Content Marketing and Social Media can be your greatest marketing channel. Period.
The good news is that you don’t need to know everything about content marketing to be great at social media. And you don’t need to know everything about social media to be great at content marketing. Heck, you don’t actually need to know a whole lot about a whole lot to be good at either of them.
All you need to know is a few simple things to approach your content marketing and social strategy with the right mindset and you can find huge success.
But let’s just start with some fun stats. Because… stats.
Do you know what happens on the internet in 12 minutes? Here’s a quick idea:
- 50M posts are Liked on Facebook (thanks to your parents who haven’t figured out Facebook etiquette yet)
- 4.2M tweets are shared (25% of which are Kanye West rants)
- 21M photos are Liked on Instagram (I have no joke for this one)
- 116K images are pinned on Pinterest (90% of which are workout images that you’ll never actually do.)
- 3.4M snaps are sent on Snapchat (50% of them from Kim Kardashian about how exhausted she is from Spa Day.)
- 3.6K hours of video are uploaded to YouTube (mostly just the same re-cut/re-uploaded cat and dog videos from the late 90’s)
- 409K videos are viewd on BuzzFeed (professional cat and dog videos because BuzzFeed knows the previous)
- 926K hours of Netflix is streamed (that’s a lot of Netflix and chill)
(Real stats via Domo, fake stats in parenthasis via me for humor.)
How the heck am I supposed to tell you everything about social media and content marketing in 12 minutes?
Well for one— I want to reassure you that you don’t need to know everything.
For two— time limitation is something we all have. Some of you might even be thinking “I don’t even have 12min to spend on social media to begin with!”
I feel you on that.
And the good news is, you don’t need to spend a ton of time and resources to do well. All you need is a good, solid strategy and a commitment to consistency.
So let’s begin with setting some foundation:
Social media and content marketing is about connecting with your specific audience in a meaningful way.
Your customers are spending oodles of time online. They are surfing their social streams and interacting with content that gives them some sort of value, whether it be entertainment, informational or educational.
In order to capture their attention you need to create the kinds of things they are interested in consuming in a way that drives value to both them and your business.
If you are successful at this, here’s what that will translate to for your business:
- Your brand will stay “top of mind”
- You will develop customer loyalty
- You will foster customer advocacy
In a nutshell, social media and content marketing can be your greatest marketing channel. Period.
What is Content Marketing? Here’s my definition:
Earning the attention, trust and business of your target audience through producing and sharing valuable content that meets their needs.
The point of content marketing is to give people the types of things they will consume so as to drive traffic and build your brand equity in their minds.
Types of (digital) Content Marketing:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Email newsletters
But don’t think you have to use every single form— pick one or two to start with and see how it works for you. If it fits and is resonating with your audience, keep doing it.
Tips and tactics
Many businesses make the mistake of wanting to reach anyone and everyone. “We need to reach as many people as possible.” Because they want to cast the widest net possible, they never gain any real traction because they’re not serving the people who matter most.
Just like there’s no way I could have prepared an effective presentation that told you everything there is to know, content marketing without a definitive target audience is doomed to fail.
You need to know exactly who your audience is and what their biggest needs, motivations, frustrations and problems are.
If you don’t spend the time to know exactly who your target customer is, by name, you will never be as effective as you can be with content marketing OR social media.
Questions to ask:
- Who is one example of our ideal customer? (Name her specifically; pull from your list of existing customers.)
- What questions is she asking that relate to our business?
- What problems does she face that we could help with?
Every piece of content you produce should be geared towards this ideal customer, her lifestyle and her online behavior. The better you understand who she is and what her needs are, the more strategically you can create things she will love and share.
Notice my use of a personal pronoun in those questions— that’s is 100% intentional, as should your own conversations be about her (or him).
Be a youtility
If you have not picked up Jay Baer’s book, Youtility, do it immediately after this presentation. I’m going to do my best to summarize what that book discusses at length.
Create valuable content that solves people’s problems and give it away. Understand what your customer is wanting or needing to solve their problems or pain points and create a solution.
For example: CoSchedule (referral link) is a company whose product is a marketing calendar that allows you to plan, collaborate on, schedule and publish content (both for blogs and social media) through a visual calendar app. They know that their customers are content marketers. So what did they do? They’ve created one of the best content marketing blogs on the internet. They publish articles that help their target audience do better work. Their blog is now an essential utility for their target audience.
Another example: Warfare Plugins blog.
Another example: Home Depot blog.
If you manage to create something of great value for your target customers, you will win their trust and their business for a long time to come. They’ll even begin doing your marketing for you by sharing this highly valuable content with their audiences. (More on that later.)
Pull out a calendar and start putting content on it.
If you’re a digital kind of person, CoSchedule is going to be your new best friend. I’ve used it for all my clients and businesses over the last 2 years and it’s been a mission-critical tool in executing a consistent content marketing strategy.
