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The imaginero (maker of images) has always found it tricky to make a living.
Even painters we now regard as masters died without fortune and sometimes in poverty. Painting was a trade. It paid as such.
Of course, when means for mass reproduction came along, artists or their gallerists could distribute works that would meet public approval and this made some very rich. But even then, many of the best suffered a lifetime of penury if their works didn’t conform to the tastes of their time.
Fast forward and the emergence of the commercial internet has meant artists can promote themselves. The din is greater than ever and it’s hard for artists to get heard.
However, commerce, the internet, increase in media consumption and social media specifically make for greater demand than ever for visual design. As web design gets both more commonplace and more sophisticated, companies seek to differentiate themselves with better branding, advertising and content marketing.
And perhaps brands are getting serious about patronising new artists?
Whatever time an artist lives in, patronage has always been the surest way to security. Whether of the King of Spain or Charles Saatchi or Debenhams.
However as companies create more and more content in order to appeal to an ever-expanding range of customers and clients, the more internal and external obstacles they are faced with.
Although some companies have the budget to create their own content or outsource its production, the majority feel they don’t have the right organisation or internal structure to utilise the content properly. Retrieving the right content, promoting the content sufficiently and measuring its effectiveness are all major problems that companies are facing right now.
It doesn’t help that channels where content marketing has previously worked before, Facebook’s news feed for instance, are being tweaked to make it tougher for branded content to appear in front of a company’s own audience.
MSLGROUP has recently published a survey entitled Curing the Content Headache in which 100 communications professionals from complex global organisations were asked in April 2014 about the current state of their content marketing strategies.
These are some of the results of that survey.
Adidas has recently announced that it is to create a series of ‘digital newsrooms’ as part of a drive to enhance its real time marketing approach.
It is a strategy that embraces core journalistic principles and puts brands toe-to-toe with mainstream publishers, but is it the right way to plan a content marketing strategy?
There's (obviously) nothing wrong with SEO. The search engines' objective is to help people find what they're looking for.
If you create something that people are looking for, and complete their search, you're all on the same side. Optimising that is good for us all.
But, as with all human things, scarcity and competition naturally set in. If there are only three places on the winners podium, people start to obsess about how to get the edge.
Or how Us Vs Th3m earned loads of links by ignoring traditional search marketing...
Us Vs Th3m is essentially a Tumblr site with a wry eye on popular culture in the digital world. Think Buzzfeed but way more cynical.
If you haven’t heard of the site by name, chances are you’ll be aware of and have probably played certain games that regularly dominate Facebook for an intense period of time. ‘How much are you hated by the Daily Mail?’ and ‘What’s the theme tune of your life?’ for example.
Us Vs Th3m has made hundreds of those types of games and almost all of them have been massive viral smashes. In fact Us Vs Them is quite notable for only being one year old and yet regularly and consistently dominating social media and search engine results pages.
The site may be owned by the Trinity Mirror group, which also publishes the Daily Mirror, People and 240 regional newspapers around the UK making it the country’s biggest newspaper group, but it doesn’t rely on its parent company to do its heavy lifting for it.
It merely has to rely on you and the rest of your friends on Facebook.
I attended BrightonSEO last week and listened to the keynote speech from Trinity Mirror’s product director Malcolm Coles, who had the following to say about the success of Us Vs Th3m’s social and content strategy.
New research from Wisemetrics shows that while on average many pages have seen a drop in organic reach, the top 1% of pages still reached 82% of their fans, more than five times the average.
Marketers around the globe have been making dissatisfied rumblings about Facebook organic reach for a while now. The general consensus being: You’ve got to pay to play.
That doesn’t mean that we’ve got to pay Facebook though...
This is the story of an underdog done good. We all love an underdog, seeing the little guy succeed. And that’s why I enjoyed hearing about how visitwales.com helped turn Wales into a holiday destination to rival Cornwall and the Lake District.
Once upon a time (last week) I attended Sitecore Digital Trendspot and heard from Richard Shearman, Head of Solutions Analysis at Sequence, talking about how they turned visitwales.com into a digital storytelling success story.
Let’s be frank. When you think ‘relaxed holiday fun with plenty of things to do to keep it interesting’, Wales is unlikely to be at the forefront of your mind.
Visit Wales had a big job on its hands – appeal to a diverse audience about a place that’s probably more famous for curry and chips than it is for its glorious beaches or outdoor adventure.
