One of the keys to content marketing for social media strategy is the ability to reach your customers successfully. The problem is made harder when your customers are other businesses who don’t spend a great deal of leisure time reading over blogs. So how can you reach your customer base when they are unlikely to “wander” to your site organically? Perhaps you should consider your audience more closely.
Keeping it simple may be the best answer for you. You’ll discover that content marketing for B2B purposes isn’t all that different from B2C. This is because of the simple fact that all readers are human and therefore, equal. And all people benefit from the inbound method that stresses simplicity of writing with a more colloquial, witty tone.
Read and revise your jargon
While it may be exciting to write in the language of your niche market, you should remember that attention should be paid to the level of jargon you use. Jargon creates an environment of insularity. By this I mean that it’s cool to talk to your customers in the “inside” language that they use. Just be sure that you’re using it correctly and you’re not sticking out like a sore thumb. I’m thinking about the father who likes to talk to his kid’s friends with slang in an attempt to be cool. Don’t say you’re “tots jealy” about something unless you’re prepared for an eye roll from your child.
In the same way, don’t use B2B jargon in your content marketing material unless you’re up on what it means. And that being said, simply don’t overuse professional jargon in a formal tone. Again, it may make you feel more professional to write like you’re a lawyer or an insurance broker, but your client’s customers may be more interested in your content than in the fancy language you can produce.
In the same way, you’ll want to avoid using clichés. It’s too easy to dismiss the validity of a company that constantly states, “we here at so-and-so believe in…” No one talks like this. Only content marketing writers bent on making a sale talk like this, and your audience has been trained to “hang up” on your blog as if you were a robot-telemarketer.
In brief, be brief
Large blocks of print can actually cause stress in the reader. This is why many sub-headings and bullet points are valuable assets when constructing your informative content. Then once you’ve got your blog written, go back and edit it.
If you have too much content, your reader may suffer from information overload and feel like they’re “studying” rather than reading. They shouldn’t feel like they’re going to be tested on this at a later date. Keep your topics concise and specific and try not to wander. I am a constant perpetrator of this crime, but luckily I have a good editor who has no problem in telling me when to cut things out – and when to get to the point.
The point is to be simple and brief enough so the reader can get the gist in the first paragraph. Then unravel and expand the story throughout the blog. When more facts are needed, put in hyperlinks to specific pages on your company website or elsewhere on the web. You need to do this anyway for best SEO practices, so you might as well get used to it.
Content marketing can be funny but not familiar
In the same way that an out of touch father may play the “pull my finger” gag on his kid’s friends, it will most likely not work out in his favour. The joke (like the father) is old and tired. And what’s worse, from a content marketing point of view, he’s not reaching his audience.
So with that in mind, try to be funny in a professional way, but not in a forced way in order to align with the friendliness of your brand tone. Is this possible, you ask? Aren’t the two mutually exclusive? Certainly, customers don’t want to listen to a clown when they desperately want to buy a widget of some sort. But there are times when you’re selling, and another times when you’re simply telling.
In short, if you have a product that has real benefits, tell them plainly and clearly. Be brief and informative where it counts: in the soft sell. Don’t be afraid to express personality, though. You’re trying to help your readers, after all. You’re relating exciting news. Always. If you can use an analogy or a metaphor, do so. Creating a word picture sets the scene for the quiet pitch that’s always in the background.
How friendly can you be?
For years, I wrote and performed with comedy troupes creating custom shows for corporate events at Second City and privately with other companies. Sounds fun, no? In a sense, it taught me a lot about content marketing. I wrote sketches, songs and lyrics based on the research and “inside” information from various corporate clients. And I always found that the key to making the client happy was simply relating to them in a personal and honest manner. Second City, on the other hand always tried to make sure that the client never really met with the talent or creative team, which I think was a mistake. They were worried the talent would say something inappropriate to their clients (which we would invariably be itching to do) so I suppose they had a point.
When I was allowed, however, to have a direct line with the client (or their representative) I was able to joke with them about their industry, their product/service and even about their company. They would always tell me what jokes (and what employee names) were off-limits, which was fine with me. But in the end, we produced quality content. And this is because the content was relevant, actually funny (not ‘corporate, cruise ship’ funny), and actually drawn from up-to-the minute research.
In the same way, writing blogs should be as personal and “inside” as can be.
Research your audience and understand their humour
At one of the corporate gigs I did we were told before the show not to joke or even mention lay-offs. It turns out that the company was going to fire 50% of that very audience the next day. Humour is only as funny as it is relevant. By researching your audience, you’ll discover the general tone of their industry. You’ll learn what jokes are floating around already. You’ll know what issues are off-limits because of their controversy.
For example, I can already tell that you know something about content marketing. Statistically, you’re either another blogger or content marketer working in the same industry as me, or else you’re a concerned professional or head of a small to mid-sized company, trying to get the most out of their content marketing tactics. For this reason, I could make an insulting joke about carpenters if I wanted. I won’t, cause I can’t think of one, but I could. This is because my research has shown that you’re most likely not a carpenter. And if you are one, you probably know by now that you’re in the wrong place and have clicked away to some other site that’s talking about dry rot and galvanized nails (or whatever it is you people do on your day off.)
So with all this in mind, I ask you: what blog posts or landing pages have you created that have generated the most traffic? Do you think that converting a lead is easier with a more colloquial tone or a strictly formal one? What sort of online content do you read and engage with? And why? The answers to my questions may be the answers to your questions about the type and tone of your content marketing material. For example, did I choose the right tone in this blog post to keep you interested until the end?