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There’s a lot you can control about how people see, perceive and experience your online brand messages.
But one thing you have very little influence over is where they’ll be when they do so or what device they’ll be using.
I’ve written previously on the importance of basing your content strategy on user scenarios rather than personas; figuring out where your average user is going to be when they come across your website is just as important as working out who they are.
Content marketing is a big deal, but the term will disappear as we realise all marketing is defined by its content.
Econsultancy's Chris Lake made a similar point when recently introducing a list of great content from brands. He argued that the difference between advertising and content is moot.
Shouldn’t all advertising be thought of as at least one of: funny/useful/inspiring/informative etc? Obviously the answer is yes, but the reality is a little different.
Content marketing is still a hugely popular term. One can point to tens of thousands of Google searches every month, the jagged rise of the term shown on Google Trends, and the astounding success of Lake’s periodic table of content marketing, which has been shared more than 5,000 times in less than a week.
The broader trend though is a consumer enabled by the internet to become ever more informed, an instantaneous autodidact on a previously unimaginable scale. Basically, savvier than ever.
So how do brands make sure that savvy customers’ power is appropriated? The answer is through communities, through providing content that effectively takes ownership of a particular question or problem. This can be as simple as ‘should I buy a Nissan Leaf?’ (read on for more) or ‘how do I care for my baby?’.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
51% of brands find extracting insights and data from real-time social marketing a challenge.
Almost two-thirds of brand marketers say that monitoring trends and headlines is essential for best practice real-time community management in social media. Yet over half say getting real-time data and insights is the biggest obstacle.
This finding comes from a recent survey carried out by immediate future asking B2C and B2B brands how they are managing real-time communications in social media.
Whether you believe that real-time social engagement is the future of marketing or just a fad, right now there is no greater means of increasing brand perception and building customer relationships then through social channels.
I’ve written a lot about content strategy over the past decade. I’ve also highlighted various niche tactics that can help content creators to succeed, as well as plenty of examples of excellent content. But I haven’t created many visualisations, and recently I have been keen to do one.
Surprisingly, nobody has yet created a periodic table for content marketing, so I thought I’d have a go.
Before I introduce it, allow me to doff my hat at Dmitri Mendeleev, who first published the periodic table of elements. I’ll also nod in the direction of Danny Sullivan, who created one based around SEO success factors.
Let me also say that I hope that this is helpful, as the world is awash with dubious infographics and I really didn’t want to produce something just for the sake of it.
The usual caveats apply: there will be obvious omissions, possibly duplicated symbols, and other schoolboy errors. I shall fix these things in a future iteration, so please raise a flag if you spot anything.
Ok then, let’s take a look at the table, and I’ll explain my thinking along the way…
Although founded in 1939 as Timely Comics, the modern version of Marvel Comics that all fanboys know and love today was launched in 1961. With Fantastic Four, Spider-man, Avengers and X-Men all first appearing on comic book pages in the first half of the 60s.
With the arrival of the digital age, the expectation was that this 75 year-old company, whose very business is completely ingrained in traditional print media, would just be left to wrinkle and brown like the early-90's Ghost Rider comics I have boxed away in my attic.
However this has been far from the fate of mighty Marvel! (I can get away with exclamation marks here because I’m writing about comic books).
Marvel has played a huge part in the push to build a bridge between print and digital content since mid 2012 by revolutionising the way comic books are consumed, through innovative app design and comprehensive online and offline access to its brand new and vintage comics.
Marvel has also shown incredible skill in rebuilding its own brand through expert content marketing and becoming a peerless heavyweight in the summer blockbuster market.
How does Marvel market its huge amount of content online? Through its many and varied social media channels each offering unique content, tailored to the respective platform.
Let’s take a look at how Marvel uses Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter to ‘make everyone’s Marvel’.
Nintendo’s third quarter financial results aren’t normally essential reading for a content marketer, but this quarter is different.
Nintendo is struggling; the Wii U has been a disaster (I love it, but sales have been terrible) and the DS isn’t selling in the numbers it was.
Mobile disrupted Nintendo’s market and the ’what can save Nintendo?’ debate is coming down to whether they should take their amazing IP (Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, et al) to mobile platforms they don’t own, or to fight for the space they’re in.
