What matters: Re-thinking content content "gravy" will improve SEO, influence and sales

We’ve all heard that content is king when it comes to websites. To build trust and generate leads, every B2B company should be creating online content that is relevant and valuable. And that’s true. But as communication evolves, what form should the content take? Should we continue to create content that’s a direct extension of our marketing efforts? Or should marketing departments take a more journalistic approach that focuses on content that improves people’s work lives, rather than promoting companies and products, knowing that the “gravy” will improve SEO, influence and sales?

First, it’s helpful to understand how these two approaches differ.

The Marketing Approach…

…is owned by a person or people in the marketing or communications department.

…is often available primarily on the corporate website, the company’s LinkedIn or Facebook pages, and/or on a designated YouTube channel.

…is relevant to the audience but subtly promotes the sponsoring company or their product

…tends to still be a one-way conversation between the organization and the audience.

The Journalist Approach…

…can be owned by anyone within the company or even a freelance journalist.

…provides content that improves peoples’ understanding of their industry and helps them do their jobs better.

…acknowledges that audiences have grown tired of content that is really marketing material in disguise.

…provides content that may or may not have anything to do with your company, products or services.

So which approach is better? There’s a raging debate about that right now among thought leaders. Many insist that it’s time to move beyond content marketing and into a more journalistic approach, with the main goal to improve readers’ lives. They hold the belief that this will result in improved SEO and loyalty anyway, so you should do well by doing good. For now, a combination of both approaches seems to make the most sense. These tips can help you refine your thought leadership and social media strategies:

  • Consider taking social media out of marketing and opening it up to customers and other employees. This type of “citizen journalism” can result in relevant, authentic content that really taps into what your customers want and need.
  • Make sure someone within your organization is commenting on, and adding more content to, the other primary social media space that people in your industry follow.
  • Think about working with a professional writer to interview industry leaders and write articles that don’t, even subtly, tie back to your offering. This builds credibility and trust with your audience who will appreciate the information and the fact that they aren’t being sold to at the same time.
  • Keep up with more traditional social media activities, such as maintaining a LinkedIn presence, offering product tutorials on your YouTube channel, authoring white papers, offering special promotions and more. All of these things are as important now as they’ve ever been.

In the end, we’re still marketers. We still need to sell our products and services. Social media changed how we do that. And we adapted, but now things are changing again. Audiences are savvier and demand more value for their attention. If you don’t have something new, important and engaging to share, you won’t hold that attention for very long. So the time is right to up your social media game and include a more objective, journalistic approach that will position you as an industry leader. You’ll have interested eyeballs coming back to read your content week after week.

How do you develop your online content? Share your strategies and tips in the comments.

12/27/2012

About Tom Barg

Tom is vice president and executive creative director at The Mx Group. He holds an MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology and a BFA from Loyola University. Tom brings more than 15 years of B2B creative energy and experience to his role on the team. Before joining The Mx Group, Tom held a senior creative management position with a technical publishing company. As the creative head of The Mx Group, Tom specializes in developing core branding and messaging platforms that create strong connections to the market and drive long-term revenue for clients.