There is a paradigm shift that is happening, and it’s changing the way marketers carry out their daily responsibilities. The days of the Don Drapers are over, and we have moved on to the days of the Neil Patels, Jay Baers, Michael Brenners, and so on.
A marketer now has to be a jack-of-all-trades. While content marketing is now the main focus of most marketing strategies, it has evolved and grown out of its original, singular focus. Additionally, the goals of content marketing have shifted.
It has been discussed (on this blog and others), ad nauseum, that content marketing is no longer about writing “hard copy,” but has transitioned to digital media such as blogs, white papers, case studies, yes, even social media (see “social content marketing”).
However, a refresher is warranted.
One early example of content marketing is soap operas. You may not know it, but soap companies actually produced soap operas. They created interesting (to some) content – in this case TV and radio shows, that appealed to their target market. While they were not overtly promotional, soap operas helped soap companies capture the attention of stay-at-home moms (their target market) and leverage the commercial breaks and product placement within the show for their own promotions.
Things have changed… considerably.
Nowadays blogs have taken over as the main form of content marketing, which is quite a shift from the days of soap operas. Content marketers, at least the good ones, use these blogs to create original and valuable content for their target market. These posts are not overtly promotional (again, as long as we are talking about a knowledgeable marketer); they are a place to establish thought leadership. If this goal is achieved, when it comes time for a potential customer to make a purchasing decision, your brand will be at the top of their list.
As with other marketing tactics, thought leadership is the Holy Grail. Often times, marketers fall into the trap of only pushing their own products or services within their content. This tactic the opposite effect, and ultimately diminishes the respectability and potential of a brand being considered a thought leader.
Beyond creating content, content curation has emerged as another powerful weapon in a content marketer’s arsenal.
Content curation – namely, distributing external content through your own channels as part of your content marketing strategy, has various benefits.
This practice establishes you and your social channels, as a source of valuable information that will bring prospects coming back for more. It also develops thought leadership, and encourages readers to associate the valuable content you share with your position in your industry. Thought leadership has various benefits, but most importantly it will place you at the top of potential buyer’s mind. When it is time for him or her to make a purchasing decision, that person will immediately know that your company is the best option.
But, content curation has additional benefits as well.
While often seen as a separate practice from content marketing, outreach is an integral part of a content curation strategy. While this may seem strange to some, the connection between the two is actually quite self-evident.
Researching content for curation requires laborious sifting through posts from across the web, and in-depth analysis of said content to make sure it is relevant. The great by-product of this type of research is discovering relevant individuals that can help grow your business and bring awareness to your company.
Content curation doesn’t necessarily need to be a prolonged process. While real thought and research must still be put into it, tools like Oktopost’s Content Curation Engine make it easier by suggesting relevant content, and making it easy to share directly through the platform.
Here are 3 great ways to leverage content curation for your business:
A marketer scours the web for content to curate, but how does he or she decide on what to share? This type of analysis involves research and extensive reading of various types of content. One great benefit of this type of research is that it allows you to identify writers that cover relevant topics in your industry. The logic here is that if they write about something relevant to your brand’s expertise, they may want to write about you as well.
Generating great content is fantastic, and an effective method for marketing, but getting covered by a well-read blog is an amazing way to create awareness. When you come across a piece of content that is relevant, take a look at the writer, do some background research on who they are, what they write about, and where they usually write. If it seems like the writer might be interested in your company, and would possibly write an article about it, it is time to reach out.
The importance of getting media coverage for your company cannot be emphasized enough. Save for a few (lucky) companies that have millions of people visiting their blog every month, getting written about in a top industry blog can increase awareness ten-fold. It is important, however, to realize that media coverage is not a sustainable marketing tactic in and of itself – it must be coupled with a strong content marketing strategy, and other marketing tactics as well.
However, getting a write up in a top tier blog is something companies pay thousands of dollars to PR agencies for. By doing it on your own, you can help cut costs while saving countless hours and resources.
Often times the contact information for writers can easily be found on the bio page for whichever blog they write for. However, there are times when such information is unavailable – and it’s difficult to tell whether or not the writer is purposefully hiding their details. Don’t fret if their information is not immediately provided.
A few options exist for finding the writer’s information:
Search Google to find anyone’s contact details, writer or otherwise, is always the first option. The Internet is a big place, and if said writer has left his or her email on any other sites you will be able to track it down.
