Content marketing (makes me happy – content – get it?) is here to stay, its growth going hand in hand with that of social and digital platforms. You know this – you consume it yourself while queuing in the bank, on the train or Luas, waiting for a meeting to start …you use the time to read newsletters, RSS feeds, links to articles on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on your smartphone. You browse your next fashion purchase or holiday destination on Pinterest. But are you aware of the effect it’s having on you?
If you’re still not sure what content marketing is, here’s a definition I cobbled together from a number I’ve come across.
Content Marketing: a marketing strategy deploying the creation and sharing of content – or information – to attract, acquire and engage customers with the objective of driving profit.
It sounds a bit textbooky so I prefer to say that content marketing is using relevant information to foster loyalty.
You canny marketers might ask: so what? Who cares? You should, because a clever content marketing strategy can make profit. Social media is not just a pastime, my friends. A recent American study showed that more than 1 in 5 Pinterest users has pinned an item that they later purchased. Although this is a US statistic and it relates to a specific social media platform, it shows that money may be made from well-placed and relevant content.
Consumers inform themselves using social media
This is because of how people are using social media.
The same US survey reveals that Social Media is changing how people make purchases. We have been taught that on social media platforms, the seller should do the listening whereas this survey shows that consumers also engage in social listening. They inform themselves using social media; not just peer reviews but also your content.
• 70% hear others’ experiences
• 65% learn more about the product/brand
• 53% compliment brands
• 50% complain
• 47% share money incentives
In other words they listen, contribute to the conversation and take action when they are moved to.
Social media creates positive feelings
70% reported feeling engaged, informed, energised and inspired. However, 21% reported negative feelings, but we all know that bad things can happen online.
Your objective, should you choose to accept it
Passionate fans are passionate ambassadors for your business who are more likely to share, comment, like, retweet and so on. This is your objective for your content marketing strategy; to create passionate fans.
Don’t bang on about your product or service
The golden rule is not to talk about your product or service all the time.
Here’s an example of when over-promotion is off-putting: when someone follows me on Twitter I have a quick look at their profile summary. If the last couple of tweets are all pushing a product or service they offer I don’t bother following because I suspect I’ll be sold to constantly. I won’t learn anything useful so I don’t go there, even if the service does interest me. Just put yourself in the shoes of the people consuming your content. They want to be informed, to be inspired, entertained, made to feel good. Of course you have a product or service to sell so you have to strike a balance.
I think this extract from Sonia Simone’s 7 Deadly Sins of Blogging sums up how content should work: She – Senior Editor with the amazing Copyblogger – says …
Here’s how making money with social media works:
You give away information of value. Maybe it solves an important problem. Maybe it makes people laugh. Maybe it makes life a little less boring to millions who are getting through a day of cubicle hell. Whatever.
You give. And then tomorrow, you give some more. And the next day, you give more.
After a heck of a lot of giving, you make a terrific offer and you get to ask for something in return. And a small fraction of your audience will respond.
How can this possibly work? Because if what you give is valuable enough, it will attract lots and lots of people. It’s roughly the same amount of work to give terrific content to a million users as it is to share it with one.
But to each individual reader, you’re giving much more than you’re asking for.
This is why so many “get rich quick” schemes don’t work, and why they’re particularly ill-suited to social media. They’re about taking. They’re not about giving.
I’ll leave you with some examples from history of great content marketing. From history, yes! I bet you all thought content marketing was invented in 2002.
1895 – The John Deere magazine, The Furrow, providing information to farmers on how to become more profitable. The magazine, considered the first custom publication, is a success and is still in circulation today, reaching 1.5 million readers in 40 countries in 12 different languages.
1900 –Michelin develops the Michelin guides, offering drivers information on auto maintenance, accommodations, and other travel tips. 35,000 copies were distributed for free in this first edition. Eventually, the company began selling these books, yet the publication set a precedent for both informative guides and content marketing distribution.
1904 – Jell-O salesmen go door-to-door, distributing their cookbook for free. Touting the desert as a versatile food, the company sees its sales rise to over $1 million by 1906.
Next time: 7 Steps to happy content marketing