Are social media marketing and content marketing two disparate entities, or could they perhaps be a marriage made in heaven?

Unfortunately, many brands approach both as if one has nothing to do with the other. The simple fact is that social media marketing cannot function without content. If you have no content, you have nothing to share, tweet or post. Without valuable content, you cannot drive engagement on social media. Therefore, it only stands to reason that content serve as the heart of any successful social media marketing campaign.

With that said, unlike traditional content marketing, content within the sphere of social media marketing must serve specific purposes. To be effective, content for social media marketing must be designed to fit the parameters of specific platforms and, furthermore, must be developed to either generate discussion or provide an open dialogue for current customers. The tips below will guide you through the process of bringing social media and content marketing together.

1. A/B test content for effectiveness with your audience.

Simply publishing content on social media and hoping it sticks is not an effective plan. Testing a variety of content and messages across different networks can help you to determine which type of content resonates best with your audience.

If you only publish one piece of content and you do not receive the response you expected, you may never know exactly what was wrong with it. A/B testing can give you the insight you need to determine how to best connect with specific audiences.

2. Optimize content for specific social media networks.

Your audience can choose from a range of different social media networks. Whether it's Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, each social media network has its unique audience and features. Ignoring these unique qualities is tantamount to disaster in terms of social media marketing.

By contrast, taking the time to ensure that the content you publish on each platform is optimized for that specific channel will give you a far greater chance to connect with the audiences most likely to frequent that platform.

For instance, while Twitter has a strict 140-character limit and demands concise but powerful content, content on Facebook is far more flexible, but typically requires the inclusion of a photo or video in order to gain traction.

3. Tap your audience for ideas.

Take the time to ask your followers and fans for suggestions regarding the types of content that interests them. There are also tools you can leverage to determine the types of content most likely to gain traction in your social media marketing, such as Nexalogy, which can generate a map of the types of topics that your followers and fans are discussing.

Social media provides a venue for giving your content its own voice. With careful planning, you can bring content marketing and social media together to create a highly successful social media marketing campaign.