Content Marketing in the Age of Social Media
Content Marketing has never been as highly rated as it is today and it is not a surprise, given the speed at which it travels. Content in its simplest form is information: to customers, to employees, to associates and all stakeholders. In its most complex form, content is what the customer perceives its meaning to be. Getting across the right message in the first attempt is the challenge for content marketing currently. Providing quality information when and where customers require it is the goal of content marketing and social media marketing is the tool for carrying that content.
Handling of content can make or break a brand instantly. A customer can create a blog: “Yihatebrandx.com” within a few minutes, eroding years of built-up reputation if not handled properly and one way to leverage a situation is to use social media as an effective communication tool. Aptly named, “viral marketing”, the message will travel thousands of miles at the speed of thought and the carriers are customers or potential customers. A wrong message or idea can be thus a disaster.
Content marketing strategy is the concept of convincing customers, through written, video or audio content, to seek out a particular brand amongst hundreds. It is to keep customers coming back for more because today’s customer is spoilt for choice. Social media content lends a personal touch that customers are desperately seeking in a gadget world. The warmth of a message from a familiar brand will ensure customer loyalty that will be worth several millions of dollars spent on other means of marketing because the sale does not stop with one customer. The message shared with friends and family will bring in more new customers, all attracted to the content.
A content marketing strategy, like any other marketing strategy, needs a goal. Is it to increase sales? To decrease customer complaints? Or to enter new markets? Once the strategy is established, the next step is to identify the type of customers and what drives them. How active are they on social media? What is the right time to send them a message? Who follows them? Creation of apt content that would appeal to that customer subset is the next step. A certain category of customers are more likely to respond to social media marketing messages than others. Addressing those responses and following up is as important as the original message.
Content marketing does not involve just the message but also the way it is presented. With shorter attention spans, it is easier for people to surf across multiple channels or websites while paying scant or no attention to the advertisements. A successful content marketing campaign will be relevant across technological boundaries, across gadgets. The goal is to create relevant and valuable content that will affect customer behavior in a positive way and enhance the value of the brand. It does not focus on selling although that is the ultimate purpose, but will instead focus on providing information to enable them to make an informed decision. By using social media, the content will “connect” with the recipient at a personal level, either by stirring up childhood memories or by invoking dreams of a better future.
Content marketing in the age of social media is all about customizing the same content for different social media platforms. What works for one channel may not work for the others. A Facebook post would be radically different from a LinkedIn page. Changing the content in tune with public response is another challenge for a company. Measuring results of a social media campaign is also a challenge, although there are now tools to do that.
Content marketing in the social media arena should compliment and not contradict traditional marketing tools. It is a tool to connect social interaction with business principles. There is no doubt that social media is the best way to feel the pulse of customers and content marketing will coax those potential customers to make a decision.