Fundamentals Of Content Marketing
Welcome to the fundamentals of content marketing, where your friendly experts here at Wetpaint are going to drill down to the basics of the practice, and help you develop a firm understanding of this sometimes confusing, specialised form of marketing. We’ll just be covering the basics here, but it should be enough to help you come to grips with the deep promotional toolbox that is content marketing.
As one of the best, most results-focused advertising and marketing companies in South Africa providing these services, we’re just the specialists you want to be getting your insights from. So, without patting ourselves on the back anymore, let’s get started.
What Is Content Marketing?
In a nutshell, Content Marketing is the practice of creating, distributing and promoting valuable and brand-consistent content, aimed at a clearly defined audience, with the objective of encouraging profitable consumer engagement.
That’s a densely packed definition, but try to keep it in mind as you work your way through this piece. It’ll make more sense the further along you go. Just remember that the definition of content itself is not limited by format or medium. If it entertains, engages, informs, communicates or distracts, it is content. A 1000-word long blog article is content, but so is a Tweet. A video on YouTube or Facebook? Content. An image on Instagram? Yep, that’s content too.
Everything is content, and content marketing is the strategic approach to making sure that your audience both sees it and engages with it.
How Does It Work?
If you read our Fundamentals Of SEO, you probably picked up on the fact that one of the more important aspects of SEO is high-quality written content, produced to meet the expectations of both the search engines and the audience.
Well, that’s true, but there’s more to content marketing than that.
Content marketing truly is a cooperative form of promotion. That is to say, it does not work in a vacuum. Rather, it works best when it is supporting and supported by your other marketing and promotional efforts.
Taking SEO as an example, content marketing enhances your SEO efforts by providing the written text that gives Google something to recognise as relevant to its searchers’ queries – be it a blog post, a news piece or a static webpage. If it’s effectively promoted, it will give your site the visits that are so important to SEO. If it’s well-written and informative, it will keep visitors on-site for longer – duration of visit being a another metric that Google uses to weigh the value of your site. If your content is authoritative, it will be linked to by others in your industry, further improving the relevance of your site in the eyes of the search engines.
That’s just one example.
Almost every promotional activity your brand engages in can be enhanced by, or is completely dependent on content marketing.
These include, but are not limited to:
• Public relations – keep good news at the top of the search engine results, push bad news down
• Brand awareness – consistent content production and marketing keeps your brand top-of-mind
• Thought leadership positioning – produce content that shows off your expertise in your industry
• Product marketing – promote your product with in-depth video or written reviews and tutorials
• Influencer marketing – got an influential spokesperson? Promoting their brand-friendly content can pay off.
• Social media marketing – give people a reason to follow your social media accounts by providing valuable, usable and/or entertaining content.
Does content marketing seem like a lot of work? Well, it can be. That’s one of the reasons to employ an expert.
Why Should You Hire A Specialist?
It can be tempting to take on your brand’s content marketing yourself. After all, who knows your brand and its audience better than you?
There are two primary reasons to hire an expert, rather than taking on the duties yourself: time and expertise.
Content marketing is not just about writing great blogs or shooting awesome videos. It’s about crafting messages and distributing content according to the wider strategic goals of your brand. It’s about making sure that the right content is put in front of the right audience, at the right time. It’s about putting in the market research, studying your competitors and understanding the trends among your audience.
Above all, it’s about making sure that your content isn’t just good, it’s about making sure that it’s seen.
To achieve results requires an expert’s knowledge of marketing practices as well as the time to research, conceptualise and execute on strategies that have specific goals. On top of that, a campaign must be monitored and its results tracked to ensure that it is meeting its strategic goals.
This is not something that can be done in your spare time.
When Should You Engage In Content Marketing?
You should never stop.
Content marketing should be a consistent and ongoing part of your marketing efforts. That’s whether it’s a part of a wider strategic campaign (and it should be) or you’re just maintaining activity and pumping out monthly blog posts so that your brand does not slip into silence and obscurity for too long.
Millennial consumers want to hear from the brands that they use, they want to know who your brand is, what you stand for, how you do what you do and why you do it. They want updates and information.
A modern audience wants a brand that it can engage with.
The online world, which is rapidly usurping the real world as the preeminent consumer space, is perpetually abuzz with brands providing new information and insights – keeping themselves relevant by engaging consumers in new and interesting ways.
It is too easy, in this fast-paced environment, to lose the attention of your audience. And their attention is what you need to ensure that you are sustaining or growing your market share.
Content marketing makes sure that your brand has something to say and that your target market knows you’re saying it.
How To Find The Best Agency Or Firm
As always, asking questions is one of the best ways to find answers.
If you’re querying an agency, you might want to ask if they have ever worked in your or a related industry, before.
Their proposal should give an indication of the target market they’ve identified – does it match up with your own assumptions of your target market? If not, why not? A good agency will stand by the results of their research, and might have surprising, and perfectly legitimate reasons for targeting the audience they’re targeting.
How much time will the agency take getting to know your brand? Producing content for your brand is akin to speaking on behalf of your brand. Will they take the time to understand how your brand speaks?
Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to discover an agency, but so is familiarity with their work. What is the quality of content production, promotion and distribution that they’ve offered their clients’ brands? What scope of industries have they covered? How adaptable are they?
If examples of the sort of work they’ll do for you are not forthcoming, request some. If they’re worth their salt, they’ll be happy to provide samples.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure you are comfortable with every aspect of the team you’ll be working with – the quality of their work; their compatibility and familiarity with your brand; their work ethic; and their willingness to take to heart your input on your brand’s messaging.
Branding By Keeping Your Content In Character
Before we finish up, we just want to touch on the importance of keeping your brand “in character” through the content you produce.
Perhaps more so than ever before, it is important that your brand’s voice is consistent.
On every platform and channel, your aim should always be to ensure that your brand is immediately identifiable by the words, messaging and tone of voice it employs.
While some platforms might lend themselves to more casual tones and others are generally more formal, there should not be so much variation in your messaging between each that it might confuse the audience. Don’t be cold, clinical and overly formal on LinkedIn, only to try and reach your Facebook audience through meme madness.
Your audience must know what to expect from you if they are going to come to trust you, and in this age of fake news and online anonymity, trust is the only way to ensure that your intended audience engages you.
Not every organisation has a fully fleshed-out corporate identity, but it is at least worth working out your brand’s tone of voice, it’s messaging. In short, figure out who your brand is, before committing to a content marketing strategy that will have to employ personality and character.
At Wetpaint, we enjoy discovering new brands and speaking in new voices for different audiences.
We love hammering out the details of a brand’s character, and truly getting to know a company or organisation before bringing it to life through skilled writers, a world-class video production team and a sound studio that knows how to speak with your brand’s voice.