There are several different puzzle pieces to fit into place when it comes to creating a cohesive digital marketing strategy.
Two of those, highly related, are social media marketing and content marketing.
Although they both have different goals and objectives for a company (and many companies only choose between one and the other), they actually work best together in most cases.
But many digital marketers struggle with creating a strategy that properly integrates these two puzzle pieces. Social media marketing and content marketing are beasts all on their own, so putting the two together to create a unified strategy can seem overwhelming.
It’s all about understanding the similarities and differences between these two digital marketing techniques. Only then will you be able to start incorporating them together in a strategy that works to grow your blog, generate leads, and nurture them into customers.
Social Media Marketing vs. Content Marketing
Most digital marketing strategies include at least some form of one or both of these concepts.
Social media marketing typically entails creating content to share on Facebook or Instagram while content marketing can range from blogging to creating ebooks.
But what really is the end goal of each of these strategies?
Social Media Marketing Goals and Strategy
Social media marketing came about alongside the popularity of sites like MySpace and Facebook. When a platform comes to be with millions of potential fans and customers, it only makes sense that you, as a business, would hope to claim some space on that platform
Although back in 2009, a social media marketing strategy just consisted of creating a Facebook Page and posting content on it to generate buzz about your business, it’s a bit more complicated these days.
When it comes to creating a social media marketing strategy, you have several platforms to choose from based on audience demographics, business type, and more. There are different types of content to create to cater to each platform, and different days and times to share said content. Additionally, new platforms rise and fall, and it takes a strategic mindset to consider which ones are best to use as a growth lever.
Platforms rise and fall (image source)
So what is social media marketing?
At its core, social media marketing is about using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to reach new audience members, connect and engage with them, generate brand awareness about your business, share content, and create the ability to speak directly to your customers.
One of the most important metrics that marketers track when it comes to social media marketing is engagement. Are your social media posts resonating with your audience enough to generate a like, or better yet a comment? A share?
Understanding what social media is meant to be used for helps you begin to understand why it can work so well with the content marketing strategy.
Content Marketing Goals and Strategy
If you’re reading this blog, you probably have a pretty good understanding of content marketing.
As a review, it focuses on creating content to inform your audience about your product/service and prove how valuable your company can be to them. You’re showing them value in one of two ways:
- You’re offering informational content for free, giving value to your reader before you even get their money
- You’re showing off your product or service in an editorial format, showing how valuable it is and why your reader needs to buy it.
At its simplest, you’re answering questions that potential and current customers may have and providing value before trying to hard sell anyone.
The objectives of content marketing are a bit simpler than social media marketing: to get people to read, download, use, or buy your content in an effort to sell them on a product or service.
Although the most popular use of content marketing is to bring leads into your sales pipeline for a service or product business, you can also use content marketing to create information products and courses as well. Many businesses have done this successfully and it’s a great way to make money online if you can pull it off.
Essentially, content marketing focuses on the creation and distribution of these various pieces of content with the end goal being to generate new leads and customers.
The Key Difference Between Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing
Social media marketing and content marketing certainly have their similarities. For example, they’re both powerful digital marketing tactics that focus on inbound marketing rather than interruptive advertising.
The key difference, however, is that social media is a channel and content is made to be distributed.
What Types of Content Can You Create?
We’ll cover each of these content marketing types below:
- Blog posts
- Email marketing
- White papers
- Case studies
- Online courses
- Swipe files
Content marketing is incredibly expansive and includes so many different types of content. It’s a fun strategy to work with because there are a lot of options to choose from and put together in sales funnels and pipelines.
Many of these are basic types of content that every company should be creating, but others are great options to choose from when it comes to lead magnets and information products.
1. Blog Posts
Blogging is probably the most basic form of content, as well as the most popular. It’s more common than not to see a Blog tab on a company’s website. This is because blogging has so many benefits for a business.
Not only is it the starter form of content marketing, but it helps improve SEO for websites, gives potential customers even more ways to land on a business’s website, creates more content to share on social media, and can also be great for offering content upgrades.
A content upgrade is a piece of content that includes information even more valuable than the blog post itself. The reason it’s more valuable is that these are typically offered in exchange for an email address instead of completely free to view.
Adding these content upgrades to a blog post allows for even more list building power.
Not sure what to blog about? Consider the questions that you often see customers asking (you are regularly chatting with your customers and gathering feedback, right?)
The answers to those will always make a good blog post. Plus, then you can lead customers to your blog instead of typing out the same answer over and over again. Win-win? Sounds like it to us!
