Aligning Content and Context

During a content marketing session at a recent industry conference, one of the panelists discussed the importance of context in content marketing – “context” defined as the audience personas (their motivations and pain points), as well as the ecosystem of any individual marketing channel.

Like so many marketing trends, though, content marketing is not fundamentally new and it lives by the exact same rules of any effective marketing:

Know your audiences. Know how to best communicate with them.

It’s common sense! Yet, there seems to be an endless supply of marketing resources focused on the necessity of aligning messages with audiences and on tailoring each message to the marketing channel being used – especially in social media.

This can only mean one thing: No one is getting it. Especially in social media.

In fact, the social media universe is overflowing with duplicate messages that are mindlessly sent across all of a company’s channels with a single push of a button.

We are all pressed for time and we all love automation, but we need to resist the temptation of sending the same post to all digital networks.

By doing that, not only do you come across as a less-than-savvy marketer, you’re missing a huge opportunity to resonate with your audiences.

After all, part of social media’s value is the ability to offer your audiences multiple brand touchpoints at a relatively low cost. By creating different brand experience within each channel, you’re not only addressing specific needs of each of your audience groups, but you’re also adding new dimensions to your brand – for those individuals who do cross over.

But how do you know what to do differently with each channel? What exactly is it that makes LinkedIn different from Twitter (other than the character limit)?

Finding the right brand voice and message for each channel is far easier if you think about digital venues as already familiar business situations.

Here’s a list of business metaphors and corresponding tips that will help you remember how your brand needs to show up on each social media channel:

  • LinkedIn is like a live business networking event. You don’t pass out your cards and run, but instead take the time to really get to know people and show interest in them.
  • Facebook is like a happy hour for a group of professionals. Here you can talk about both business and personal interests – and you can definitely have fun. Just remember, you’re with your associates, so don’t go too far.
  • Twitter is a cross between NPR and The Daily Show. It’s great for news flashes and real-time reporting, and witty and clever are always welcome.
  • YouTube is like a TED Talk. It needs to be educational, but it also must entertain.
  • Email marketing is like a workshop or lecture hosted by your organization and financed by your audiences. Pretending you’re being paid to deliver your e-newsletters or eblasts is critical because it will push you to deliver great value with perfect polish.
  • Blogs are like a consortium or summit designed to encourage commentary and even provoke debate. You’re the protagonist, antagonist and moderator all in one, and it’s okay to have a strong opinion. In fact, it’s essential. You just also need to treat your guests well.

Although your brand will show up differently at or in each of these business venues, everything your brand says or does anywhere must still connect to your company’s core – your overarching brand message. By thinking of each channel as a real place, rather than some ambiguous space in the ether, you’ll be able to develop a more nuanced brand and a more meaningful experience – not only for your audiences, but for you, too. Unless you actually enjoy mindlessly pushing the “post” button.