Content marketing and social media are the new mainstays of online marketing. Yet, there’s a tremendous disconnect in many businesses because they aren’t connecting and integrating the two.
Consider the business running a Facebook coupon that offers 20% off if you mention that you saw the coupon on Facebook. Yet, the person behind the counter at the location doesn’t know this, so when you say, “I saw it on Facebook,” she smiles and nods. But no discount.
This happens more often than you think.
And it’s not just coupons and offers either. There are landing pages that offer a downloadable “how-to guide,” yet the social media links go to the home page. Or, the content on the social media channels doesn’t seem to go with the website.
Yet, combining the right content with the right social media channels can turbocharge sales.
The Difference Between Content and Social
The purposes of content marketing and social media are different. Content helps you get found in search, shows your expertise, and helps to build your reputation, while social builds awareness and creates relationships. They’re different, but they go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Lee Odden of TopRankBlog.com and the author of Optimize says, “A small business that combines smart social media and SEO tactics can create a competitive advantage for attracting new customers whether they search Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or blogs.”
The key lies in integration.
To illustrate how integration works, let’s say you have a solid content strategy in place and now you want to know how to increase your ROI through social.
Here Are Three Ways to Integrate the Two:
1. Blog — A blog is a combination of content marketing and social media. A good blog will answer the questions that are most pressing for your clients. Research keywords and phrases, and use them to create blog entries that make it easier for your prospects to find you. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to find keyword terms and phrases and then build a blogging content calendar around them.
Search engines love the fresh content that comes with blogging and users love them because they offer specific information on a topic.
On the social side, blogs are interactive. Enable comments, so your readers can ask questions and share their points of view. Take time to respond to each comment your readers leave and you’ll start to build relationships. It’s also easy for your readers to share blog posts. If you’re using WordPress, just add “share this” widgets.
You can do the same with videos. Recently, I gave a blogging workshop and the topic of videos came up. The question was, what to do with a video once you had created it. My suggestions were: Put it on your YouTube Channel, write a short blog post and embed it in the post, send an email newsletter and include it there, and share it through your social media channels.
Publishing through a blog or through your YouTube channel automatically integrates content marketing with social media. It’s a great first step. The next step is to start cultivating an audience.
2. Create Community — It’s critical to build a community of engaged and interested prospects if you want to increase your reach. You do this through a combination of consistent, useful, and entertaining posts that are in alignment with your brand.
Social media is the place to meet and greet new and current customers … and to put them in touch with the content you have on your website. No one wakes up in the morning and goes to your website, but 75% of them go to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or another social media platform. It’s there that you have the opportunity to get noticed and build trust and likeability.
Use social media first and foremost to connect with people. Share something interesting that you’ve learned or read recently. Ask thoughtful questions about your industry. Look for others asking questions and share your answers. When you read a post that is useful, share it with your growing audience. In that mix, also share links to new content that you’ve posted to your site. But don’t just share the link. Pull an interesting quote from the article or ask people to give you feedback. Make it compelling.
That kind of sharing will bring people to your website. When they arrive, ask them to join your email list, and make them an irresistible offer if they do. After all, email still drives the majority of sales online.
You can also use social media to directly grow your email list, another great way to integrate your content marketing and social media strategies. Here’s how …
3. Build Your Email List with Social Advertising — Facebook advertising has proven to be an effective way to grow an email list. You can set up the campaign with the goal of collecting email addresses for your list. You’ll need an exceptional offer for this to succeed. For example, a high-value webinar that hits your prospect’s sweet spot. Once you’ve defined the topic of the webinar and prepared it and identified your target audience on Facebook, you need to get them the message about the upcoming webinar.
Use a company like Shortstack or PageModo to build an email opt-in that works in Facebook. Then, use Facebook Ads to drive traffic to it, targeting only the people you want to reach with a predetermined ad budget.
Facebook Ads give you a lot of data regarding click-throughs, so it’s easy to tweak and test ads. And, it’s highly targeted, so you only spend ad dollars to reach the people you designate. For instance, if you only want to reach college-educated women between 25-50 who live in the Atlanta metro area, own small businesses, drive minivans, and have “Liked” Small Business Saturday’s Facebook Page, you can do that — provided they’ve given those details to Facebook. It’s powerful stuff.
In addition to these parameters, Facebook allows you to tailor your budget, so you never spend more than you mean to.
Afterwards, you’ll have the data you need to calculate your new customer acquisition because you’ll know how many people saw the ad vs. how many clicked on it, and how many signed up for the webinar.
Once they sign up for the webinar, they’re on your email list and you can send blog post snippets or other offers to them, depending on how you segment. You also have clear numbers on how much ad spend it took to bring in a certain number of people.
Of course, you can also tweet about the webinar and make status updates about it with the link. You’ll be able to track the clicks and shares, retweets, and more.
What’s Your Strategy?
For the ultimate happy marriage between content marketing and social media, there has to be an underlying strategy. This strategy targets the ideal prospect with the right type of content. It helps them find your valuable content through social media channels.
Once you align your content marketing objectives with the ideal prospect, social media gives you a place to connect with them.
How will you integrate social with content in 2014?