Thinking of your Content Marketing program with a Community Marketing hat on is a great way to craft a program that spurs engagement.

As someone who spent a lot of my career in what was called Community Marketing back in the heyday of the first Internet boom (the big difference being that online communities were closed, gated and moderated – message boards were the primary place your brand’s community communicated), it’s occurred to me many times that Content Marketing, as a discipline, really follows the same rule set as a great Community Marketing program.

The main difference between the old Community Marketing model and the new Content Marketing model is one that’s mandated by a new social age: the conversations we’re starting and participating in aren’t happening on our owned media channels.  (For more on that, here’s an article on the upsides and downsides of an open vs. closed community.)

A great Content Marketing program starts by evaluating your target social community.  And, with that in mind, here are…

5 Ways Content Marketing is the New Community Marketing


1) We’re giving people what they want when they want it

Don’t just take my word for it: Kevin Spacey says so.  Content marketing is a relationship marketing discipline, and maintaining good relationships requires good give and take by both parties.  Since our goal as marketers is to spur engagement for that earned social capital (we can’t pay for it, but it isn’t free), we need to be the ones to cater to the wants and needs of our community.  They, in turn, will reward us with loyalty and a shout-out.

2) We’re looking to start or participate in a conversation that’s relevant to your brand

Just because we can’t control the conversation doesn’t mean it’s not worth having: social media has busted open the notion that message control is achievable or even optimal.  Gone are the days of the bullhorn: good Content Marketing, like good Community Marketing, creates a dialogue and a relationship with the people that matter.

3) The main goal is engagement

From a Content Marketing perspective, the fact that conversations are now happening on third-party channels is actually good news: it means that, via earned social media, we have the ability to influence not just the folks who have chosen to engage with our brand, but their social networks as well.  (For more on that, check out this article on earned social media.)

4) We’re not trying to sell anything

Really, we’re not.  Like Community Marketing, Content Marketing is about building trust and fostering productive conversation.  There’s a reason that the Mary Kay model and Tupperware parties worked: the companies recognized that people were more likely to buy things from their friends than they were from a random stranger.  With B2B buyers in particular self-educating long before a purchase is made, Content Marketing hits folks higher up the purchase funnel so that they trust and like us well before we’re asking them to buy something.

5) Good content marketing can lead to influencers and brand advocates

One of the best things about the Community Marketing programs of yesteryear was the easy identification of our best influencers and advocates.  Back in the day, we often tapped these people to moderate message boards and participate in BETA programs.  With a good social marketing tool, it’s easy to identify the brand advocates and influencers who might help us spread the word to the folks that matter.  (For more on that, check out this article on brand advocates).