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Technology & InternetContent Marketing – Where Does Information End and Promotion Start in Business Social Media?
I am active in Content Marketing. Meaning, I am writing articles about things I believe my target audience is interested in. The content I write is only loosely related to my business as I am writing about business social media and am providing a business social media platform. Yet, as my articles are in the same field of interest as my business there is always a thin line between being informative and providing helpful insights and promoting. There seems to be a very diverse perception of what is information and what is promotion in business social media.
Sometimes even the same piece of content is regarded as valuable information in one setting and as promotional in another – depending on the audience, their personal preferences and custom behavior in the chosen outlet.
What could be perceived as promotion starts with the simple existence of a company or product in the background of the author and ends with really blunt product praise.
So here is my question: Where does information end and promotion/advertising start?
There are different types of content and different ways of using content. To explain differences in content and how a product or company could be included in online content, here are some examples of online content with my personal view, if we are talking about promotion or content:
A. Information on Company, Products or Services
- Descriptions of Products (own products)
Even if a description of a product can in rare cases be of high value to the audience, the promotional effect seems to be obvious.
- Press Release
Usually a press release is about the company itself. The purpose of a press release is to tell news about a company. I would in most cases see it as promotional.
- News About a Company
I would consider company news published by the company itself the same way I would a press release: as promotion. In some cases there might be such large impact on users or customers, that this is valuable information – yet, even in that case it should be directly published to these customers (i.e. Facebook Fanpage or company Twitter account)
- User Experience and Customer Stories
Usually there is a great interest for potential customers to read about user experience or customer stories. Yet, if a company publishes customer stories about its own products that is nice information on the company blog or website – in social media to me this rather tends to sound promotional.
B. Information Serving the Interest of the Target Audience
Even though the author in content marketing will usually choose his topics in relation to his/her own company, products and services. The information given with the content is produced with the needs of the target audience in mind. Promotion can in this case only be indirectly assumed.
- Helpful, instructive (product neutral) Information published on own/company blog
Information of interest to the target group is created and published on own or company blog. The link is shared. Promotion is not included in the post itself and can only be perceived via the link to the author’s blog or website.
- Information published in the social network itself
Information is directly published in the social network of choice. There are no links. From my point of view this cannot be promotional. On the other hand this is usually hard to read, as most social media outlets are not publishing platforms and do not support long articles, graphics or videos inside the outlet (which seems to justify an external link).
- Curation: Information Published on Third Party Blog
As in this case the content is external and belongs to a third party. In most cases this should not be promotional.
Usually pure promotional posts naturally do not get the attention people are seeking in social media – yet they can be annoying. As the perception what is promotion and what is information, strongly depends on personal preferences and experiences, the line between promotion and information seems to be blurred.
I have had complaints about a signature on a post stating my company and I have been asked to include more links back to my own site into a guest post. Some people just notice promotion and turn to something else – others will get excited and angry by the slightest hint to a company or service. It is always difficult to please everyone.
Before getting angry over a link or a mention, should we not step back and think if the content might be of interest to someone? And - I personally rather want to know more about the creator of information I find valuable – it gives credibility to the knowledge and expertise.
Also, I do not fall for the lie that we all spend our time in business social media just for fun. We all have an intention, why make a secret out of it? Isn’t it the whole point of social media to get to know people?
And here starts my offer – do not read on if you are allergic to promotion:
You are invited to present your business on exploreB2B, write articles about your knowledge, products, experience and more.