By Heidi Cohen published February 29, 2012

7 Social Media-Inspired Content Marketing Lessons

Content is at the heart of social media. It fuels social media engagement through the stories and communications we exchange across a variety of social networks. By understanding how these social media-related interactions take place, marketers can create content that can more effectively meet their business goals.

Here are seven content marketing lessons I gathered from New York City’s Social Media Week 2012.

1. Know who your audience is on social media platforms

The goal is to understand the market you want your content to reach and how audience members use social media to meet their specific needs, including what information they want your organization to provide.

Secondly, consider who are the new tastemakers in your category. Social media has given rise to new influences, which has redistributed the power of trendsetters like Martha Stewart. Additionally, socially curated sites such as Pinterest are empowering taste making on a micro level, giving rise to new avenues of popularity and influence.

Content marketing tip: As part of this analysis, recognize that social media participants’ goals tend not to align with marketers’ objectives. So your content should be crafted in ways that will fit in with the other conversations happening in the community.

2. Tell stories on social media platforms to build your brand

Storytelling is a critical form of content for social media, as it provides a framework for enhancing our understanding of the product and brand. When it comes to content, Rohit Bhargava of Ogilvy PR cautioned marketers to create and tell stories that are integral to their brands and products. But they need to avoid “the bubble story,” Bhargava’s phrase for sequential stories that last 30 seconds.

Content marketing tip: Focus on the stories that enhance the long-term value of your brand, but don’t go overboard by adding a story to every element of your organization’s outreach.

3. Know that your audience has a short attention span

Create content audience members will find compelling and easy to digest. Gala Darling, a New Zealand-born blogger, says she uses photographs and other visuals to keep her audience engaged, while Kristine Welker of Hearst recommended providing context and relevancy for social media content.

Content marketing tip: Create content that’s easy to consume quickly, using bullet points and bolding whenever it’s appropriate. Also, add information to your tweets such as short comments to improve understanding.

4. Jump into the social media conversation

Jermaine Dupri, a musician and the force behind Global 14, enhanced the music community around him by being continually engaged with his fans and audience. In his opinion, brands don’t ask enough questions of their communities to learn more about their members.

Content marketing tip: Do some research to discover what your prospects, customers, and the public want to know about your brand. Understand that social media audiences are diverse and have different interests and activities on the various social media platforms they engage with.

5. Engage customers and the public to help tell your stories

From a storytelling perspective, Amazon can be considered one of the largest content sites because it allows its customers to tell their stories and provide testimonials. Bazaarvoice’s Mike Svatek noted the incredible value in collecting people’s opinions via social media platforms and integrating this customer content into your offline content and collateral. Through social media sites like Fab.com and Etsy, marketers have room to create narrative that celebrates products and their usefulness in ways that weren’t previously possible.

Content marketing tip: Integrate the ability for customers to tell their story, in their own way, by providing forms that don’t create barriers to completion (such as asking too many questions).

6. Inspire your target audience to do something

It’s critical to create amazing content that pulls audiences in and engages them. As a marketer, think about how you can use your content in a variety of ways and how everything you create can be sliced and diced for use in different social media presentations. One great example presented at Social Media Week was from mystery writer Lawrence Block, who repurposed some of the content in his book on writing into a series of Facebook tips, which he shared over time to drive readers’ interest in that book. (Hey, he’s over 70. If he can learn to do it, so can you!)

Content marketing tip: Integrate a contextually relevant call-to-action that speaks to your goals — including sales — because most companies can’t track their social media efforts to sales.

7. Be willing to share the social media spotlight

“Good Morning America” weatherman Sam Champion has built a social media following to help him report the weather better in places where he doesn’t have reporters. His followers share their stories, and in return, Champion uses his social media credibility to retweet and recognize his followers. Interestingly, by giving his followers their 15 seconds of fame, Champion can swing television ratings by letting people know their story will appear on television.

Content marketing tip: Celebrate your customers and fans on social media platforms by giving them a shout out, wishing them a happy birthday (which Sam Champion does), or showcasing their photographs.

The main takeaway here is that social media and content marketing have a symbiotic relationship. They work together to enhance the content creation process and expand distribution, both on social media as well as online and offline.

Do you have any other social media-inspired lessons you’d like to share?

Image Credit

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Other posts by Heidi Cohen

Join Over 200,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples FREE!