how to successfully balance promotional & useful content in your social media

When you use social media on a regular basis, it can be difficult to know where the line is between being too much promotional, too little, or where the line actually exists on sharing others’ content.

Social Media Marketing

Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the total sum of your social media content can be too promotional, too useful: or just right.

Obviously, you want to shoot for the latter.

Too much promotion will drive your readers away while too little won’t get your site the attention it needs and deserves. Read on to learn more about how you can find the balance between these two important types of content.

Finding the Balance

Most people in content marketing today believe that the best way to grow your site is to focus on providing useful content.

This doesn’t mean you should throw promotion to the wind, but here’s a clear rule to learn: promotional content shouldn’t be your primary focus.

The reason for this is that if you have well-written, useful content, your stuff will virtually promote itself the more it gets found, shared and engaged with.

When your site provides valuable, useful content for its readers, people are going to come back time and time again.

You can have all of the beautifully written, carefully crafted promotional content in the world and it won’t do you much good if, once your readers click, they wind up at a dry, boring site that doesn’t provide them with anything valuable.

On the other hand, however, even the best sites do need to market themselves. No matter how wonderful, well-written and useful your content may be, it’s not worth much if nobody reads it because nobody knows it exists.

That said, while the content of your site needs to be high quality and useful, it also needs to be mixed with promotional material that allows people to discover your site and take advantage of the content you’ve worked so hard on.

That said, it is a delicate balance. While it’s important to write well, it’s also important to promote well so that people can find what you write in the first place.

Promotional Content

Promotional content, by definition, is designed to drive readers to your site and help them take a certain action. While promotional content comes in many forms, it all serves the same purpose: to drive awareness and increase interaction with your site.

Keep in mind that, in the world of content marketing, promotional content isn’t necessarily content that pitches a certain product, good or service (although it can be). More often, promotional content is content that drives readers to a recent post or a certain portion of your site.

How to Promote Your Content: Best Platforms & Methods

There are many ways to promote your content and the method you choose will depend largely on where you find your followers and how they typically interact with your content. These are some of the top options for content promotion:

  • Newsletters: Newsletters are integral to content marketing success. In addition to helping you stay in the forefront of your reader’s minds, email newsletters are great for announcing new promotions, promoting new content and sharing useful content with your readers all at once. When writing newsletters, you can include the full piece of content in the newsletter or simply include the first few sentences or paragraphs of several articles with an enticing “read more here” link. Regardless of how you choose to structure it, an email newsletter should always give readers several ways to navigate back to your site. Use an automated email builder, such as MailChimp, to make this process quick and easy. There are plenty of great examples of email newsletters, but we love this fun, simple layout from Very Short List (VSL) here.
  • Promotional Emails: When you publish new content, one of the best ways to promote the new piece is to send out an email to your followers introducing the piece and giving them a blurb of information. Include a landing page and link back to your site for maximum engagement. Additionally, don’t forget to include social media sharing buttons for maximum reach and the potential of new readers. Mark Manson is particularly great at doing this every time he writes a new piece: Promotional Emails
  • Twitter: Twitter has 304 million active monthly users and, because of this, it’s a great place to promote your new content. To use Twitter as an effective promotional platform, send out three or four tweets to your followers every time you publish new content. These tweets should all go out the same day you publish the content and should be timed to align with peak user times during morning, noon and night. The rule to live by while promoting content on Twitter is to keep tweets about your own content to no more than 20% of your overall tweets and use the rest to disseminate useful content to your users.
  • Post to Google+: Google+ is a great way to get word about your content out to your readers, but, as with all promotional platforms, you want to be careful to avoid overdoing it. When you write a new piece of content that you want to promote, post a single note about it to Google+. Write a comment introducing the post to ensure it shows up in SERP’s and send it out to your followers. Although it can be tempting to share content again and again, one promotional post is adequate to alert your followers to new content and provide a platform for sharing and engagement.
  • Post to Facebook: Facebook is a great place to promote your content due to its high visibility and huge number of users (968 million on a daily basis). When using a Facebook account to promote content, ensure that you are only posting one time about each piece of content you want to promote. It doesn’t ultimately matter whether or not you choose to add a pre-content message as long as the title of the content itself is strong and explanatory. Take this recent Search Engine Facebook promotion, for example: Post To Facebook

Useful Content: What Kind, & How Much?

As we mentioned earlier, so-called “useful content” should make up the grand majority of your site’s content. What your audience deems “useful” will depend largely on your niche and your site’s target persona. Generally speaking, however, useful content takes the forms of niche-related articles, how-to’s, Q&A posts, tutorials and authoritative posts on a variety of topics.

The Four Major Traits of Useful Content

In order to be truly useful, your content should be the following things:

  • Engaging: Unless we’re talking about a phone book, useful content isn’t dry and boring. In order to be enticing to readers, the content you create for your site needs to be engaging. Engaging content starts with a great headline, packs high-quality information written in a readable voice and proceeds to catch a reader’s attention throughout.
  • Valuable: Shallow, poorly researched content isn’t useful to readers. In order to stand out and be truly useful, your content needs to provide value in the form of information, instruction or knowledge. In other words, your content should answer reader questions and help them solve problems.
  • Passionate: If you don’t care about your topic, your reader won’t either and, because of this, passionate content is useful content. When a writer is excited about and passionate for the topic of a post, it telegraphs out to readers, making the content exciting and virtually irresistible.
  • Generous: Useful content should give more than it takes. Don’t worry about promoting your own site or vying for new readers in your useful content, simply offer information, help readers solve problems and provide valuable, useful insight. The rest will follow.

Writing useful content is a learning experience and it often takes a fair deal of trial-and-error to get it right but one thing is for sure: writing useful content is the best promotional tactic your company can employ.

The Well-Balanced Site: Where Useful & Promotional Content Meet

By now you know that writing targeted, valuable content is an effective way for companies to gain more readers and elicit more conversions. In today’s market, readers don’t want advertisements or promotions quite so much as they want valuable information.

In fact, 70% of consumers report that they would rather learn about a product, good or service via well-written content than through traditional advertisements.

That said, it’s obvious that great content creation does what great advertising used to do.

By writing useful content that is targeted at a niche audience and designed to be highly useful, shareable and readable, content marketers from all specialties can boost their reader base and increase conversions.

Promotions are important as well, though, and content marketers can find the right balance between promotional and useful content by abiding the Twitter rule mentioned above: 20% promotion, 80% useful content.

Keeping most of your content focused on drawing organic traffic and providing value for readers is a sure-fire way to increase authority, build a solid reader base and stand out in your field while including occasional, deliberate promotional material is the ideal way to reach new readers, garner shares and increase social engagement.

While it’s not wise to abandon one side of content creation for the other, it’s clear that nurturing a healthy balance between useful and promotional content is the key to content marketing success.

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