One of the questions I get most often goes something like this, “I’ve read that content marketing is the new SEO. Other marketing experts say that social media is the the way to go. So which is better, or do we even need social media if we’re actively creating content on our site?”
Content Marketing vs Social Media
I believe it is useful to first discuss both approaches briefly.
Content Marketing Approach :: Notification
Here the focus is the brand website. Fresh content is published regularly, in the blog, photo galleries, in-depth articles, FAQ pages, case studies, testimonials, white papers, ebooks, infographics, videos, etc.
Social networks fill a vital role in notifying followers of the new content and by distributing links back to the content on the company website. With this approach, brands model the behavior of media publishers.
For the past 17 years we’ve provided internet marketing consulting and services, but prior to that we were in the magazine publishing industry. We produced the magazines and sent them to press and a distribution company took it from there, putting the issues on newsstands across North America and handling the mail subscriptions. How successful would these publications have been, if we waited for potential subscribers to find us in the Yellow Pages? With the content marketing approach, social media represents distribution. It puts your content in front of eyeballs.
The website focus of content marketing lends itself more to creating demand for products and services, building relationships with prospects and nurturing them towards a lead conversion or purchase. The content marketing approach also can result in solid first page search engine rankings when properly executed.
Social Media Approach :: Engagement
The content focus here is within the social networks themselves. The content containers are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, etc. The content must conform to the format specified by the social network and brands model their behavior after the individuals they wish to reach within each network.
Social media is powerful in building brand awareness, increasing customer retention and improving customer satisfaction. Social channels are an open forum that provides the opportunity for developing direct conversations with customers. Product launches and news releases can spread like wild fire through social media.
So which approach is better? For our client projects, they go together like pizza and beer. The ratios may vary, month to month, but it’s hard to think of one without the other. Jay Baer said, “Content is fire, social media is gasoline.” Generating a high level of visibility and traffic involves both.
Social media is a powerful marketing tool, and companies have profited by using it alone, but it’s always better when engagement (social) and media (content) come together.
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