12 Most Common Platforms for Content Marketing
Content marketing, the offering of valuable information as a means of attracting potential customers, is the new way of engaging. If you want to get someone’s attention, you’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to show them that you can deliver before money ever changes hands. In today’s competitive landscape, if you aren’t offering content, you aren’t getting converts.
Perhaps content marketing sounds like a good idea to you, but you don’t really know where to start. How does content marketing manifest itself in actual activities that you perform? What does content marketing actually look like?
While one of the most common misconceptions about it is that it is confined to blogging, there are actually a variety of tools that use content marketing. You’ve probably already heard of, and may even have implemented, some of the most basic forms of content marketing. If not, it’s time to learn them.
Blogging is the simplest, most recognizable, and arguably most effective form of content marketing. You can start a blog for free with platforms such as WordPress. Your content shows up in Internet searches and can also be subscribed to by email or RSS. There’s simply no easier way to share consistent information with people than writing about it in this manner. A great example is Anthony Iannarino, a B2B sales coach who writes daily for his blog. Another great way to share information with customers is to write a guest article (ahem, ahem) for another’s blog.
A veteran in content marketing, podcasting is essentially an audio version of a blog. Audio can be very helpful for people because, unlike any other medium, you can consume the content while simultaneously engaging in other activities. Econtalk, a podcast hosted by Russell Roberts of George Mason University taught me more about economics than all I had learned from acquiring a bachelors degree on the subject. Still a very powerful way to get your message across.
Video is a greatly under-utilized platform for content marketing. Many are familiar with the fact that YouTube is the second most-visited search engine in the world, behind Google. Clearly, people are thirsty for content that they can consume visually. Blendtec does an excellent job with video in its “Will it Blend?” series, in which it shows a Blendtec blender blending everything from glow sticks to golf balls to iPads. If you aren’t using video, you should start thinking of ways to implement it.
People spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, to attend seminars. They rush at the opportunity to attend one for free from the comfort of their own homes. Focus, a website consisting of community of business professionals on the web, does an excellent job of administering webinars. This method of content marketing requires a bit of technical expertise and at least a few willing participants, but it can be done. Give it a shot.
5. White papers
White papers are proprietary documents containing in-depth research or case studies. Traditionally, research organizations have charged a great amount for such information. If you can offer it for free to those who express interest, you are adding tremendous value. Michael Stelzner, a seasoned Internet marketer, offers an extensive resource for writing white papers. Do you have a mountain of research and industry background just sitting around? Maybe you ought to consider putting one together.
Writing a book can be a daunting task and yet the list price on new publications is shocking to many people just looking for some information. Targeted, practical, eBooks can be a cost-effective way of providing extensive information to customers. Sales trainer Mark Hunter provides a great set of eBooks available for free on his site. If you haven’t yet written an eBook, now might be the time to sharpen your writing skills and get to work.
Providing a customer information via email is the next best thing to calling them. You can be sure they’ll at least look at the subject line. You can create a newsletter, informing your reader on industry trends and interesting events. Also, you can create a series of emails under one theme. Blogging authority Copyblogger, right now, is offering a great string of emails to subscribers called Internet Marketing for Smart People. Email marketing and newsletters are great ways to keep customers thinking about you.
While commenting on others blogs is not typically considered content marketing, it can be if you do it right. Commenting platforms such as Livefyre, Disqus, and Comment Luv all in different ways, link your comments to you and your own content. Therefore, when you comment on others’ blogs, you are providing high-quality information that can be traced back to your brand. Being active in the communities of others is a great way to get them involved with yours.
9. Facebook page
Yes, social media can be used for content marketing. Although content should be more invitational and interactive, it is nonetheless content. The Facebook page is the chief hub of content marketing in the social networking world. Customers often find thins out about their favorite brands via their Facebook feed. Bruce Sallan has an excellent article on how to best utilize content on Facebook. What are you doing with your Facebook page?
Twitter is a social media platform centered almost entirely around the sharing of information. When I’m deciding whether or not to follow someone, I’ll look at their Tweets to determine whether or not the information is something that will be useful to me. It is likely that your potential customers are doing the same thing. Twitter can be a powerful content marketing platform if you share things that are interesting. How are you using Twitter to share content?
11. LinkedIn Answers
Why call yourself an expert when you can let others do it for you? LinkedIn “Answers” is a forum in which anyone can ask questions and answer them. Whoever gives the best answer to any given question, as judged by the asker of the question, can get expertise points in the category of the question posted. This platform is fully searchable on the web, so it’s great for gaining recognition as a thought leader. Have you participated in LinkedIn Answers yet?
12. Google Plus
Yes, it’s the new kid on the block. And, yes, there is much debate as to its longevity with the general public. But there is little debate as to its usefulness as a content marketing platform. Sharing links, photos, videos, and even entire blog posts is incredibly easy. Authors Chris Brogan and Robert Scoble both have wildly successful blogs and yet have found it worthwhile to post tons of unique content on the budding social network. If Google Plus catches on, it will provide an amazing opportunity for content distribution. Have you tinkered with it yet?
Content marketers of the web, weigh in! What am I missing?
Featured image courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography licensed via Creative Commons.