Your organization’s ability to track content marketing success is directly tied to strategy. Still, the idea of a documented strategy is something that escapes so many content marketers.
According to HubSpot’s numbers, only 32% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy. Almost half of those same B2B marketers say they’re not sure what content marketing success looks like.
The same holds true for social media. “Only 42% of marketers are able to measure their social media activities,” and “6 in 10 small business owners are not able to track ROI from their social media activities.”
It’s very clear that content strategy and social strategy are two key components missing for many marketers. But where should you start? I’ll take a look at how they’re similar and attempt to make the case that one is much more important than the other.
How they’re similar
As the old adage goes, begin with the end in mind. These two strategies are often connected and will naturally contain many of the same characteristics. For instance, all content elements should serve your organization’s goals. Driving traffic could be a main business objective. In this case, both your content and social strategies might involve content-creation tactics that drive traffic to your website, regardless of whether it’s through a search, ad or social referral.
But the questions you ask of yourself when creating these strategies are what start to separate the two.
The case for content strategy
While the two often work in tandem, in terms of which comes first (and which is more important), content strategy has the edge.
In the content marketing pecking order, your content strategy will always come first because it defines three critical questions:
- What are you talking about?
- Who are you talking to?
- Why are you saying anything at all?
If your content strategy addresses all three questions, it will outline both the purpose and angle of your content and provide the metrics against which you will measure its success. It’s also a much more inclusive plan, incorporating the most fundamental elements of who your audience is and where your greatest content challenges and opportunities lie.
When you view each piece of content through this lens, the end result is a cohesive, air-tight content campaign regardless of where that content lives. And that’s why it should come first
Why social strategy comes second
But what about social?!
Social media marketing plays a critical role in your overall marketing plan. For some brands, social media marketing is the only kind of marketing they do. But when you think of your social strategy as a channel or distribution plan (which is exactly what it is), its role as number two becomes obvious.
Of course a social strategy is critical to your brand’s success. And yes, you might even create content pieces from scratch just to be shared on social media. But it’s clear to see why it comes second when we boil it down to two simple questions:
- Where should you present your content?
- How should you present your content?
When you separate them like this, it’s easy to see that the why, the who and the what will always come before the where and the how.
Cut from the same cloth
These two strategies aren’t always mutually exclusive. In fact, because of social media’s power and potential to be a traffic-driver, they should rarely be separated. But when you start with the most critical questions, the content strategy emerges as priority number one.
[Are you one of almost 70% of B2B marketers who don’t have a documented content marketing strategy? Need help fine-tuning the one you’ve got? Learn more about our approach to content strategy.]
Originally published in February of 2016 and updated for relevancy and comprehensiveness.