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PR, Social Media and the Imperative of Content Marketing [UML]

PR Social Media and the Imperative of Content Marketing

For a time, social media worked organically. Then it didn’t.

Long thinkers pushed paid social as a “rent-to-own” strategy. It’s still brilliant…but there’s an expiration date on it now.

Why? You can’t tell – even digitally savvy marketers can’t tell – the difference between “content” and “ads” anymore.

In fact, ads don’t have a chance. Maybe there are no more ads. At least insofar as what you and I grew up thinking of as an “ad.”

This has big implications for PR too. Earned media is going to get harder. Why would any publication accept a story pitch, aside from respecting its readership, if they know another brand will pay for the same space?

This is what social media did to the traditional gatekeeper. It democratized media, and then in dramatic, and sudden, bait-and-switch, it became the guardian of the gate.  However, the new guardians reward ideas based on the depth of a checkbooks, rather than merits.

Even so, who can blame the traditional gatekeeper for reluctantly following suit?  It’s that pressure for clicks.

The future of earned media will be reserved for only the sexiest of brands, and preferably those with a budget for sponsored posts. Add in the trends of fake news, the erosion of trust in journalism, and rampant ad fraud and this has the makings of a perfect storm.

If there’s ever been a time to learn how to build your own audience for your company…it’s now. This is why content marketing is the theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing links [UML].

The UML is a weekly roundup of just three articles or blog posts that I’ve vetted, analyzed, added commentary and recommend for further reading.

1) Marketing content vs. content marketing

“What is the difference between content and content marketing? The answer is the destination you will use to attract and build an audience.”

That’s according to Michael Brenner, who wrote those words in a contributed piece for the Content Marketing Institute titled, What Is the Difference Between Content and Content Marketing?

“With content marketing you are attracting an audience to a brand-owned destination versus interrupting or buying an audience on someone else’s platform.”

The distinction is important – but it’s also important to note it isn’t just about the destination – it’s also about the approach:

“Most marketing teams are focused on creating content that supports the brand or its products. We create this content mainly because someone asked us to. Not because it meets a customer need.”

Words like useful, helpful, utility, educational and entertainment all get toss around casually, but a good litmus test answers these questions:

  • Does your content meet customer needs or company needs?
  • Is your content substantially different? Or is everyone saying the same things?
  • Is your content team really passionate – or just going through the motions?

2) Trust, reliable sources and B2B content marketing

600-Trust reliable sources and B2B content marketingIf there’s a trend in marketing that’s shaping up in 2017, there’s a good case to be made it centers on trust.  Study, after study, after study, after study all point to the increasing importance of trust.

This week Ayaz Nanji surfaced another one in a piece for MarketingProfs titled The Changing Content Preferences of B2B Buyers:

“Some 72% of B2B buyers say they have been placing a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of content sources over the past year…”

The study cites source data from the 2017 Content Preferences Survey Report by the Demand Gen Report, which also found:

  • 34% of buyers have less time to devote to reading/research on purchases
  • 47% of buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions
  • 71% said they want content that is easier to access

Case studies, white papers and webinars were named as the most desirable content formats as the graphic nearby indicates.

So how do you build trust through content? Develop content that meets customer needs, publish it consistently over time, and make it easily accessible. It’s a big responsibility.

See these related posts:  
Why We Can’t Just be PR Pros Anymore
PR is the Best Kept Secret in Effective Content Marketing
Why Content Marketing and Public Relations Need Each Other

3)  Content metrics and KPIs

Andrew Schulkind breaks content marketing metrics into five major buckets in his piece for Target Marketing called All KPIs Are Not Created Equal: Measuring Content Marketing. Those five categories are:

  • Consumption metrics
  • Engagement metrics
  • Retention metrics
  • Lead metrics
  • Sales metrics

The flow of these metrics traces the traditional concept of a funnel and it’s a logical grouping. However, I find a difference between a key performance indicator (KPI) and metrics.

KPIs are directional and forward looking – are we going in the right direction?  Sales, by contrast, is a lagging indicator.  It’s the last metric you’re going to get, and while useful for analysis, the environment changes. The second news item in today’s roundup is about changing content preferences in B2B.

Content marketing is a long play. It’s important to manage content marketing expectations.

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If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
Public Relations: In History, at Crossroads and in the Future [UML]  

Photo credit: Flickr, Elliot Moore, my footprints in the sand (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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