Monday, December 14th, 2015 | 8 min read
Times are changing quickly, and if marketers don’t catch up, they’re going to get left behind. Brands used to be able to generate engagement solely by creating high-quality content and then organically distributing it. Now, however, that’s growing increasingly difficult to do, even if you already have an engaged audience.
In other words, the competition is heating up. It’s been estimated that people see 5,000 marketing messages and consume eight hours of media each day. Additionally, MarketingProfs found that two million blog posts are written every day. As a result of this over-saturation of content, if brands want to get their messages in front of the right people, they have to boost their content marketing with paid advertising. There’s no way around it: The two must work hand-in-hand.
Why? Along with the oversaturation of content mentioned above, organic reach is declining—particularly on Facebook. Luckily, advanced analytics and targeting options on social media make it easier than ever before to understand what your audience is looking for and how to deliver it to them in the right place at the right time. The most effective way to use these paid media tools is to ensure that paid, owned, and earned strategies are consistently aligned. This requires regular communication between teams and real-time updates about how consumers are responding to certain campaigns.
So, what does a content marketing strategy boosted by paid social advertising actually entail? And how can marketers use paid tactics to make their content creation and distribution more effective?
Paid advertising can be effective for generating brand awareness with your best content. For instance, let’s say your brand publishes a blog post that receives a significant amount of organic traffic. To ride this wave of engagement, you can put some money behind a sponsored Facebook post (with a link to that blog article) and get it in front of a large, targeted audience, sending even more traffic back to your site.
Paid ads on social can also be used to drive high-quality leads. For example, your company can take that same post—the one you know is good at catching people’s attention—and create a website conversion campaign on Twitter that invites viewers to sign up for your newsletter or click over to your retail site.
Other social platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram also provide call-to-action buttons for promoting specific sales, apps, and products.
The important thing to remember is that the most effective way to amplify popular content is to respond in real-time, while interest and engagement are still building. This can only be done if your paid and content strategies (and teams) are working together.
Performance metrics from paid ads can reveal crucial information about your audience’s interests and habits. The real question here is: Why wouldn’t you want to use this data to inform your content strategy?
Through social listening, you can better understand what your customers are talking about and what they’re interested in seeing more of. Then, you can go back to your content strategy and figure out how to deliver it.
For instance, if you’re a technology company looking to market specific products for holiday shoppers, you can launch a Facebook Carousel ad that includes a suite of products. Then, using analytics tools, you can see which images generated the most clicks. From there, you can adapt your content strategy to include organic posts or visual assets about those popular products.
Social listening can also clue you in to which messages are resonating with certain demographics. For example, paid ads might reveal that women aged 18-25 are most interested in a certain message or solution. You can then use that information to craft new content—be it on social media, a brand publishing site, or a content hub—that would best appeal to this audience.
For brand publishers, paid ads can also be used to test certain headlines and images. For example, say you’ve published a blog post and you’re trying to decide between three different headlines. You can put a small budget behind three promoted tweets—one with each headline and a link to your post. After running these tweets for 24 hours, you can determine which headline receives the most clicks and retweets. From there, you can change your post’s headline accordingly and optimize your strategy for creating future headlines.
Once you have a solid understanding of who your audience is and how they react to certain pieces of content, you can automate your campaigns to save time and get the most out of your ad dollars.
For instance, as we’ve previously suggested, a travel brand can trigger certain ads to run based on trending conversations about destinations, attractions, or even weather forecasts on social media. In other words, you know you’re striking while the iron is hot. You won’t force the message on your audience; instead, you’ll actually respond to their demonstrated interests.
Alternatively, you can set up an auto-kill switch that will pause your campaign once people stop engaging with ads. This way, you’re not paying for impressions that aren’t generating results.
You can then use these triggered campaigns to better understand what kind of content your audience is looking for—or uninterested in—at which times. This information can be taken back to the drawing board to help you craft more timely and relevant content, such as brand publishing articles or videos.
Next year, content marketers who want to continue to be effective will have to learn paid marketing. In other words, sponsored social campaigns can no longer simply be handed off to the paid team; content marketers will have to either make these ads themselves or be a key part of the process.
Yes, it can be difficult to establish strong communication between the paid and content teams—especially in large organizations. But that’s no excuse not to make an effort, especially with your content and customer engagement on the line.
There are a few key steps you can take to enhance collaboration and ensure internal marketing teams are less siloed. For instance, you can establish weekly meetings to review performance metrics and plan future campaigns. You can even set a time for paid marketers to educate the content team on how to analyze important data. This way, content marketers can understand what a good CPC looks like and which trends drive the most engagement among certain demographics.
Only with a steady flow of information between these teams can marketers best position their content to stand out amidst all of the online content noise and engage the right people at the right time.
About the Author: Amanda Walgrove writes about content marketing, social media, and online entertainment. She has written for Advertising Week, The Huffington Post, Tablet Magazine, and The Content Strategist, among others.