Content marketing; social selling. But what about discovery?

As we head into the new year (how many posts have you’ve read this week that start that way?), I’m reviewing many of the great articles posted by colleagues, pundits and others in the industry, many of which provide significant insight into the evolution of social marketing.  One of those articles is by Daryl Colwell:  “Brands Need To Shift From Content Marketing To Content Promotion”.  Daryl’s premise is right on, in that content is king (apologies if you’ve heard that one before — it’s been done, and overdone), and pull is the only real way to acquire a long-term, dedicated audience.  What’s more, brand and product awareness is all but governed by successful planning and execution of a content strategy.  Nothing new there – we’re in violent agreement.

And yet, more than half of marketers are failing to create content that gets the job done by resonating with their audiences, according to the survey linked to in the article.  Daryl goes on to posit that a cohesive strategy is required, one that works a call-to-action into every content piece (agree), recognizes what the audience needs and wants and gives it to them (certainly), and has broad appeal (I don’t entirely agree – see here for more).  The elephant in the room, however, remains unaddressed:  Just how, exactly, does one resolve the cold-start problem of capturing and directing an audience toward one’s content?  In other words, what about discovery?

This is where what’s currently being termed “social selling” comes in.  However, linking to resources isn’t enough; one needs inbound links from influential sources to support, endorse and aid discovery of one’s message.  And how does one go about acquiring these influential inbound links?  It may sound cliché, but it’s the way the internet has worked since its inception:  You’re more likely to get if you give in advance.  Find content – even tweets – from influential voices whose messages align with your own.  Use this content to support and extend your own story, and in doing so, link back to your allies.  You’ll find that not only do they support you by linking back to your content and endorsing your message, but if you’re good, they will also point their readers to you.  Why?  Because there’s simply too much to be said, and not enough time in the day for a single person to say it – so leverage others’ work.  In time you’ll find out just how fundamentally reciprocal the web really is.

In the end, it all comes down to:  Right content.  Right audience.  Right time.  You cannot serve your audience until your content has been discovered.  And you cannot be discovered by merely talking about yourself.  Support others who’re influential, and they’ll support and endorse you in return – and voilà, you’re on your way to having an audience that’s primed and ready.

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