If digital marketing is all about content and if the platforms used to get that content out are called social media channels, can marketers post content that has no social stand and gain market share? Well, before going down the road to a yes or no answer, let’s look at what we are dealing with.
According to the Content Marketing Institute content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
OK, so the way businesses get these messages across is by using social media platforms - which are basically software, or channels that can be used to attract followers and create a community.
The name itself - social media - implies that the content should have some social impact. And as we are social animals living in a community, we are all pretty much concerned with matters which impact the society we live in. Communicating how we live and using this communication to make us more a part of the pack isn’t something new. Cavemen painted drawings on walls to leave a message behind, then skip some millions of years ahead and the radio was invented, the printed press, the television and then the internet – all means of sharing information within a social setting.
Now, after taking a small history lesson, we have arrived at today – a time when social media has changed the way traditional marketing works, and the way we communicate on a personal level. Like with other media outlets, there is freedom of speech (to a point) but the matter is, can businesses step-away from social matters on social media and indulge in straight-forward hard selling?
The definition given above suggests not, but with social media fostering a culture of self-expression and an eager exchange of ideas from which both consumers and businesses can benefit, the whole theory becomes blurry.
Let’s put on our fog lights and find our way out of the mist, by looking at what content really aims to do and then seeing if a social lacking approach could work.
Content needs to be informed by the needs of your audience, and where does this audience come from? It comes from a pool of people from different parts of society that find something in common and are looking for the same things. If these common threads point to a need for content that is not so social, but more business based, then you should go with it.
Even if you are a big name in the market, you still have to go with the flow. A community gives its members that feeling of belonging. If you disrupt that feeling, if you make the community members feel they are being used, or that the space where they once felt at home in no longer fosters a feeling of trust, then you have lost them forever. Make sure you show followers you believe in what you are selling, what you are saying and how you are going about it. Do your research, know the community you are approaching, stick to what you know works in a particular social media setting and take things from there.
Ask and you shall receive
Trust and a feeling of appreciation is really the name of the game. You have all these people who are interested in what you have to say at your fingertips, so why not come straight out and ask them what they want more or less of. Yes, you follow a business strategy aimed at increasing brand awareness and a lot of energy has probably gone into it, but if you realise that the arrow towards success isn’t reaching the heights you would want it to, then maybe it is time to tweak the strategy somewhat. Ask the followers you already have what they think would work best. In this way they will feel appreciated and you will have a more personal connection with them. They will share more, talk about you more, and then watch out, that arrow may go through the roof.
All information has social content if you set it up that way. Consumers are very smart, they know the different between an empty gesture that is just hitting at the core of a hard sell and a post that speaks to them on a personal level. Take followers on a tour of where all the magic happens. Give them an insight into what goes on behind the selling, the product manufacturing, and the service you provide. You have just given social content to a selling point, and it wasn’t fake, trust wasn’t lost and - on the contrary - you may have just hit the social media gold mine.