By Jonathan Kantor
Social media and white papers have both earned their label as white-hot marketing vehicles within today’s rapidly changing online environment.
Social media has experienced a significant growth rate relatively quickly. Over the past five years, we’ve witnessed a host of companies establishing a Facebook presence in the same way that websites became the norm in the mid-1990s. For individuals, having a LinkedIn page and adding a Twitter identity to email signatures, contact lists and business cards is no longer just an option; it’s now a social requirement.
Commercial white paper popularity on the other hand has been gradually building over the past 15 years to achieve the same white-hot status as social media. Once the exclusive domain of the large, technically astute enterprise, white papers are now a common marketing tool found in just about every business sector from agriculture to zone planning.
So the question is: Do white papers and social media operate in their own dedicated marketing space or do they complement, support and reinforce each other?
I’m of the belief that social media and white papers complement each other very well.
Before social media, business marketers had a limited number of options to promote their white papers in a cost-effective manner. Sure there were white paper syndicators, but at an average of $30-$100 per lead, only the most well-heeled enterprises could afford to use them on a long-term basis.
Social media complements white papers by providing a no-cost platform for businesses of all sizes to generate leads, build a vast network of followers and find new business opportunities. Today hundreds of new white papers are announced and promoted each week on Twitter. Facebook has become the new way to host a white paper landing page. Because of its predominant business focus, LinkedIn is a great way to leverage a white paper for peer exposure in the same way that in-person networking accomplished at your local chamber of commerce happy hour a decade ago.
On the other hand, white papers also complement social media.
What is one of the best ways to build social media followers? Great content, of course! This includes items such as YouTube video links, audio tracks, podcasts, websites and yes, white papers. In fact, because of their unique and highly valued educational nature, white papers rise to the top of the list as one of the primary ways to generate attention and build your list of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn followers.
So the bottom line with white papers and social media is that one hand washes the other. If you’re looking for new ways to build your social media presence, use a white paper. When you want to generate new leads and readers for your white paper, use social media. When you want to maximize your company brand and online presence, use both.
About the Author: Jonathan Kantor is principal of The Appum Group, “The White Paper Company,” and a 25-year enterprise marketing veteran with over 11 years of white paper marketing expertise. You can read more about “Short Attention Marketing” on his blog at www.WhitePaperPundit.com, and follow him on Twitter at Jonathan_Kantor.