyline and character. Your social presence should be based on a brand story complete with a personality. Even if you are not producing videos, include pictures and think about what you want your audience to feel as a result of your productions.

Passing-on – if your content is truly valuable, informative, and/or entertaining people will want to pass it on, but you have to make it easy for them to do so. Consider sharing tactics such as inclusion of sharing widgets throughout your content posts. Also consider additional ways and incentives to motivate your audience to share your brand content.

Yes, it was a nice little spin to go from the historic four Ps of marketing to the new four Ps of content and social marketing. But on top of that, there is real substance and value in considering your content socialization to include elements for your People, which include Publishing and Production that continues to have digital life as it is Passed-on.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, content marketing, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Evolving Social Media Marketing – From Content Marketing to Contextual Content Marketing

Content for the PeopleIf I had to pick one key area of evolution of social media marketing in 2012, I would say it was the integration of content marketing into social strategies and plans. For many years I have said that brands need to think like publishers. It is brand content that is often shared among users as opposed to brand products/services. And many brands get this. They are looking at a marketing plan that is integrated – owned and earned media with paid media.

I captured the importance of content marketing as a prerequisite of social marketing in the article “Content Marketing – Social Marketing: You Can’t Have One without the Other.” But content marketing is not enough. Brands need to evolve to provide contextually relevant content in 2013.

Why is this so? Pretty simple answer – there is no shortage of content on any topic under the sun. How many food articles, health articles, or other topical areas are there? So many that it is hard to stand out. Brands need to answer the question, “Why would anyone want to capture and engage with my brand and its content when there is an enormous amount of topical content elsewhere?” There are two parts to the answer. One is that you need to have awesome content. No one is going to be attracted to content that is just okay. And the second part of the answer is that the content must be relevant to individuals’ needs, wants, and interests. Brands need to understand their target audience behavior. By their actions, the audience is literally saying, “Make it worth my while, and I will follow you, like you, engage with you and subscribe to you.” And their behavior also suggests that they get turned off if they are overwhelmed with an abundance of irrelevant content (by their perspective, not yours).

So you have a content plan in place. How do you make it contextually relevant to the different individuals within your target market. You need to concentrate on three areas in order to provide contextually relevant content.

1) Demographics and psych-demographics. Demographics dictate certain preferences of a group based upon such things as sex, age, geography, and household income. Psycho-demographics further consider interests as indicated in social profiles, postings, and digital behaviors.
2) Location. Location based service will evolve in 2013 beyond checking in. There is an opportunity for brands to deliver contextually relevant content and promotions based on location determination. But it is important that brands allow users to turn on and off notifications based upon the users’ preferences. Brands cannot overwhelm users with content like I see certain companies do with email.
3) Buying behavior. No target audience data is more telling than purchase history and buying patterns.

So when I list the three areas above, you should be getting a sense that social media marketing needs to be driven by more applicable data in 2013. I think many people are scared off by the term “big-data.” But big-data is most important. Avoid getting overwhelmed by concentrating on those areas that can drive success. In social, we want to make sure our audience stays engaged with the brand. (I outline measuring social results here.)

As you build out your social strategy and start to think about integrating user data without boiling the ocean, consider:

• Location data and compelling marketing programs for users. Allow them to drive delivery preferences and avoid spamming them and turning them off.
• Integrating social profiles and user conversations to define the content delivered to them. Start there and think about putting further control in users hands with regards to the content they receive (similar to content selections offered in portals).
• Integrating consumer buying behavior to social marketing to drive content and social engagement.

2012 was a year of great strides in social marketing. Many moved beyond the mentality of “oh – let’s put up a Facebook and Twitter page.” But do not rest well … move forward. Think about what you can do to gain greater target audience relationships. For now, I suggest starting with contextually content marketing considerations. But I will be with you here offering additional recommendations throughout the next year. :) I most appreciate your viewing and sharing my content!

Best to you in the holiday season.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, marketing, owned-earned-paid media, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Content Marketing – Social Marketing: You Can’t Have One without the Other

Think about it for a second. When you share something with your friends and family, isn’t it most often some kind of content? An article, picture, or video?
So marketers’ social strategy must start with a content strategy.

In a previous article that I wrote, “A Marketing Lesson about Brand Proliferation using Social Media,” I introduced the following diagram:

The point I was driving was you have your brand definition and position at the core of the brand reputation and your audience’s perception. Content is used to leverage your brand position. Continuous and compelling content creates a way to make sure people stay engaged with brands so that the brand is top of mind with the target audience. If that content is truly valuable, the audience will share it with their network. And those that share the most should be engaged with directly to create advocates.

