You cannot control social media nor what your customers say about you, but you can influence the market using those same social media and other content-rich websites. The key to doing this is to have a third party creating content that is favourable to you. You could, for example, ask customers who are “on your side” to brag about the product they purchased. But even if you have a lot of those so-called “ambassadors” or “evangelists”, you will still only cover about 10% of the available sites that may help with your B2B marketing and brand image, as most people are only active on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
To make the most of positive comments about your products or services, you should cover a much broader range of media. A strong presence on social media should be optimised with content on curation sites, aggregation sites and microblogs as well as potentially include various vertical channels such as text, video, images and audio. Not all products/services lend themselves well to be covered by the entire spectrum of channels and media, but many are. Most B2B marketing will benefit greatly from coverage across at least a dozen of these sites.
There is, however, a problem when you try to use them all for one piece of content, which is duplicate content. Duplicate content must be avoided at all cost as it can result in ranking penalties on most of the search engines with Google being the most prominent. Google has been known to sanction sites that contain duplicate content or are involved in “carrousel” content (not sure if that is the proper name for it, but it’s the sort that contains links that jump from one piece of almost identical content to the other, while all ultimately pointing to one web page).
In order to avoid problems and maximise the benefits of using social and other modern media at the fullest, you’ll need a third party service provider for three reasons:
- The content must originate from outside your company to avoid trust and authority issues
- The provider must know your market and style each piece of content specifically for the market as well as for each individual distribution channel
- The provider must know which of the media are relevant to distribute your content and must continuously update his service to have it include promising new media and channels.
The Hub-and-spokes approach works especially well with B2B marketing
In order to manage content, avoid the duplication problem and keep oversight of what gets published where, I work with a Hub-and-spokes distribution model. It works like this:
- A long article, video clip or presentation is produced and published to a site like the IT Enquirer (if it concerns video, audio, printing, DAM, or other IT-related subjects), Vimeo, or another site that can act as the Hub.
- All other content is hand-crafted off the content on the Hub and posted to all other media — the spokes — using a link to the Hub and a link to your landing page.
Central to the idea is that the Hub has the most complete ‘article’ with the ‘spokes’ having shorter content bits that are crafted taking into account both the target audience and the unique features of each media site — a “spoke”. This model makes it possible to concentrate on the concept and the writing, while the Hub’s big article contains the key ideas you want to talk about in detail.
In addition, the Hub serves as the site from which your content can be curated and aggregated by others. Content curation — as you probably know — is very important in today’s content marketing.
Under the Agile Creator moniker, I help businesses by writing and distributing this sort of hand-crafted content. I know of 26 media channels, including social, curation and aggregation channels. The “Hub and spokes” distribution model lets me achieve a maximum level of authority for your content and a maximum spread without the risk of duplication.
Furthermore, the distribution of content is repeated over a 3-month period where it is relevant, e. g. Twitter and Google+. The repeat content itself is hand-crafted and unique as well, although the interval for publishing is automated.
When it comes to IT and medical equipment and services, the best performing content for any type of content marketing campaign involving social and other media is content that answers the (potential) users’ questions.
How-tos, tutorials and background information are the best performing content types. News and customer stories perform less well. The former because news doesn’t ‘stick’. The latter because customer stories are often regarded as sponsored, unless the story is rewritten in a style that gets rid of the hyperbole and allows for even mild criticism.
I can manage all content types due to a 20+ years of experience as a trade journalist/analyst and copywriter.