Additionally, you can easily find what competitors are ranking for or what people are searching for using an SEO tool like Ahrefs.
Check this list for more great blogging tools.
2. Email Marketing
Although email marketing is in a sense its own (very elaborate) form of digital marketing, email content still falls under the content marketing umbrella. It’s permission-based and opt-in, inbound, and uses content as its primary fuel and engine.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to a business’s email newsletter, and the type of business or industry heavily influences which email newsletters will perform better.
For example, a retail company wants to share product photos in its email in order to increase sales of those particular products.
On the other hand, a SaaS (software as a service) company wants to include valuable information while also leading back to their website and service.
You can mix it up, though (there are no hard rules here). Pique Tea has a great email list filled with educational content on health and wellness:
Emails can show a roundup of recent blog posts, share an ongoing sale or discount, tell a story, teach a lesson, and so much more.
The important thing to keep in mind is that your email list has given you their email address willingly, and you don’t want to abuse that. You don’t want to send more than one email a day or else your audience could perceive that as spamming and unsubscribe (*cough* Groupon *cough*).
On the other hand, you don’t want to send less than one email each month or else your audience could forget that they’re even on your email list, decide they don’t want to hear from you again, and unsubscribe.
Another interesting tip: offering an email course can be a great way to get people to sign up for your list and engage very quickly. See CXL’s enterprise conversion optimization course:
An eBook is a form of content marketing that is usually always gated, meaning it requires an email address or purchase to actually download it. When eBooks first come to mind, many people shy away, thinking there’s no way they could possibly write an entire book.
However, an eBook isn’t necessarily going to be actual book-length. It can range anywhere from 10 pages to 200 pages based on what your topic is, which part of the sales funnel you’re placing this book, and how much time you have to invest in creating it.
Although this type of content obviously takes more time and effort than your basic blog post or email newsletter, the reward is also greater. While blog post visitors help to increase your website traffic, you don’t actually know who those people are.
Offering eBooks as a lead magnet can help to boost the number of subscribers on your email list, giving you direct access to even more people.
4. White Papers
White papers are very similar to eBooks, especially in length. Both are types of long-form content and require a lot of time to properly put together so that they’re actually informative and valuable for your audience.
The key difference is that eBooks tend to be more content-heavy while white papers focus more on data-driven information and are dense with numbers and analytics. So an eBook is more digestible as an actual book while a white paper requires more focus to fully grasp its concepts.
5. Case Studies
Case studies are real life examples of how your company’s work helped with a client or customer’s success.
Case studies are a great decision-stage piece of content that helps potential clients understand why you’re awesome to work with (social proof goes a long way to breed trust).
Although these are visuals, they’re still a form of content marketing due to the depth and research that goes into creating them. This type of visual content demonstrates a specific concept through images, charts, graphs, and more. Here’s an example from LawnStarter:
Infographics perform well on social media platforms like Pinterest where visuals really matter. This type of content is great for companies to create because it teaches their audience something in a much different way than most other types of content.
Here is a great example of an infographic:
This one in particular is comparing two things. You’ll have to figure out the best way to visually represent the information you’re trying to convey.
There are many different types of video content to create.
You could create quick 30-60 second explainer videos, videos for social media ads, or informational/instructional videos.
Another great way to create video content is by going live. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube all have live video capabilities, making it incredibly easy to not only create video, but interact with your audience while doing it.
Videos also are often vital parts of online courses, as they help to teach the content in addition to written pieces. Not everyone learns the same way, and it’s really powerful to have multiple types of content wrapped into one.
Bonus: video works really well on social, particularly Facebook.
8. Online Courses
Online courses tend to be a core product within a content marketing funnel, but they’re still a great type of content to talk about. If you’re considering creating information products within your business, online courses are a smart choice.
This content normally doubles as marketing content and customer success content. It educates, but because of SEO and social, can also attract new customers. A great example is Gainsight’s Customer Success University:
Podcasts are popular right now and will probably continue to grow in popularity. People love to fill their deadtime with something educational or entertaining, so why not a content marketing podcast?
Conducting an interview and sharing it on a blog, video, podcast episode, etc. is a great way to partner with an expert in your industry. Not only is it great brand recognition for your business, but it helps improve your reputation in the industry.
Checklists are great on their own, but especially excel as content upgrades. Particularly if your content is technical in nature, it helps to have a terse checklist to help people implement your solution or framework.