You can get more on this approach at the referenced article. But what I want to touch on in greater detail is the synergy and use of a content combined with social marketing. Assuming you accept the importance that content plays in your social efforts, the next question is where should the content reside? Blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc?

The answer is you need a content hub where all your content resides. Then, social channels should be used to reference the content, proliferate the content, and to engage with the target audience.

The content hub should be tied to the brand site. Social channels should be used to present abstracts of the content and refer back (URLs) to the content hub. This is the correct approach for a number of reasons:

1) The portfolio of content should be in one place. If a user wants more brand content, they should not need to go search for it. It should be at their fingertips.
2) While social marketing is not about direct sales, certainly we do not want to miss the opportunity if your reader has that interest. Having the content directly on the site where there is also product information and ecommerce creates increased consideration and sales opportunities.
3) Given the wide breadth of social channels and users preferences, it is difficult to manage content across all channels. It is much easier to manage reference posts and engagements on the social channels.
4) We see numerous different user preferences for use of social channels for brand engagement. Marketers cannot simply assume that Facebook has 1 billion users and all the users want to use Facebook for brand engagement. Brands need to be active on all the social channels that users look to engage with brands at.

More and more, I am finding that addressing brands’ social marketing strategy is not enough. Content strategy and planning MUST be part of the strategy. Once marketers have a plan for content stylization and topics to cover, they must plan where the content resides and the best way to get it proliferated. They must also think about ways that the content builds awareness and relationships and spawns word-of-mouth marketing. At the same time there needs to be subtle ways to capture a sales opportunity when the customer is ready to buy. The content hub, social proliferation approach I suggested here accomplishes all of these goals.

Think big, execute the details, and

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, content marketing, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

4 Ingredients to a Winning Content Strategy

Do you want people to be reaching and grabbing for your brand and keep coming back? Well having the right content strategy, plan, and execution is your secret sauce. Your content should be of great value. What does this exactly mean? Why would anyone continue to return to your site and social platforms? Simple – because you give them what they value – great information or something entertaining, and then maybe a little bit more …

Your content strategy should be viewed with 4 key ingredients.

1) Kick-ass Content
You must start by having awesome content. And this great content needs to be produced continuously. There is “Power of Compelling and Engaging Content.” It is not only the reason for getting one’s attention, but you look to deepen the reader’s attraction for your brand and build affinity for you.

2) Awesome Curation
Take it one step further and provide a curation linking to places to go to get additional information. If you really want to be the reference point for topical area, you must have not only great information, but also provide places to get more. This is an area some many have a problem with. You can’t be afraid to show other sources of analogous content as in fear that it might trump your content. Another reason for trepidation is feeling that you are the authority of the subject. (Fine – I would not be the one to question that.) But does this really mean that you are the only one’s that have a say on a subject? I am not saying you should link to your competition, but I am certain there are sources that can complement your content. And by the way … sharing others content will build good will and you will see that referencing reciprocated to your digital assets.

3) Places for UGC (User Generated Content)
Make sure you have places for your audience to engage with you. This takes on many forms, but starts with at least having a place for readers to comment. Do not be afraid of negative comments. You can turn these into positive scenarios by engaging and remedying problems. It is also likely that your community will come to your rescue in many instances.

Other successful forms of UGC implementations include actively asking your audience for content and posting it on your site or social channels. Stories, testimonials, videos, pictures and other types of multi-media drive two positive outcomes … a) they allow your audience to connect, build loyalty, and deepen relationships to your brand, and b) UGC promotes greater sharing. People want to show their friends that their content is highlighted on specific sites. As Andy Warhol said, “everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” or at least many are seeking this.

4) Sharing Tactics
If you want to drive more awareness, more traffic, word-of-mouth is extremely powerful as it has other people do your marketing. Referrals are generated by trusted, objective sources. To start, you should have sharing widgets (Facebook Like, Tweet, etc.) at a minimum. You can use plug-ins like AddThis, ShareThis, Gigya, and others. Other tactics you can use are voting on content and polling on questions related to content. There are a number of other ways to optimize sharing. The most important thing is not to have the “build-it-and-they-will-come” mentality. Consciously think about and plan how your content will be shared and what will provoke your existing readers to share it with their friends.

At the end of the day, you want to be perceived as the subject-matter-expert, leading solution providers, or one with the best product for your market sector. It obviously starts with having a great product or service, but marketing your greatness is equally as important. Content marketing is the way to reinforce your “wow.” It starts with having superior content, but that is far from the end. Think about the ingredients mentioned here and also think about a holistic “Integration of Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media.”

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

PS – Needless to say, your content has to be SEO-friendly … and that is a discussion unto itself.

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