Social media provides your brand with a way to get to know your customers while being a strong content distribution channel. So what do you need to do to integrate social media into your content strategy?
The difference between content marketing and social media
Companies use content marketing to inform, educate, and/or entertain prospects and customers by creating awareness around their brand and influencing behavior that results in leads, sales, and/or advocacy.
Social media encourages communication amongst prospects and customers. Occasionally there is communication between the audience and the companies. These interactions are generally more conversational and less structured. Social media is also increasingly being used as a customer support channel.
According to Marketing Solved, the goals of content marketing are consumption and then behavior. The goals of social media are participation and then behavior. You could say social media is the new telephone and content marketing is the new brochure.
You can extend the reach of your content using your social media presence, which also serves as a direct line of communication between you and your audience.
Also, what were once considered social media vanity metrics like shares, likes, retweets, and comments, are now playing a bigger role in search engine results.
Eventually, content and social media will be pulled together as an essential part of an integrated marketing strategy. What follows is a brief discussion of what you want to do to enable this to happen effectively.
Define your brand voice
Document your brand voice in a style guide for all the content your organization creates. This is similar to what you did to define your visual brand. Instead of fonts and colors, now you're identifying how to play out your brand's personality in your content. Then content creators carry it out across all brand channels.
Collect your content and identify how it's unique from your competitor's content. What sets you apart? Are you an encouraging friend? Are you a data geek? Are you the life of the party? Maybe a trusted advisor? Define what is different about how you communicate as opposed to how your competitors communicate.
Describe your brand voice in a few words. These few words are to be the guiding force of your content. It's about who your brand is and how you'd like it to be portrayed. Create examples of what to do and what not to do when crafting a content story. Your chosen words determine the conversational tone you use, the cultural references made, and what data to incorporate. You're giving whoever may be creating content a clear idea of what makes that content sound like your brand.
As your company and the market environment change over time, your brand voice should reflect those changes. Check the relevance of your brand voice guidelines every time you update your content strategy.
Define your social media content strategy
Now to integrate social media into your content strategy.
Outline what you're doing with your social media presence and how it's going to tie into your overall content marketing strategy. Identify the structure of your content and what action you want your audience to take.
The relationship between social media and your content is the link to better brand awareness and recognition. If you have owned content that doesn't fit well within your website content you probably shouldn't display this content on your social channels either.
Remember to continuously engage with your customers and potential customers. Social feeds are not meant to be one-way streams of pushing out branded content. Track everything you can so you can see where adjustments need to be made.
Each individual social post needs to stand on its own as a representation of your brand while also driving the audience to other relevant content. Include links back to your site in your social posts. Brands with integrated social media content consistently see solid engagement.
Another way to see the difference between social media and content marketing
Social media is a place where companies can find potential customers. It's a great channel to listen to the discussions and gather insights for your business. It is also a place for you to engage with prospects and customers. You get the most out of Social media marketing when it is in place in tandem with your other marketing channels.
Content marketing is a strategy. It's a way of marketing that allows companies to add value for potential customers by creating and distributing relevant content. In this context, content includes blog posts, videos, and web pages that help solve a problem the customer is having.
The purpose of social media marketing strategies are to increase brand awareness among potential, existing, and targeted audiences. By encouraging activity and discussion around the brand, social media marketers increase brand awareness.
Social media also proves imperative for ensuring customer satisfaction and keeping prospects and customers engaged. These channels are open forums for dialogues between businesses and their clients about whatever questions and issues they may have. In short, the objective of social media marketing is to increase brand awareness, customer satisfaction, and customer retention.
Demand generation is the objective of content marketing. The quality of the content brings people to the brand and allows the brand to develop relationships with these prospective customers.
To rephrase just a bit, the goal of content marketing is the consumption of content and then evidence of a particular behavior. Again, the goal of social media marketing is participation and then evidence of a particular behavior. This is the fundamental difference between the two.
Everything is connected in the current omnichannel marketing world. Once your social media referred visitors are on your website you can track the number of leads using "hand-raiser" actions like signing up for a mailing list or asking for a demo. Look at what leads become qualified through interactions with your gated and ungated content. See what social channel these leads came through.
You want to know that your social media content strategy is working with your overall content strategy, not in conflict with it. Treating social media and overall content as separate entities can really only lead to customer confusion. Your aim is to provide a seamless user experience to convert that user to a long-term customer.