Content is king. As you’ve no doubt read in many places before, content is one of the core elements of B2B social media marketing success. Content is also crucial for lead nurturing, SEO and other online marketing initiatives.

But producing content is expensive. Producing great content is even more expensive. What brands have done it well—and what can you learn from them? How can you recycle / re-use / re-purpose content to stretch your investment? What are the current best practices in content creation? What forms of content are most popular with buyers?

Get the answers to these questions and more here in a dozen of the best content marketing guides of the past year.

Brands that have mastered content marketing by iMedia Connection

Reporting that “content marketing has reached a tipping point within the marketer’s toolkit…nine out of 10 marketers are (now) utilizing some kind of content marketing in their overall strategy, and more than half plan to increase spending for content-related marketing over the next 12 months,” Rob Rose highlights the content strategies of three brands. It’s an excellent article, though unfortunately Rob’s first example is Kodak. Oh well, one does not thrive by good content marketing alone.

Content Marketing Strategy for B2B Software Vendors: Starring the ‘New’ White Paper by Highly Competitive – Software Industry Insights

Noting that studies consistently show that “the most sought-out and influential content for B2B technology customers during decision-making buying cycles…in every study, #1 is the White Paper,” Julie Hunt explains the origins of white papers, what makes for an effective white paper (from the buyer’s perspective), how white papers fit into a broader content marketing strategy, and the attributes of the “new” white paper for today’s buying environment.

Why Your Social Media Campaign is Performing at 1/7th of Its Potential by Business2Community

Citing research showing that “Social media campaigns with a robust content marketing strategy provide approximately seven times the number of leads/conversions as a social media campaign without,” Chad Pollitt shows how content marketing positively affects conversion rates, SEO, referral traffic and branding.

How to get the most out of content creation by iMedia Connection

Author and frequent best-of honoree Rebecca Lieb writes that “what smart marketers who invest time and dollars into content creation know is that reusing and recycling that content can far extend the reach of their message and the ROI of their spend,” and explains how to repurpose content without repeating yourself.

Why Content Marketing Fails by Geoff Livingston

Geoff Livingston contends that a lot of content fails because…it’s marketing. He argues that, to be successful with this strategy, “Marketers need to create compelling content — specifically, interesting and factual stories. They need to adapt best practices from the journalism field, and bridge the gap between corporate interest and market needs for valuable information.”

The Life of an Article on the Web by Elliance

A clever little diagram illustrating the relationship between authoring, syndication, dissemination and consumption of an online article, designed to demonstrate “exactly how an optimized article can find its way to your target audience.”

Getting savvy with content creation by iMedia Connection

Rebecca Lieb (again) provides valuable guidance on using content aggregation and curation for marketing, noting that producing engaging content is the top challenge marketers say they face in content marketing, but “The problem isn’t (having) enough content, it’s knowing what content merits time and attention.” And in another notable article on content marketing (Whose job is content?), Rebecca writes that while “there are certainly plenty of possible roles and responsibilities that can oversee, or play a role in, content marketing” such as the CMO, content or editorial director, blogger, social media guru or PR professional, “Companies that really buy in to content marketing are increasingly taking the ‘everyone’ approach.”

Fuel to the content marketing fire: McKinsey quantify changes in the purchase funnel by steveseager.com

Steve Seager cites McKinsey research on changes in the traditional purchase funnel and the corresponding value of content marketing in addressing this; the study shows that “just before people are ready to buy they enter stage of ‘active evaluation’. In this stage, the funnel actually widens as people actively research and consider all the options before making their final purchase decision…People at the ‘active evaluation’ stage of their decision making cycle are the closest to buying. So it makes sense to focus there…They do not want, or respond to, advertising, so why advertise? People at that stage want valuable, meaningful information that helps them with their decision. So why not give it to them?”

Lower Your Cost Per Lead! The 3 Pronged Attack To Inbound Marketing by KISSmetrics

Explaining that “Rather than working hard to reach out to cold and potentially unqualified leads, inbound marketing is the process of getting your message out to warm, receptive leads who are actively searching for what you’re selling,” Sherice Jacob lays out a three-pronged inbound marketing attack utilizing blogging, social media and content marketing.

The 22 Best Infographics We Found In 2011 by Co.Design

Suzanne LaBarre shares 22 of her favorite infographics from last year (click on the thumbnails at the top of the article to scroll through), illustrating everything from “a metaphorical chart of how water flows from the source to the consumer (to) the spikes and dips of the Dow Jones Industrial Average rendered as notes on a musical scale.”

Content best practices for 5 marketing channels by iMedia Connection

Writing that “Generating and promoting quality content can have search engine optimization (SEO) benefits, enable your company to communicate brand and product stories, and drive brand impressions as the content is shared,” John Faris details best practices for integrating content marketing with SEO, email marketing, Facebook, blogger outreach and multimedia content curation.

2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends [Research Report] by Content Marketing Institute
***** 5 STARS

Content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi shares a treasure trove of content marketing statistics and facts, among them:

  • • The three most popular forms of content marketing are articles (used by 79% of marketers), social media other than blogs (74%) and blogs (65%).
  • • At the other end of the spectrum, just 15% are using mobile-specific content, while 14% produce digital magazines and 10% participate in virtual conferences.
  • • The top three channels for sharing content are Twitter (74%), LinkedIn (71%) and Facebook (70%).
  • • Marketers have the highest confidence that in-person events, webinars/webcasts and case studies are effective tactics. They are evenly split on the effectiveness of social media however.
  • • The two biggest challenges marketers cite in content marketing are producing quality content that “engages prospects/customers” (41%) and producing enough content (20%).