For two weeks in December 2013, ShareBloc ran a contest to find the Top Content Marketing Posts of 2013 as part of our open beta launch. More than 640 voters cast their ballots 7,678 times to narrow a competitive field of 175 nominations to the top 50. We covered eight key areas in sales & marketing, including Social Media, which was our second most popular category. Social Media Today received a lion's share of winners, with two posts in the top 10, including the #1 post.
There were 11 social media posts that made it into the top 50. Here are the winners:
3 Things Every Business Needs to Succeed in Social Media by Rachel Strella
Why it was chosen: Sometimes the simplest posts are the best. This certainly is the case with Rachel Strella's succinct post on how to engage with Social Media. Rachel identifies three key elements for social media success: 1) A Strong Operation; 2) Established Marketing; and 3) Commitment. Without all three elements, a business may struggle to succeed with social media.
Key Quote: "Social media is a relationship-building tool - a utility for establishing new relationships or enhancing current relationships. A business will be hard-pressed to find a way to accelerate - or even skip - the 'know/like/trust' process. I urge all businesses to give relationship marketing at least one year before anticipating a steady stream of qualified leads."
Staying Optimistic in Social Media Marketing by Barry Ricks
Why it was chosen: Similar to Rachel's post, Barry lays out a simple framework for creating an engaged and positive social media campaign. For those who see social media marketing as a necessary evil, this post is probably for them. But for the rest of us that sees SMM as an effective way to reach your customers, be sure to heed Barry's four-step program: 1) Have a Plan; 2) Be Active; 3) Celebrate in your Social Media Marketing success; 4) Smile.
Key Quote: "At times it can be hard to stay optimistic, but follow these steps and you'll become a "Glass half full" person and not feel like you're "half empty" in your Social Media Marketing."
50 Small Business Blogs to Watch by Andrea Parker
Why it was chosen: This post has it all and probably should have been tagged as content marketing, sales management and social media. We think our voters liked this post because it gives a broad outlook on all aspects of sales and marketing.
Key Quote: "After several months of talking with key players, asking our loyal fans and surveying small business owners and entrepreneurs, the Big Ideas Blog Team has assembled a list of 50 small business blogs that will help you learn strategies from content marketing and effective copywriting to data analysis and social media with a side of the latest technology and PR tips."
Why it was chosen: If you read this article in the beginning of 2013, you were prepped for success in your social media strategy. It's not too late to do the same for 2014. Jay Baer raises three hard questions that every social marketer should ask: 1) How Does Social Media Make Us Money, and How Can We Prove That?; 2) Do We Have Adequate Resources To Succeed?; 3) How Are We Segmenting Our Participation?
Key Quote: "2013 is the year of social optimization. Growth is slowing, and it's time to focus on making money, saving money or both. It is essential that you have a defined social media strategic plan that supports real business objectives like customer acquisition or customer loyalty."
Find the Heart of Your Brand Storytelling with These 6 Questions by Debbie Williams
Why it was chosen: Every brand has a story and Debbie Williams covers the six questions you have to ask yourself before you can do any sort of success brand marketing: 1) What's your reason for being?; 2) What's your history?; 3) Who are your main characters?; 4) What's your corporate mission?; 5) How have you failed?; 6) Where are your gaps?. By providing some structure to your storytelling, you can give your brand a more comprehensive perspective to customers and leads.
Key Quote: "You have to know who you are before you can explain it to someone else. Brands that don't have their core value propositions in place, or have internal discrepancies about what they are even trying to say, will never be able to share their story with the world in an honest and engaging way."
Why it was chosen: Brian Solis is a well-known technologist and digital media analyst and Susan Young pulls together seven insights for marketers in the customer-centric world. The most persistent theme in this piece is Brian's insight that technology alone does not replace marketing insights. Technology and new channels like Facebook are not marketing black holes, but should be seen as a vessel for encouraging experiences and engaging customers differently.
Key Quote: "Consumer behavior is evolving, our technology is evolving, but our business processes, systems, services, and philosophies are not. Our methodologies and value systems are changing to adapt but they are not changing fast enough to lead. Everything I have learned about the future of marketing and branding is this: Behavior first, technology second."
