Some people really know how to host (we’re talking wine and cheese not servers and domains). Have you ever received a dinner invitation from a friend who has this quality? You arrive to heavenly smells wafting from the kitchen and sit down to a table set with two wine glasses – one for white and one for red. The white goes with the braised pork. The red with the strawberry truffle cheesecake. The average host knows a good wine. The excellent host knows which food to pair it with.
The average marketer has been managing their social media efforts for years. The excellent marketer is deepening their strategy by pairing it with content marketing.
What is content marketing? You’ll find various definitions peppered around the internet, but the basic concept is this: Content marketing is the technique of creating and distributing quality content with the purpose of enhancing consumer experience and influencing consumer behavior.
Wait. That’s not basic enough. The even more basic concept is this: content marketing is content creation + content distribution. If you were going to stop reading here, it’s enough to know that content marketing produces great content, while social media marketing helps distribute that content.
Done. (But, you should probably read on.) Here are a few reasons why you should be thinking of content marketing every time you think of social media marketing:
Selling is storytelling.
Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing and the founder of Content Marketing Institute, has often called content marketing “corporate storytelling.” While it may not be a household term just yet, content marketing has been around for years (this means you’re a little late to the dinner party… but hey, they call it “fashionably late” for a reason).
One hundred years ago, Jell-O was born and had a rough time getting its feet off the ground, believe it or not. Americans just weren’t adopting the idea of eating set gelatin. Its original creator, Pearl Wait, eventually sold the name and recipe to a food salesman, Orator Frank Woodward. In 1904, Woodward led Jell-O to put out a recipe book instructing housewives how to prepare the gelatin dessert. Sales for Jell-O hit $250,000 that year (equivalent to around $6.2 million in 2014’s USD). The American grocery buyer didn’t understand how to consume Jell-O, so Woodward printed a book that instructed them how to do it.
Just like Jell-O, your business has a story. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be in business. Content marketing is storytelling and social media helps you shout that story from the rooftops.
Social media has changed.
But you’ll have to shout loud enough to drown out the competition. In November 2007, Facebook invited businesses to join the network by introducing business pages. Businesses would be able to “design a page to craft the exact experience they want people to see,” Mark Zuckerberg announced. Since then, businesses have scrambled to populate their pages with photos, videos, music and apps to provide a presence for the consumer.
As of June 2014, there are officially 30 million small businesses on Facebook, and reaching the 1.35 billion users has officially become a competition. “Reach,” Facebook’s official term for the sum of people who are exposed to your page’s content, has declined dramatically with the surge of businesses on Facebook. In April of 2012, Facebook notoriously reduced organic (non-paid) reach for business pages to about 16%. Since then, it has declined to approximately 6%, and is worse for pages with fewer than 500K fans. (So, if you post an image to your page with 1,000 fans, only 20-60 of them will see it organically.)
What’s more is that page reach is a twisty, winding road, dependent upon engagement (clicks, likes, shares and comments) and content type, among other factors. In September 2013, Facebook announced that the news feed would serve fewer photos and more repackaged, beautifully framed article links. Why? Facebook revealed at the same time that average referral traffic from Facebook to other sites increased by over 170%.
The road doesn’t end at posting and it’ll be a lonely one if you continue to use social media as you have been. Even Facebook openly admits its best asset is connecting consumers to content, and its updates reward businesses for posting content with depth that matters to consumers.
In the future, publishing content to Facebook and other social media sites will depend heavily on the type of content linked to each post created. Social media management will demand a question: where will you get quality content?
Social media gives content a voice.
Enter content marketing. My high school English teacher made story writing easy by condensing the format into a pretty simple paradigm: you tell them what you’re about to tell them, you tell them, and you tell them what you told them. Again, every business is telling a story. Repeated distribution of that same story is key to reaching the consumer.
As we’ve already read, 95% of blogs are abandoned. We’ve also learned that, of those few, proud, brave blogs who consistently publish content, they actually build trust that lead consumers to convert. They also appease search engines buy increasing traffic, inbound links, and indexed pages on your business’s website. If you’re already creating quality content on your blog, social sharing is low-hanging fruit. Lee Odden, the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, said, “Useful content shared on social networks helps people and provides a signal for search engines. Win. Win. Win.”
A2: Useful content shared on social networks helps people & provides a signal for search engines. Win Win Win #CMWorld— Lee Odden (@leeodden) July 9, 2013
So, if you’re publishing content to your blog, your web traffic is being saturated with your story. Look at it this way. Content marketing gives more depth to social media and social media gives a broader audience to content marketing.
Remember that excellent host we talked about? That’s you, so long as you chase every bite of social media with a sip of content marketing.