Saturday, February 9, 2013

Content Marketing Makes Sense of Social Media

I recently attended a webinar on content marketing hosted by +Tim Ash of SiteTuners and featuring +Joe Pulizzi.  Joe says marketers are not only publishers, but teachers and story-tellers as well.  The graphic above illustrates Joe’s concept that marketers are all story-tellers now and tell their stories across channels. Joe gave the example of one of the first content marketers as John Deere.  That company had a new concept, a steel-tipped plough versus iron and created its own company magazine, The Furrow, to get the word out.  That magazine now has 1.5 million subscribers in 14 languages.

Contemporary examples of those doing content marketing well include Red Bull, which has its own media house within the company.  Red Bull has a record label, its own video magazine and a content pool of sports, culture and lifestyle material that  that includes a full media catalog, “plug-and-play web clips, documentaries, news pieces, photo shoots, the latest interviews, and accompanying editorials.”  The content pool contains over 50,000 photos and 5,000 videos alone.  Also, The Coca-Cola Company has four full time writers and a team of forty freelancers devoted to content marketing and has documented its strategic plan for content marketing on YouTube as it moves from ‘creative excellent’ to ‘content excellence.”

This trend toward content marketing is not restricted to large consumer brands.  

Emarketer reports in a recent survey that content marketing is the top concern of client-side marketers for 2013, having tied conversion rate optimization and vaulted ahead of social media engagement.  Fully 39% of marketers surveyed indicated that content marketing was their top concern in 2013 and the Content Marketing Institute indicates that 91% of marketers are using content marketing in some form.

Content marketing to me finally makes sense of social media marketing.  Although social media marketing no doubt has some value, firms still wrestle with measurement, how to provide meaningful content, and how to get away from what I call “Groupon Syndrome,” or focusing on short-term promotion versus brand building and engagement.  Enter the concept of content marketing and now the marketer can focus on telling the brand story across channels; add the Integrated Marketing Communications concept of telling a consistent message across channels and it is no wonder marketers are starting to see the value of content marketing.

Content marketing means every brand is in the publishing business now, creating meaningful content to tell the brand’s story and engage the consumer.  Telling the brand’s story cuts across channels and involves not only social media but SEO, Lead Generation and other channels. The content we are talking about is media owned by the company, often times re purposed for many types of marketing communications.  Branding is more important now than ever as the web gives us access to so much information that products and services are in more danger than ever of becoming a commodity.

Part of my job as a professor of marketing is to help make sense of marketing trends and create meaningful frameworks to explain and describe them.  Although social media is fascinating and fun, social media marketing cannot operate in a vacuum.  Content marketing makes social media make sense as a natural vehicle for telling the story of the brand and allowing customers to engage with the brand.  Seeing social media in the context of content marketing, where the same stories are deployed through other media channels, to me legitimizes social media marketing and puts it in context of other media channels.  What do you think? 

 By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.
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