The Must-Have Social Media Tool Every Content Marketer Needs

image of utility knife

What if we told you about an ultra powerful, infinitely flexible social media tool that allowed you to publish business-building content — text, audio, or video — without holding you to any arbitrary rules?

It’s a tool that fixes everything that’s broken about the existing social media sites, new and old.

It gives you an astonishing degree of freedom — to say what you want, the way you want to say it, and in the format that works best for you.

With this tool, no one can ever tell you your content is “overly commercial” or flag an image as “possibly inappropriate.” As long as you aren’t breaking the law, the rules are totally up to you.

You have 100% control over the look and functionality of your page. You can keep it simple, or trick it out with hundreds of bells and whistles.

You have 100% control over what others can do on your page. The tool gives you the power to delete (or even modify) comments, block users, and report comments as spam so other users don’t have to deal with these pests.

You have 100% control over how commercial you want your page to be.

You have 100% control over how much content you post. In fact, what we’re calling your “page” could actually be 1000 pages, or 10,000, or more.

The tool includes powerful mechanisms for social connecting and sharing, so you can foster conversation and keep an eye on what your audience finds interesting.

And it’s simple to connect to an email list, so you can capture leads for deeper engagement.

Oh yeah, and it’s free

At least, in its basic version it is.

(It works about a million times better when you host it on your own domain, so you’ll be spending a couple of dollars on your domain registration, and you’ll need hosting, which you can do on a tiny budget when you’re starting out.)

This is starting to sound like one of those infomercials for a knife that “slices, dices, and juliennes baby vegetables.”

By now you might have guessed it … this “hot new” social media tool that corrects so many existing problems is nothing other than the self-hosted WordPress site.

In other words, what most of us call a blog.

Wait, I thought social media was Facebook and Twitter?

Social media is simply technology that’s … social. It’s technology that allows for dialogue, interaction, and listening.

You’ll hold conversations on your blog, just like you do in your favorite social media hangout.

It’s a bit like interacting with friends at a dinner party in your home versus meeting them at a restaurant. They’re both opportunities for interaction, and often the more private locale encourages a deeper level of communication.

And while networking sites like Twitter and Facebook can be useful places to broaden your audience, they can never be the foundation of an enduring content platform.

Even blogs that don’t allow comments have a social component. The definition of great content is content that’s shared, that’s talked about, that’s passed along … content that is, to borrow Seth’s word, remarkable.

Most blogs capitalize on this by welcoming comments (and reading them carefully to see what’s going on with the audience), as well as facilitating social sharing over whatever the flavor-of-the-year site happens to be.

(That’s one of the reasons, of course, why you can’t build an enduring content platform on someone else’s real estate. Social networking sites get stale faster than Adam Carolla’s jokes.)

Your site is your centerpiece

Chris Brogan calls it a home base, or you can think of it as a hub.

Your own content-rich site, on a domain you own, managed with good content management software, is where you’ll put about 80% of your content marketing time and energy.

A site like this becomes a valuable business asset. Over time, it develops a reputation — both with human readers and with search engines.

It’s where you develop the ideas that will become your unique selling proposition.

It’s where you’ll foster the customer conversations that spark new product ideas.

It’s where you’ll optimize your content for both search engines and potential customers.

You know, you don’t have to call it a blog

You might be sort of appalled surprised by how many people think they “don’t have the software” to read blogs.

Some types of people read blogs, and some don’t.

If your potential customers don’t read blogs, there’s no reason in the world you have to call your content-rich, social-sharing-friendly web site a blog.

Call it a resource center, or a content library, or a radio show. Call it an Interactive Directory of Awesomeness for all I care.

Labels are important — so if you don’t want to call your self-hosted WordPress site a blog, think of something that will resonate better with your audience.

I promise, I won’t tell.

A few specifics

There are a lot of good reasons why 22% of all new sites are built on WordPress, the most popular content management system on the Internet. It’s extremely user-friendly, making it easy to keep your site updated and timely. It’s amazingly flexible. It allows you to start very simply, and then develop the site as your needs evolve. It’s friendly to the shoestring budget.

Security matters, so make sure you have a really good web host (this becomes increasingly important as you start to get more traffic) and keep WordPress, your theme, and all plugins updated.

Normally, a business site will want to go with a premium WordPress theme for SEO-friendly code, solid security, and professional design.

And don’t be tempted to start your blog on anything other than your own domain. The few simple hoops you’ll jump through will amply pay off down the line. (If you’re intimidated by the technical aspects, Copyblogger contributor Pam Wilson has a nice resource for getting started with WordPress.)

Drive all of your traffic to your content hub

Spending time engaging with prospects on Google+ or Twitter?

That’s great … just make sure you’re sending them back to your blog.

Publishing a special report you’re hoping will go viral?