Sales Reps on LinkedIn: You're Doing It Wrong by The Bridge Group
Why it was chosen: We all know LinkedIn is a powerful tool for marketers and salespeople, but not everyone knows how to utilize this platform well. Sales consultancy The Bridge Group put together a great e-book on how to leverage LinkedIn for sales people, and hosted an abridged version of the tell-all. This slideshare doesn't just provide anecdotes or rhetoric but actually drills down step-by-step on how to better user your LinkedIn profile and network.
Key Quote: "You are so much more than your title! Your headline should convey the value you bring to your prospects and customers. For example, doesn't Customer- Centric B2B Software Sales Professional convey more value than 'Sales Executive'? How about Inbound Marketing Specialist versus 'Inside Sales Rep'?."
Why it was chosen: Sometimes the best insights are done by example. In this highly researched post, Katie Tandy looks at how different car companies manage their social media presence on Twitter. While Silicon Valley darling Tesla Motors leads with 100K+ Twitter followers, they have practically zero engagement with their fans and only tweet once a day. GM, on the other hand, has made Twitter a big part of their social media engagement with 15 new hires and multiple Twitter handles such as @chevycustcare and @gmcustcare. Their average response time depending on the handle can be as low as five hours, which is by far the industry leader.
Key Quote: "While these proactive customer service efforts are, well, great efforts, the bottom line is that their response times are still painfully slow, especially in comparison to leaders in other verticals like fast food - @TacoBell for example - who averages a reply time of under 30 minutes - or @DeltaAssist who answers most tweets under 8 minutes... despite receiving nearly 500 a day."
8 Must-Know Facebook Tips for Small Businesses by Socially Stacked
Why it was chosen: Socially Stacked put together a great two-parter on how to leverage your Facebook page as a small business. Perhaps the most interesting tip is #4, "Be Human." Too often, businesses and brands see social media as an extension of the traditional and sometimes stoic Madison Avenue marketing motif. Platforms like Facebook give businesses the rare opportunity to form a real dialogue with customers, current and potential. Don't forget to put a human face to your company, including sometimes an actual human face, like a star employee or a key member of the marketing team.
Key Quote: "If you're willing, show photos of your employees and your company, talk about birthdays and other special occasions. The more personal you can be with your audience the more your fans can relate to you and will see you as a friend they want to check in with on Facebook versus a brand or business trying to sell something."
9 Simple Tips To Make Your Hashtags Work by Rupert Staines
Why it was chosen: Everyone uses the hashtag but do we use it effectively. You can watch the Jimmy Fallon / Justin Timberlake satire or read Rupert Stine's simple checklist on how to use a hashtag work for your social media campaign. If I had to boil down Rupert's post in one simple suggestion, it'd be a hashtag is like a slogan or a motto: the more succinct, memorable and quotable it is, the better.
Key Quote: "Promote your hashtag. What's the point of a hashtag if nobody sees it or uses it? Stick your hashtag on all your social media websites, on your print marketing materials, at the bottom of your emails, and so on. The more places it's seen, the more people that will use it. That said, there does need to be a reason behind the use, and inviting people to "join the discussion" or "voice their views" by including a hashtag is a good way of boosting engagement."
Is It Time to Close Your Facebook Page? by Alon Popilskis
Why it was chosen: Alon's post is a great reminder that Facebook is just another tool in our distribution channel toolbox and isn't for everyone. Most Facebook brand pages are not viewed by fans and with the recent changes to news feed, this percentage will decrease further. Measure the ROI of acquiring each new Facebook fan and if the math doesn't make sense, maybe Facebook is your channel.
Key Quote: "The bottom line is if you're going to have a Facebook page, make sure you've got a justification for it. And "I'm doing it because all my competitors are doing it" doesn't count. Just because they like to waste money doesn't mean you should."
You can view the rest of the top 50 content marketing winners here, including all the social media nominees. We cover other important topics including lead gen/inside sales, marketing automation and sales enablement.