A few years back, there was a vogue for cookbooks that taught parents of children with picky palates how to disguise healthful vegetables within dishes that the little ones will actually eat — zucchini in muffins, carrots in the mac and cheese, that kind of thing.
These ideas seemed novel in the kitchen, but they’re really as old as commerce itself. In one sense or another, every advertisement you’ve ever experienced followed this principle: using something you already want or need to do as a vehicle to convey a message the advertiser wants you to experience. Whether you’re seeing a sign on your way to work, attending a sponsored event, seeing an ad on TV or even reading a little plug at the top of a guest post on a blog — the principle is the same. The muffin is what gets you to eat the zucchini. If that weren’t the case, marketers could just put out news releases and then head home for the day.
If you’re already into social-media marketing, you’re already hip deep in content marketing. The only questions, then, are “what flavor is the muffin?” and “what’s the best ratio of veggies to batter?” The answer, just like always, lies in understanding your audience.
The lead story in today’s SmartBrief on Social Media (see what I did there? eh?) featured a really interesting study on the kinds of content that members of different social networks enjoy. We’re often told that successful social-media marketing relies on being where your fans are. But it also relies on you coming up with a muffin that will entice your particular audience.
Many MySpace users love video games and celebrity gossip, while almost half of Twitter’s traffic comes from people with a real hunger for the news — my kind of crowd. If you’re using a flash game to promote your new product, then MySpace is a better channel to promote it on. If you’re into news aggregation, the way SmartBrief is, then Twitter might be more your scene — there’s a reason we have 12 Twitter accounts.
How are you using content to spread your brand’s message? Are you tailoring your content marketing to each social platform you’re on? How do you strike the right balance of content and message?
PS: I almost hear some of you protesting now — “I’m not selling anything! I just want people to read my blog posts and enjoy them!” Fair enough — but chances are you still care that people know you wrote that post — or that it was hosted on your blog or on another site. In those cases, your personal brand (or the brand of your site or the site you’re posting on) becomes the zucchini. You are your own product. You want people to come back every day and tell all their friends — otherwise, you might as well be writing in a diary. But that’s OK, isn’t it? After all, vegetables are good for you.
Image credit, dolas, via Shutterstock