So many promotional avenues are open for digital marketers that sometimes it’s hard to pick just one. All digital marketers use social media and content marketing for their promotional needs.
Social media and content are often supplementary to each other. Content marketing is a promotional device whereas social media provides inbound marketers a platform. Brands require both.
But which of these two should they prioritize? Where should they invest more marketing dollars?
Let’s find out:
Web traffic pattern
Analyzing the traffic pattern on the web can give them a fair idea. A traffic and engagement pattern detection company called CodeFuel’s conducted a survey jointly with Nielsen. CodeFuel’s clientele consists of content publishers and retailers who are always on the lookout for better engagement metrics and effective monetization options. The purpose of conducting the survey was to give them a detailed look into content consumption, traffic and monetization data.
The survey shows traffic movement is sometimes stable and sometimes unstable. Factors that determine traffic movement include:
- Where the traffic is coming from
- The site’s loading time
- Popup ads and virtual notification windows
- Content format
Referral traffic from social networks tends to abandon the landing page. But traffic that comes straight from the homepage stays on the site for a long period of time.
See the infographic below:
The importance of loading time cannot be overstated. Even a delay of 1 second can cause a significant impact. Walmart reduced the loading time by 1 second and witnessed 2% increase in conversion.
Popups are universally hated, so are virtual notification windows.
As for content format, there’s preference for written content on few topics and for audio-visual content on other topics. Visitors prefer watching a video when they go through DIY guidebooks.
Are visitor engagement platforms agnostic?
Yes and no.
Social media does claim to register more engagement than content-based websites, but such comparisons are often shoddy because what nobody observes is:
- The forms of engagement are different
- Social engagement doesn’t always translate to a sale
Engagement on social media is likely a sales trigger provided the landing page belongs to an online retail site. Take a look at the infographic below:
In sequential order, shopping online comes after social networking.
However, engagement on social media is short lived. Content-based sites keep engagement for a longer period of time compared to social channels. The visitor flow is crucial for content websites. Visitors who land on the homepage and then explore other pages, tend to stay longer.
Look at the infographic below:
Because the reduction in bounce rate is proportional to an uptick in engagement rate, content sites that register a high number of homepage visits have better engagement than social networks.
Social media engagement gets businesses hot leads. But content-based websites have a different type of engagement altogether.
Role of referral networks
People directly log on to social networks by typing the URL into the address bar. But content sites get visited from referral channels such as search engines, other content sites, forums, ads, recommendations and sponsored content.
Several nuances exist between referral networks. The infographic below shows this in detail:
Does it affect engagement?
Yes, it does.
When the referral is from search engines, content based websites get good engagement. This could be because searchers are hungry for information. When they visit websites with useful content, they stay there and even look for additional content.
For this to happen, the website must have informative and engaging content and an ample number of interlinked pages.
Website search box and social syndication platforms combined account for only 7% of content discoveries. This makes sense. Website search box and social discovery tools may recommend content they’re not interested to read. This is called push marketing and it’s hardly effective.
Google still tops the list of referral networks. What we learn from this is, ranking on search engines (including featured snippets) is better for content websites than social media marketing, which is often expensive.
Content marketing has the edge here. Brands connect with people using social media. But to form a strong and meaningful connection, content marketing is essential. Such a connection is the precursor to creating loyal customers.
Content marketing clearly has the edge because:
It envelops social media
On social platforms, brands engage with their audiences via curated content. On Pinterest, 80% of what a user pins are repins. Businesses use sites like Instagram and YouTube for visual and audio-visual content promotion. Social media and content marketing may be different, but in many ways, they converge and when they do, content marketing renders the pitch.
Content marketing is often used as a tool to educate and inspire customers and prospects. Here are 5 brands who excel at it. In the conventional sales funnel, awareness and evaluation precede purchase; content marketing helps both. Conversion and closing sales depend on blog posts, e-books, whitepapers, questionnaires, emails, etc. Customers don’t simply buy but make an informed decision to buy.
Social media is where enterprises run ad campaigns and feature giveaway contests. Ads hardly have any effect on customer loyalty index. As for giveaways and contests, these are superficial loyalty programs with only a handful of long-term benefits.
UGC and sales
User-generated content is a sales booster. It’s often difficult to link with inbound content strategies. That’s because brands can’t exert control over the UGC creation process. However, more than 80% of people are making purchasing decisions based on UGC.
Social media marketing can project positive UGCs in favor of brands. A strong social presence and a dedicated fan following are needed for UGC creation. Content marketing can only make references to existing UGCs, that’s all.
Besides, UGCs are often found in consumer review sites and C2C networks. These are social networks. Sticking to your social media fan base and asking them to rate you favorably after a successful purchase or getting discount coupons is the best strategy to generate positive UGC. Content marketing is not too useful here.
Combine the two
Social media is effective for some purposes while content marketing is effective for some other. Combining the 2 can give you comprehensive results in terms of sales and marketing. When it comes to prioritizing one over the other, first identify your need.
If your need is to create a group of informed customers, content marketing should be the priority. If tapping into hot leads or increasing contest registration headcount is your target, social media marketing is the way to go.