There’s the demand generation team or brand team within the marketing department, who make sure customers and prospects are aware of the company and what it offers. There is the product marketing team, which emphasize on driving interest in the tool or category of items provided. On the other hand, there’s a customer care team — the group that ensures those who make a purchase have a good experience afterwards. And, recently, many companies ensure they also have a person or set of people to handle both social media and content marketing.
For many organizations, social marketing probably came first. As platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram became popular, organizations realized they had an opportunity to connect with their target audience through a new channel. This evolved from an option to a necessity once it became clear that customers were also actively talking about their experiences — good or bad — about the companies they dealt with on social media. Before long, social media teams were assigned to build up a brand’s following, take part in relevant conversations and, when necessary, hand questions or complaints off to their counterparts in the customer service team.
Content marketing, on the other hand, may have been something that initially grew out of the marketing communications team, which might have traditionally been focused on company-oriented materials such as brochures and sales collateral. As the rise of digital technologies allowed brands to effectively create and run their own media properties, many organizations realized they needed content marketing teams to develop assets — blog posts, infographics, e-books — that spoke more to their customers’ interests and needs versus just the things they sell. That way, when it comes time for a product launch, the market has already been primed to pay attention.
Not every company, particularly those in the small to medium-sized category, will have completely distinct social media and content marketing teams. And even in larger organizations, those running social and content marketing programs will often work hand-in-hand. That’s because there are several areas where the two forms of marketing have a natural alignment or can serve to make each more successful in achieving the objectives.
Let’s show how some examples of this dynamic duo are in action:
Larger or more engaged audience
Even if brands have decided to pursue an “owned media” strategy, it won’t amount to much if the target audience doesn’t consume the content. Especially when they are first starting out with content marketing, companies might be hesitant to trigger any “unsubscribes” from their existing email database, or to drive people to their blog or resource centres entirely by paying for online ads. If the quality is truly there, the thinking goes, content marketing should attract at least some of its audience organically.
Promoting content marketing through social media is arguably the best (and cheapest) way to do that. After all, brands may not always feel they have a lot to post on various social media channels on a regular basis. If they have a number of good content marketing assets at their disposal, however, it’s not hard to fill up your social media calendar with a series of posts containing links to your best work.
Full in-depth conversations
One of the major criticisms of social media is that the relative brevity of many posts only scratches the surface in terms of what a company might want to say to its audience. After all, if customers start overwhelming platforms like Twitter with complaints about a product or decision the firm has made, how do you offer a satisfying negation?
Content marketing resources have a discrete advantage here in which there are no official limits on the length of a blog post, e-book or video. That means companies can provide a walk-through on their latest strategy, an explanation for something controversial or even to make a public apology that will resonate. When the conversation on social media demands a company say something with substance, a link to the content marketing asset will take them to the kind of comprehensive answers they need.
An ongoing idea process
One of the trickiest things about content marketing can be coming up with what to write, what to film, or talk about in a podcast. That’s because it’s not just a matter of touting the merits of your products and services, which works well in traditional advertising or other forms of marketing communications. Content marketing is about tapping into the water-cooler topics that fascinate or even frustrate your customers and prospects.
In that sense, social media provides real-time insight into what people are talking about at any given moment. Through social listening or just by interacting with your followers on a regular basis, you can pick up on the kinds of stories they want a company to tell them, or where your firm’s expertise could offer a unique point of view.
Many social media services, like Twitter and LinkedIn, started off mainly as text-driven platforms. Over time, however, we’ve seen not only the introduction of more “visual first” social media like Instagram but an evolution of existing services towards pictures and video elements.
Social media teams might not have had the budget or other resources to make a lot of this kind of content to support their posts in the past, but content marketing assets can often be repurposed to fill this need. This includes opportunities to divide an infographic into a thread of visual posts on Twitter or Instagram, for example. A video interview with the CEO could be edited into snippets that run on LinkedIn or even Facebook. There’s a lot of content marketing materials that are almost tailor-made to be showcased.
Methods to Measure
There are lots of ways to evaluate the success of content marketing assets, like the number of leads it helps generate for the sales team. When they are distributed or amplified through social media, however, CMOs and their teams can also look at the metrics. This isn’t just a matter of tracking the click-through rate from a social post to an online visit, but also the number of comments a social post promoting a content marketing asset generated, how often it was reshared by your followers, the number of likes it got and so on.
Content marketing and social media are like the chocolate and peanut butter of a modern CMO strategy — two great things that can be even greater together.