The social media revolution is driven by content. How many times do people say “content is king” or the only way to connect with customers and prospects is with content? Heck, we’ve even said it ourselves. Plenty of companies, however, don’t understand what kinds of content to create. While this certainly starts with the marketing or communications team that knows what kind of content to publish on social channels, there is the much larger question of what does it mean from a social maturity perspective.
You can think of these stages as different positions in a media organization, even though the expected result is not the same. Media organizations have based their business models on two main revenue streams: advertising and subscribers. Companies use social media content to build an online presence, remain relevant to customers and prospects, nurture communities, drive leads and sales, connect with influencers, and improve search engine optimization. Traditional marketing copy does not do this. Press releases do not do this. Like everything else in the social media maturity model, the effectiveness of any social media efforts have to be measured against business goals. Once you have clarified your company goals, it is easier to understand what role needs to play in your organization.
Content is not an optional component of social media. Companies need content to tell their stories. It is the core of what the outside world sees. 54% of B2B marketers plan to increase their spend in content marketing next year, according to CMI and Marketing Profs. Are you one of them? And if so, how does your content compare to your competitors? What about within your target industries? Remember that everyone is bombarded with messages, long and short, written and image-based, audio and video all day long. So you are not just competing with your traditional competitors to make an impact. You are fighting the entire world.
The first stage as a content publisher is to think like a reporter. Once social channels are established, you begin sharing updates or links on these channels. But before you get too far, you need to remember your traditional marketing training. You must think about your target audience and what platforms they frequent. Use a social media monitoring tool to discover this information. What is the message and what action do you want your target to take? If you are sharing third party content on your Twitter account, you want your followers to click the link and find value in the article. This demonstrates your company’s value as a curator and one who finds and shares valuable content. Another action is to get followers to retweet the post. While this doesn’t qualify as an endorsement of what your company shared, it does spread your company name to their followers as a sharer of quality content.
As you begin looking for content to share, as well as simple status updates, look to your employees. If some are active on social networks themselves, follow their updates and share what they share. If you have an internal network, ask employees to share the best content they find, so the company and others can share it. Curating quality content can and should be a company effort.
Once a company gets comfortable sharing content on social channels, the creation begins. Everyone is trying to feed the content machine and the importance of visual content continues to grow. Facebook favors visual content. More brands are ramping up their Instagram efforts and you can’t ignore Pinterest if your target audience is primarily women.
Companies again need to look inside for stories they can tell with social content. Photos from trade shows or community activities are easy, but what about photo-based how-tos? And don’t forget your customers. One of the best ways to tell a company story is through a customer video. Have connections to thought leaders in your industry? Conduct an interview with them. Better yet, do it as a Google Hangout so others can join live and participate. They can also be broadcast live and recorded for YouTube. You’ve just created more shareable video content for your other channels.
Much of the content companies create lives on outside platforms. As companies mature and create more of their own content, they need to own the platforms that house it. A blog is that home. When you post content on your company blog you have a greater opportunity to convert the visitor to a lead or a sale. You can’t exist in the social media world forever without thinking about conversion paths. Grow and nurture a community all you want but at some point, you have to determine a measurable outcome. A blog also offers control. Social platforms are known to change on a regular basis as features come and go. Elements move on the page. You decide when and how to change your blog.
A successful blog usually cannot be handled by just one person. Some of the best blogs utilize people from multiple departments to create content. Customers and prospects have different interests, so leverage others within your company to appeal to a wider audience. Make it as easy as possible for people to submit blog posts. Email still works. Reward your bloggers with gift cards or swag. And be sure to share successful blog posts internally.
A social publisher gets it. This is a company that is curating and sharing great third party articles, posting status updates on their social channels, creating visual content with photos and video, yet still not ignoring the audio possibilities, blogging regularly with contributions from across the company, and, here’s the big and, creating longer form content like ebooks, white papers, and even combining content to make “kits” on a topic or idea. High level content companies also host webinars and build data collection tools for additional information to add to the content stream. Hubspot is a top company that has a fully functioning content program that drives conversions. Compare your company to the rest of your industry to see if you can become the leader in your space.
The expansion of social media content creation is just one component of Marketing Cloud’s Social Maturity Model. Answer 10 simple questions to see how your company ranks across all of the categories.