The sales industry is inherently competitive. In order to remain relevant, good sales leaders need to leverage all the tools at their disposal, and today this means using advanced digital marketing techniques. Lead generation through social media is rapidly becoming an excellent but increasingly tapped resource, which is why your social media marketing game has to be on point. This requires you to know the ins and outs of content marketing better than you know the backs of your own eyeballs if you too wish to remain competitive.

There’s good news, though: you don’t need any sort of advanced technological know-how if you want to make content marketing work for you. Even if you’re just getting your toes wet in the world of digital sales and lead generation, there are a number of techniques at your disposal that can get you rolling when it comes to getting your social media lead generation pipeline up and running. Buckle up, because you’re going to be in for one hell of a trip starting right now!

What Content Marketing Is at Its Core

Every roller coaster starts with a slow ride up the hill. This is no different: before we get into how content marketing can get your lead generation firing on all cylinders in a social media setting, first we have to at least define what content marketing is when you strip away all the marketing speak. A simple, workable definition of content marketing is as follows: it’s a specific approach to digital marketing that relies on strategies and tactics that would make more traditional advertising experts scratch their heads or even panic.

This is only natural if you think about it. Digital marketing has come a long way since the bad old days of the early Internet, back when everyone and their mother had their own awful GeoCities website. Back then, digital marketing was just static banner ads, not so different from traditional print advertising methods. Thankfully this trend didn’t last too long. Unfortunately, banner ads morphed into pay-per-click ads, which were only really effective in separating marketers from their money and making ad companies rich.

When SEO Became the Way to Go

It was a major step in the right direction when search engine optimization came into the spotlight as the most effective method for digital marketing. It’s still a strong contender, and it moved us away from obnoxious static ads and instead pushed lead generation in a smarter, more targeted direction.

But things are still very much in flux and driven by modern technology. The connectivity that mobile devices bring helped supercharge social media, and that opened the door to using social media platforms as fertile fields for lead generation. Social media requires an even more well-developed and thoughtful approach to digital marketing that is light-years from SEO marketing. This is where content marketing comes in.

The Content of Your Character

Content marketing, as it says on the tin, is less about driving prospects inexorably through a funnel by any means necessary and more about using more authentic marketing methods that are more honest and transparent. With a focus on the message itself instead of the mechanics of lead generation, content marketing on social media has a storytelling focus and an intent to engage with customers on levels that don’t push a call to action as much as the intent to connect with an audience in a more personal way. The methodology behind this is by adding value to the lives of your audience well before considering how to drive sales volume.

This makes content marketing easy to spot, even though there are so many different approaches you can take. Content can take any number of different forms and can range from a simple wholesome meme or image to in-depth blog posts, articles, or live video streams. The focus is always on the message being sent with this content and how this message is meant to enrich the lives and experiences of those consuming this content — even if it’s just a good laugh. That’s because what you’re really cultivating with content marketing is your connection with your audience.

Brand Awareness Without Branding

Content marketing’s goal, to maximize lead generation, relies on raising brand awareness without engaging in any branding activity. Content marketing does this by throwing old, tired marketing methods out the window and replacing it with the kind of unique, vibrant marketing copy that showcases who you are as a brand without directly selling your goods or services.

Telling the world what a great time they’ll have with you in their life isn’t easy. This is why you have to show them by simply providing authentic experiences that educate and entertain them, adding value to their everyday lives. Modern audiences can sniff out activity and intent that they perceive as crass commercialism a mile away, and this has resulted in a lot of suspicion and cynicism in consumers whenever they see traditional marketing activity that telegraphs as traditional lead generation. Today, nobody wants to feel like just another entry on a marketer’s spreadsheet.

This is why content marketing on social media has the potential for such a positive impact on lead generation. Showcasing to consumers that you’re not like other brands by throwing out old marketing methods sends a positive message to them, indicating that you’ll respect their identities as real people and not just forces that drive profit margins. Today’s consumers need to feel that the people and companies they spend time and money on are just as human as they are, that these people are integrated into their communities and work toward the same socially important goals. Doing that defeats that cynicism and suspicion, getting through to consumers in authentic and honest ways.

Lead Generation Through Content Marketing: the Nitty Gritty

Using lead generation through content marketing on social media is just a foregone conclusion at this point. There’s even lots of research that backs this up. Using older lead generation models just isn’t as effective as content marketing in social media environments — in fact, content marketing is three times more effective according to some of the latest research. That’s a major point in the social media content marketing column, and one that you simply can’t ignore.

But what about the actual mechanics of social media marketing? You can’t just hit the “share” button on everything you think might be a good fit for your brand. No, you’ve got to understand how several different factors interact with one another if you want to increase brand awareness and drive engagement in organic and effective ways. It takes some real chops to understand not just what to share, but when to share it and with what subset of your audience. You also need to know which social media platforms are best for the type of content you’re sharing. With 72 percent of Americans using YouTube, for example, it’s hands-down the best place to share video content, though you can maximize your reach to cross-posting that across other platforms as well.

Go It Alone — Unless You Can’t

Those statistics can’t be argued with. Content marketing on social media is just the most effective way to generate leads today, and it will likely remain this way for quite some time. This means that growing your business, or marketing someone else’s business as part of a managed campaign, will more or less require you to understand content marketing and how to use it on social media platforms.

This can certainly be challenging if you don’t have the right background for social media marketing. While its prevalence means that it’s become easier to source the knowledge you require and gain the experience you need in social media settings, it also means that there are plenty of experts out there who already have the expertise needed to run effective content marketing campaigns for you. If you don’t have the time or resources to accumulate the skills needed to run successful lead generation campaigns on social media, outsourcing or subcontracting is a viable option if you have space in your budget to do so.

The Last Word on a Vast World

The world of social media is vast and ever-expanding, like the universe after the Big Bang. New developments emerge out of the ether every day, and the Internet of today may be unrecognizable by tomorrow. This means that there’s a lot of wiggle room when it comes to online lead generation, even when viewed through the lens of social media content creation and curation.

The arc of human history is certain to bend in strange directions going forward. Yet there are a few constants, one being that we’re tribal; we gather together in groups and build relationships with one another. Using content marketing to forge authentic links with those groups, whether it’s on social media or on whatever new trend emerges in the future, is always going to be an effective method for lead generation.