Recently at a startup event, we talked to a founder of a young company. He asked us if we could meet sometime soon and talk about content marketing. A few sentences later he was talking about SEO. When we asked what he was after, content marketing or SEO he said something like: „doesn’t content marketing equal SEO?“
Bummer. I thought this misunderstanding was once and for all off the table. Obviously not. And he is not alone with his misconception.
What is content marketing?
I am not going to explain the difference between content marketing and SEO in this article. Jonathan already did that in one of his earlier articles: „The Difference Between Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing and SEO.“
But I firmly believe that content marketing deserves a little more attention and a little more focus on what it is and what it can do for you. And Content Marketing is certainly a lot more than SEO.
The Meaning of Content
Content is one of the most important aspects of Social Media, Blogging and many other forms of online marketing. Yes, and it is really important for SEO, too. Marketing with content is not an invention of the age of Internet. Content has played a huge part of marketing for companies, stores, Consultants, freelancers and other. They have used it for a long time to get more famous, build a brand, gain trust and to market their products and services.
In times when at every corner, every bus stop and wall advertising messages are thrown at us with overly large and colorful posters, every website has multiple advertisements on it so that w have to look hard for the original message we were looking for we learned to ignore most of this promotional chit chat. Who does not use the advertisement break on television to get some food from the fridge or hang up the washing?
Marketing with content most of the time is more subtle. To win with content marketing, we need to learn to focus on what our target audience likes and wants to consume instead of what we want them to know. We have to learn to put our marketing message into content that is useful and enjoyable for potential clients. Instead of screaming louder until we have chased the last person away from our promotional messaging we have to learn to invest more effort into understanding our audience and what they are looking for.
The result is a premium food shop that offers recipes which you can use with their products. The handcrafting shop at the corner offers some tutorials for DIY projects. The shop for outdoor gear creates a whole magazine with travel and outdoor tips and stories. And the painter writes a blog about different kinds of paints, colors, techniques and stories from their daily work.
Instead of shouting the loudest and being the most annoying kid in town you catch the interest of your target group where there is real interest. Instead of creating catchy slogans and invest thousands or millions in advertising you start creating and providing useful content. And all that you do in your area of expertise to show your knowledge and build trust.
Creating content that is close enough to what you have to sell is an art.
The principle is not new. But the Internet and social media offer new and much higher chances of spreading this content and reaching your target group with this content – without investing tons of money to distribute the content. While in the old days most of the distribution was expensive like sending letters and paying for stamps or printing a leaflet and have people hand it out on the street. Even the content itself today does not need to be overly expensive. A simple written blog post has the power to reach millions of people online.
In today’s internet word everyone has the power to create outstanding content with simple means and with some knowledge of social media can easily and inexpensively reach a targeted and interested audience.
Still what many people forget is that content marketing is much more than the content. Even if content is at the center of any content marketing strategy, you have to consider all the other aspects of a content marketing strategy before you hop on the content marketing train.
Content Marketing is much more than content
Far too many people – and companies – fail with their content marketing efforts because they forget about research, they do not set goals, fail at content distribution and fly blind without monitoring. Or they still believe that content marketing is nothing more than creating content for SEO purposes.
Check out the nine essential elements of any content marketing strategy.
Where Social Media comes into the content marketing equation
Social Media often plays an important role in modern content marketing as a distribution channel. Of course there are many ways of doing content marketing without the aid of social networks. But the power of social media lies in offering a distribution channel that everybody can use – even without a huge budget.
Social media craves for content: Instagram would not exist without pictures. How many links have you clicked on in your Facebook feed today? Youtube would be empty without videos and Twitter would only be half the fund without the content we can discover in our timeline.
You think Content and Social Media Marketing is not for you? You are wrong: You can use the same processes the top notch social marketers use: “The Social Traffic Code!”
But where advertisers for years learned that the art of marketing was how to shout loud so that nobody can ignore you, social media has a natural filter for uninteresting content. Your content will be ignored and stop dead before it got up to speed if it does not speak to your audience. To use Social Media as a distribution channel for your content marketing, you have to learn what your audience likes and what your audience likes to share.
Fulfilling the need for content in social media with your own targeted content offers you the opportunity to get attention to your content while building your targeted social audience. But you will ultimately fail at your content marketing if you fail to provide content FOR your audience.
If you get that right, you will be awarded for your efforts with an army of spokespeople who help you spread your content. And if you publish your content at the right place, your content marketing efforts will also help your SEO.
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