We at Zoetica never tire of promoting the need for quality content and, by extension, great resources for creating it and good writing. In that vein, we are giving away five copies of Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman’s Content Rules. Winners will be the best responses to the question (graciously supplied by Ann): Can you have a social media strategy without a content strategy?
Selections will be made by a completely subjective judge from within our ranks choosing from all entries submitted by 9 a.m. EDT, Friday, July 15, 2011. If your entry isn’t chosen, you can still win by purchasing the book and following the advice therein.
Here's what Geoff, Kami, and Julie have to say about content, social media, and their related strategies. Let us know what you think.
(Because my strategy was to reach out – e.g. entering this contest – but I didn’t really think ahead about what content to include.)
Ian Gertler says
It’s been said that “content is king.” While this is often true, many have just started to understand the importance of relevance. When you add that crucial factor into the equation (whether it’s advertising or editorial), we quickly learn that context is queen.
Enter social media.
For some time, I’ve stood by my premise that social media is about information and relationships more than anything else. When these are done well, it opens new doors and opportunities in the social media sandbox … regardless of which one you’re playing in (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Quora, Focus and the countless others that seem to emerge each day).
Some people in the space have leveraged their tremendous reputations or popularity to drive social media success. While this is possible and happens in various circles (some pun intended, Google), many of the social media evangelists and proponents do embed a solid content strategy into the mix. Look at all of the links, pictures, videos and references within the ecosystem.
Remember: content also means “satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.”
Whether it’s breaking news, how-to articles or opinion pieces on blogs, content and relationships are driving the adoption and proliferation of social media to new levels across the globe. As this continues to thrive with the incredible surge of mobile, the line between social media strategies and content strategies will continue to blur.
The (r)evolution of the Internet continues!
Feel free to connect with feedback or thoughts on Twitter: @IanGertler
Christoph Dennenmoser says
Because I have much content to share, I am using Social Media! Without a propper strategy there is no spreading of the important news!
Sherry Carr-Smith says
No. I think people *think* they have a social media strategy if they don’t have a content strategy, but I think what they really have is a goal. I don’t think you can be successfully engaged with your community without a strategy. And now I’m going to go fill in my editorial calendar for our Facebook page for the rest of the year (as one of my tactics to help me reach my goals to support my overall strategy…which has both a social media component and content component). Or perhaps people really do have a content strategy and just haven’t labeled it as such, or haven’t broken it out from the overall social media strategy. So…yes?
No, thought ’til you put the question that way, I hadn’t thought about it.
I don’t think there’s any way to articulate a “strategy” for social media without addressing content. I do the Twitter/FB outreach for my local farmers market – each week, I make sure to tweet the newsletter out, and post it on FB – that’s content. I go to the market and tweet out five-six photos of beautiful produce, with a caption about what to do with it or who it’s from – that’s content. I make a FB album of the photos – that’s content.
In short, I think they go hand in glove.
Jennifer Roccanti says
I’ve been discovering that while we thought we had a social media strategy, we never really had one until we thought long and hard about our content strategy. At first, our social media strategy was to build relationships. That’s not really a strategy as much as it’s stating the obvious. Until we stepped back and really thought about what our goals were (ending chronic homelessness) and what it would take to get us there (an engaged base of supporters & money), we were just shooting out content as it landed in our laps. That content often had nothing to do with our goals, and hence was working against our social media strategy. Now, we test that content against our goals and try a lot harder to go out and find the content that will get us closer to ending chronic homelessness. That said, we still don’t do it as well as we could and we often struggle to get the really compelling content that our supporters are asking for–but we finally have a content and social media strategy. A first step that took us a few years to make 🙂
Alex Thorn says
Honestly at one point you could have but now i believe it is pivotal to a brands success to have a content strategy that entails that certain days have certain content to keep the viewers interested and wanting more. When you advertise that friday is this video and monday morning is this review and wednesday is tweet this day people feel as if they want to get involved and look forward to it more rather than just random post.
E. Rice says
Isn’t social media made of content? Unless one is simply lurking, one is posting links, thoughts, announcements, promotions, offers, questions, answers. Maybe your strategy isn’t documented on MS Project and scheduled on Google Calendar, but making a decision to embrace social media and deciding what to broadcast is a strategy in itself, for both the content and the vehicle.
Sarah Hope Fitch says
You technically can, but it wouldn’t really be social, it would just be another way of demanding that your audience pay you their attention without really doing anything to give back to them or bring in new people.
Businesses that just advertise “add us on Facebook,” or offer a special deal or giveaway to “bribe” customers to join their social networks, are in a sense actually raising their prices — they’re adding a new layer of work that customers are asked to put in, without giving them anything real in return. Recently I was in a department store, and was told that if I became a fan of the store on Facebook, I could get a free makeup bag. Really? That’s a great way of telling me that you’re not offering me anything useful on your social networks, and just want me to join so you can brag about the meaningless number of Facebook fans you have.
I… I guess that’s a social media strategy? But it’s a crappy one. For one thing, if I weren’t already shopping in the store — and if I’m not invested enough in your brand to be motivated by a cheap plastic makeup bag — how would I even find out about it? Because I saw that my friends “Liked” some random department store? Who cares?
If you offer content first, THEN ask for participation, you aren’t just imposing on your customers, you’re sharing something with them. Even if it’s just a couple of funny, entertaining Tweets per day interspersed with customer service conversations, or a few blog posts with useful tips, you’re actively inviting people in and giving them the opportunity to show their support if they *want* that content, not because they feel pressured or bribed to do so.
