TopRank Marketing Editor

Essential Tips for Social Media & Content Marketing

TopRank Marketing Editor     Content Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media

marketo user summitContent marketing is essential for B2B businesses providing both qualitative and quantitative returns.  And while 6 in 10 marketers are planning to increase content marketing spends this year, success-rates still vary greatly as it’s a new concept for most.

Maria Pergolino, director of marketing for Marketo (a TopRank Online Marketing client) shared a presentation at the Marketo User Summit on getting the message out, focused on social media and content marketing tips/tricks.

How do you succeed in content marketing?

  • Create content that sells
  • Create a content map
  • Optimize content for search
  • Repurpose content
  • Learn to succeed even in situations with little or no content

We need content for nurturing, as a lead solution, for lead scoring and risk mitigation.  A lot of people don’t even consider the risk mitigation aspect – by publishing content and making people feel like your company is providing great information and is a leader, they’ll choose you.  Without content, you’ll never even have the chance to be found.

What is content?

Content is not just white papers – it’s videos, it’s blog posts, it’s real-time updates, it’s FAQs.  B2B businesses need to think beyond just white papers.  Early when people are just learning about your product they are looking for different types of content.  For example, early in the buying cycle they may find you through blog posts.  Later on, they want demo videos or perhaps reinforcement about their decision from an analyst or third party.

The bottom line:  you need to carefully consider all the pieces of content you’ll need to create throughout the buying cycle.

6 rules of great content:

  1. Non-promotional
  2. Relevant to reader
  3. Closes a gap
  4. Well-written
  5. Relevant to your company
  6. Gives proof

And – equally important – don’t forget to promote.  Good content is not enough – you should be using a mix of channels from email and social media to PR and search engine marketing to promote your content.  You have to help it spread, good content isn’t going to get anywhere on its own.  You have to do everything you can to put the right material in front of the right people at the right time.

Free your content

Many B2B marketers will only put content up behind a login form.  But, you should actually use forms only when you really need them.  Consider removing forms from early stage content in order to make it accessible and get others to share it.  It’s so much more important early-stage content gets in the hands of everyone because even if it’s not directly applicable to them, they may share it with the right people at an organization.  Further, with forms use only what you really need on them – asking less is key to getting more form completes.

Secret to testing with content: even though testing on the web is pretty easy, you still need to know exactly what you’re testing for.

Content mapping

Content mapping is a vital part of the process – consider segmenting content for different buying stages – early through late.  Further, you also need to consider buying profiles when developing content, including industry, role, company size and geography.

When you do map, keep the following in mind:

  • Map your existing content
  • Blank cells determine your content roadmap
  • Short content is good and can be very effective, don’t always create long format content
  • Test and optimize
  • Start small, think big and adapt quickly

Optimize for search

Optimize your whole site categorically it for search.

  • Instead of grouping by “video, article and white paper” group by specific keyword concept
  • Optimize keywords in content, meta descriptions and title tag
  • Ensure meta descriptions aren’t just for search engines, make them compelling so users actually click through

If you’re going to create content, it is imperative you optimize it so people actually see it.  There’s no reason if you’re creating content online you shouldn’t consider search – it’s too important a channel to ignore.

Making content social

Add ratings, comments and ability to sort in order to let users decide the most popular content on your site.  Further, ensure you have share and bookmarking options on all content (and to networks that matter to your users).

Consider that social media is also more than just Twitter and Facebook.  Find the areas that are most important to your brand in social channels and spend your time there.  In many cases it may not be the most popular networks, especially if you are in more obscure categories.

Social sharing – customize your emails and landing pages so they have social options.  If you’re driving a lot of push traffic to pages, do everything you can to increase organic traffic as well.

Social validation – adds transparency and credibility for your brand.  If people are saying good things, leverage them as social proof by re-using them in other marketing materials and making sure they are visibility to prospects.  This can include quotes, endorsements, subscriber numbers, etc.

Social monitoring – start by monitoring the most popular social media sites, but figure out a way to monitor across platforms.  Make the best use of alerts and be sure you keep queries running on the terms that matter.

Final takeaway – learn the three 3’s R’s of content optimization:

Reorganize – take old content and be sure it’s organized and categorized.  If you remove a landing page, for example, be sure to redirect it (and use 301 redirects).

Rewrite – Rewrite content into different formats so you have maximum impact across channels.  For example, a webinar becomes a SlideShare becomes a blog post.  Optimize each for slight variations on the same topic.

Retire – when content is dated, be sure to archive but it does not need to be actively promoted any longer.  Move on to creating additional fresh, relevant content.

