Throw a little gas on the fire

By Lynn Manternach / Guest Editorial

How’s your content marketing working? Is it sparking the kind of results you’re looking for? If not, perhaps you need to throw a little more gas on the fire.

An effective content marketing strategy focuses on both the content and the marketing, because content is fire and social media is gasoline, according to Jay Baer, author of “Youtility.”

It starts with great content.

One of the most effective approaches for increasing consumer engagement is content marketing. Consumers are hungry for information that helps them be better consumers. They’re looking for helpful, informative and inside knowledge presented in insightful, entertaining or productive ways.

Here are six rules for content marketing, from lead generation company Marketo:

  • It is not promotional. Content marketing has to be interesting. That means it’s not about you. It’s about the consumer. This is not an opportunity to promote your new product or service, it’s an opportunity to provide consumers with the information they need to make a good decision about a product or service like yours.
  • It is relevant. Generic materials that are not highly relevant to a reader will not generate success. The content has to be useful to the reader. It’s hard to avoid being generic if you’re trying to talk to everyone. Choose a niche and focus, and be relevant.
  • It closes a gap. Content marketing should address a question or problem. Figure out what kind of information decision-makers are seeking, and find ways to provide the useful information they need.
  • It is well-written. This is about your brand. Make sure your content reflects well on you with quality writing that is interesting and free of errors.
  • It is relevant to your company. Make sure all the content you produce is relevant to your overall brand and your business objectives.
  • It gives proof. The content you develop is created to support your brand and business goals. Despite that, you need a fair and balanced approach to make sure your content doesn’t feel like a sales pitch. Include proof through quotes, testimonials, metrics and statistics.

Great content doesn’t distribute itself. It needs ways for people to pass it along, talk about it, disagree with it, blog it and tweet it. Which is, of course, where social media comes in.

Business-to-business content marketers are currently using primarily LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to distribute content, according to 2013 Content Marketing Benchmarks (CMI/Marketing Profs). Top business-to-consumer content marketing channels are similar, and also include YouTube and Pinterest.

Which channels are right for you? That depends on your audience and your content.

Make sure you know who you are trying to reach, and which social media channels they are most likely to use. Do they typically use Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest? Target your content to the channels where the most receptive audience will be.

You also need to consider which channels are the best fit for your content. If you are mostly focused on videos, make sure you actively curate and participate in YouTube or Vimeo. For sharing links to a blog or other outside properties, your best bet might be the rapid-fire nature of Twitter.

Once you know who you’re trying to reach and where they tend to be on social media, don’t be afraid to maximize your impact by distributing the same content in multiple ways. For example, your content can be posted on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, packaged as an infographic on Pinterest or a SlideShare presentation, and more.

With content marketing, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the process of generating powerful content. It won’t do you any good unless you get that content in front of the right people. The content is fire and social media is gasoline.


Lynn Manternach is brand arsonist and president at MindFire Communications Inc. ( in Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities. Contact her at