I mean, we big social media nerds will join a network to see how it works because we think it’s interesting, but for most people, subscribing or following is an inconvenience that will probably just add to the constant stream of advertising noise that they already have to deal with every day. Adding some fun, interactive, useful content instead of just RED TAG SALE SUNDAY!!! is what makes it actually worthwhile *for the customer.* Which is what makes it sharable. Which is what makes it genuinely social.
Trevor Lewis says
It doesn’t matter if you have content or not. With social media, people are already looking for something to capture their attention, blow their mind, or make them laugh. Social media fulfills our need to constantly be surrounded, making every individual the center of attention.
If no content is there and you grabbed a viewers attention, you succeeding just as if you were to use content. Only difference is the audience you end up with.
Bottom line: Know your target, whether it be for personal or business, and set the tone to your audience. This hasn’t changed. The only change has been the medium!
Jenn Beard says
For me, I think one really drives the other. As I become better networked through social media I learn things that I never thought about including in my content before. If I read a tweet about something travel related I might share it or explore it further and cover it with a blog post. Thanks for the opportunity to enter!
Paul Chaney says
In a word: No. Well, not an effective one anyway. I believe content is inextricably tied to social. Further, both content and social have bearing on search. Each is intertwined with the other.
Not to be too boorish, but social media follows in the same lineage that blogging sprang from. And there is nothing more “content” oriented that blogging.
So, it’s value-added content framed within the context of community that makes social what it is.
We haven’t social media without great content. Fun want to have a fan! Social media strategy it’s mean great fan for us every funs. Great fan it’s mean content marketing. If You’re Not Content Marketing – You’re Not Marketing.
Sarah Hubbell aka MainlineMom says
Is it possible to have a social media strategy without a content strategy? Sure it is! But is it smart or effective? Absolutely not. It’s easy to tell business “you need to be on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn” but if you don’t carefully examine what you targeted audience will really find useful and engaging you are just barking into the wind.
Content strategy doesn’t have to be too hard but like anything the more effort you put towards crafting it correctly the more you’ll be rewarded. The reward is engagement. I’ve seen too many companies do nothing but post press releases on social media platform and they get nothing in return from it. Those who create meaningful, valuable content AND watch for feedback, measure it and use it to adjust future content reap great rewards. Content strategy should be a living organism, adapting to its audience.
It seems to really start with a clear organizational strategy. Then the rest can follow. The organizations who do the best in marketing, content and social media strategies are also ones who have a clear organizational vision/strategy/purpose. And, everyone in the organization buys into it and follows it.
Deb Rox says
Here from Julie’s blog. You can’t have a SM strategy without a content strategy because both are intrinsic and interrelated part of a communication and engagement strategy. Content is the “what” of the “who-what-where-when-how” that guides your communication strategy across the spectrum from business development to crisis mitigation. People tend to be so enamored with the “how” and specifically the SM how platforms that they forget to interrelate all of the other parts.Good questions to be asking!
Hoyt Prisock says
Yes! (and No)
As marketers, it’s easy to convince ourselves that we have both a social media strategy and a content strategy. Most of us are stretching to make that claim. We all have exercise routines. But for some that means running four miles a day, and for others it means walking the dog when you get home.
Great content strategy is hard. Really hard. It means really getting inside the heads of your buyers and mapping their needs at every point in the decision process. It’s a complex and time consuming initiative.
Without a good content strategy, a social media strategy is opportunistic at best. Yes, it still counts as a strategy, but just barely.
With a well thought out content strategy, you can begin to look strategically at channels. Only one of which is social media.
Connect with me on Twitter: @hoyt
Toby Bloomberg - @tobydiva says
First, not to butter up the judges but I totally agree with the opening line of Kami’s post, “Have you ever read a blog post that drew you in with its raw talent to draw a picture and tell a story.” Ann Handley’s gift of writing is turning the mundane into magic and she is brilliant at it. I’m waiting for her ‘slice of life book!’ Perhaps Geoff can do the photography.
Now on to social media content strategy. My vote: absolutely need a content strategy that supports (and integrates into) the master marketing (or business plan). Especially if you’re new to this game, it’s tempting to take the easy route and turn social media into another traditional messaging channel. Identifying a “selfless” content direction is one way to safeguard against that.
A strategy not only helps set bumpers/guidelines but should serve to structure the back-end logistics of building the content ecosystem. How extensive depends on the organization.
Although it’s an additional step in developing your social media plan, looking at content as a unique functional area makes sense .. at least it does to me.
A content strategy is tied closely to any social media strategy, if not being the core of it. Social media has shifted the marketing communication model to include two-way conversations and promote brand evangelization, so without compelling and engaging content, how can social media affect positively the whole model and where exactly would a social media strategy stand on firmly?
Kami Huyse says
The contest is closed. We will be looking at entries and getting back to you all sometime today.
Thanks for your great ideas.
Kami Huyse, cofounder, Zoetica
Zoetica Media says
Great responses all! But we had to pick some winners for our little contest. Congratulations to the following fab 5:
Sarah Hope Fitch
We are sure their parents will be very proud. Each will receive a free copy of Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman.
Winners: we will contact you via email to get delivery particulars.
Thanks everyone for playing.
Henry T. Dunbar