If your business is like most small businesses, you’re struggling to find a good strategy that will help you reach customers and prospective customers on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.
The fact is that most small businesses do a poor job executing strategies on social networks.
Paid advertising on those networks simply doesn’t work for most small businesses.
And even when it works, paid advertising is becoming less effective.
In part, that’s because more than 615 million devices have ad blockers.
And people see so many ads every day that they mostly tune them out.
So if you can’t effectively advertise on social networks, what can you do?
Content marketing offers a powerful answer.
What is content marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute,
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
As we previously wrote:
No matter what industry you’re in, writing is essential to reach an audience and market your company …
If you’re not creating content on the web, you don’t exist on the web. A 140 character tweet is content. A 1,000 word blog post is content. A commend to a blog post is content. Your website is content.
In order for marketing goals to be met and exceeded, content must be valuable, relevant, and consistent. In fact, you can use the science of marketing psychology to create strong content.
And you must develop strategies to market that content. It’s not enough to create the content and hope that people find it.
Let’s briefly break these goals into bite-size pieces.
Content should offer something of value to your audience
The content must come with a value and be trustworthy. Valuable content can benefit both your client and your business.
Prospects who interact with your content will find it valuable when it teaches them how to do something, helps them to make a decision, or fixes a problem.
Such content will position you as a subject-matter authority and ultimately harness loyalty to your brand.
Content should be relevant to your audience
The content you are sending out into all corners of the world (or even just down the street!) must be relevant.
Relevance to branding, prospects, and time are all vitally important.
By focusing content on brands, projects, services, or needs that relate to your business, you will yield maximum results.
Content should be consistent
When prospects know that you will show up consistently — they will too.
Don’t create lots of low-quality content. Instead, create smaller batches of high-quality content so that your audience will never feel like they lost time engaging with your content.
Content must be marketed
Some businesses do a poor job creating relevant, smart, actionable content that will interest customers and prospects. But even if they consistently create great content, most small businesses do a poor job marketing their content.
Most marketers and small businesses fail with content marketing because they focus most of their efforts on creating “content” and ignore “marketing.”
If you feel like you’re falling behind your competitors, you probably are. Nearly 9 out of 10 marketers use content as part of their marketing strategy.
So let’s look at some of the top-performing content marketing channels.
Top performing content marketing channels
Blogging has come a long way from its roots as a personal electronic diary in the ’90s.
It’s no surprise that blogging is one of the most popular (and effective) tools used in business.
If your business or brand isn’t supported by a blog you’re probably missing out.
The basics: Blogging consistently gives your prospects a reason to return to your website. Blogs are an ideal delivery system for new and existing content and can create opportunities for organic search engine traffic to your blog and site.
But it’s important for you to develop a strategy for blogging. The content you create should connect with your brand and with your audience.
For example, crowdspring’s blog is among the best small business marketing blogs. When we first started our blog in 2008, we didn’t have a particular focus and wrote about many different topics. But we quickly learned that was a mistake.
Since then, we’ve developed a focus that creates a synergy between our services and our audience. We regularly write on topics connected to our core business and that also interest our broad audience of entrepreneurs, small businesses, marketers, agencies, designers, namers, and other freelancers. The topics we cover include trends and tips for great company logos and building a strong brand identity, to how to start a business, to best practices for small business website design, the psychology of marketing, ways to create popular product designs, and much more.
Why we love blogs:
- Blogging adds new content to your website.
- Businesses that blog generate more and higher quality leads.
- Increases exposure, at a low cost.
- Improved client interaction.
Bottom line: Consistent blogging is an exceptional way to build brand awareness and authority while sharing useful content with your targeted audience.
According to Nielson Norman Group:
On the average, web page users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.
The basics: Infographics are a visual (usually a chart or diagram), with minimal words, used to simplify information and provide an easy to understand overview of a topic.
Why we love infographics:
- Infographics provide clear & quick information.
- Make otherwise over technical or boring materials interesting.
- Perfect for sharing on social media.
Bottom line: Using infographics is an excellent way to provide well designed, concise information to your audience that is visually stimulating.
A website is 53 times more likely to reach the front page of Google if it includes video.
The basics: Video content uses videos as a means to promote your business, product, brand, or service.
Why we love video:
As we previously mentioned,
- Social media posts with videos have 48% more views.
- A website is 53 times more likely to reach the front page of Google if it includes video.
- Nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.
- Adding video to your emails can increase click rates by 300%.
- 90% of users say that product videos are helpful in the decision process.
Bottom Line: Video content continues to grow in numbers and is very effective in converting prospects to clients. Check out crowdspring’s YouTube page if you’re looking for an example of how we use video.
One in four Americans listens to podcasts monthly.
That is too large a piece of the pie to ignore.
With a relatively low investment to get started, podcasts are an excellent tool to push out content.
The basics: In it’s simplest form, podcasts are talk radio accessible to you on demand.
Why we love podcasts:
- Further position yourself as an authority to your brand.
- Expand the audience you are reaching with your content.
- Create further opportunities for community growth and loyalty.
Bottom line: Adding podcasts to your arsenal of content marketing tools is an excellent way to reach new audiences, further demonstrate your authority as a brand, and boost brand loyalty at a cost-effective investment.
Since opening its digital doors in 2010, Pinterest has accumulated over 72 million users its ever-growing platform.
The basics: Pinterest is a social platform used to share content, similar to Instagram, with one powerful difference. Every pin can be back linked to your website or content of your choosing.
Why we love Pinterest:
- Unique organization system of pins (an image, video, or advertisement) and boards (collection of pins) which can be sorted and filtered in various ways, and contributed to by a team of people.
- The ability to link back to your content– which makes Pinterest a great source for referral traffic.
- Setting up a Pinterest business account unlocks the ability to view powerful analytics for the content you are sharing.
Bottom line: If you are looking to expand beyond the social media trifecta of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your content marketing, consider Pinterest. With over 290 million users per month, this powerful social media tool will deliver. Check our crowdspring’s Pinterest page for an example of how we’ve been using Pinterest.
Every business can benefit from the low-investment and high-returns of content marketing.
Be sure you’re creating high-quality content and don’t forget to invest as much effort to market that content as you invest in creating the content.
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