This is a great and little-known resource. Rapportive is a LinkedIn-owned Gmail add-on that shows a person’s image, social profiles, and various other details on the side of the Gmail dashboard after you type in their email address. This add-on is fantastic for many reasons, but it can also be used as a “hack” to find a person’s correct email address, since you will only be able to see someone’s information if you input the correct email. This allows you to go through a trial and error process in order to find their contact information. The starting point for this process would be trying variations on their first and last names (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org etc.), until their picture and information pops up. Once it does, you know you have the right email.
Though it seems that some of Rapportive’s functionality will be removed in the near future, the main strategy for finding someone’s correct email address will remain in tact.
A lesser-known tactic is to go through a writer’s social profiles, particularly on Twitter, and see if he or she has published contact details there. A writer will frequently provide details within a social exchange on his or her feed. Occasionally, that person will replace the standard “@” with “at” so that programs which scrape pages for email addresses will not pick up on it.
If you are unable to find an email address, reaching out directly through a social channel can also be an effective tactic. The key to this strategy is to reach out in a way that doesn’t seem creepy or “stalker-ish.” Writers, especially top-tier blog writers, are wary of this type of outreach – since they are often inundated with requests from people jus like you. However, if done with tact, it can sometimes be more effective than email.
An even better strategy is to combine both email and social outreach. First, find the writers email information and send them a short email. Next, reach out via social media (in this case Twitter is preferable) and let them know you have reached out to them and would love to get in touch. Again, this must be done in a way that does not seem annoying or overbearing.
Traditionally, sales people worked with two types of leads: hot and cold. Hot leads were those people who actually filled out requests to find out more about a products or services. Cold leads, on the other hand, were people who, for one reason or another, ended up on a list of leads that was purchased from an external source.
With the advent of social selling – basically, identifying and reaching out to potential leads via social media, the paradigm has shifted. What better potential sales lead is there than one who is writing about exactly what you’re doing? While curating content, you may come across a writer who fits the exact description of your target customer.
Utilize the same tactics described above to find the person’s contact information and reach out to them. Once you begin to engage, mention your product and how it relates to the blog post or story they wrote. Often times this can lead directly to a sale.
Even if you find a great piece of content, but the author is not a relevant sales prospect, or cannot write about your company for whatever reason, you can also try to get them to agree to an interview. Recorded interviews, in the form of podcasts, are a great way to leverage another person’s social media popularity.
Along with creating a recording, a written interview is a fantastic addition to any blog. Don’t worry – podcasts can be coupled with a written interview by utilizing iframes.
One great tool for uploading and publishing interviews is SoundCloud. SoundCloud is relatively new, and not as well known as other social networks. While this channel is most often used for music, more and more people are utilizing it as a conduit for podcasts.
One of the great things about SoundCloud is that you can take the recording and embed it into a blog post. While this may seem a daunting task to those of us who are not as technologically inclined, it is actually quite simple. All you need to do is click the “share” button on the SoundCloud recording, click on “embed” and copy and paste the code provided within the HTML of your blog post. Readers will then be able to play the podcast directly from the blog post.
SoundCloud is not the only option for podcasts; you can also utilize the app store. However, it is not possible to embed such a podcast and therefore you won’t be able to harness the power of creating both a written blog post and a related podcast.
There are 2 additional benefits of conducting an interview for your blog:
Leverage the Interviewee’s Popularity
When you interview someone, especially if they are an influential figure in your industry, you will benefit from their popularity and social following. It is human nature for your interviewee to want to share their interview with his or her followers, who will in turn share it with theirs.
Additionally, a post with a well-known name attached to it will garner far more shares and tweets by virtue of the popularity of your interviewee.
Conducting an interview can be a very personal experience. Taking time to ask probing questions is a great way to break down barriers between you and the interviewee, and this can be a great way to build a strong relationship.
As opposed to an email relationship, an interview can often lead to a real friendship, which can be mutually beneficial. They say that it’s not about what you have done, but about who you know. Creating strong relationships with thought leaders in your industry could bear fruits in ways that you can’t imagine. The key is to maintain contact after the interview.
Content curation is a necessary tool in all content marketing strategies. However, it cannot be looked at in a vacuum – the benefits of such a strategy go far beyond just establishing a social presence. With limited resources, marketers must be able to harvest as many benefits as possible from each tactic being utilized, and with content curation, the possibilities are numerous.