I went to an excellent talk by Jasper Martens from Simply Business this evening.
Simply Business are an insurance company, but you wouldn't know that from their content (more on that later!). Jasper was brought in to manage their social media output and revolutionised their marketing approach through clever use of shareable content such as free user guides.
Here's the top 5 tips I took away from the talk:
1) Content doesn't have to be about your product as long as it is in line with your BRAND.
Jasper found that he didn't end up creating content about insurance - customers found that a turnoff and wouldn't share it. Instead he focussed on a brand 'attribute' which was that Simply Business wanted to be known for positivity towards small businesses. From this it was a natural step to creating guides aimed to help and advise this market.
2) Don't waste time trying to grow platforms that don't work for you.
Simply Business recognised that Facebook was not very successful for them in their B2B marketing efforts. Instead of trying to improve here they focussed on producing great content which could be shared on Facebook but did not depend on that channel for success.
3) Activities can BE content!
Similarly, Jasper found that his Google hangouts were only attracting double figure live audiences, despite telling people about them via mailouts to a six-figure email database. Not deterred, he recognised that the discussions held on the hangouts made great short videos and put them on YouTube, where they continue to reach a much wider audience.
4) Benefits of content marketing aren't easy to quantify.
A question from the audience (and a very common one at all social media talks I've been to) is how does this improve acquisitions? The answer is it is very hard to tell - difficult to track a sale back to the free download which created the initial brand awareness. At this point I thought it might be an idea to experiment with offer codes unique to the user guides, to help prove business worth, although you would have to tread carefully in order not to erode goodwill by appearing salesy.
5) The content has to be GOOD.
Easy to forget this one. 'Content for content's sake' will be without substance and won't help anyone, least of all you! Simply Business produced a Google Analytics guide of such good quality that Google linked to it from their help pages. It doesn't take an SEO expert to guess what a link from Google will do to your search rankings!