By Chris Bagnall - 4th March 2014
Content Marketing has been gaining significant terrain and Social Media is playing a key role in distribution and amplification. When we look at the dominant content marketing tactics chosen in the UK we can see that they revolve around those that are social in nature (social media content and blogs) according to a study by the CMI (Content Marketing Institute).
But the bias in favour of Social Media might be a symptom of a dangerous over-reliance across the market. There is no one single reason why social media channels have gained such disproportionate levels of prominence for content marketing usage by marketers as a whole. It’s more a combination of a number of factors that have led to it:
However, it is crucial for B2B technology marketers to question whether their target audience use these channels for information gathering and the research process for aiding their decision making to purchase tech products and services. Only by understanding how audiences interact with social media and what they use it for can we properly compare the effectiveness of it performing a certain function in our overall communications mix against all other media channels available.
The importance of evaluating agency advice
For those organisations that outsource some part or all of their social media strategy, channels and/or content management there are a multitude of agency businesses that are specialists and are very capable of doing so. PR agencies have done a very good job of reinventing themselves over the last few years and increasing revenue with social media, content strategy, distribution and management. More general creative, digital and direct marketing agencies have embraced social media and seized the opportunity of aligning their company program recommendations with social media, often linking them to the management of a company’s web site content, broader inbound marketing and SEO strategy.
This is not to say it’s not important, however, an agency will normally recommend a strategy that plays to their strengths and derives broader revenue streams for them. Therefore, often a social media management and distribution strategy from these types of agencies utilise “free” general social media channels that allows the agency to maximise a larger proportion of management fee for them and minimise the proportion of budget spent on “paid” channels. These “paid” channels (social and publisher) more often than not fall into the realm of a media buying agency and increasingly a social media agency.
It has to be said that these last few points are a generalisation but are the author’s opinion based on many years of managing hundreds of technology marketing programs from the agency side of the fence. What’s important to note from what’s been said here is that marketers need to be very careful that the advice they are being given from agencies regarding the use of social media is in fact correct for your strategy and not just a tick in the box or an added component because the agency derives revenue from its management.
The B2B IT influencer and decision maker relies on a variety of different channels and sources of information to help inform and guide their research process. It’s only when we analyse each channel utilised against one another that we can view the prominence of one vs. another. One person will have a set of preferences of channel and format that differs from the next but as marketers we need to cover the bases and make sure we are spending the correct allocation of time, budget and resource on reaching our audiences proportionately.