This week Forbes contributor Steve Olenski posted an article on the “catastrophic social media content marketing mistakes marketers are making.” Naturally, we were intrigued. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the point Olenski was trying to make is central to one of Sailthru’s key philosophies: content marketing’s not only about lead generation, it’s about cultivating your brand to develop meaningful relationships with your audience.

Olenski’s point is that marketers are too heavily weighting the sale. An especially interesting sentiment he shared is that the blatant sale or lead is the goal rather than telling a consumer a story and building brand loyalty through content. That’s a depressing reality in a field historically filled with expert storytellers aiming to create lifelong relationships with their customers beyond the immediate monetary gain.

While there is certainly more pressure than ever for marketers to deliver tangible ROI (which could account for many surveyed to have simply clicked the lead gen/direct sales box), without an emphasis on relationship building through a content marketing strategy, the long-term brand loyalty opportunity with those generated leads is left on the table.

Leveraging content marketing as a prime opportunity to nurture and maintain relationships with existing (and new!) customers via relevant communications can be much more valuable in the long haul. Not everyone’s bosses might be ready to accept that reality, but they’re getting closer.

Marketing was – and still should be – about a personal relationship between the brand and the customer. Content marketing and social media used merely as a selling opportunity is transparent to today’s sophisticated audience that wants to have a dialogue rather than be pushed a message. Today, customers are smarter than ever. To underestimate them and deny them the relationship they want is only to a brand’s detriment.

After all, it’s better to have a select, loyal customer base who is consistently engaged than a herd of disengaged potential customers.