Content marketing experts reiterated the value of understanding a target audience during a panel at Content Marketing World on Thursday.

A panel at the ongoing Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland pointed to understanding target audiences as a fundamental necessity to a successful content marketing strategy.

The panel included Lisa LaCour, vice president of marketing for Outbrain, Amy Laskin, content strategy director for Ogilvy, Michael Pranikoff, global director of emerging media for PRNewsire, and Michael Marzec, president of Smart Business Content Marketing.

Proper time of posting, tone and subject matter all factor into the development of targeted content. For B2B companies targeting decision makers at small- and medium-sized businesses as well as large companies, assuming all readers will have the same response to a piece of content is a potentially crippling mistake. Different prospects look for different things, and content writers must understand these subtle variations to reach everyone.

Researching business owners’ informational needs, preferences and behaviors will guide a website content writer in developing their appropriate news, blogs and landing pages, and it will offer insight on the right distribution channels.

As content marketing has evolved, tailoring pieces solely to search engines has actually started to impact search rankings negatively. In the post-Panda searchscape, websites featuring content clearly developed for its Google’s web crawler are penalized, and websites with original content designed for both readers and search algorithms are rewarded with higher rankings.

Hiring content writers in-house can be problematic, and Content Marketing World experts acknowledge the developing industry, suggesting businesses need to analyze their options critically to make the right decisions on custom content direction. Indeed, Brafton has reported that marketers are increasingly outsourcing SEO solutions and looking for agencies that provide both content and strategic consultancy.

Similar attention must be paid to social media while devising a content marketing strategy. The CMW panel concluded that Facebook, Twitter and any other platform used to distribute content and engage prospects must be subject to a clearly defined and followed strategy.

Additionally, the panel found that some businesses pay too much attention to Facebook. While the platform boasts more than 750 million users around the world, Twitter and Google+ have demonstrated their value in enterprise social media marketing as well. Twitter reported on Thursday that it has surpassed the 100-million user mark, and the company expects further growth moving forward.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.