Tag Archives: social media

Content Marketing and Social Media Predictions for 2012

Thanks to our friends over at Content Marketing Institute, who have complied 150+ predictions for 2012 in the field (proudly, MY field) of content marketing and social media marketing.

Magic Eight Ball for 2012



No shocker, the smart money is on content filling a larger role in the lives of marketers, including the fueling of their enhanced social media efforts.

But read on here, and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Social Marketing is a Content Party

time means holiday party time.   Although in celebration of a wedding anniversary, my wife and I attended a terrific party on 11.11.11 (their 11th anniversary – congrats again, Diana and Doug!).  Country club setting, liberally-flowing drinks, uniquely prepared and presented food, a live band — and most of all, a chance to re-connect with old friends and to make new ones.

It’s this last element listed that sparked in me the notion that social marketing is like a cocktail party (no libations necessary):  people gather in a location, most often invited, to re-connect with old friends and to make new ones.

And while they’re there, what do they do?

Tell stories.  Relate to one another.  Introduce sets of friends to others.  Share personal tidbits.  Communicate.

Now, consider then what most Brands do when invited to become part of this party.

Offer discounts.  Ask to be ‘liked.’  Tell the same selfish story time and again.  Never ask about the consumers they’re trying to friend.  Shout “buy me, buy me!”  Ignore newly make friends in search of new conquests.  Never offer anything meaningful to the conversation.

Imagine if a live person acted in the manner of some Brands at a real party – not only would he quickly find himself alone, there would be whispers amongst the other party-goers about what a lout he is, criticizing what he’s done, his boorish behavior.

And that’s precisely what happens to Brands who don’t ‘get’ the social marketing party.

What’s worse, they’ll likely not be invited back to many parties, alienating those friends-to-be.

Contenting Marketing can help your Brand (and you) with the social etiquette of social marketing.  After all, if social marketing is a place for friends to gather, engage, re-connect and forge new relationships, then Content must be the language they speak, the driver of longer term ‘friendships’ between consumers and Brands.

  1.  Listen.  When at a party, you understand the tone and tenor of conversations by listening first.  Find out who is saying what about you, about your competitors, but most importantly, about themselves – what they want, need, desire, aspire to.
  2. Strategize.  Think first about why you’re ‘going’ to this party, what you’d like to achieve.  Then do the same for your customers, ask why THEY are there and what their goals are.  Ask yourself under what circumstances your customers would like you there….and prepare to deliver on that.
  3. Plan.  Once your strategy is laid out, create a plan of what you’re going to say, to whom, and when.  Ask yourself why you, as a Brand, have the credence to offer this content to your customers.  And if the party venue changes, you’ll have to change your Content plan.  Be consistent, don’t offer a barrage of messages one party and fall silent the next year.
  4. Be adaptive.  The best laid plans…can change like the Midwest weather.  If your party is outdoors and it begins to hail, make sure your Content plan is flexible enough to change to reflect the changed context.  And if you’re not a meteorologist….go back to step 1 and listen.  You’ll hear the forecast.
  5. Measure.  The conversation during the drive home after the party always includes the “how do you think it went?” question.  Much easier to answer this if you’ve done steps 1, 2, and 3 – you’ve set up what your objectives were and how they map back to customer goals…these are your KPIs.
  6. Go back and start again with number 1.  A Content Marketing effort in social marketing learns and adapts.

Remember, your Brand has been invited to a party by consumers.  And Mom always taught us to bring something to the party – make it Content that engages your customers by being educational, informational, entertaining, and inspirational.

On with the party!

content vs. Content (Marketing)

There are content strategist, content creators, content curators, website content, video content, audio content, blog content, all sorts of content.          And then there’s Content.

A little clarification, please…

The idea of content, all by itself, is quite literally anything created to be viewed, read, listened to.  This general type of content includes product descriptions, FAQs, videos of your cat walking across the piano, product brochures, really anything.

Go to any website, and everything you read is ‘content.’  The history, the about us, the contact us, the site map, the FAQs, everything.

Just ask a content strategist.  It’s their job to plan for, execute, govern, and archive every piece of content that could be found on a website.  Some of what they oversee is Content Marketing content, efforts that impact their audiences based on customer wants & needs; much of what they oversee is not, and is just ‘content’ –  necessary (most of the time) information that the site wishes to push out to prospects and customers.  It doesn’t necessarily have the best interests of the reader/viewer/listener in mind, although it may be optimized, governed, tagged, and/or created following user experience (UX) guidelines.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some terrific content strategists out there and their websites reflect this:  engaging, experiential, customer-centric.    But in turn, there are just websites, just like there are just magazines, video, newsletters, and so on – filled with content.  Not necessarily engaging, customer-centric, or anything beyond self-serving, but with content nonetheless.

Some content works within Content Marketing; all Content Marketing is content.

Big C Content

I like to think of Content Marketing as “Big C” Content, and all other content as small c content.

So what marks the difference?  How do we get from content with a small c to Big C Content?

Well, the key step is to focus on higher-order needs of the customer. What does this mean?

Here’s a great example:  I once worked with a custom communications agency and their global chemical company client which manufactured, amongst hundreds of other things, a unique termicide…that is, a termite killing chemical.  And, along with microsite content, the marketer wished to put a custom magazine into the mailboxes of prospective homeowners who lived in upscale homes located in ‘termite-friendly’ regions.

Now, just like you, my first reaction was ‘who on earth wants to read a magazine about termicides?’  It’s one thing to want resolution once you’ve discovered your home’s already been infested with the wood-eaters, but quite another to want to make the topic salient enough to want to prevent it, without beating the prospect over the head with the idea.  After all……yeech.

The solution came about with the agency and client determining the higher-order needs of the customer.  Telling the prospects solely about termicides would surely seem to benefit the marketer, but not really the customer.  But speaking to the higher-order need of what termite-production provides – that is, ensuring protection of their greatest investment, of making their home life that much better – the Content flowed naturally and effectively.  Yes, the Content mix included the termicide brand and articles about termite protection, but was chiefly about doing things for one’s home, for one’s family, for oneself that preserved, enhanced, and protected these.


And it worked.  Not only did the program accomplish its stated marketing objectives, but also won awards for design.  Content about termites!  Truly leveraging Big C Content.

The next posting will talk about a simple formula to ensure your content is Content!

And here’s a hint:  I’ve deemed it Old MacDonald’s Method for Engaging Content.