So, you’d like a few tips, yes?

IDG recently issued a series of research briefs on aligning content and topics to social media platforms and buyer interests.  While the research focused on IT vendors and buyers, I’d guess that the findings apply to other markets as well.  One key lesson is that buyers report a significant preference for best practices on blogs.  So, without further ado, here are a few best practices for you, based on the IDG research.  (For the full reports, please visit the IDG Knowledge Hub)

The key lesson is this: align the format and subject matter of the content you offer to the social media platform.  According to IDG, "The number of available marketing content assets offered by vendors has increased by 60 percent over the past five years. Now, with the advent of social networks the rush is on to tie conversations into all that content. But the randomness of these efforts leads buyers to report that only 39 percent of offered links from social conversations to traditional content are relevant, resulting in buyer frustration and lost sales momentum."

Below are the top-ranked content topics and linked content types for a number of popular social media platforms.

1.    On blogs:

a.    Share: Best practices, news and case studies
b.    Link to: Case studies, ads and tutorials

2.    On forums

a.    Share: Evaluations, news, case studies
b.    Link to: Tutorials, free event registration, evaluation version

3.    On Twitter and Microblogs

a.    Share: News, perspective on industry issues, customer support
b.    Link to: Ads, technical knowledge, free event registration

4.    On Social Networks

a.    Share: News, insight on organization/political challenges, customer support and best practices
b.    Link to: Free event registration, ads, ROI calculators and planning worksheets

Overall, when linking to your company’s content from external sites, maintain an even balance between educational and promotional content.  Buyers responded that they prefer educational content about 43% of the time and promotional content 42% of the time. Don’t overdo it with marketing, but make sure people know about the great company behind the tips you’re providing. 

IDG’s research is valuable in initiating discussion about the importance of tailoring content and links to conversation platforms.  However, the results should not be taken as definitive, due to an extremely small sample size (about 100 respondents).  As IDG notes, "These aggregate findings only represent a starting point for discussion.  There is significant variance by investment type, buying role [and] focus."

In the end, despite the ease social media brings to publishing, it’s still important to know your audience and your surroundings when telling your company’s story. 

Contributed by Catharine Morgan.  Follow her @c_morgan