Why Content Marketing and Social Media are a Powerful Match

Content Marketing 101

This is an installment in the Content Marketing 101 series.

Creating stellar content for your marketing is great. But great content doesn’t (quite) distribute itself. It needs vehicles for people to pass it along, discuss its merits, argue over its controversies, blog it, mash it, tweet it and even scrape it. Which is, of course, where social media comes in.

Social media didn’t create content marketing, but it’s an unsurpassed tool for getting it distributed. On the flip side, great content gives social media life, by giving people something more interesting to talk about than what they’re ordering right now at Starbucks.

Social media is the third tribe’s sacred hearth

The third tribe—the new breed of smart, savvy online entrepreneurs—are creatures of the social web. Gathering points like forums, Twitter and Facebook are the campfires that pull the tribe together. Some of us have been convening around digital campfires for a long time. (I found my first in 1989, before the invention of the World Wide Web.)

Social media has grown so explosively because connection is probably the deepest drive we have. The campfire gives us a place to share information about the day’s hunt, a forum to air out the tribe’s differences, even a place for us to consider new and better ways to build campfires.

No, it’s not a utopian picture. Our campfires are places for bickering and malice as much as for inspiration and community. But without a connecting place, without a central spot to bring us together for conversation, there is no tribe.

Our gathering places are never perfect. They’re human. Which is what makes them so extraordinary.

Great content is the third tribe’s saga and story

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the Yanomamo in the Amazon rainforest or friends at a barbecue in Teaneck, New Jersey. Anywhere people gather around fires, they’re going to tell stories.

It’s in the nature of the human animal to play with language, to create fables and songs and nonsense to entertain ourselves with. And it’s in our nature to make beautiful objects and embellish anything that will stand still long enough.

These instincts are alive today in great writing and imagery being shared all over the Web. The impulses that make us reweet a blog post or a fantastic Flickr image are the same ones that bring a superb Navajo weaver renown across four states.

Wonderful words and beautiful images capture our attention, no matter who we are or what technology we might have at our disposal. Our impulse to create, and our desire to remark on skillful creations, haven’t changed much since we started walking upright.

The third tribe is on the move

In addition to our passion for connection, the other remarkable human trait is adaptability.

No other animal can adapt to as many different ecosystems and environments as we can. We’ve built dwellings in Antarctica and in space. We’ve survived the Ice Age and world wars, tsunamis and earthquakes, and even Joan Rivers winning Celebrity Apprentice.

When the environment is stable, we get complacent. We settle into calm, self-satisfied habits for thousands of years at a time.

But when the earth starts to shake, we wake up again: the same smart, watchful, inventive and dangerous monkey we’ve always been at heart.

I’ve heard the current economic meltdown described as “economic climate change,” which I like a lot. We don’t know where it’s going to get unbearably hot and where the temperature will plunge to permafrost. The system is too complex to predict, except we know it’s going to change and it’s likely to change fast.

But some things won’t change. If we can sing a remarkable song, others will gather to hear it. And now, digital campfires connect us from Kuala Lumpur to Iceland to Dallas.

If I create content that’s worthy of attention, the world will show up and talk about it. I don’t know how they’ll show up in 5 years (or 5 months), but I know they will.

My job is to make something amazing, then use the global network of digital campfires intelligently to find the people who will love and appreciate it.

How about you? What songs and legends are you bringing to your campfire?

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.

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Reader Comments (61)

  1. says

    This is beautiful! I love how you have used the beauty of language to make an excellent point. Social media is providing us a vehicle to share and grow as human beings. This vehicle can be used in many ways, but ultimately it helps us grow as human beings, and we walk away from the experience changed.

    Well done!
    Jennifer Fong

  2. says

    Great post Sonia!

    You’ve connected social media with human nature very well.

    Nowadays, social media acts as one of the most powerful
    online communication tool globally.

  3. says

    I’m currently bringing in marketing stories into the campfire, some may already know but some doesn’t, but both always bring in new ideals and concepts that really make the campfire last the whole night long, just look at all the launches this few months… of course not everyone is buying them, but still the discussion really make the online marketing world rock… don’t you agree?

  4. Robyn Durst says

    Great analogy; likening social media to campfires and content to stories. It is very true that one couldn’t make it without the other. I enjoy “gathering” around my campfires (Twitter, Facebook) every day to find out what people are talking about, and I hope that they gain something from my experiences also. As marketers, we need to understand how people use Social media, what content they desire, and that if we only use one, content or social media, we’re just scraping the tip of the iceberg.

  5. says

    My job is to make something amazing, then use the global network of digital campfires intelligently to find the people who will love and appreciate it.

    This is what sets you apart. The innate tendency that separates the rare few from the many. A lot of people gather at the campfire (social media) to say “lookit me, lookit me” but they don’t have a story to tell and haven’t made something amazing first.

  6. says

    I’m bringing the stories that remind us of what you’ve described here… we can’t know, we can only explore. We can only know that we must share and be open, that we must cultivate consciousness that allows us to move forward bravely and sustainably. How else but with storytelling?

  7. says

    Brilliant advice and message, Sonia.

    Your song and voice become more (?!) remarkable with each piece you create. It’s both a privilege and delight to experience them.

    Thanking my lucky stars (and Brian) for regular access to your soul-stirring arias. :-)

  8. says

    From the time I started reading your blog at Remarkable Communications, you have been a role model for me, showing me the way.

