IBM’s VP of Marketing Tami Cannizzaro started day one of SMX east with a bold claim: “Social is the new search.” She didn’t suggest search is obsolete as a channel. She wasn’t even referring to the widely-lauded data that shows social shares influence rank position. She was making a statement about content marketing.

“Content is the fuel of your marketing engine – and all good content is social.” – IBM VP of Marketing Tami Cannizzaro

Content is not only the foundation for SEO, but also “Content is the fuel of your marketing engine – and all good content is social,” said Tami. She observed that brands used to obsess over having a totally consistent voice in all of their content.

What’s winning online today is often the content with a couple cracks (or better, quirks) because it’s personal, and it’s authentic. Here are the top three takeaways:

1. Create content with social advocacy in mind

Tami uses two social advocacy approaches to achieve success, and the first starts with her team. “Let employees share their voices on social,” she advised.  You can do this either by having multiple people manage a social handle, or by sharing and promoting their perspectives related to your brand. She cited Sprinklr as a great example of employee-centric social marketing.

SprinklrSocialExampleSMXEastThe second approach is to get involved with influencer outreach. “I often wonder myself how scalable this is within a marketing team,” she said. But it’s worth it. At IBM, the @mentions and backlinks go a long way, and if it helps an already well known and marketing-crush-worthy brand, every business should invest in finding the influencers in their fields. 

“If social is about discovery, search is for validation. You need content for both.”

Tami reminded marketers to extend these efforts beyond social posts and think about the content on their websites. Employee spotlights and guest posts can go a long way toward upping the website search-friendliness of a brand.

2. Create content consistently (think newsroom)

When Tami advised consistent content, she referred primarily to a calendar.

“Every marketing team should have journalists. They know creative content.”

She advocated deviation from one-note content (whether it’s achieved through format diversity, different perspectives on a subject or all of the above). “Now it’s more about regularly tapping into cultural ethos than voice consistency,” she said.

With that in mind, she revealed that IBM uses a newsroom-like structure to create content (and so does Brafton). The writers on her team follow beats and cover trends – only made possible because they involve content writers and journalists in their marketing.

IBM at SMX East - newsroom content marketing example

3. Have a plan for paid, owned, earned

Every piece of content – for any campaign and channel – should be supported by related assets on related networks. This adds a comprehensive element to increase reach. What’s more, having this system in place really organizes a marketing team – and presents a professional front to all audiences. (At Brafton, this is what we mean by efficient repurposing strategies.)

Tami shared a sneak peek at a sample content plan for IBM. It included topics, formats, owners and channels. (And of course, don’t forget metrics that map to the intent of each original piece.)

Sample Editorial Calendar IBM SMX.jpeg

A couple of bonus insights from Tami:

  • Invest time in building a community. This is the best way to create a network of advocates.
  • Evoke emotion. Don’t be afraid to stir something up in your readers or viewers. The #ThrowLikeAGirl campaign surprised some people, but it inspired them to act. (And at Brafton, we believe safe content is boring content.)
  • Make connections. A little good-old-fashioned offline networking can translate into online wins.

Check out more of Brafton’s #SMX coverage, and tell us how you add personality to content in the comments!