By Suzanne McDonald
If content “is the only marketing left,” as a quote from entrepreneur Seth Godin goes, than businesses better make sure their content is attracting customers.
In a webinar by Smart Insights and Bright TALK, “Content and Social Media Marketing,” businesses can learn how to use content for marketing – and what to avoid so content doesn’t harm the brand’s image.
What exactly is content marketing? It’s “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined target audience,” content marketing authors Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett said in their 2009 book, “Get Content, Get Customers.”
Content marketing “barely registered as a concept” until a few years ago, according to Google search trends for the topic, as cited in the webinar. Not until early 2011 did searches for “content marketing” finally start to rise – and then they soared.
Common content formats:
- emails to subscriber base
- A Wiki page
- blog post
- press release
- banner ads
Those are the most common formats, and they fall into four “quandrants,” or general styles:
- Entertain (example: quizzes or branded videos)
- Inspire (celebrity endorsements or community forums)
- Convince (case studies or interactive demonstrations)
- Educate (infographics or press relases)
A few formats fall in between, such as articles, which are on the line between entertain and educate, and ratings, which are between inspire and convince. Ideally, a business would find the right balance between the four quandrants, something that could be struck by having customer reviews or questionnaires.
The old saying “quality over quantity” applies to content marketing. If a business overloads its Twitter followers or Facebook fans with too many posts, they would, at minimum, lose effectiveness. At most, those followers and fans would unfollow or post negative remarks.
Interesting content is a top-three reason why people follow certain brands on social media, and there are trends to give hints on the best ways companies can utilize their content:
- 3 in 4 marketers say compelling content is a factor in closing sales.
- 70% prefer getting to know a company by reading articles rather than advertisements.
- 60% feel more positive about a company after reading content on its website.
A tip to remember, as the webinar puts it: “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.” In other words, engage with customers instead of simply talking to them, and think like a publisher instead of an advertiser.
Travel review websites are a great example in the amount of influence they have, especially among younger people. Word-of-mouth marketing is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions.
Other tips to consider:
- Think of what your content will look like on mobile devices – or whether it will even work at all.
- Most Facebook fans (83% in one study) do not see your posts because they don’t stay visible on newsfeeds for very long.
- A high number of “likes” and comments on even a plain-text post will drive more reach, or influence, than another post that might seem more likely to attract buzz simply because it has a photo.
Facebook has an internal algorithm called EdgeRank that it uses to gauge a user’s influence. It is based on four factors:
- Affinity, or your relationship with a brand; you are more likely to see a post if your friends engage with it.
- Type of post. Simple status updates trump other content.
- Time. The older a post is, the less likely it will be viewed.
- Level of negative feedback a post and brand receives.
Finally, some social media networks are more effective than others, depending on whether your communication is business-to-business or business-to-customer:
- LinkedIn – the most effective for B2B, but far less so for B2C.
- Blogs and Twitter have the best balance between both B2B and B2C.
- Facebook is far more effective for B2C than B2B.
- Others are far less effective for both methods, including Slideshare, Delicious, Scribd and Flickr.
If you’d like to listen to the Webinar yourself, check out the BrightTalk Website!