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Social media and content marketing

We’ve got to come up with a better name for social media. When people hear that phrase, most immediately think of the “what I had for breakfast, aren’t my kids great, isn’t my life fabulous” world of Facebook. And that is overwhelmingly what social media should mean to many people. And that can make talking about social media to C-level executives a challenge. It doesn’t change the fact that social media can be – and is – a great business tool, both for B2B and B2C organizations. It just means that we have to do a  better job of explaining to skeptical clients how social media can work for them.

It’s not, “Look at me.”

It’s, “Check out this information that’s valuable to you.”

In the end it is about me in some sense: as a marketer I want you to notice me, but I stand a much better chance of building a strong relationship with you if you’re noticing me because I’m providing you with useful or insightful information.

So am I talking about social media now? It kind of sounds like I’m talking about content marketing. Really, I’m talking about both because one isn’t really effective without the other.

Social Media Week 2012 SP
Photo credit: Fora do Eixo

For social media to work, you have to have something to say beyond, “Look at me.” And for content marketing to work, you have to make use of as many channels as you can to reach your target audience.

This doesn’t mean your CEO has to tweet if he or she has no idea what Twitter is. But your organization has to have a presence, if not on Twitter, then in whatever channel your audience gathers. Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook … all have their audiences, some more homogenous than others.

More importantly, you have to build a hub around which your publishing efforts will orbit. There’s no guarantee on the shelf life of these social networks. (See AOL, MySpace, Friendster, etc.) Relying on one as the foundation of your digital marketing is the definition of insanity.

You should also think beyond the big social networks. Here are a few examples.

Google’s dominance is being eroded – ever so slightly – by more specialized search tools that are as much social network as they are search engine. Yelp helps you find a coffee place within walking distance of wherever you happen to be – with user reviews to help guide your choice. Amazon helps you find a new case for your mobile phone – with user reviews to help guide your choice.

Those are important channels for B2C businesses. For B2B, the answers aren’t quite as obvious, but social media is still a big part of the solution because people are looking for information, not options. Think Quora and LinkedIn, both of which have social components to them that allow for great intel gathering.

Ultimately, you have to view social media as part of your marketing mix, even if creating the next great viral video isn’t a logical step for your business and your brand. There’s much more to “being social” online than just the small handful of big social networks. Be sure you’re using all of these tools to your benefit. Because whether you are or you’re not, your competitors certainly will be.

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Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on Biznology.com, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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