“Get Your Story Straight: Aligning Social Media and Content Marketing Strategies” is the title of a recent Content Marketing Institute webinar featuring Ardath Albee, noted B2B marketing strategist and CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc., and Paige Musto, Sr. Manager of public relations and social media at Act-On Software. You can listen to the webinar recording here, or read this Part 1 post (and tomorrow’s Part 2) to get the highlights of the talk. You can also check out our whitepaper, Best Practices for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy for an overview of some of the more effective content strategies companies are employing.
According to Ardath, it’s important to realize what people really want: to discover ideas, and figure out how to achieve objectives and get things done. The focus of your content strategy should shift away from your products to all the great things your products enable people to do. Showcase all of the possibilities and opportunities potential customers would gain from working with you. Engagement requires reciprocity; it should focus mostly on the customer, not on the company or the product being offered. This is where natural nurturing comes in.
The concept behind “natural nurturing” is that the best nurturing programs are not defined by a database. Everything that’s put online, and every touch point where people come into contact with the company, is an aspect of nurturing. Buyers frequently get through the buying process before ever involving the vendor, so the main goal here is to figure out how to get into the conversation from the get-go. Everything you’re putting out there should be aligned and working together to tell your brand story. Below is a good example of connecting all of your different channels and gaining reach with natural nurturing.
Often times, companies begin using social media without even considering content. Telling a story in 140 characters or less is almost impossible, so it’s important to connect all resources. The company blog should reflect what customers care about. It should be aligned with all other channels and tell a consistent story. Link your blog to whitepapers, webinars, or other content and make it easy to find; don’t expect people to go looking for information on their own. Everything should be linked together, so be conscious of how you’re connecting the dots.
“Orchestrate the progression – the pathway of how prospects discover you and engage with you. Make it into a conversation, and hopefully they’ll buy from you,” suggests Ardath. “If you want people to visit your site, it’s important to make everything consistent.”
Figure out how to engage people well enough so they want to share your content. Research shows that information shared by a peer or colleague is the #1 influence during the buying process, which is why it’s vital to get your ideas out there and set up as a basis of conversation. According to Forrester, 65 percent of the time executives will choose the vendor who helps to set the buying vision, because they grow to trust that company. Instead of focusing on getting people in your database, it’s important to focus on getting them to share your ideas.
Engagement is your compass
Social media is new. Many companies are learning how to orchestrate it, and use it to get to know their buyers. What’s important here is figuring out a way to gauge the responsiveness of the audience and recognize which topics are most important to them. Ardath suggests finding out which topics drive further engagement and which ones are make an impact, instead of being only temporarily entertaining. Start using channel assessment, audience behavior and topic evaluation to inform the marketing program design, which will allow you to create more relevant and engaging content.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of the webinar recap, or just watch the recording. Paige will introduce agile marketing as a way to approach marketing management, and discuss how to know whether this model is right for your business.
Social Media & Content Marketing Calibration, Part 1