12. Swipe Files
A swipe file is essentially it’s a collection of examples that help your audience to create something on their own. Commonly used by copywriters to swipe content styles from other writers to help them improve their own writing, the concept can be used in many other ways.
For example, DigitalMarketer has created and distributed a swipe file of social media headline examples so that marketers could look at the concepts of these successful posts and replicate them within their own.
Social Media + Content Marketing = a Distribution Dream
This is where the integration between social media and content marketing really comes into play.
After all, social media is the quintessential channel to distribute your content on.
But what is the best way to distribute your content on social media?
Use Your Brand Voice
Everything you post on social media should be in the same consistent brand voice. This helps to consolidate and bolster your brand and helps to create a presence that resonates well with your audience.
MoonPie is a great example of a strong brand voice:
The Five W’s
When writing copy for social media (as well as for content marketing, or in any marketing format really), it’s important to cover the 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. This ensures you’re providing all necessary information to your audience and enticing them to click through to the lead magnet.
Don’t Write a Novel
Social media copy should normally be short, sweet, and to the point. No one goes on Facebook to read a novel. Instead, they’re looking for interesting content (and they’re usually either in a hurry or easily distracted – tons of other options online and on social media).
Unless, of course, you’re James Altucher:
Pay Attention to the Platform
Don’t forget which platform you’re writing for. They’re all different and should be treated as such.
For example, Twitter has a 280 character limit, meaning you need to be much more concise with your copy on that platform than any of the others. Instagram is visual-native so the copy is less important.
Include a Call-to-Action (when applicable)
Let your audience know exactly what you want them to do. If it’s an article, give an easily accessible link. If it’s a lead magnet, point them to it. Always think about the purpose of your social post (back to the “Why” in the 5 W’s).
You don’t always need a CTA though. Sometimes you just want engagement (retweets, likes, etc.)
In addition, it’s a good practice to A/B test nearly everything you do in marketing (as long as your can rigorously and accurately do so). This includes your social media copy.
Try A/B testing different lengths, different phrasing, and so on, to determine which generates the best results. This means you’ll have one version of your ad go out with ABC copy and a second version of your ad go out with XYZ copy.
Some platforms make this easier or harder, but here’s a good guide on social media experiments in general.
How and Where to Share Content on Social Media
There are several different places on social media that you can share your content marketing materials and lead magnets. Here are a few of them:
- Organic posts
- Social ads
- CTA buttons on Facebook
- Bio link on Instagram
- Bio link on Twitter
- Pinned Tweet
1. Organic Posts
First and foremost, content marketing posts and lead magnets within your regular social media content calendar. You can share it on nearly any platform (sans Instagram since they don’t allow links in captions) to reach the people that are already following you.
Again, Pique Tea does this really well:
2. Social Ads
You should probably be putting some of your social media ad budget behind lead generation.
Although this doesn’t directly lead to a sale, growing your email list with people who are obviously interested in your business (after all, they just downloaded your lead magnet) is a great way to start nurturing potential new clients and customers.
3. Call-To-Action Button on Facebook
There is a customizable button on every Facebook Page directly beneath the cover photo. This is the perfect area to place a link to your lead magnet. You can even update your cover photo to a graphic that teases the lead magnet and an arrow leading to the call-to-action button to grab even more attention.
4. Bio Link on Instagram
Although Instagram doesn’t allow you to place links in your photo captions, there is one place you can: your profile.
There are a few different ways you can use this.
First, you can simply paste the link to your lead magnet in your bio link. Then you can promote it in your bio itself, directly above the link, within your Instagram Stories, and using your actual Instagram posts.
Alternatively, you can use a software like Linktree or create your own dedicated Instagram landing page. You’ll then use that page to include multiple links to pages. These can include links to your home page, your blog, your shop, and your lead magnet.
5. Bio Link on Twitter
While you can (and should) still share the landing page link within your tweets, you can also edit your Twitter bio link to direct to your lead magnet. Doing so puts the link front and center on your Twitter profile.
6. Pinned Tweet
Furthermore, you can also pin a tweet to the top of your Twitter profile. If you want to keep your Twitter bio link directing to your website’s home page, create and share a tweet that leads to your landing page.
Clicking the downward carat in the top right corner of the tweet and select Pin to your profile to make sure that tweet is the first thing anyone sees when they visit your profile.
When it comes to social media and content marketing, the two go together better than you might think. In fact, they’re the perfect match.
By creating content and using social media as its distribution channel, you’re opening up your business to an even larger audience.
Sharing your content on social media helps to increase lead generation and grow awareness around your brand.