Excellent strategy — be sure it’s loaded with plenty of links to great material on your blog.

Putting out a traditionally published book — the kind made out of dead trees?

Include links to landing pages on your blog designed to create lasting relationships with those readers.

If you focus your time and energy on driving traffic to your blog (and then on to your email list, so you can continue the conversation with your readers), you’ll be building an increasingly valuable asset, instead of the goofing off that too many so-called social media marketers fall prey to.

How about you?

Do you have a content hub — a centerpiece for your content marketing? Do you call it a blog? Is it where you’re spending most of your time and attention … or do you get seduced into spending your days at the lastest shiny social hangout?

Let us know in the comments how you’re using your content centerpiece.

About the author

Sonia Simone


Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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Comments

  1. Seriously social media network plays an important role on driving good traffic. Other than that, it helps us to get our content spread out viral and be useful for lots of people out there.

    Great post Sonia. looking forward to read more of your blog posts!!

  2. You are right – it is not required that we call it a blog. Mine actually says weblog on my header because there is more there than just my blog posts. I am often surprised by the technically challenged who don’t even know what a blog is. For those people – I find it best to just call it a website. (I have been looking at the Scribble theme, but can’t find any good examples of people who are using it – hopefully they will add more to the showcase soon)

    • The tip to call your blog something other than a blog is also what I liked best about this article. It is something I never thought of before, but every industry does not have customers that know what blogs are or think they have a need for blogs. Therefore calling the blog something other than a blog can be great for your online marketing plan, especially for small businesses. It allows them to get the keywords and content out there on the internet, but also attract customers that ordinarily would not come to view their “resource center”. The only thing though is if you call it something other than a blog, do you think that will hurt your website’s SEO? For example, if you type in “online marketing blog” my blog comes up, but if I change blog to resource center, would I get as many hits?

  3. Yes, I do have blogs. I’m thrilled that my blog on my freelance writer website has many new users. I finally figured out a system that works for readers, and for me. I embraced the idea of ‘not’ having to post every day or three times a day like I was originally taught. I use social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon (my new favorite) as a complement to my blog. I believe social media/ networking and your blog can work together for the greater good which is to provide readers with solid information that helps solve whatever problems they have. A blog allows you to ‘hone’ in on the information that attracts readers and keeps them coming back for more. It’s a great marketing research tool.

    Thanks for this great blog post!

  4. “And don’t be tempted to start your blog on anything other than your own domain.”
    Completely agree with this. You can leverage the trust of your current domain to give your new company blog a leg up. It also helps keep readers involved with the rest of your site.

  5. Sonia
    Thanks for reminding us that many people think they don’t have the software to read blogs.

    I find many brands don’t want to use the word ‘blog’ but are happy to use the functionality of a blog.

    And of course, one of the key attributes of a blog is sharability and RSS delivery of content to readers.

    But if your reader/customer/prospect thinks they don’t have the right software to read a blog they certainly won’t want to use something called RSS or an RSS reader:
    Combining content distribution with email is the key activity for content marketers.

    “If you focus your time and energy on driving traffic to your blog (and then on to your email list, so you can continue the conversation with your readers), you’ll be building an increasingly valuable asset”

    And, of course one of the tools Copyblogger uses (and I fully endorse) to drive your content out to your readers is Feedblitz.com.

    So helpful, so easy to set up and so easy for your readers to receive your content in whatever medium they choose (get it on facebook/mobile/email etc etc).

  6. I think blogging is an excellent social tool for building relationships. It’s where people can get more insight into who you really are. Great article!

  7. This is a good way to look at our own blogs, whether we’re new to blogging or not.

    But for any new bloggers, do take special note of Sonia’s advice to “host it on your own domain” and “self-host” it. If you host it on WordPress.com, you:
    - get a far smaller selection of templates
    - can’t change the code or make minor tweaks
    - can’t fine-tune the look and feel
    - can’t use most of the plugins available
    - can’t direct traffic to your site if “top level domains” are required
    - will have very little control over the SEO value of your posts

    …and the list goes on.

    So for the love of all you hold dear, get your own domain name and hosting package and start building on your own plot of internet real estate.

    Thanks Sonia!

    • And thank you for helping spread the word, Jarom!

    • Good morning!

      I’ve heard that if you are on one of the free hosting sites, all the ‘link juice’ goes to to them not your site. This means that your own site doesn’t get indexed or ranked or something like that (my apologies, I don’t understand the technical stuff!).
      Is this correct or have I misunderstood?

