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BONUS MATERIALS: Free Content Calendar

Have you wanted to dig into content marketing but didn’t know where to begin? Check out our tips and tricks for social media managers to start their content marketing efforts.

Did you know that content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing but generates three times as many leads? Despite this encouraging research from the Content Marketing Institute, more than 10% of B2B businesses don’t use content marketing as part of their marketing strategies (and too many B2C businesses don’t use it either).

Sounds crazy, right? But this oversight is probably not because marketers don’t want to use content marketing.

More likely, they don’t know what it is or don’t really understand how content marketing works.

The knowledge gap can be especially wide for social media managers who are masters at their craft but may not realize that they can take their efforts to new heights. (If you need content ideas for the most popular social channels, download this free social media content calendar.)

Social Media Marketing vs. Content Marketing

Content marketing is “a long-term strategy that focuses on building a strong relationship with your target audience by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis,” according to Internet marketing expert Neil Patel.

Sounds a lot like social media marketing, doesn’t it? So, what’s the difference?

As you know, social media marketing revolves heavily around using social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram as the focus of the marketing activity.

Content is generated in accordance with the rules and best practices of the social platform and posted accordingly.

Social media marketing

To this end, the No. 1 goal of social media is usually to remain popular and relevant. Social media marketing campaigns are often measured by the number of likes, comments, or shares a post gets.

Content marketing

In contrast, the focus for content marketing is building the business itself. The social media platform is only the means through which marketers reach their end, which is to get more brand allegiance and, ultimately, more leads and sales.

In other words, social media marketing serves mostly to help people value your brand, and content marketing makes people actually want your product or service.

Working together

The big question is: How can social media marketing and content marketing work symbiotically?

To start off, remember that there isn’t one “right way” to use content marketing on social media channels. The strategy you’ll use depends largely on the industry you’re in, what your goals are, and the resources you have available.

The good news is that planning a content marketing strategy is similar to planning a social media strategy, so you should be able to jump right in.

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How to Get Started with Content Marketing
1. Set clear goals

The first thing to do when creating a marketing strategy of any kind is to set clear, general marketing goals.

Look at the big picture. What are you looking to gain from your efforts?

Questions

Ask yourself:

Are you hoping for more traffic to your website?
More leads?
An increase in sales?
Do you want more shares of your content?
Links or mentions from other companies or websites?
Do you have specific goals, such as an increase by X percent or Y number of leads?
Do you have an idea of past benchmarks upon which to base your future strategies?

The more data you have and the more clearly-defined your goals are, the easier you’ll find to create content to support your efforts.

Download your FREE social media content calendar.
2. Define your audience

Creating a user persona (or more than one persona) will help you understand your target market. Think about whether you’re directing your message to individuals or companies. To decision-makers or those who support decision-makers in their decisions?

User personas are fictional, general sketches of your target audience. They include important details like age, gender, location, level of education, hobbies, and marital status.

Many online tools can help you keep your user personas relevant and organized, and can help ensure that you create relevant messages for each target audience.

content marketing data

Gather data for your content marketing campaigns.

3. Gather data

Gather data from past marketing efforts, specifically as they relate to your social media strategy.

What posts worked well, and which didn’t?

Take an honest look at the buzz surrounding each post. Did it help reach your goals, or was it mostly smoke and mirrors? Is there a way you can (or could have) harnessed this buzz into more conversions?

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Consider whether some posts worked better on Facebook or Twitter, and whether you need to change your message for Instagram or Pinterest.

When analyzing past performance, take time to look not only at the positive responses but also at the negative trends.

Questions

Ask yourself:

Did any specific posts prompt people to unfollow your brand?
Perhaps the content was too promotional?
Too controversial?
Too irrelevant?

Think about what the reasons could be that some posts are more successful than others and make a written list of practices that worked well, along with another of those that didn’t.

This document will be your guide when planning your future content strategy.

But remember that it might just be the first version upon which future iterations are extrapolated.

Looking at past data is a very important part of creating future content marketing strategies and using tools to monitor and measure your social media campaigns can eliminate the pain that social media managers often feel when they crunch the numbers.

gather data like apple picking

Gather data about your content to make better decisions regarding content.

4. Create a content calendar

A content calendar is a critical part of any content marketing strategy, which shouldn’t be a problem since you probably already use one for your social media marketing efforts.

A content calendar will enable you to make sure that your content is posted at optimal times. Plus, you can schedule posts ahead of time, so that they’ll go live even if you’re away from your desk.

Make sure to include sharing of other industry posts to foster good relationships and encourage others to share your content as well.

5. Test, test, test

Measuring your content strategy is essential because it’s what makes your content better. You may be surprised to see that a change of only one tiny emoji can change the results of a post.

Take a look at  Scoro’s Facebook ad test as an example.

The company ran two Facebook ads, with identical text and images, but one version had a small flag emoji, and the other one didn’t.

get started with content marketing

Test when you get started with content marketing and beyond.

At first glance, these texts are extremely similar, and one might expect performance to be similar. But that’s not at all what happened!

The result was that the version with the emoji got 241% higher click-through rate than the one without the emoji. Surprised? You’re not alone! From this case study alone, we can see the importance of testing and making small tweaks that can have a huge difference.

But that’s not all.

Another important thing to consider for your content marketing strategy is that less can truly be more.

Take a look at Humana, a Kentucky-based insurance carrier, which tested a wordy, fairly successful banner against one with much shorter text.

According to Design For Founders, Humana wanted to increase its click-through rate on the banner below. The original design was attractive, but the company suspected it could improve CTR by making simple changes.

They were right.

Let’s look at both banners:

The initial banner had a lot of text. This is great because it gives readers so much information.

On the flip side, too much text can be overwhelming, and you can lose your readers’ attention. The bulleted style of the first ad is a classic design, but it wasn’t giving Humana the results they wanted.

The second variation reduced the copy significantly and changed the button text. A couple of graphic design changes rounded out the differences between the two ads.

The second version was the clear winner and it resulted in a 433 percent increase in CTR. After changing the CTA text, the company experienced a further 192 percent boost in CTR. Impressive, no?

Taking time to test different layouts and words will give you insights into your customer base and can have an important part in your content’s success.

Get started on saving time and energy on your own social media management! Check out our free trial of Agorapulse to help you schedule, track, and measure all your social media efforts.

Read more: agorapulse.com

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