When we started doing Rallyverse a few years ago, “content marketing” wasn’t really a thing yet. Sure, there were early adopters and enthusiasts at brands and agencies, but, as a label (much less a discipline), it wasn’t widely understood.
A lot has changed since then. The biggest change? That’s actually an easy one:
Everyone is a content marketer.
That is, content marketing has gone from a label for a discrete set of marketing outputs managed by a single person or department to a broad range of activities that span departments and functions across the enterprise. Here are just some of the departments and roles that are now in the content marketing game (and that we see right now in our conversations with our customers):
Especially in B2B scenarios, sellers are being challenged to connected with a new type of buyer, one who’s comfortable doing their own research and is looking for a consultation more than a quote. We see many of our customers looking to arm their sales force with great content so that interactions with prospects on social media and beyond are informed by the sorts of conversation starters that will build trust — and lead to sales.
Candidates are smart about learning about prospective employers before and during the job application process. Human resource departments have responded by building out content strategies to share details on their company — everything from products to leadership to everyday culture. Whether it’s on LinkedIn or a YouTube channel, HR now must take on the challenge of telling their company’s story, or risk missing out on the best candidates.
Content has always been an important part of the customer support process, but customers today demand more than just a pdf of a user guide. Today’s consumers expect how-to videos and even GIFs to help them to troubleshoot potential issues. And all of those assets are a great opportunity for the brand to connect with customers and tell its story.
CEOs and other executive leaders have embraced content marketing as a way to tell their company’s story while demonstrating industry thought leadership. From LinkedIn Influencer posts to active (and sometimes feisty!) Twitter accounts, content marketing is now part of the CEO’s role (and companies with social CEOs tend to outperform competitors).
Oh right. The folks that started all of this. While content marketing might be identified as a separate discipline in the marketing department, smart marketers have realized that managing content isn’t a campaign or tactic, it’s the fuel that drives most marketing activities. From the company web site to email marketing to social media to providing content to support other departments’ initiatives, marketers know that content powers it all.
Third-party content is by nature, not yours. You didn’t write it, and you probably can’t control it. But don’t panic, you can still capitalize off of that poor sap who decided to disseminate his content online for free. Oh wait, that’s all of us. Literally, the entire internet.
Here are five “guiding principles” when getting into third-party content sharing.
1. Make sure there’s a connection with whatever you’re sharing—even if it’s very thin. If the association isn’t obvious, bridge that gap by modifying that tweet or captioning that post. Add some of your own brilliance into the mix. A good rule of thumb: if it doesn’t make sense in your mind to share the content, then it definitely won’t make sense to me, your distracted consumer.
2. Okay, this one might sound obvious, but make sure you read what you are sharing. The internet is a Wild West and sometimes content you very much do not want to get involved with (ie; anything NSFW, a glowing article about a direct competitor, a not so glowing article about your brand) can wrangle itself in unexpected places. Places you just shared to your 1,000,000 Twitter followers. There is no undo in Twitter.
3. Try and start a dialogue with what or who you’re sharing. Did I write a really groundbreaking and transformative blog post for Rallyverse? Okay, re-tweet it and tweet at me, too! Chances are, the author of that content might respond and now fans are breathlessly observing your charming exchange.
4. Be open-minded. Don’t be a brand snob. Your brand has the only point of view? Your brand does it best? Cool, exclusively produce all of your content alone, because that’s easy and interesting.
5. Be creative. This one goes hand in hand with “Be open-minded.” Sometimes an unexpected alliance between two companies or a surprisingly witty observation from a brand can really pull on-the-fence consumers into the follow-camp.
The connections you can make to other ideas, stories and even other brands are extremely valuable, if you are being strategic about your approach. A Twitter conversation could lead to a new hire. A Facebook post could incite a new brand partnership or campaign idea. Small interactions can really yield big results.
All these reposts, conversations and references impact your brand. How it’s perceived, who it hangs with, and who your users and consumers can associate themselves with.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but third-party party content will keep your followers—just as much as your content marketers—more interested in your brand.