Have you ever thought that you are probably already doing content marketing ‘offline,’ with talks and presentations at conferences or business fairs? The concept of content marketing is nothing new, but web 2.0 has created unlimited opportunities to publish and spread content online with the help of the Internet and social media networks. If you understand the similarities and differences between content marketing ‘on’ and ‘off’-line, your online marketing strategy will become much (easier and) more effective.
The main difference between online and offline expertise lies in the way content is published and distributed, the number of people you can reach, and the readiness of which people share content. However, there is more to the difference between online and offline content marketing. It is worth taking a closer look at the two forms of content marketing in order to connect the them in the most efficient and successful way.
Same story, different outcomes
Even though the stories and content in online and offline content marketing often are the same, the methods and the format by which the content is presented can differ quite strongly; the achieved results will, accordingly, be diverse. Online content – such as videos, articles, comments, graphics – has the chance of staying visible for a much longer period of time than offline content. In fact, it can be fairly difficult to remove content from online media once it has gained a certain visibility. (This should be kept in mind when publishing sensitive content.)
In today’s social media world, the number of people who will see your online content will (quite likely) be much larger than the number of people you can reach via offline methods, simply due to the potentially viral mediums social media outlets provide. The people you reach online will probably also represent a greater variety of people, as targeting a specific group becomes much more challenging. A misstep online can therefore have much more drastic consequences than a similar misstep offline. At the same time, a well-placed contribution online will have more potential to impact your company than the same content placed offline.
Although large networks mislead you into seeking the largest number of people reached, you should consider if these people truly represent your target group. Then, if so, can they be reached via these networks? In the end, it is not the number that counts, but if you have really connected to people interested in you and your business. Ask yourself: can your target group be reached via Twitter, Facebook or Google+, or rather LinkedIn? It might be worth looking at smaller networks, as they may be better suited to reach the right people for you. This can be compared to offline networking, as many prefer a small conference over a large business fair, if if it is better suited to their direct purpose.
Same Goals, Different Approach
The goals in online and offline content marketing are closely connected: build a reputation as an expert and connect to people who can turn into business partners, collaborators and clients. With online and offline content marketing, it is important to attract the handful of people that fit with your business ideology, rather than wasting time investing on an infinite amount of unrelated people. Let this consideration be part of the decision in which type of content you use. Rather create content that is helpful to your target audience than ‘fun’ stuff that is spread, but does not inspire relevant people to return to you for information.
With offline networking, target groups can be more easily identified and reached at conferences and business fairs. Online, this kind of targeting is more tricky; rather than an introduction at a specific conference (with a preselected audience), your online networks are created by building an interested and faithful readership of friends, followers, and fans. Locating and interacting with your right target group relates to formulating a strong content strategy. Online you must produce continuity and consistency, as well as quality in your content. Whereas one piece of good content, i.e. a presentation at conference, can be enough in offline marketing – you will probably need more than that to gain the success you are looking for online.
Personality vs. Anonymity
Although speaking for a company throughout social media might induce a desired amount of anonymity, you should be aware that personality plays a big role in reputation. Even if the diction and facts in your content are perfect, when personality is missing you risk someone else get the job, as most of us would prefer to work with someone we feel we ‘know’ and can trust. In offline content marketing, your personality is usually part of the picture; you personally speak at a conference and the best business meetings might have result from the shared coffee after your talk. Within the anonymity of the Internet, you have to make sure your personality transcends through the screen. This might especially be a problem if your company expertise builds on the expertise of multiple employees, or you choose to have social media activity run by an external social media manager.
You can achieve great things with your content marketing activities. Being aware of the differences between online and offline content marketing and playing them to your own advantage could make the difference in making the right connections and generating the most active leads.