Let’s be honest: No company has truly seen success overnight. Some have seen faster improvements, true. Others used content marketing to get where they are today.
Take SproutSocial, for example. If you look at their “About” page, you will see that they have more than 16,000 customers using their services at any one time.
Their team has also grown into a powerhouse. With 200 employees, it’s no wonder. But how exactly did they arrive at this point?
Justyn Howard, the CEO of the company, needed a tool to make communication across social media more efficient. He was tired of logging in into multiple accounts to respond to customer messages.
But what he found was not good enough. The tools he stumbled upon concentrated more on individuals instead of brands. Thus, Sprout Social, with its many business-oriented features, was born.
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What he found, however, is that other companies were not yet ready to do business with him. Not a lot of them, at least. He had a couple of customers who were interested in the project from the start.
SproutSocial offers a way to manage all of your social media accounts from one interface.
It includes scheduled publishing across platforms, insights, analytics, content calendars, and many other features. You can check them out here if you want to find out more details.
His tool helped others manage their social media in a more efficient manner. Thus, he had access to information from several business partners.
He saw what worked for them. And what he saw was content marketing put to good use.
The business arrangement he made was mutually beneficial. He provided the tools to get things done. Then, he saw companies put those tools to work. They started creating content which went on their social media sites.
A big part of content marketing comes from leveraging social media. Companies had much better control over their engagement and analytics. Publishing relevant content became easier across platforms.
Sprout Social put its business partners' tactics to good use. They started publishing their own content. They became thought leaders in their field with helpful articles and infographics.
Look at the success metrics of some of their articles:
- 4 Steps for Creating a Social Media Calendar – 4,911 shares across many platforms, 2,900 only from StumbleUpon.
- How to Find Popular Hashtags on Twitter – 3,461 shares, 1,600+ on Twitter, obviously.
- How to Use Hashtags on Every Social Media Network – 4,514 shares, 1,400 from Twitter. Facebook also got them a lot of engagement – 750 likes and shares, 360 comments. What a bustling community!
- Their most successful article is “Always Up-To-Date Social Media Image Sizes“, with a whopping 7,948 shares!
As you can see, providing easily digestible content increased their social attention. Informative content that is straight to the point helps others see you as a credible source.
Corporations and small businesses alike sought their services. It’s no wonder Sprout Social is now used by companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.
But social media and IT giants are not the only ones doing business with him nowadays. Remember, they have 16,000 different customers! Dove, Zipcar, MailChimp, and even Stanford University can be found among them.
Of course, just posting informative articles about social media features didn’t get them anywhere. If you’re in the business, you know people nowadays want more engagement from their content.
For example, Microsoft found that the average, modern Internet user has less attention span than a goldfish. Let that sink in. 77% of people between 18 and 24 use their phones for entertainment when they have nothing to do.
And it’s not surprising. Vine has popularized the six-second video. Instagram has created Boomerang, an app that helps you create one-second videos. Goldfish have an attention span of nine seconds.
In this day and age, people want their information to be straightforward. So they can go ahead and consume the next bit of information. Information goes around at an accelerated rate.
Sprout Social noticed this from what data they gathered on their business partners. They found that to be successful in content marketing, your material needs to be diverse.
And their content sure is varied. Here are some of the things they usually put out:
- The usual listicles – These always find success because they play on people’s desire to know information more quickly. You’re more likely to read an article called “5 Easy Ways to Bake a Cake” than “How to Bake a Cake from Scratch”.
- Data – Remember the mutually beneficial business between Sprout Social and other companies? They provide useful metrics on their site about what social media trends were favorable. Such data gives a way for industries (e.g. retail) to target their promotions better.
- Infographics – These are our favorites, too. Infographics provide an even faster way to digest information such as statistics, trends, or news – “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Why not make it worth ten thousand with a well thought-out scrollable picture?
- Guides – More informative than a short article. They go in-depth about a niche part of social media, or even Social Sprout’s own tool. “How-to” articles are usually part of this category.
- Webinars – When it comes to engagement, webinars are probably the best thing you could do. It doesn’t get more engaging than having a professional doing Q&As and similar activities with their public. It also makes the company seem more humane.
Of course, none of these would be possible if they didn’t engage with their audiences. Interacting and commenting together with their fans on social media was crucial. They said it themselves:
“Our platform is packed with handy features but stays out of the way to let brands quickly engage with people and build lasting relationships”.
Sprout Social is one of those companies that understand the value of mutual business relationships.
They create the tools; others provide them with the users. They create information; others provide them with the data. This symbiotic link between companies gives us a better understanding of why content marketing is as successful as it is.
We’ve also learned that creating relevant and engaging content is essential. Engaging – that’s the key word. If your crowds stand idly by and just stare at your headlines, nothing will come of it.
What do you think about how Sprout Social … sprouted? Yes, my comedic act could use a little work.
Do you think they could do anything better? Leave your opinions in the comment section below.
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