You still often hear the saying “we need a social media strategy”, but I think, that to make the most of social media requires broader questions to be asked.

For example, a customer engagement or communications strategy or content strategy are really part of a social media strategy.

We believe you need to answer how you plan to engage customers with content as a core part of your social media strategy and it will support SEO too.

What is content marketing?

I think the definition from Joe Pulizzi, author of “Get Content, Get Customers” is hard to beat. He defines content marketing as:

How a brand creates, delivers and governs original or curated content to attract and retain customers, positioning the brand as a credible expert and, ultimately, motivating a change in behaviour

I define content marketing simply as:

Managing content as an asset to achieve marketing goals of reaching, converting and engaging target audiences“.

Why is content marketing important?

For me, these are the reasons why content marketing is central to success online. So, to be successful, you need a plan for how content marketing can support your goals:

  • Shareable content drives creates awareness for your brand. If your content engages readers they will share it via their social accounts, email or word-of-mouth as a recom- mendation. Everyone is an influencer today!
  • Content drives results from SEO. Google has made this important since 1998 when it launched. Content became, and still is, king since websites are content and being found relies on content.
  • Content drives purchases. We base our decisions on online content when shopping online or researching for offline purchases.
  • Syndicated content drives purchases. Content marketing strategy is much broader than your site though, and includes content on social networks, online publishers, com- parison sites, blogs and many other types of site which help engagement and influence sales.
  • User generated content drives purchases. Buyer behaviour has changed, we now want to reference wider opinion from others like us about products and services, whether rat- ing sites, blogs or social networks – buyers dig out content to help their decision making.
  • Content on a range of platforms drives purchases. The importance of the internet continues to increase as technology (especially smart phones and tablets) evolve and we evolve with them.

What do you need to be successful in content marketing?

First and foremost you need a commitment to continued investment in content. Inbound marketing starts with considered, quality content. But this has to be a stream of quality content which is aligned with attracting customers and then engaging them based on different degrees of familiarity with you.

This content also needs a clear branded presence in a hub as shown in this content hub infographic I developed with Dan Bosomworth of Smart Insights:

Content hub

The hub can be a blog, such as the Eloqua All About Revenue blog, or it can be a community sharing articles such as the American Express Open Forum or it can be a more familiar customer magazine as with the Asda Magazine.

Some further content marketing principles to consider based on what Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute recommends are:

  1. Content must have intrinsic value. Content is a key part of your online value proposition. You must define it’s relevance to customers – help them live their lives, do their work better.
  2. Understand what content customers value. You need to do the research to understand the value.
  3. Content marketing strategy may completely or partially replace traditional advertising and marketing. You need to prove the relative importance of content marketing within your budget, for your market.
  4. Get your customers to participate. Yes, interaction is the name of the game online – don’t just push, engage and share – comments, polls and surveys related to content all help.
  5. Make it easy to buy. Content must fit with your ultimate goal in investing in content. A good point at which to conclude!

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About the author:

An acknowledged expert on digital marketing, Dave was recognised in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of “50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing“. Dave is also author of five best-selling books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice; and eMarketing eXcellence.