The backbone of an effective social media campaign is content marketing. Content Marketing is simply using content to educate your target audience about your products, services, industry, events, etc. as a way to spark conversations and build relationships. To elaborate, the content you create or promote should be viewed as relevant and of value to your audience, not just the classic “save 30% on your next purchase” advertisement. Online content used to engage a customer and provoke conversation can be in the form of video, audio, written, imagery, etc.
All small businesses today can, and should, take advantage of content marketing. Below are just a few reasons why your business should be utilizing content marketing. These statistics, sourced from an Arik Hanson, give a glimpse at how fast the online audience is growing.
- More than 250 million people use Facebook Connect every month. (Facebook)
- Between April 2010 and January 2011, Twitter has gained 40 million users and a 62 percent increase in mobile use of the platform
- The average American Internet user watches 30 minutes of video online per day [40 percent increase over 2009]
- Social networking site usage grew 88 percent among Internet users aged 55-64 between April 2009 and May 2010
With stats like those above, most of you have probably decided that content marketing can do wonders for your small business. But where do you get ideas for this content? There are two main approaches for delivering content to your audience. As discussed in previous Catalyst articles “Content Marketing featuring Lil Wayne” and “Small Business Uses paper.li For Content Marketing”, the first method is for you to create online content for your small business.
The second method is finding great content from other respected individuals/businesses in your industry and sharing their content with your audience. By doing this you’re accomplishing two things. First, you’re building a relationship with the source whom you pulled the content from, as sharing their content should be seen as a valuable gesture by you (small business owner), thus they are likely to reach out to you to say ‘thank you’ and the relationship-building process starts. Secondly, you’re getting relevant (to your products/services/industry and to your target audience’s interests) and valuable content in front of your target audience. You can then use that content to engage your audience in discussions. The benefit over time is that you can use other people’s content to build relationships with your customers & prospects, which should in turn generate new & continued sales for your small business.
Finding sources of content relevant to your audience can be both challenging and time consuming. Fortunately, there are new tools being developed daily to assist you with this. From Tweet filtering/aggregating programs, such as Mass Relevance’s TweetRiver, to blog search engines, finding good information on almost any topic is becoming easier. A great, easy-to-use website we came across which can be used to find recent articles on any subject is Topix.com. This site allows the user to search online news and blogs for any topic they choose. The user is given the options to enter keywords and source details (blog vs. news article, specific website domains, etc.). Another valuable feature is that one can restrict the search to a specific geographic location. This is especially useful if you are looking for relative content specific to your town or city. After the search criteria are defined, a list of all matching blogs/articles is listed in chronological order.
Employing an effective content marketing campaign for your business will engage your current and potential customers like never before. However, how efficiently your content is obtained plays a big part in your business’s overall social media costs. By using the tools and methods described in this article, your content marketing time and capital commitments can be greatly reduced, resulting in higher profit margins. How efficient and effective is your content marketing campaign?