Content is King
When Bill Gates made that statement nearly 20 years ago, little did he realize that it would become the single most overused and often misapplied phrases in the history of the Internet. “Just write it, and they will come!”, claimed many marketers.
Two years later, Google was founded, and rapidly it became more challenging for brands and businesses to get found on the web. SEO and keyword ranking have played their part, followed by PPC ads, white hat and black hat methods for generating page views, as well as mass content distribution to every media format that a business could get their hands on. Even today, this is still a standard procedure for many companies attempting to reach customers on the web.
In a day and age when there is more noise than ever, how effective is this strategy? If content, SEO, paid placement, and page views are in place, is this what a complete content marketing strategy looks like?
The answer, for most brands and businesses, is no.
What happens ‘before the click’ can open a world of opportunities for your brand, helping you to increase affinity, conversation, and potential interest from customers. Where are these customers? On social networks. If you know who they are, what they need, and how to communicate with them, you can turn likes into leads, and fans into buyers.
Attracting Customers To Your Business
As an example, let us look at the topic of education, and educational marketing.
With employment challenging to obtain, many current and prior college graduates are choosing to go back to school.
Many are seeking to further their education beyond the standard bachelor’s degrees through highly specific programs including high tech, medicine, legal, and more.
With this global increase in demand for higher education, there is much more competition for universities and specialty programs to encourage potential students to attend.
Each student is making a serious life decision: to dedicate time, money, and resources to a new career path, ideally, one that will lead to a better future.
Are these students strictly making their decisions based on what they find in a Google search, blog post, or banner ad? Likely not. Information overload can be just as dangerous as no information, and weeding out what is accurate from what is not can be a challenge.
Because of this information overload, and based upon the experience of their friends, family, and peers, many life decisions (read: large purchases)-whether it be a car, a home, or a new career or advanced degree-are substantially influenced by word of mouth. Word of mouth, and conversation, are happening every second of every minute of the day on social networks. Your brand can create these conversations, too, but how you do it matters just as much as with whom.
A blog post or infographic may not turn into sales right away, but what it can do is educate, empower the reader, and position you as an expert within a particular field. In like manner, social media can provide you with real time opportunities to be helpful to your potential customers, to share the successes of current customers and colleagues (students, faculty, employees, etc), and to provide value to the viewer/reader. You can, in effect, become part of their life, but being present, relevant, and consistent is key.
Using Social Media To Complete Your Content Strategy
In addition to sharing your business’ story through websites, blogs, back-linking, and PPC campaigns, a properly structured social media strategy can be used to complement, enhance, and reflect a personality behind your business. The more human your brand can become, the more likely it will attract other humans.
If “Content is King,” social media, as a marketing medium, is “The Queen.”
Here is how it works:
Your content is created to spark the interest of and answer questions for potential customers.
Social media helps build the relationships with those customers and encourages them to organically share the content that you have worked so hard to produce.
A successful content strategy allows social media to:
- Get the attention of new visitors (brand awareness)
- Develop long-term relationships with existing customers (brand loyalty and advocacy)
- Rinse and repeat the process
Like all relationships, you’ll need understanding, communication and patience. Businesses must understand the needs of their target audience, and how they fit into their life, before sharing how they can fulfill that need. Unlike paid media or other direct sales channels, social media requires a big-picture mindset, because the goal is to build relationships-not expect an immediate conversion.
Here are 8 steps to structuring a complete marketing strategy
- Identify your brand offering
- Get to know your audience
- Create an authentic brand voice
- Clarify how you can help that audience
- Create content that speaks to them
- Identify the appropriate channels to distribute this content
- Share this content, as well as other topics, that your audience is interested in
- Never forget that people relate to people, not businesses!
Overall, the best strategy is one that includes well structured content marketing plan with SEO, promoted placements, and complementing social media strategies. People look for a business they can trust, the more consistent the voice, the more convincing the message.