    You have a way of beautifully telling how one thing is like another. And what we can learn from that. The incredible thing is that I will be talking about content marketing and storytelling on talkshoe.com today. What amazing synchronicity!

    I absolutely love the campfire analogy. Thank you for shining a light for us. I’m with Mary Anne. You should keep singing.

  9. says

    You really get to the heart of Social Media- the transference of our innate social nature to the digital realm, which is the key to both understanding the purpose of Social Media and to making the best use of it.

    Greg @ iGoMogul

  10. Conor says

    Hey Sonia,

    What a refreshing image :)

    I want to grab my guitar and light a fire right now!


  11. says

    Sonia — seems like you’re really taking the lead in refining and defining this 3rd tribe of “Content Marketers.” It’s really the best of the cool kids and marketers, isn’t it?

    What I most appreciate about this article is the way you describe content as “wonderful words and beautiful images.” Copyblogger doesn’t usually make these claims about content — it’s usually about the marketing and usefulness of it all.

    If there’s no beauty in what we create, then will be no permanence, and the tribe will move on.

  12. says

    Excellent post Sonia! Me thinks digital campfire more cool name than social media.

    I loved this so overlooked factor of like: “Our gathering places are never perfect. They’re human. Which is what makes them so extraordinary.” In an age of virtual hypocrisy and companies / individuals trying to portray themselves as flawless and perfect, this piece of advice is something very refreshing.

  13. says

    Great post Sonia,
    The digital campfire has great imagery for me having been an endurance horse rider over the years and knowing that the best advice and tricks of the trade were always shared around the campfire.
    Thanks also for reinforcing the value of content again. For those of us who are content creators it helps to realise again that we’re actually writing stories. The kind of story that people want to tell others. The one on one sharing of brilliant ideas around the digital campfire

  14. says

    I am trying to bring bloggers together regionally at my campfire. Which is an interesting topic. I do believe you need great content to do much of anything. Great storytellers have been around forever. Some of them are the greatest singers of all time.

  15. says

    Sonia, love the metaphor. I also like how you acknowledge that the campfire involves bickering and malice as well as inspiration and community. If we’re going to write, we need to have a grasp on human nature.

  16. says

    Sonia, gr8 analogy. You make me smile, and think about things on a deep level, all at the same time…and I’m not good at multi-tasking like that.

    You raise a good point about ‘economic climate change’. The reason we’re all talking at the campfires is because we don’t feel in control of our lives anymore. Everything’s so interrelated that when one industry fails, another feels the pain and we wonder what the heck we did we do?

    Having a global campfire helps us talk and relate and find solutions like never before. Truly a tsunami change to our well-being as a species, if we handle it with respect and common sense.

    Did I miss something here – how come the ‘3rd’ tribe? Where’s one and two?

  17. says

    My bad, I skimmed that one too fast, you mean the “tribe that forms around ethical business practices, effective persuasive communication that actually sells something, respectful relationships with customers, and a commitment to keeping the White Hat on at all times?”

    I believe there’s a huge campfire made up of a lot of us 3rd tribers. We’ve been there all along, now we are vocal and visible.

  18. says

    Since I’ve spent a lot of time around actual campfires, this image resonates. You’ve really given form to my new-to-social-media sense that, wherever you are, humans run on stories. We may run on other things, too, but we the stories we tell have a lot to do with the way we live (and the other way around, too). And yeah, the stories aren’t always inspiring, but sometimes they are, and that’s life, too.

  19. says

    Sweet post. Those two are not only a good match, they are bound each other. With the balance of the two of them, the impact is stronger. By the way, your language is so ‘calmly colorful’, I like it.

  20. says

    Posting article with great quality and content does bring traffic from social media.Social media is a boon to bloggers.

  21. says

    Some say that social media has been over-exaggerated on its importance, and I respectfully disagree with that remark. The idea is not to indulge in social media 24 hrs a day, but the strategy to implement it in our writings; make it a tool to reach others in a faster, effective way. Both content + social media should go hand in hand. Thanks for sharing.

    Social Media/Blogging

  22. says

    In around 24 hours, my beautiful new website will bring a raft of business stories together. My community is small, vital and growing. Your article read like a good omen, Sonia. Thank you! :)

  23. says

    As an anthroplogy student with a BSc in Computer Science, I really get your picture.

    Seth Godin has an interesting talk related to this on TED.

  24. says

    At our Celtic Bards School we try to share the message that “everyone is a bard”, and your article beautifully explains how this can work so simply today.

    One request I have with Facebook users is, can we have more of “your” stories rather than what those zillions of applications say you are. Does anyone agree with me that people on Facebook seem to be posting less blogs, photos and videos but much more of their results from those Borg like applications?

  25. says

    Exactly. People who make content should try to make their “thing” amazing and extraordinary. A very nice and quite eloquent post. Thanks.

  26. says

    Sonia: yes, I know I’m late to these threads, but I simply had to say how much I enjoyed it and how your words resonated with me. I, too, have been using the ‘campfire’ analogy, but with a different twist. When explaining to my spouse about how Content Marketing interacts with Social Media, I told her that Social Media is like customers gathering around a campfire…and Content Marketing is the stories that marketers share to engage with the customers.
    She got it! The analogy rang especially true for us — we met at 15 and 13 years old as…camp councilors. And yes, after 16 years of marriage and three kids, we still sing camp songs (to allude to another of your metaphors!).

    Thanks for sharing some great stuff!


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