A Guide to Great Content Marketing: Buffer Case Study
I've been a big fan of Buffer for a while now, it has always been a very simple way to schedule across various social media platforms. This post isn't about the merits of Buffer as a tool though. People often ask me for an example of great content marketing, and Buffer is one of the names that easily trips off my tongue. I keep telling my words to stop being so clumsy, but to no avail. To frame this post a little, let me share with you what factors I believe create an excellent content marketing strategy.
Brilliant content that:
- Is well crafted - easy to absorb, suitable for the channel (blog, video etc) and good looking!
- Informs the reader and is very well thought out in terms of the target audience
- Makes them feel something
- Empowers people to take an action, make a change or implement advice from within the content
- Creates trust and builds affinity
- Makes people want to interact with and share the content
- Brings people into the sales funnel and pushes them further down it
These are the key factors and each one of those has various components to it, which is another post for another day! What else creates a brilliant content marketing strategy?
Superb distribution tactics
Content needs eyeballs, and getting those eyeballs is tough. The web offers us many opportunities to attract those eyeballs, whether that be via social media, email or even paid promotion. In order to make the most of those channels, a planned approach must be adopted and that approach must be constantly monitored for effectiveness and tweaked based on data (this applies to the content too). It doesn't stop at just pushing that content out there, it has to be a two-way street - if people come back and remark on the content or ask for further information, then you must be responsive.
The right tone of voice
And this applies across the board - within the actual content and also in any form of distribution, so, the way the brand's voice comes across in social media or in email copy for example.
Buffer are doing all of this, very well
Let's take it from the top and look at their content, which is housed in the Buffer Blog. The last five posts on the blog covered:
- How to make social media sharing buttons within content work better
- A guide to creating effective landing pages
- A feature that shares the best Slideshare presentations related to social media
- A recap of their recent #bufferchat (a regular Twitter chat they manage)
- An in-depth post that looks at how long it takes to run a social media strategy
Does this content inform the reader?
Yes, every single post is very informative and actionable. One of Buffer's key values is 'helpfulness' and this is apparent in their content.
Does it match their target audience's needs?
Well, based on my assumption that they a huge part of their target audience/market is digital marketers or those looking to increase their knowledge of digital, they are very much meeting those needs, with a variety of topics too - they don't just zero-in on social media and content marketing.
Does it make the reader feel something?
There's not a big emotional play here, and frankly there shouldn't be! What they do, do is make their readers feel educated and empowered.
Is the content actionable?
Absolutely! Every post, even the recap of #bufferchat has advice that can be taken away and implemented.
Does it create trust and build affinity?
It does. My gauge of this is that fact that they have a number of people who regularly comment on their blog posts, clearly these people see the blog and the brand as a trusted source. Take a look at this Twitter search (for love, buffer) and you can see a lot of people declaring their love for various aspects of the Buffer experience - now, that's affinity!
Do people interact with and share the content?
The post regarding the time it takes to run a social media strategy attracted 20 + comments from readers. This is a strong number, especially in these days of generally lower levels of blog commenting. Something that is great to see is the fact that a lot of the comments are lengthy and well-considered, not just 'thanks for a great post'.
People have shared this post in their droves - over 2000 tweets, 772 Facebook likes and 423 shares to LinkedIn. We need to take social shares with a pinch of salt as they can be a reflex to many people, but these figures are impressive none-the-less.
Is their content affecting the sales funnel?
Clearly I can't comment on this, however they have all the right factors in place that would tell me their content strategy is working very well in this regard. At the very least, it will be creating massive levels of word of mouth and referrals from there.
Is the content well crafted?
Let's look at 'Social Media Strategy: How Much Time Does a Good Strategy Really Take?' . Is this post well-crafted? Yes! Here's why:
- Nice clear headings and small sub-sections make it easy for people to digest
- It orders the key areas by number, taking the reader through a process
- Great use of imagery and graphics to illustrate key points, but also to break up the post
- It has a nice call to action at the end, aimed at getting people talking about the post
- In general, the blog is well designed and thinks about mobile traffic, which is key (we need to fix our images in blogs when read on a mobile device!). The imagery is also designed to be shared independently, a clever tactic
Big ticks in all boxes there for Buffer! What's next?
Superb distribution tactics
The key channels for distribution of Buffer's content are social media and email. They put a lot of effort and thought into their use of social media, especially Twitter. They have a very well-planned approach to distributing their content via 140 character nuggets. They tweet 14 times per weekday and 10 at weekends, spread across the day to ensure they reach their global audiences. The vast majority of tweets include a nice visual, which helps achieve stand-out but also creates tweets that are immediately informative. It's a lot of work, but their post that I featured above gives great insight into how they make this as slick as possible. They are very good with social and it has been interesting to watch the evolution of their approach over the years.
If you sign up to their email newsletter, you'll receive a daily email with their latest content, before it goes on the blog, a nice touch in return for giving them some data. As it stands, over 31,012 do this and Buffer proudly display this number alongside their very simple sign-up box. A nice bit of proof.
Are they responsive?
Yes, very much so. When it comes to social, they have policy of answering everyone, and they seem to stick to it. On the blog, they answer every comment and when you email them, you get a response and quickly! Truly responsive and sociable. Their tone of voice throughout all communications really sits well with their ethos and is approachable and friendly - something their entire team is.
So, is their strategy perfect?
Nothing is perfect, but I find it very difficult to fault Buffer's approach. The thing that really shines through is that they spend a serious amount of time planning, measuring and tweaking their approach and that is laudable (yes! I've been trying to work laudable into a post for ages!). They should be held up there as bastions of superb content and social media marketing. Bravo Buffer, bravo!
Do you have experience of the Buffer strategy? Do you think my analysis is right? Anything else to add? Please do have a chat in the comments below!
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