Social Media: An essential component of effective content marketing
Savvy content marketers aren’t just limiting themselves to email marketing and content promotion through their own websites. Social media has become an important component of a successful B2B content marketing campaign. Several sources, including TechTarget’s recent social media research brief, are shedding some light on just how significant social media and communities play in an IT buyer’s journey. Marketers are now sharing their content through social channels, and listening to the audience, through these same channels. As my colleague Garrett Mann loves to remind me, listening before speaking is an important trait often forgotten by marketers.
So, why exactly should B2B IT marketers care about social media as a viable channel for content marketing? Because B2B buyers leverage social to learn more about vendor product offerings. Nielsen recently observed that at least once a month 65% of social media users learn more about brands, products, or service offerings. And a recent study by Forrester confirmed that social media sources of information are being used by more than 70% of B2B decision makers. Great opportunity for marketers, right? One would think so. However, this same study also revealed that while 80% of marketers monitor social media, only 20% organize marketing efforts around specific social media strtageies.
There are two ways for vendors to get their content more exposure through social: First, add share tags to all content located on vendor sites – this allows readers to share interesting content with their networks, who in turn share it with their network, and on it goes; The second – take to social media sites directly, such as YouTube (vendor videos), Slideshare (vendor industry studies, presentations), LinkedIn & Twitter (social networks), and industry blogs/social communities.
While certain social networks (mainly LinkedIn and Twitter) are being used for business, one of the most trusted sources for IT buyers is the word of other IT buyers. Online social and communities (such as IT Knowledge Exchange) allow IT buyers to share advice and insight based on knowledge and experience with different vendors, and also provides a forum for IT buyers to ask questions to others who have dealt with similar issues. And the good news is that buyers are participating and contributing to social media, keeping the discussion going. These communities are where technology marketers must be to have any chance of being included in that discussion.
Online communities can be treated as early stage content and association opportunities – similar to aligning with/sponsoring a vendor-neutral editorial piece or analyst report. Now, the challenge here is, how do you get participants to start talking about your products and services? The first step is to listen. Social Listening is a common buzz word used within the social space, but it’s the core definition of content personalization.
As marketers, one of the most imperative rules for ongoing successful B2B marketing and sales efforts is creating personalized messaging that speaks to buyer pain points. And it is no surprise that this should be an essential part of your content marketing strategy. There is no better starting point for understanding your prospects and yes, your own customers’ pain points, than monitoring online social communities. As a general rule, IT buyers will tell their peers what is wrong with your products and solutions before they tell you.
Now that you know how to listen, it is time to put this insight to work with your content development and marketing efforts.