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Why Companies That Say They Want Social Media Really Want Content Marketing

Recently, I’ve had two different speaking engagements with two very different groups.  The first was a group of a half dozen CEOs and a few of the folks on their marketing teams on the topic of social media and what businesses can do to use social media or use it better. The second was a group of students from the e-Business group at a local university about using blogging for business.  Each was a great event, and representative of the topics we are passionate about.

While vastly different audiences, each of the groups had some strikingly similar views:

1.  Nobody really knows what you are talking about when you say “content marketing.”

OK maybe that is a bit overstating it, but not much.  Phrases like “content marketing” are still a bit too “inside baseball” for CEOs and students alike. So, put the remote down and step away from the jargon, because…

2. When “content marketing” is explained, people understand what you are talking about and most everyone sees the value.

Let’s face it, the ideas behind content marketing are not new. But, the value now is higher than ever as both B2B and B2C buyers are armed with the tools to research your industry, products and services before they ever even think of engaging a sales representative. Buyers want to educate themselves and be in control of the process.  Companies need to shift their thinking and educate buyers with content, in the form of white papers, videos, presentations, webinars, blog posts, eBooks, case studies…the list goes on and on.  Educating your prospects, providing content that overcomes objections, and being there before the sale is critical.  Smart marketers have always done some form of content marketing, it’s just recently that the name has been applied and more tactics and channels are available.

3. When many companies say they want to “do social media” they really mean content marketing  — they just don’t know it yet.

Reinforcing the first 2 points – when companies learn more about what content marketing is – and that you can leverage your own content in the social media space – they almost always realize that’s what they really wanted to do, and that social media is just one piece of their content marketing puzzle.  Mike described this well recently in Don’t Let the Social Media Tail Wag the Content Marketing Dog.  And that doesn’t even cover the bulging eyes when I showed the stat that companies with blogs generate 67% more leads.

So take a look, learn more about content marketing, and you may find that when you say you want social media you really want content marketing. 

This article was originally published on the Marketing Trenches blog. Will Davis is Managing Partner at Right Source Marketing, an interactive consulting and services firm based in Baltimore, MD and Reston,VA. For more from Will, follow @willdavis on Twitter.

Join The Conversation

  • Jun 21 Posted 5 years ago Rhys Gregory (not verified)

    Hi Will. Great Article! - It was also useful to read the comments and see it from a different perspective.


    I agree with what has been said. There are so many companies out there at the moment offering services in "social media" you don't really know which way to turn. So "you can do me  a twitter and facebook account..." = excellent.. I can do that too. Doesn't work as well now that the market is saturated with these services as "social media" becomes wide spread. There are niche companies appearing like Marketing Clout that offer content services which make them stand out from the rest.


    Social Media = tools.

    Content Marketing = Not just a strategy.

    As you rightly said, good content should be at the base of all marketing, Social media is just one way of sharing it.


    When I go to Google I don't know what I'm searching for. Instead I'll search around the product, trying to work out the best of something which will eventually mention a product/company name.


    I typed up some more on this over here -

  • Mar 29 Posted 6 years ago stevenr (not verified)

    should make emphasis on a clients business and how to properly sell a marketing service that is the most profitable to them.

     You wouldnt want to try and tell a client he needs to do social media marketing when the clients owns a pool company service that sells water pumps.  Why the hell would he need a facebook page or do facebook adds that no one would ever join. waste of a clients money and time. Target the clients ideal community or who to market to and find the proper marketing strategy to beging his campaign. I rather see marketing results and see my clients business profit from them, then to have a pissed off client at the end of the month see no results for his business becuase i decided to try and sell him every possible service i could to make that quick buck.  Here in Miami you dont even know how mmannny clients we get that walk in tell me that their last "seo guy" promised them the world and left 2 months in with most of there money. It's just sad.


  • Will Davis's picture
    Mar 19 Posted 6 years ago Will Davis

    Rene -

    Content marketing definitely plays a role in digital pr (and traditional pr) and influences every other marketing tactic or method. If you drill down into each area, all forms of marketing require content. Creating content is not a new concept, but the average organization does a terrible job with the actual marketing of that content. Thanks for commenting!

  • Will Davis's picture
    Mar 19 Posted 6 years ago Will Davis

    Eric -

    Thanks for commenting. Yes, we see content marketing as a method or tactic that pervades into not just all other marketing methods or tactics, but all other business functions or departments.

  • Will Davis's picture
    Mar 19 Posted 6 years ago Will Davis

    Raz -

    First of all, thanks for taking the time to comment. I absolutely agree that social media has changed just about every facet of business - not just marketing. I also agree that there is a lot more to social media than content marketing.

    All that said, without content most social media marketing efforts will fall flat. What we see time and time again are organizations that dive into social media, without a strategy and without addressing content marketing as the base of that social media effort. Those organizations inevitably stumble with social media and often times give up on it, instead of acknowledging that they took the wrong approach and starting over.

  • Mar 18 Posted 6 years ago Raz Chorev (not verified)


    Although I'm a marketer, when I present Social Media, marketing is only one use of the term. Content Marketing is great, and the web gives you many tools to distribute content, but that isn't (IMHO) what social media is about.

    As far as I can see it, social media changes the whole concept of the business world - transparency in everything we do, hiring and employee retention policies and practices, employee engagement, sourcing, and of course - Branding, Sales and Marketing.

    There is a lot more to social media than content marketing. A lot more....


  • Mar 18 Posted 6 years ago Eric (SMO) (not verified)

    Good article.

    Doing social is really a marketing channel,while content marketing is marketing method or tactic.

  • Mar 17 Posted 6 years ago Rene Power (not verified)

    Interesting post Will.

    I too have presentations to two quite different groups within a few weeks of each other. A few weeks back I lectured second year marketing degree students and next week am talking about social media and b2b marketing at a paid for conference.

    Content marketing is a great proposition if the meaning isn't lost in the unnecessary semantics. It is even less well understood in the UK where it is necessary as a term because 'social' media just doesn't work for business owners.

    I think of it more as digital PR, generating repackaged and new material to position expertise and drive inbound inquiry. Opens up some fantastic opportunities to bring your company and your brands, products and services to life.

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