Content Marketing's Evolution From Broadcasting to Socializing

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Cindy Elhaj, director of marketing, Sprocket Media
Cindy Elhaj, director of marketing, Sprocket Media

We all know the queen rules the house. But all we seem to talk about is how content is king. What good is broadcasting information to an unresponsive—even non-existent—audience? Although content marketing has increased in popularity, marketers need to focus not just on creating relevant, thought-provoking content, but also on preparing it for the social hemisphere in which it'll eventually float. Effort to create viral-ready content to trigger conversation is a two-part deal. First, create your content with engagement in mind and on platforms that allow for this engagement to flow free, and second, make sure you have not only an audience, but have an engaged one. Without one or the other, you may not be maximizing your content marketing efforts and run the risk of spending time and money on content that breathes no life.

Content marketing in this case refers to website-based placement that can nurture or develop a relationship with prospects. Social media is where your audience spends most of its time and where engagement is more likely to occur. It's become extremely important to leverage both to maximize your content marketing efforts.

Websites are a great place to house your content due to the open space, but they usually don't allow for high-level engagement. Social media platforms are great for virality, but fall short of allowing content beyond their allotted characters. Combining both generally entails creating viral-ready content, things your readers are interested in, and amplifying your message by linking back to your site on one of the most powerful in-bound marketing tools today: your social channels, where your audience is comfortable engaging, commenting, and sharing, and where your content has the potential to be seen by thousands. Marketing Consultant Jay Baer said it best, “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.”

Currently, social media, as well as newsletters and blogs, head the content marketing platforms that marketers use. Even when use platforms outside of social, always make sure the latter two are “social ready.” They must include social integration features, comments, likes, shares, etc. Predictions for 2014 point toward “shares” of articles gaining increasing importance because they speaks volumes about the attractiveness of the content presented. It's considered electronic word of mouth (eWoM). Comments are another key performance indicator (KPI) to show that what's being put out there is interesting enough to generate an opinion for the purpose of others to see, and coming from someone other than the content source. These types of engagement factors are earned media, something marketers strive for and are far more valuable than paid media. All these relationship-building activities center on your content—and the breath of life pumped into it through the two-way communication made possible through social interaction.

The most effective way to grasp the attention of your audience is first and foremost to create content they're looking for. Then spread it out like wildfire in the social sphere, in the places your audience frequents most. As Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi said, “As a content publisher yourself, you recognize that the most critical part of a successful content marketing program is building your audience.” Without an audience to consume it, there's no reason for businesses to create content in the first place, so the challenge lies in finding the right audience. The fact remains that consumers and B2B buyers are listening to someone, so it might as well be you.

Broadcasting your content is no longer enough in this social and digital world. You can no longer assume that if you build it they will come. Content needs to be relevant to a reader's interests, presented to them in a personal manner, and capable of viral activity to experience the holy grail of digital marketing, which are likes, comments, and shares. With so much content for readers to consume and engage with, it's to your advantage to feed the right message at the right time on the right platform. With this mix of broadcasting and engagement, the king and queen can rule the world.

Cindy Elhaj, director of marketing, Sprocket Media

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