Vocus has developed an interactive social media strategy application, based on data and content of partners such as MarketingSherpa. It’s a nice tool but most of all a nice content marketing case, proving the power of using data in content marketing.

Content is a social object. By that I mean it is defined by what people want and how they interact, not the other way around. Content can take many forms. Often, it’s narrowed down to the types of content we immediately think of such as a blog post, a paper, a presentation, a video, the copy on a web site, etc.

Here is a case that shows how content is much more and how powerful content marketing can be. Even if content marketing is not your thing, you might want to read on if you’re interested in social media marketing. I know you’ll love it.

Content is more than what spontaneously comes to mind. An online application people can interact with, a blog comment and even a tweet, are all content as well.

Content is defined by people and interactions

Content is contextual: it is defined by how people engage with it and are engaged by it. It’s defined by business goals, stages in the customer journey, etc. That’s why content marketing is a matter of customer experiences and completely depends on people, outcomes, interaction and so on. When these experiences and interactions meet the objectives you win

This focus on what people actually want and like, is why we have to focus on the interactions and the people that interact (read, comment, experience, etc.) instead of on the content object itself. This does not mean there should be no business goals, obviously. It means the business goals are achieved by looking at what matters most in the content marketing equation: human beings.

An example of how powerful content can be in engaging people, when it starts from the emotional and other needs of people, is the Social Media Marketing Strategy App that was developed by Vocus, in collaboration with MarketingSherpa, Beth Harte and Serengeti Communications.

Let me quickly explain what the Social Media Strategy tool is, how it works and what value it provides to you and to the businesses behind it.

The data-driven content marketing approach of the social media strategy tool

Vocus, MarketingSherpa and the other partners basically turned data into content marketing:

  • They took some data and worksheets from MarketingSherpa’s Social Marketing Roadmap and 2010/2011 Benchmark Reports.
  • They built an online app that allows everyone to answer some questions (using drag and drop and typical survey features) regarding their social media marketing challenges.
  • The app is built around the different steps MarketingSherpa advices to take in developing a social media marketing approach (defining and translating your goals, seeing where you stand, etc).
  • In every step, context is provided and, depending on your answer, you can select more reading material.
  • Depending on your answers, you see where you stand regarding your social media strategy, in comparison with the MarketingSherpa benchmarks but, more importantly, with the answers others have given when using the app (in nifty charts).

At the end of the process and after filling in some basic data you receive a PDF that adds your specific challenges, selected reading tips, personal ‘status’ charts, etc. to a workbook template, thus resulting in a 35-page, personalized workbook. If the process of completing “your” workbook takes too much time, you can download the template at all time.

The business and content marketing goals of the Social Media Strategy App

Let’s first look at what Vocus (and co) achieve with the Social Media Strategy App.

Branding and word-of-mouth. There is a clear branding element that is strengthened by a highly personalized experience whereby you sit in the driving seat. On top of that, everyone who didn’t know already and uses the app, now knows MarketingSherpa has a social media marketing roadmap and benchmark reports (it’s around and in the actual PDF in a non-intrusive way). The same goes for Vocus: it can nicely position its solutions within the experience and in the PDF (and I forget all messages that aim to bring it under the attention of people). Since the target group, in this case businesses that are working on a social media marketing strategy, will appreciate it, the reputation of the initiators is strengthened and word-of-mouth is guaranteed.

Acquisition and demand generation. You have to fill in some basic data: name, company and email. That doesn’t seem like much but don’t forget you are actually providing lots of data about your social media marketing needs and challenges when interacting with the app. Wow, that’s a very powerful way of identifying leads, isn’t it? Furthermore, what if the data are combined with those the people that promote it have on you. I can’t say it is like that, I’m saying it could be. However, even if it isn’t, it’s still very strong.

These are not the only goals that are achieved of course. There is some education involved as well, the reading tips people have selected will lead to more reading and interactions, traffic and touch points, etc.

Why does this content marketing approach work?

There are numerous reasons. Here are a few.

  • Control is put in the hands of those who interact: you.
  • It provides an answer to questions many businesses have when it comes down to social media marketing.
  • There is a social and ‘group’ dimension since you are benchmarking your strategy with that of others who are actually using the tool. That’s strong.
  • It’s highly relevant and provides information and value.
  • It’s easy and very intuitive, it doesn’t take too much time and is even fun to do.
  • Even if you don’t have the time, you can download the content.
  • It’s quite innovative.

And I don’t even talk about the social sharing possibilities and all the rest.

Try it yourself here