Bonus – Marketo actually published the presentation on SlideShare during the talk, which I thought was quite clever as it provided immediate context to the Tweets at the conference.  We’ve embedded it below to share the above concepts visually:

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  1. Avatar Joshua Barnes says

    Great article. I hope you don’t mind I stole your 6 steps to great content and put them on my whiteboard! This actually really helped my thought process and is giving me the ability to formulate a systematic process for writing. Thank you!

  2. I agree that the content is most important factor…

  3. Great post Adam, thanks for sharing! I would add frequency to your rules for great content. Too often I see companies launch blogs, only to post content once a month. It is difficult to optimize your content for search if it is not fresh, and readers will likely stop the RSS feed.

  4. Avatar Josh Weaver says

    Amazing article! I’m with Joshua when I say I hope you don’t mind but your 6 steps are now written out on my whiteboard in front of my desk as well. As a newer company blogger,, I am constantly looking for tips and ways to increase traffic and interest! Thanks!

  5. Great article Adam. Great point about free line content. We made sure to get a lot of content out when we heard about this strategy and it made things a lot easier in regards to people joining our mailing list. 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing this to us. Great content gives value to the totality of ones work. If you have great content then that’s already a plus point that no one can take away from you. People actually or readers rather visit a site and keep on coming back if they find a page so interesting and well handled by a writer. I personally do that whenever I find a site that is full of information I definitely bookmark it then keep on visiting the site. You have a wonderful post so keep it up.

  7. Social media is definitely the in thing now and if you aren’t doing it, you are losing money

  8. This article has so much key information, I am probably going to be spending a couple of hours tearing this apart and formulating it to fit into my social marketing plan! Thanks for the wonderful information!

  9. Avatar Rahul @ MazaKaro says

    thank you for sharing this , that has important points we need to know about !

  10. great post! thanks for sharing

  11. Content is king! ezine, facebook, twitter, utube, are all great places to tie in with, I beleive everyone should be using all these resources now to improve their content.

  12. I had the pleasure of hearing Maria speak at the Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston. She covered much of this content and I could not write fast enough to get all the tips. Thank you for the summary! Excellent advice.

  13. Avatar Collective Intellect says

    I thought your suggestions for rewriting content for different formats was excellent. I hadn’t thought about customizing a content piece for different uses but it makes sense.

  14. This post should be printed out and hung on the wall as a checklist. It has both “beginner” and “advanced” suggestions that will truly keep you on the right track. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Hi, Thank you for the great tips. I have never really given the social media much of a go so I am a little rusty at it, but will certainly give your suggestions a try.

  16. Avatar Sachin Sharma says

    Content must be written for users first but do not forget Search Engine @ “Optimize keywords in content, meta descriptions and title tag”
    I do it on regular bases and get amazing results. Most of Search Engines need fresh and new updated content and putting targeted keywords is one of the best keys to get success.

  17. I’d add; be sure to date content.

    If people find your content and it’s way past it’s useby date, they’ll think you’re out of touch or worse. If the content includes a date stamp from, say, 4 years ago, they’ll understand and not write you off as a complete numbnuts.

  18. Rethinking your strategy could also be mentioned here. having content is one thing, spreading the content to the right reader or customer is another. So distribution to & through right channels is also important.

  19. Avatar Alex Horton says

    Great article!

    Your comments on content really ring true with me! I think its really important to keep content light hearted, being too serious on these mediums of communication can be a serious downfall, if you can get as many followers/likes and maintain a good dialogue with the people interested then you can sit back and let the genius of Facebook and Twitter (other social mediums included) do the rest. I have seen many marketing campaigns sky rocket and fail on the merits of what I just said!!!

    Here are some interesting statistics on the landscape of social media in a corporate sense:

    – Social network profile creation and management is still the most widely used social media
    tactic, although the proportion of companies who do this has decreased from 65% last year to 56% this year.

    Many companies are becoming more realistic about what they can achieve from social media, and focused on what is most appropriate for their type of company or brand.

    Brand loyalty is the KEY aim of any social media campaign as rightly stated but this is only done through creating interesting, regular, exiting content and maintain conversations between all parties involved

    For a comprehensive 2010 social media report containing statistics and best practise guides:

    • Thanks for the stats Alex. I think you should qualify them as being mostly relevant to the UK since that’s where the majority of respondents to the social media report are from. Just 12% are from the US, which is the vast majority of our readers.

  20. Avatar Jonathan Kidder says

    If you have a social media site or blog that people direct questions or comments to, you need to be in touch daily, even multiple times a day. That could mean having a dedicated person whose sole responsibility is to respond – basically a customer-service person whose answers become part of the content of the site.

  21. Avatar Bizpromo Au says

    After reading this post, I might consider myself a content writer=)