In a move that will both improve the user experience significantly for Facebook users and curtail a branded page’s reach even further, Facebook has explicitly revealed what it will be seeking to crack down upon within its new update.
Facebook first ‘tweaked’ the algorithim in January this year, ensuring that content from the people that users engage with the most is prioritised, ensuring content from a ‘liked’ company’s Facebook page will become a negligible presence.
I discussed last week how your brand can market itself on Facebook in light of the new changes. Facebook has now made it much simpler and cheaper to take out a variety of ad types and ‘boosted posts’.
That’s not to say that your free-to-run Facebook page will no longer be seen by fans, in fact the golden rules of content marketing still apply: if your content is engaging enough and tailored for your specific Facebook audience, then you shouldn’t see too much of a drop-off.
As of last week however, if you’ve been using your Facebook page in a manipulative, click-baiting manner, Facebook will be making things a lot harder for you.
Here are the three areas to steer clear of:
Lots of brands try to newsjack. Rarely do they do it well.
Most often, brands tweet to offer congratulations or join in a relevant holiday or sporting event, with no call to action.
Alex and Alexa, the children's life and style pure play known as the 'the NET-A-PORTER for under 14s', is great at newsjacking. Not just for immediate impact, but to help editorial drive social and search presence.
Here are some examples, including the retailer's recent Prince George inspired range.
Last month I released the Periodic Table of Content Marketing, a kind of visual checklist to help people create the right kind of content to support their business goals. But what is the right kind of content?
The table is an overview of the key elements of content marketing, but it stops short of suggesting specific subject-orientated ideas relevant to your brand / audience.
That’s where James Welsh comes in. He has built a search / suggestion tool based around my table, and it works surprisingly well. I thought I’d introduce it, as well as a few other tried and tested content idea generators. They will help you brainstorm ideas.
So first, onto the tools (click on the screenshots to access them), but be sure to read the section underneath on advanced idea generation. Dan Shure’s post is a tremendous resource for those of you prepared to go the extra mile. The tip I have focused on should save you a lot of time.
Please ignore the header image. Curation is not thieving.
There are many companies that don’t have enough resources to employ a dedicated social media man. It’s also the case that many digital marketing execs take care of social media but don’t necessarily have experience with Twitter.
The most important part of managing a Twitter account is having tools in place to make things easier. Chiefly, HootSuite for Econsultancy, but it could be any of their competitors, to keep track of brand mentions, relevant hashtags and to schedule tweets effectively.
Alongside tools, content creation and curation is important. If you’re not doing this, what will you tweet about.
Again, a lot of companies don’t have the resources for copious content creation. That’s where curation comes in.
I’m by no means a social media guru (a relief?) but I think these ideas for what to whack in a tweet, when you’re busy but desire engagement, can be heeded by many. They are all free, so you’ve no excuses.
Our head of social Matt Owen wrote a comprehensive post on why engagement outside of your website is hard to measure but is worthwhile.
I’ve only given you five simple ideas. The idea is that these will get you thinking about what else you can curate. As always, let me know your thoughts. Oh, and give us a tweet.
Up until now, it’s been a mystery as to how brands can truly make a success of marketing on YouTube.
Largely it’s been a case of trial and error. Of the top 5,000 YouTube channels, only 2% are owned by brands.
This is incredibly frustrating if your company is committed to content marketing and wishes to exploit the many benefits of online video, but are then presented with the stark fact that if you’re not a teenager showing off their latest shopping haul or Rihanna then you might as well give up.
Common sense largely prevails though. The brands that do succeed on YouTube – GoPro, Marvel or Disney all have a strong similarity. They create content that is entertaining, engaging, unique to the channel and informative.
Timeless qualities that will always ensure a channel’s success no matter how much a search algorithm changes.
A few month’s ago I looked at YouTube strategy for brands and it’s made pretty clear that all of a YouTube creator’s positive efforts will help increase a channel’s ‘velocity’. This rather nebulous term is what YouTube is hungry for. Velocity is achieved through sharing, engagement and ultimately subscribers.
This week YouTube has revealed its Creator Playbook for Brands. It’s a massive 100 page tome with a highly detailed seven step approach to content marketing.
Here I’ll be highlighting the explicit set of guidelines YouTube has provided to help brands create successful content.