      Many thanks,
      L

  8. Hi Sonia,
    Great post! One of the best promotions I’ve read so far about the benefits of having a (WordPress) Blog/Website – what it is… what it does … how it builds long-term relationships, and is good for business, etc. I agree that having one’s own domain and hosting (on WordPress.org) is preferable to the ‘free’ option (although, at ‘Write2Profit’ we’ve recently used a free WordPress Blog set up to promote a short-term event, to great effect). But the one big drawback with the ‘big-brother’ version of WordPress, is that there STILL is not enough flexibility in most of the many hundreds of Themes that provide a working platform on WordPress.org. Only now, after 2 long years, are some clever programmers setting up ‘drag and drop’ capabilities on new, specially designed ‘third generation’ WordPress Themes – and at resonable prices, too! Until WordPress itself realises that there are thousands of people who demand total flexibility in their Website or Blog designs, and therefore have shunned WordPress and gone to other major Program and Software Design providers like Serif, and DTP-type developers. Hopefully, WordPress is finally waking up to this, and will soon come down off their ‘high horse’ and ‘get real’ by adding Total Flexibility into their new Themes – and far less confusing, mile-long ‘help’ sections, too! Let’s hope!
    Once again though – great post. Thanks.

  9. I just wanted to thank all of you for the great advice/tips you provided. This was exactly what I needed right now! I’m in the process of building my site on WordPress. It was hosted with Hostgator until I decided to do a little more research on the best route to choose. It’s so overwhelming as a newbie to this social media world when trying to find trustworthy tips and tricks without feeling overwhelmed or confused!! One of my biggest concerns is creating a logo and personalizing my twitter & facebook to match. (cover photo & twitter backround)… I’m one of those perfectionists that can’t stand the thought of blogging on a generic looking site without a professional feel. That being said, I realize that without the funds to pay for pro services, I’m probably SOL! lol…. I am a pretty creative person and really would love to find online resources to teach myself graphic design eventually. I’m rambling now lol… just wanted to share my gratitude and ask you for your honest advice… Don’t worry I can take it lol!!

    • HI Christina, I hope Sonia doesn’t mind my saying so, but there is a fitting post for you to read today over at The Sales Lion.com. It’s about youth and launches and I think it speaks to the heart of what you’re talking about. Also, you might be surprised at how affordable pro services for a WP web site can be.

      • Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I’m going to check it out! Like i said, I can use all the tips and advice I can get :)) Looking forward to following this blog as well.

  10. Tricky Sonia, very tircky. You had me going there for a second. I was like, “What, I can drop hootsuite and sproutsocial? I no longer have to keep filling up my Buffer account?”

    BUT NO. Duped again.

    Of course you are absolutely right, and even though the whole article really amounts to a pitch of copyblogger products, a blog really is the best social media tool and copyblogger products are the best blogging tools around.

    Congrats you won me over. I want to be tricked. I love Genesis. I love Premise. I love how your voice is more relaxing than Bob Ross. (I signed up for Third Tribe just to help me fall asleep at night).

    Sonia and everyone at copyblogger, you are doing it right.

    Hopefully one day I can be just as cool.

    • I am so danged tricky. :)

      It’s actually a pitch for having a self-hosted WP blog, but if you want to use our products to help, we dig that too.

      And my recordings are proven effective as a drug-free sleeping aid! You are not the first. :)

  11. I completely agree! I’ve always thought of blogging as part of “social.”

    Loved this article, it’s a terrific overview of why anyone hoping to achieve success with online marketing would want to have a blog, or whatever they want to call it. ; ) I wrote something similar a few months ago, but it’s not quite as detailed or comprehensive as this.

    I’ve long told my friends who have small businesses who are just getting online to start with two things: a blog and an email list, and build out from there. Social media can come later, or in tandem with, but it’s not enough to have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest et all as your sole online strategy. I have a photographer friend who has scads of past and current customers, 3500+ fans on her FB biz page, and a healthy Twitter following, but no blog or email list. I’ve been needling her for months to just go ahead and set up a blog already! And finally she has. Now, I just have to work on getting her to get an email list going. : )

    I use my content centerpiece, which I do call a blog, to share useful info with my readers and past and current clients, and as the central hub from where all the other spokes emanate — social media, email list, etc.
    And WordPress is the glue that holds it all together. I’m so glad I didn’t let fear and tech overwhelm keep me from going with a self-hosted WordPress blog right from the get-go; it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

  12. Sonia — This is great validation for me. I’ve blogged on Typepad and Blogger before. Neither really fit the bill for something more professional. Just got up and running with WordPress for my professional writing blog to help with freelance biz dev. Because it’s a new blog, I’m holding off on going premium. Thoughts on a good time to up the ante?

    • Yeah, I started out on Typepad. On their domain, too. Oops. :)

      I think you’ll just know when the time is right — I like your site design, so your main issues will probably be security & SEO. As free themes age, they’re not often kept current with new versions of WP, so you may find that updates become a hassle.

      One thing I love about WP is that it’s very evolutionary. You can grow into more advanced tools as you need them, rather than having to do it all on day one.

