YouTube is one of the most influential brands on the Web , and it's not even a social media platform per se. Arguably, some Internet users would rather watch videos than read content. However, videos are considered content as well, why? Videos contain brand information as well. From videos to blogs, opportunities for generating strategies for content awareness are vast. Companies are realizing the need to maximize on user engagement and community management in order to gear up towards the age of social business. And with social business, comes the notion of sharing branded content which offers a personal conversation rather than a one-way message. As businesses embrace social media strategies, they become publishers themselves! Why? Because users consume content.

Feeding content to consumers to increase awareness is nothing new. Back in the Mad Men era, consumers are doused with vast information about a product through advertisements. Advertisements being a one-way message doesn’t really offer a personal conversation at all, it just contains a marketing pitch, nothing substantial about the essential facets of the product. Today, it changes with branded content marketing; and with social media platforms in tow, businesses are becoming self-publishers in addition to being thought leaders in their respective industries. Leveraging social media platforms for content marketing allows a business to engage directly with their target niche. Isn't that better than traditional advertising?

To quote the Content Marketing Institute: “93% of marketing professionals create, or plan to create content marketing as part of their overall programs in the next year.” This means that print advertising is plummeting due to a 44% decreased in budget for print ad campaigns and put in large part toward social media and custom publishing (70% have increased their social media publishing budgets over the last 3 years).

What's great about utilizing social media to leverage content is that it can be easily shared. Branded content “distributes” itself when users think it's great and useful content that's worth sharing on their network. The game-changer? Businesses can entice potential customers to acquaint themselves with their products with branded content. Local businesses are the ones that can really benefit from content marketing due to the fact that they can measure results accurately. And as Search Engine Marketing becomes more social, branded content and social media platforms will work in synergy to generate links to search engines’ ranking algorithm. Content marketing is one key aspect to enhance your integrated online marketing strategies, but producing useful content and feeding it to a relevant market niche is another thing! A company's Facebook page or Twitter account is like a pencil, it doesn't present things clearly unless you sharpen it with branded content.