If you’re a pen and paper kind of person, I recommend using either sticky notes or something similar that you can put on your calendar and move around if needed. Things can change quickly, especially when you’re tying new content strategies, so you’ll need some flexibility to move and change things around.
Start with one piece of high-value content per month. If that seems easy, try two pieces per month. If you have a higher capacity, move to once a week.
More than anything else, don’t commit to more than you can execute regularly on. Consistency will allow you to better track progress and determine whether or not something is working. You can’t just do something once, try something different the next time, and the next time, and the next time and expect to get any valuable insight from it.
Content marketing is a long-term play and you need to be consistent in order to see what’s really working and what’s not.
Now, in order to grow the distribution (or reach) of your content, you’ll need to harness the power of social media. This isn’t Field of Dreams and if you build it, they will not just come.
You need to grow your social channels so that when you publish a new piece of content (or have a new promotion) there will people listening and ready to click-through.
Tips and Tactics
Find where they’re at (social listening)
You don’t need to be everywhere— that is a mistake that many businesses make. They feel the pressure of being in as many places as possible, and they end up diluting their efforts and missing out on deeper, more effective effort.
Just say NOMO to FOMO.
To find where your audience is already engaging the most, you can use a number of social listening tools.
Social listening tools I recommend:
These tools allow you to search out keywords and phrases across most social networks to see where the action is. Take some time to dig in and find out where your audience is most active and focus on those channels only.
If you have less than 5 hours per week to spend on social media, I recommend focusing on no more than 3 networks. That’s it.
Invest narrow and deep
Forget trying to follow everyone, share everything, and comment everywhere. You don’t need to engage with everyone. Find the right people and invest in them.
Influencers are a great way to help exponentially grow your audience. These are people who have a lot of attention and tend to get a lot more interaction than the average user. Pay attention to these people.
If you do a good job at building rapport and developing a relationship with these influencers they can help you amplify your messages a lot faster reaching exponentially more people than from you own individual efforts.
Be a cheerleader
Don’t be just another broadcaster. A broadcaster is someone who only shares their own content, is always asking something (click here, share this, look at our things). If your audience doesn’t eventually unfollow you, they’ll become blind to your content after a while.
The broadcaster thinks of himself as the star of the show or the hero of the story. And this is where they fail.
Nobody likes a brand that only talks about itself all day, every day.
Instead, be a genuine fan of your audience. Think of them as the hero of your story.
Take opportunities to share other people’s content and shine the spotlight on your customers whenever possible. People love to get praised for the things they’re passionate about— so look for reasons to amplify the great things they’re doing.
Study after study reveals that visuals are far more likely to generate engagement across social media. Use images whenever possible and you’re at least twice as likely to generate interaction (engagement) from it.
- Quote graphics
- Animated GIFs (my personal favorite)
People love consuming visual content. So give it to them.
Networks like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ have the ability to mention users on the platform. When you mention a user in your social post, they get a notification and therefore you’re guaranteed to get their attention.
And like one of my previous points, if you’re being a cheerleader, they’ll be much more likely to help amplify whatever message you’re sharing.
To ensure that your social content can be discovered in the relevant conversations that are already happening, hashtags are a must.
But stay relevant. Avoid trying to news jack a popular hashtag just because it’s getting a lot of attention. This has gone horribly wrong in the past.
This is mostly applicable though on the networks that actually incorporate a hashtagging system:
- Facebook (kind of)
If you’re on any of these networks, use relevant hashtags whenever possible.
Another easy way to generate interaction (engagement) is to ask questions. Make it easy for people to talk to you by giving them an obvious prompt.
Polls also fall into this category. Twitter just recently added a polls feature and Google+ has had them for a while.
Not only are these great ways to generate organic interaction, but they can also reveal valuable insights about your audience.
Make sharing easy and effective
Back on your website— you want to utilize the power of social media as well. This means making your “owned” content easy to share.
If you’ve got a blog, there better be social share buttons on it. But not just any share buttons— only the right share buttons.
I know it might sound like a good idea to add every social sharing button under the sun and place them all over the screen— but it won’t be as effective.
I don’t have time to give you our full study on the Paradox of Choice, but here it is in a nutshell:
Data has proven that MORE sharing options lead to LESS actual sharing. One site’s sharing dropped by 29% by adding 2 more buttons (going from 3 to 5 sharing options).
Use the most relevant networks sharing buttons to fan the flame on your most important social channels.
Another powerful psychological concept is the idea of social proof. Being able to show new visitors that your site has been trusted by, liked, or shared by many visitors before them is very compelling.
Find ways to show social proof to make it easier for people to see that your business is trustworthy.
Wrap all of this into a package with a big pretty bow and you have a powerful strategy for reaching more people, driving more business, and developing sustainable organic growth.