  13. This is one of those posts that I wish I would have read, say 3 years ago, because I find myself struggling to get out of the static, no frills, plain ol’ dreaded hand coded website. You know, the one built with Dreamweaver that you had to have a degree with HTML and CSS to get to look right in at least ONE browser.

    What I have found among my friends and customers is a lack of understanding about the word blog and the power it can wield. They believe, as I once did, that a blog is a place where you go and journal all the thoughts rattling around your head. Not one of them was aware that a blog can be the stand alone player on a website or be incorporated as an integral part of a traditional website. Most importantly, a blog can be the most powerful tool in a businesses marketing arsenal.

    I’m neck deep into the learning everything I can about WordPress (as I’m a Joomla junkie.) What I’m discovering is that WordPress is just, hands down, easy, peasy, lemon squeasy.

  14. Hub and spoke FTW

  15. It makes perfect sense. One moment I don’t believe in perfection, next moment I see it all-round. Thanks for a great reminder of the (potential) value of blogs.
    ~Beat

  16. This is a great post. I always stress the value of having some form of business blog as ‘home base’ for online marketing efforts; for some reason I’ve found that my non-profit clients are the ones who really take advantage of the blog’s capabilities, more than most other niches.

  17. Definitely agree with you that having a blog feels like having a home to go back to no matter what. It’s what basically keeps me focused to my goal when I have the sudden urge to jump and head to the latest social media platform available.

  18. Good morning Sonia!
    I dislike the word blog intensely, but boy do I love my blog!
    I even wrote a post about it -
    http://www.austrianalpineholidaysblog.com/2011/12/15/a-truly-great-…-get-one-today/
    Until I had one I’d never even heard of a blog, let alone read one or thought of using it to promote my business. Now I won’t leave home without it. Could be because it has become my business !
    And it has opened up so many opportunities and ‘friendships’ that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I can’t encourage people enough to get one themselves.

    BTW – the gentleman referred to in the post – Jim Connolly – has spoken very positively about the quality of the information Copyblogger shares with people. I’ve been assured that furthering my knowledge and understanding by following what you write will not ‘hurt’ my baby blog, unlike stuff put out by some other sites. High praise indeed from where I’m standing!

    So thanks, Sonia – I hope this helps others who are new to blogging know that what they get from you won’t hurt them either.

  19. Sonia,

    Great writing… I kinda had a feeling where you were going with this the entire time but I was still anxious to hear (hear as in I’m reading it out loud in my head) you say it.

    And I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Thanks!!

    Ryan H.

  20. As usual you are informative and chuckle chuckle entertaining at the same time. Great post!

  21. Hi Sonia!

    Thanks for great post and certainly, social media is the place where you could have share your blog post and can interact with your readers directly and for me I think that very crucial to spend my most of the time over there and that’s also helping to viral your blog post as well.

  22. Domains by themselves aren’t as expensive as hosting packages, which for me would pull a Gallagher on my mini-melon size budget. :-) Also, it’s not as easy to be anonymous when purchasing, since financial transactions need to be traced to somebody. But I have a tentative, just-for-the-meantime WP.com blog with a single intro post scheduled to “go live” on 6/28. Privacy is a major concern for me, and I do not want any transactions traced to my name or IP address. I have a little saved up for just such an occasion, though, so I’m wondering if it’s 1) recommended that I go ahead and make the purchase now, and 2) possible/legal to make that purchase with something like a prepaid gift card?

  23. This is an excellent article (like many other copyblogger articles). I have made a blog post based on this article.

    Sanjay Johari

  24. Our site is virtual real estate. Social media sites are there temporary to generate leads to our site. Once these social media sites loses their favour, no one will use them at all, like Friendster.

    We have to build our real estate well. Make it conducive so that visitors will come. Just like if you have a property. You will want to decorate it well, so that potential tenants will rent.

  25. Sonia, great article. Blogs have forever generated engagement and customer enrichment. Value is simple to show with a blog, customers appreciate it. When you can use a vehicle like Twitter or similar to slide the knowledge of the blog, the post alert, it is just the means to drive readers to the blog, the value. So many do waste time driving around on Twitter and other networks without stopping to read the value. Driving around isn’t social, providing a blog is, just as you describe.

  26. I couldn’t agree with you more. Any original content I produce goes up first on Guitarkdia.com. I find myself alternating between ‘site’ and ‘blog’ but almost always the former. Social network to me is just that. I don’t build an audience around any of those platforms because I may wake up one day and not want to socialize at any of those places anymore.

  27. LOL. I like this article Sonia. I thought this article sounded so serious at the first moment. But when i read it more and more, this is actually a really fun to read article. In my opinion, using WordPress is no doubt the best decision for bloggers because they can have a full control over their blog and contents. I also think that using Twitter or Facebook can be useful if we have good amount of followers that have the same interest with us.