I have discussed content marketing in depth on this blog. There is no better way to attract, convert, and retain customers. Advertising disrupts and annoys, and younger generations are completely impervious to it. Whether you like the term or not, it is the future and the only form of good marketing.
I have presented the basic principles of content marketing in this article: What is content marketing anyway?
Yet, again and again, I come across companies who try their hand at what they believe is solid content marketing, but still make the mistake of relying too much on a specific social platform and “other people’s properties”, in a way building their marketing house on rented land. Such strategies are nothing more than social media marketing.
Don’t Rely on Rented Land Alone
In this analogy, your content is your house, and just like you want to own a house, you want to own your content.
If you make all your blog posts on Facebook, and put all your videos on YouTube, you are actually building your content house on other people’s property. Of course, Facebook and YouTube and all the other platforms want you to do that because it makes them more interesting and influential. But at the end of the day, you need to link your customers and potential customers to something other than a Facebook page or a YouTube channel.
Here are some simple and practical steps on how to do that (courtesy of Content Marketing Institute and a number of other experienced marketers).
Content Marketing Done Right
Here are six basic tips on how to put your marketing on a solid foundation, reaching from where to post your content, how to build a following and engage with users, and how to make sure your content is seen first.
1) Don’t just blog on other platforms – have your own website
You own the website, and you can do with it what you want. If Facebook disappears tomorrow, you will still have your content. Of course, you can use WordPress or Squarespace, which are not likely to go under. But don’t rely on social media posts alone! A Facebook page alone is not a solid marketing strategy.
2) Build an e-mail communication channel
You should have a way to communicate with clients or fans directly. I recommend e-mail, even though in some countries messaging platforms like Line, WhatsApp, WeChat or Facebook Messenger offer enticing alternatives. But those are, believe it or not, the same kind of rented land. Just think of recent events where Indonesia, Brazil, or Russia banned individual messaging tools.
E-Mail is still the safest way to build a communication channel. You must make every effort to get people onto your mailing list. You want to collect that data and own it. If Facebook disappears tomorrow, and your website suffers an outage, you will still have your e-mail data.
3) Have a backup
Surprisingly enough, few content marketers bother to back up their content. Even the most popular site providers can go bankrupt or be blocked. Even relying on automatic backup services can be a risk. Cloud data archiving like Amazon Glacier seems to be the most popular solution today but beware the small print: if you want your data restored very quickly, you’ll pay through your nose.
At the end of the day, the cheapest way for an efficient content backup is that external hard drive you thought you could do without.
4) Spread the gospel
Only when you have these independent assets you own ready should you go out and spread the news about your awesome content on rented land. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, or messaging apps … whatever. Spread the good news and get people to visit your website.
Do not start with advertising, but observe how content performs organically first. It is cheaper and more efficient to boost posts that are already doing well, rather than rely on paid views from the beginning.
5) Don’t be lured into Facebook & Co’s next marketing gimmick
Facebook has enough money. It’s time to take back control of your content and engagement. You don’t need a shop or a blog on Facebook. Yes, you can, we are not saying you shouldn’t. But the original content should always in a house you actually own.
Don’t fall for any recent trends. Facebook has repeatedly changed its algorithm, at one time favoring video content over everything else, months later proclaiming that passive video viewing as not in its interest and it preferred posts that promoted engagement.
The algorithms of social media platforms will continue to evolve, and most likely evolve in the (financial) interest of their owners. Facebook’s 2018 changes were not about returning to “values” of engagement with family and friends, but to give a reason why every brand should now pay for promotion of posts.
Lesson learned. Post your content, spend a little on promotion in your like, but don’t believe anything the platforms tell you in their own PR.
6) Originality wins every time
At the time of this writing, and before Google can index massive amounts of audio and video data, originality still means text description, even if combined with video content. This will change over the coming years, and the rules are different for celebrities, gamers, vocal artists and other special groups, but for the average marketer, long-form text content is still the way forward.
As algorithms as the Google search algorithm get smarter by the day, they will recognize content poached from other websites, translated, or slightly edited. This means that at the end of the day, original content will always win, wherever it is posted first. And that should be your website, your house, the land your own.