Well it has decided to bet on mobile, but not in the way you might have predicted, and how it plays out could be interesting for content marketers.
Recently, we ran our first roundtable session of the year in Singapore with 25 marketing professionals engaged in a candid discussion on content marketing.
These sessions are of a much smaller scale in comparison to our annual Digital Cream events, but it’s something we will occasionally be running throughout the year.
It's an initiative to keep our communities and like-minded peers a little more connected, united and close knitted when it comes to exchanging experiences, sharing of insights, benchmarking with others, etc.
Anyone near the world of content marketing understands the importance of writing. Well-chosen words strung together with care are the heart of any modern SEO strategy.
Current and topical writing in blog posts help businesses become relevant for current and prospective customers.
If you are one of those people, you probably also understand one other hard truth: A lot of the stuff we write doesn't really get read. People are busy, and it's hard to pay attention to a whole blog post and certainly a whole book with everything else clamoring for attention.
But what if a reader could read, and totally comprehend, a 300-word post in 30 seconds? Before that truck commercial is over, the whole blog is read.
Last year I watched a panel debate on the following question: “Is it content, or is it an advertisement?” The panelists went round and round in circles for an hour, and there was no conclusion. My own thinking is along the lines of “it doesn’t really matter, and it’s probably both.”
I happen to think that we have entered a new golden age for advertising. The very best ads are conceived as shareable content experiences, and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible.
Unfortunately most TV and radio ads are still utterly intolerable, but I feel that the bar has been raised in recent years, driven by YouTube, social media, audience participation, and aspirations to be more creative. The best ads are anchored around compelling content. Execution, as with most things, is paramount. Combine the two and you might have a big hit on your hands.
There is a flipside: a lousy idea executed brilliantly is still a lousy idea. If the content is underwhelming then you will have to pay to gain reach. So much for earned media. If you are paying a small fortune to seed your content then you’re very much in the realms of paid media. I call this ‘the shareability gap’, and I believe that brands should invest in creativity, not media.
If a brand has paid for the content, then it pretty much wants you to buy something, or at the very least like it a little bit more, but that doesn’t mean that the content has to suck.
Here are some non-sucky content marketing campaigns that I’ve seen recently. I’ve taken quite a broad brush approach here with regards to formats: there are ads, pop-up installations, photographic collections, blogs, and helpful guides. I like the ideas and the execution. Have a look and do let me know what you think...
Over the past week, I have received a couple of pieces of email marketing that just didn’t read very well and it got me thinking about copywriting, and how vital it is to be done correctly.
Now please don’t take this the wrong way. There was nothing exactly wrong with this particular email's copy per-se, nothing that I could put my finger on exactly.
But they just didn’t read very well and to be honest, that made me doubt the credibility of the business, let alone the marketing campaign.
I do realize that I may be quite unique in these instances, as many people who are not interested in the industry, or indeed writing, may not notice.
To be honest, I blame my hatred of terrible spelling and grammar on Facebook and other social media platforms, where I am forced to look at it every day. It’s a shame.
However, I thought I would share my thoughts on the blog just in case anyone else agrees. And by ‘my’ thoughts, I mean some great tips taken from our Email Marketing Best Practice Guide, which has just been released today.
In February 2011 the first Panda Google algorithm update affected search results and changed the way SEO professionals and webmasters needed to think about optimizing websites.
The goal of Google Panda was to lower the rank of 'low-quality' websites that had thin content and increase rankings of higher quality and more authoritative websites. It was the beginning of the end of 'SEO content'.
Since then, and after more than a dozen updates to the Google Panda algorithm, websites have exponentially had to improve the quality of their content. There are various ways people speculate Google deems a website quality including the depth of the content, engagement metrics on pages, social sharing and the quality of websites linking.
While content creation might be the marketing strategy du jour, creating unique and creative stories is just half the battle.
Getting people to actually read and engage with your content is the most important - and difficult – task.
With the popularity content marketing is seeing, brands risk creating a tide of ‘content congestion’, an overload of content that leads many to ignore it altogether.
Even the most engaging stories can get lost in the flurry of newsletters and social updates that are pumped out daily from brands.
So how can you make sure that your content doesn’t get lost in the shuffle?