Consistently creating engaging content is one of those programmatic challenges that strikes fear in the hearts of many B2B marketers looking to take more advantage of social media.
It shows up regularly in surveys on the obstacles to social media success; it came up repeatedly in the group of manufacturing and distribution company marketers I had the privilege of working with last week in ISBM's workshop on B2B social media.
As Chris Iafella reminded us in a post on content curation for pharma the other day, though, creating fresh original content is not the only way to provide value to the customers and others with whom you're trying to connect.
Indeed, there are four levels of content sharing that B2B marketers should include in their social media mix.
- Commenting on other blogs, articles, community sites, tweets, and other social sources provides a fairly simple way to build visibility, demonstrate knowledge, and make or strengthen connections. As with all social media activity, you want to focus on the most relevant sources while being constructive, concise, and non-promotional. Brief comments are no substitute for serious thought leadership or educational publishing, but they are absolutely a useful complement.
- Curating interesting and informative content from other sources is another way to build and maintain visibility, become a useful resource, and, not incidentally, keep on top of important industry developments yourself. Effective curation is not simple. You have to bring real value which typically means really understanding your audience's needs and having a skilled editorial hand on the wheel rather than simply stringing together some automated alerts. Done well, though, a well-curated news or information service can be another vital complement to your own publication program.
- Publishing your own thoughtful and useful content remains the foundation of most effective social media programs in B2B. It's difficult to truly demonstrate expertise on core customer issues without it; it also provides a much stronger basis for deepening connections and relationships than the relatively simpler approaches of commenting and curating. Within a broader, integrated approach to content sharing, however, the demands on regular publishing of original content go down a bit, while also making it that much easier to share in other ways. What and how to publish are enormous topics in themselves, of course. Suffice it to say here that the more you can invest in a issue-based, thought leadership approach, the better.
- Syndicating your best content is the fourth element of an integrated approach. Once you have a bit of a track record with publishing engaging and useful content, there are any number of other social publishers (bloggers, community managers, etc.) anxious to share the content wealth. Syndication provides a powerful means to expand awareness and interest, enhance credibility through positive associations, and support friends and advocates looking for more sources to curate. The more you build visibility and connections through commenting and curating yourself, of course, the easier it will be to find opportunities to syndicate.
Sharing content is far from the only element of a successful social media program. Listening, building networks, and convening stakeholders in forums and communities are just as important. But content remains an essential component, and it continues to bedevil even the best B2B marketers. Building an integrated approach that complements your own publications with additional avenues for sharing can ease the publication burden at least a bit and while adding new value and connections along the way.
Do you agree? What's your content sharing strategy?