Have you noticed that there’s a lot of information out there on the topics of social media, content marketing, and SEO, but no one is really clearly articulating how these three major components of your online marketing strategy work together? Today, let's put an end to the madness. This post will explain exactly why your social marketing, your SEO and your content marketing must work together to generate maximum impact.
Content, social media, and SEO simplified
One way to describe how social media, SEO, and content marketing compliment each other is to compare them to an electric guitar (Don't worry, if you're not musically inclined, I'm not either). If you want to have a rock-star jam session, simply having an electric guitar isn’t going to cut it; you also need an amplifier. If you’re playing the electric guitar all by itself, no one will be able to hear the music. The amplifier is a key component to making sure the music you’re playing can be heard and felt by a large audience. Put simply, the guitar provides substance and the amplifier generates reach. In the world of marketing, content is the guitar, and social media and SEO are the amplifiers. Your content is what makes the message sing and your social media channels and SEO reach are what make sure it's heard. Content, SEO and social can each perform well independently, but they are most effective and produce maximum results when they are all working together. A common mistake most marketers make is to think that once they’ve produced a piece of content their work is done and the next step is to produce another piece of content. In actuality, when you’ve finished a piece of content, you’re really just getting started.
The content marketing cycle
Effective content marketing is a continuous cycle of: Create > Optimize > Promote > Measure > Analyze > Create But what if you're stuck on create? In order for your content to have the biggest impact, it’s essential that your writing, audio or visual resonates and adds value to your target audience. So if you're not doing that at the create stage, then social media and search are going to struggle. One of the easiest ways to ensure this happens is to involve your customers, prospects, and target market in the content creation process. Pick up the phone, dial up a customer, skim your Facebook messages and figure out their challenges and questions. Then create. I recently attended Social Media Marketing World 2014 and had the pleasure of hearing a keynote presentation from Marcus Sheridan where he provided personal testimony to this concept. In his presentation, Marcus, aka The Sales Lion, shared how content marketing completely transformed his small pool company in Virginia. In 2009, his business was struggling due to the economy and he didn’t have any money to invest in advertising, so he started producing and promoting high quality content. At the core of his content strategy is a simple mantra, “They asked, we answered.” Marcus shared a graph that summarized the results from his simple yet powerful mantra over a period of about 5 years, from 2009-2013.
As you can see there are spikes in traffic during the summer months when people in Virginia are looking to add onto their home. I imagine the pool business in Virginia is quite seasonal. Sheridan simply answered the common questions people had when doing research about adding a pool to their home. By being helpful and answering his target market's questions, he generated mass exposure and created a foundational level of trust with potential buyers. Here's an example: How much does a fiberglass pool cost?. Over the course of five years, the revenue generated from the blog traffic created more than $9 Million in new business. Sheridan also provided a case study from a client he has been working with called Block Imaging, a small company that sells refurbished medical imaging devices.
In just three years of implementing Sheridan’s philosophy of “They asked, we answered,” Block Imaging was able to increase their website traffic to over 40,000 visitors and 15-18,000 unique visitors per month. Listening to the challenges your target market is facing and creating quality content that adds true value can radically change the trajectory of your business. Getting content, social media and SEO to harmonize doesn't have to be an uphill battle. Finding the simplest form of what you're trying to do - which is service your customer base - and translating that into your content marketing can get you the synchronization you're missing. If you have any questions about social media, content marketing, or just want to say hello, send me a tweet at @MichaelRhunter.