There is a lot of talk about the importance of strong content when using social media for business. Promises report that you can achieve great things with high-quality content. You can start conversations, show expertise, gain visibility, get new customers, spread the word about products and services, build a reputation, and establish trust.

But how, exactly, does content “work?” To get the most out of your stellar content, you have to understand the mechanisms of social media and networking. As it turns out, these methods for engagement are not so different from marketing your knowledge offline.

Content seldom works on it’s own. There are millions of people with great content who do not achieve anything in social media; these people pass by unnoticed or with few results. Yet, with the right understanding and practices, content is a powerful tool.

To explain how to get (not only) your content seen and shared, here are some examples of what has worked for my company and me:

1. Utilize Other Great Content

Example: I read an inspiring article and tweeted it, stating the twitter handle of the author and telling the author how much I appreciated the piece. I asked if she would be interested in also publishing on exploreB2B.

Learning: This is a fairly direct approach, but the advantage of Twitter is that tweets are rarely intrusive. Since they can pass by easily unnoticed, you can choose to ignore whatever does not agree with you.

In my case, I got the author curious and she answered back. We messaged back and forth, ending up talking on Skype about her work and my platform, exploreB2B. This was a great way to first make contact – if all this had taken place after a conference talk, we would all agree on the success of the conference, wouldn’t we?

2. Tweet Your Own Content

Example: I tweeted an article the other day, which inspired a conversation on twitter between a colleague, a fellow marketer (whom I did not know before), and me.

Learning: This conversation resulted in two new articles: one by the marketer and one by me. The interaction also established a deep awareness of each other, far beyond the usual anonymity of a social discovery network like Twitter. It was a nice way to start a day and to get into contact with someone from my target group.

3. Fuel Conversation on Your Published Content

Example: A conversation began on an article I had recently published. I encouraged this conversation to continue and pursue the people involved in the conversation as contacts.

Learning: The conversation thread resulted in contact to a new blogger. I gave some tips (regarding the topic within the original article) and was asked to write a guest article. This was a simple and effective way to connect.

4. Use Content to Inspire Discussion on LinkedIn

Example: I wrote an article titled, ‘If Content is King – Who is Queen?’ and published the link in LinkedIn Groups that were relevant to the topic and question at hand. The trick was that I did not just publish the link. I included further questions within the description of the link that inspired group members to add their insight and participate in a debate. The single link now is still running with over 90 comments, I have been the top influencer in the group for nearly two weeks, and there have been multiple leads to my site.

Learning: LinkedIn groups sometimes seem like a place for spammers to shout. They are not (necessarily). As always with social media, you have to figure out how to connect to people in various groups. In LinkedIn, it is most effective to evoke discussion, rather than to post and retreat. For me, questions and debates work best. If you post something, do not only inform; start a conversation, ask questions, ask for opinions, and take part in existing conversations.

From this one link, I have gained contact to fellow marketers, invitations to relevant groups, and interest surrounding my ideas, experience and company platform. All this, without shouting.

5. Run or Partake in Interviews

Example: My colleague, Erin, is running several interview series on exploreB2B. The current topic is SEO.

Learning: The interviews itself are a great opportunity to connect to chief thought leaders in the chosen topic. The interviews are also highly shareable. They inspire conversation in various social networks (Twitter, Quora, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Pinterest), build trust in our work and expertise, and serve as an easy way to understand the general topics that we discuss and represent on the exploreB2B platform.

The interviews have also opened our eyes about the benefits of being an interviewee.

6. Write an Article About a Person

Example: My co-founder, Jonathan, is interested in technology in the entertainment industry. When we started developing our content marketing strategy, he was actively following the blog of renowned filmmaker and cinematographer, Philip Bloom. In our eyes, Philip was participating in “content marketing” without calling it that. (We’re not even sure if he would know the term.) Yet, he is an example of a great content marketer. The blog inspired Jonathan to create a series called, ‘Content Marketers in Disguise,’ using Philip as his first example.

Learning: The article has run extremely well, we believe, for two reasons. One, we tapped into the large and loyal following of Philip Bloom when he re-tweeted the article (twice). Two, the content of the article was easy to read, pleasant to consume, and relevant to three audiences (content marketers, filmmakers and tech enthusiasts) who do not necessarily, always overlap. The article served as a simple way to get on the radar of previously untapped, but relevant, audiences in the tech and film scene.

7. Make it Easy for Readers to Access Related Content

Example: This article. In this one article, I have linked to previous articles that relate exactly to the topics mentioned, the article profiles of my colleagues, articles written by them, and the blog of one of our influencers (Philip Bloom).

Learning: One article is not enough for your readers to understand who you are, what you do, and where your expertise lies. Give them the opportunity to read other articles you have written. Make it easy for them to learn more about your knowledge and to gain further tips from you. Connect them to people who relate to your business (colleagues, other industry leaders); lead them to relevant, helpful and interesting sources outside of yourself. Not only will your audience begin to visit your social profiles in search of relevant insight, they will begin to see you as a connector to other thought leaders, and share what you provide.

This article was originally published on exploreB2B.