You know what? Content marketing sucks, and for a number of reasons, the foremost of which is that it's very difficult to get it right.
The funny thing is that if you're a marketing writer, a content producer, a video producer, a graphic artist or a social media strategist. . . that's the part which is in your control.
First, you've some tough battles to fight before you actually produce content that's sharable, interesting, educational and potentially capable of driving sales, mentions, likes, and publicity. That's #1 on my list here.
1) You need to convince purse string holders, executives and other decision makers at your company (or your client company) that it's the right thing to do. The interweb bloggers and leading-edge marketers have been almost shrill in their convictions over the past 5-6 years about how critical it is to mesh value-based content production with a methodical, consistent social strategy. Heck, they've even crafted careers out of putting their advice in practice with their own properties. However, not everyone sees it your way, especially at the small biz/SMB end of the spectrum. You've got your work cut out for you. Lots of companies still want to produce lame-o brochures and pound their chests about how great they are. They refuse to re-imagine the marketing universe as a place where very specific customer interests come first. The data, the posts, the sentiment and the users are out there for the taking. It just takes some discipline, thoughtfulness, strategy, time and money to discover the people you need to focus on and the right content mix for engaging them.
2) Once you get someone on board with your strategy, you have to actually produce something worth sharing. That takes talent, vision and hard work. A lot of people give up on this faster than you can say Gary Vaynerchuk. Plus, you have to create content that's appropriate for whatever "channel" you're sharing it on (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, Tumblr, etc).
3) You need to be connected to the right group of niche market thought leaders, journalists, bloggers and influencers. If you don't have this group cultivated, curated and captured in a Hootsuite stream (or whatever tool you're using today), you're behind. Go do it. John Jantsch had a great podcast on this particular area of focus the other day. Check it out if you're interested in "proprietary audience development." He interviews Jeffrey K. Rohrs, author of Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers.
4) If you've produced a nice library of content worth sharing, you have to make sure there's a disciplined system of daily posting, sharing and promoting this content in place. It takes time to set this up, and it's not easy. But, hey, you gotta do it.
5) You need to measure the effect of your efforts and report back to management in order to justify your existence in the world. This could be traffic spikes directly related to share timing, conversions on a real promotion, follower uptick, re-shares and re-tweets, a favorable mention in a product review by a famous thought leader, etc.
Yes - it sucks. But it's way better than pissing money away on banner ads which are losing effectiveness by the minute, paying for traditional advertising that not many of us pay attention to these days, or sniveling in the corner because you're afraid of all this new technology and pine for the old days when the sales process was driven by the salesman rather than the customer.
COOL TOOL ALERT: http://www.social-searcher.com/ Yet another entrant into the social search game. Organized nicely and with lots of cool advanced features for targeting your keywords.
If you liked this post, you might like: