While both content marketing and content strategy fall into a very similar category in the realm of social business, there are some subtle but important differences to be aware of.
One of the most trending concepts in the world of social business these days (both on and offline) is content marketing. We hear it mentioned by virtually every thought leader and industry member. But as with a lot of buzzwords, as they increase in popularity, they can often decrease in clarity.
People use content marketing and content strategy interchangeably. That’s a mistake. While both phenomena are closely related, they possess some notable differences that make them distinct features of a business strategy.
Why do we keep hearing about this stuff, anyway?
Content marketing and strategy are much more than simply sharing content to different media; content marketing is storytelling.
Lately, we have seen some outstanding examples of brands leveraging the power of the story. Lots of brands – from small to large – are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon to try and create an engaging story of their own, but it is a lot easier said than done.
Unlike conventional forms of marketing and advertising, the concept of content marketing relies heavily on your ability to connect with your audience. For consumers, the novelty of endless content being shared on multiple media channels has worn off. People only want to see (and, more importantly, share) content that they find interesting and resonates in some way.
For this reason, the brands that have found the most success when it comes to content marketing are those that have developed an intricate content strategy based on what they have deemed relevant to their audience.
What is content strategy?
Content strategy all starts with some good ol’ fashioned research. Sure, there are plenty of tools to help you out; after all, there is so much data to sift through that we would never be able to do it without at least a little help. But content strategy all starts with determining what your audience cares about.
This can be industry-relevant – for example, maybe you notice that your audience is most interested in learning about the difference between content marketing and content strategy – or it can be a social issue. And no, not a social media issue. A social as in societal issue. First identify what your audience cares about, then share information that they find relevant and interesting.
People do not like spending money if they don’t have to. (Or really want to.) So, when you share nothing but self-promotional content, they are more than likely to ignore you. After all, why would they listen to what you have to say if they know it is all going to lead back to a sales pitch?
Content strategy is all about avoiding the sales pitch. Determine how your brand can connect with your audience on a human level and share information that resonates from that perspective first.
How is content marketing different?
Content marketing is, by definition, a form of marketing to your audience. When people are listening to what you have to say and develop a rapport with your brand, then you can tell them about your products, services or special offers.
Considering the historical seller-consumer dynamic, there is, in many cases, an inherent distrust of the brand by the consumer. However, if, through your content strategy, you can build that trust by showcasing that you really do care and really are a brand that your consumers can relate to, there is a much greater likelihood that your audience will listen, and maybe even consider your product or service.
Your sales position needs to be in line with the issues that connected you to your audience in the first place. Maybe it is something as simple as a donation to a worthy cause from the sale of certain products.
Is there an example that showcases both these concepts?
Say, for example, there is an office products retailer than develops a content strategy around recycling. Much of the content that is shared with their audience relates to green practices and recycling.
After some time, their content begins to go viral, as their target audience – businesspeople with a penchant for environmentalism – can relate to what they share. At this point, they begin to promote one of their complimentary services: buyers can return used ink cartridges for reuse instead of throwing them away.
There is a much greater likelihood that people will listen to the sale pitch if this is the case.
The difference between content strategy and content marketing is all about the marketing side of things. While content strategy sounds a lot like it is done behind closed doors, it is actually a very active endeavor.
Brands have to devote to learning about their audience and be patient when it comes to successful content marketing. Success with the strategy is not going to come overnight. But with patience and a strong devotion to your audience, content strategy and content marketing are sure to pay off.
Have you ever considered a content strategy or engaging in content marketing? Tell us about yours in the comments below or on Twitter!