Original Research

The role of content marketing in social media content communities

Charmaine du Plessis
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 19, No 1 | a866 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v19i1.866 | © 2017 Charmaine du Plessis | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 March 2017 | Published: 05 October 2017

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Charmaine du Plessis, Department of Communication Science, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Background: Content marketing has become a leading marketing technique in digital marketing communication and uses the point of view of consumers to build relationships by creating and sharing engaging content in social media that enhance their daily lives. Existing research on social media communities has focused mainly on social media marketing and virtual brand community perspectives while content marketing’s valuable and unobtrusive role in social media content communities has largely been overlooked.

Objective: The purpose of this article was to investigate content marketing’s role in social media content communities to engage with the target audience in an innate manner.

Method: This study made use of a directed, inductive content analysis of 51 practitioner documents relating to business-to-consumer content marketing practices to add another perspective to existing research on communities in social media. The content analysis was facilitated by using QDA Miner, a widely adopted and reliable qualitative data analysis software programme.

Results: Three categories emerged from the data namely building content communities, platform-specific content and understanding channels. These categories provide sufficient evidence of how brands make use of social media content communities to connect with the target audience in an unobtrusive manner, in addition to being present in virtual brand communities.

Conclusion: The findings make several contributions to the existing literature. Firstly, it provides a clearer distinction between brand and social media content communities. Secondly, it extends conceptions about social media communities to include content communities and, thirdly, it provides sufficient evidence of how content marketing could benefit a brand by naturally becoming part of social media conversations.


branding; content marketing; digital marketing; social media; social media content communities; social media marketing


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