By Mark Sherbin published April 9, 2013

Unite Social and Content Engagement: 4 Ideas for Enterprise Marketers

content-engagement-unite-enterprise-efforts-videoBy now, you likely know that social media and content marketing strategies are must-haves for any organization trying to establish an engaging digital presence. But are social and content teams able to work closely enough to accomplish this engagement — especially at enterprise organizations?

CMI lead strategiest, Robert Rose, spoke with a group of enterprise marketers to ask them how they’re resolving “the differences between the conversational nature of social and the governance model behind content.” The question of producing mutual benefit that was raised stems from the observation that content management systems perform poorly for social media management, and vice versa.

The marketers in the video all brought excellent perspectives to the table. Thanks to Merrilyn DattaKen TrammelTom Gerace, and Amanda Nelson for participating. (See more from this roundtable in the video below, and learn about the 14 critical questions to ask about content marketing technology.)

Content Marketing Institute Technology Roundtable Series – Part II from Content Marketing Institute on Vimeo.

To maintain a healthy relationship between the two teams, some marketers look at social as the creation of micro-content. Yet, others might see this as limiting, considering how the rules of content engagement differ from those of social engagement across various channels.

Below are four ideas on how to create common ground between your social media and content marketing strategies.

1. Link the conversation back to your content

Sure, you’re sharing your content through your social media channels. But, are you embracing the other ways blogs, pictures, videos, and the like can enrich the conversation?

Consider these three additional ways to connect your content engagement efforts to your social conversations.

  • Measure content’s social impact: Collecting data on where traffic to your content comes from is one element of analytics. But what about looking at the response happening on social media channels themselves? What are people saying about your content on Twitter? Measurement often goes beyond the walls of your content library itself.
  • Offer a more comprehensive answer: Social media has its limitations. For one, most social channels won’t supply enough room to answer a complex question. For questions where you feel social media has boxed you in, pointing towards a piece of content with the answer is a welcome option.
  • Search for a clue: Some say search is dying; others say it’s doing just fine. Whatever camp you fall into, there’s no denying that some people turn to social media to find answers. Seeding social media with links to your content and associated descriptions is another frontier in search.

Take action: Post links to a piece of content more than once, trying different intros and measuring how each one performs.

2. Use community as an umbrella for engagement and content

Amanda Nelson of Salesforce explains how her organization ties engagement and content together into a unified perspective:

For us, community is the umbrella within our organization. Under community is engagement and content. We really see it all as one thing. You can’t have a community without content, and you can’t have a community without engagement.

A “community” mindset puts the bigger picture of social media and content marketing into perspective. From this angle, it’s easier to:

  • Consider how user-generated content can play into your content marketing strategy.
  • Put faces on members of your audience and build a more accurate profile of your customers, thereby helping you create stronger content.
  • See how members of your community are connecting with each other and explore how those relationships impact your brand.
  • Test how the community responds to micro-content over social media and use that response data to shape more successful long-form content.

Take action: Find new ways to fuel your content marketing by sourcing content from your community via social media channels. Identify contributors, then test different conversational prompts to see which ones get the best reactions.

3. Write as a discipline of both

At the heart of every successful tweet is a penchant for written communication (just as is the case for every successful white paper). Writers who excel at both social media and content marketing are tremendous assets that should be leveraged. (Yes, I just high-fived myself, and I don’t care who saw it.)

Ken Trammel of Caterpillar explains the concept:

The people that have to carry on a conversation… That’s a tough job. You have to have a certain skill set. We keep wanting… to pull our engineering people into [content creation] because they’re subject matter experts and they have so much to give. But they’re not conversationalists.

Writing is a skill that social media managers need just as badly as content marketers do. Consider hiring professional writers for both positions.

This might seem counterintuitive for content marketers trying to get more members of the organization to contribute to social media and content initiatives. More staff involvement means time saved, right?

Wrong. Social media’s timeliness can result in PR nightmares. And that blog post from your CIO on enterprise app development? It’ll take you hours to decipher and untangle before it’s ready to post.

Skilled writers make everything easier. They create and analyze each bit of micro-content over social media channels for tact. They transform the eight hours your CIO spent painstakingly crafting his article into a two-hour interview and drafting session that simplifies the topic for the reader.

Strong writing skills form the basis for common ground between social media and content marketing.

Take action: Ask for portfolios when hiring for marketing and social media spots on your team. Give special consideration to candidates who can demonstrate strong writing skills.

4. Avoid the “chicken or egg” scenario

For content marketers, it’s easy to see social media as a channel for promoting content. You can get lost in the mindset that you’re the one supplying the content that sparks the conversation. Therefore, content is the genesis and the fuel.

On the other hand, isn’t social media a source of content enrichment in its own right? It’s an idea repository.

  • Through discussion, social media channels often unearth topics around which your audience craves more content.
  • You can search social media to find trending topics people talk about outside of what your brand is saying and create content that adds to those conversations.
  • Recruiting guest bloggers (or potential writing hires) whose vision aligns with that of your brand is simpler when you can find, research, and contact them all from the same platform.

Thinking of engagement and content as the chicken and the egg misses the point entirely — that the two feed their own cycle of prosperity. There’s nothing one-sided about their relationship. They need each other. They make each other better. Some would call their love affair epic.

Take action: Start asking your social media team what they can do for you. Put together a plan specifically focused on gathering intelligence you can use to make your content better.

Weigh in

Does your organization bring a unique perspective to the relationship between social media and content marketing? Share it with us in the comments.

Want to take part in conversations like this that set the stage for better content operations? Register now to attend Content Marketing World 2013, September 9–11 in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Author: Mark Sherbin

Mark Sherbin is a freelance writer specializing in technology and content marketing. He shares occasionally insightful information at Copywriting Is Dead, where he promotes authentic communication between organizations and their audiences. Contact him at msherbin@gmail.com.

Other posts by Mark Sherbin

  • dorin

    To use community as an umbrella for engagement and content is a brilliant idea!

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  • http://twitter.com/mjnj Megan Sumner

    “Through discussion, social media channels often unearth topics around which your audience craves more content.” We often talk about finding the “white space” in the market place; reading through comments on social media outlets is a great starting place to construct the subject matter for your next written piece. Great article.

    • http://twitter.com/MarkSherbin Mark Sherbin

      Agreed, Megan. It’s so important to tap into what the audience is actually curious about instead of guessing at it!

  • carmenhill

    Great post, Mark! To me, the symbiotic nature of between content and social has always been a no-brainer, but organizational constraints and biases often get in the way of making the most of it. Also, love this: “Writers who excel at both social media and content marketing are tremendous assets that should be leveraged.” High five :)

    • http://twitter.com/MarkSherbin Mark Sherbin

      Hey, thanks Carmen! Writers gotta stick together.

  • http://www.icstars.org/blog/elannert Eric Lannert

    Awesome insights! As an IT marketing company, the social channels have greatly enhanced our ability to help find the right content topics for our clients. From looking at which tweets to 3rd party content get clicks / retweets, to looking at what blog posts get the most ‘disqussion’, to the ultimate goal of understanding the blogs that attract people who also click through to learn more about the clients services. Community as an umbrella concept is right on. For our technology clients, the community tends to be existing customers – content and social give them the tools to spread the word.

  • http://www.facebook.com/socraticinvestments Sarah Jocson

    I also believed that it takes skills to become a good writer and so does the author of this great blog.thank you for sharing fresh insights that really engaged marketers like I am. Please do visit us as well at http://www.socraticsbc.com/