Content Marketing: The Importance of Building Your Network

BY: ON MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2013

Content marketing may be at the top of the industry buzzwords list, but it’s far from a fad—and embracing content marketing is an important part of any digital marketing strategy, regardless of your business or industry. Content marketing is important because blogs, social media and search engine optimization collectively deliver a lower cost per lead than many traditional marketing tactics (think direct mail, print advertising or attending trade shows) and allows you to build a reputation as an expert in the industries you and your business serves.

Content Marketing Defined

Simply put, content marketing is the creation, publication and distribution of original, high quality content that is relevant to the audience your website or blog serves. And although your subject matter and topics will differ depending on your particular industry and line of work, the overarching goal of content marketing remains consistent: deliver solutions and resources that help your audience solve their problems. And by extension, they’ll not only see you as a valued resource—they’ll be more likely to buy from you, too.

Cultivate Relationships, Build Your Network

A company blog is one of the most effective ways to build your content’s presence and create a hub from which you can publish and distribute your content. Yet a strong content marketing strategy doesn’t end when you hit “publish”—and in fact, effectively distributing and sharing your content is just as important as creating it.

And that’s where building and maintaining a strong online network comes in. If you’re only focused on yourself and your business, you won’t make it very far in the digital space. Instead, take time to cultivate relationships by having conversations, sharing others’ content and being an active participant in your social channels.

Think of it this way. Let’s say you’re attending an in-person networking event. You wouldn’t necessarily walk up to someone and launch into a long-winded pitch about how great you are, how wonderful your business is and why that person should pay attention to you—right?

The same goes for online behavior. It’s easy to get lost behind the computer, tablet or smartphone screen and forget that you’re interacting with real people. Yet that’s what building a network—in real life and online—is all about. Talk to other people. Share their content on your channels and give them shout-outs when they’re doing cool things. Ask them to guest post on your blog. Offer to guest post on their blogs. Leave comments on their blog posts and social media updates.

Over time, you’ll build up a valuable online network of smart, savvy people that can help you stay tapped into a variety of industries. And they, in turn, can help you when it comes to distributing your content and increasing your digital footprint.

One key tip? Don’t wait until you need a network to build one—otherwise, you’ve missed out on a key piece of the puzzle. Just like in real life, when it comes to online behavior your goal should always be to support and help others—and then, when you’re in need of assistance, you’ll likely find a group of people who are more than willing to jump in and help out, whether you’re looking for input, content distribution, recommendations or some other kind of assistance.

Be Patient

Lastly, don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed. You wouldn’t build an in-person network in a matter of days or even weeks—so don’t expect your online network to be created in the blink of an eye, either. Instead, carve out a few minutes each day to focus on network building and networking. Subscribe to blogs, find your favorites, read them regularly and comment on them. Share the content of those bloggers with your network and they’ll soon be repaying the favor. Pop into LinkedIn groups, read the content and discussions there and comment on them. The same is true of other places you hang out online, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or somewhere else. Networking takes a commitment and an investment of time, effort and energy. But when you do it, your efforts will pay off in no time—and you’ll soon see your network become an integral part of your larger content strategy.

What are your thoughts about network building? Any tricks you’ve discovered that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear what’s working for you.

About the Author

Megan Wright

Megan Wright is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. As a small business expert, Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources, as well as providing small business advice.

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