The topic of “content marketing” and cutting through the fads surrounding it came up recently in a phone conversation I had with Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder & Strategic Director of Orbit Media Studios. Knowing Andy’s experienced in this area I shared my curiosity and questions people often ask me. Things like: What is content marketing, what should you be doing and what shouldn’t you be doing?
The first thing Andy brought up was this important tip:
Whatever you do, please don’t create…
CONTENT FOR THE SAKE OF CONTENT
“It’s never about the content itself; it’s about the relationships. And SEO, social media marketing and content marketing are coming back to focusing on the relationships.” It’s no longer someone sitting in a cubicle punching out “tweaked” copy that Google will like. People want value and great content, not a page littered with key word phrases.
Old school SEO was more about the key words than their meaning. What about now? Andy points out that semantic search is all about context and meaning to get results that will best help the answer a question for the person searching. In short PR + Data = SEO. If you want to do great SEO you need:
- To talk to people on Twitter; have conversations and share their links too.
- Do Public Relations; which means you have to pitch.
- You have to go to (offline) events and make friends.
You have to not only understand your links and traffic stats but it’s even more important to understand your target audiences, what they’re reading and why. You need people to talk about you online and offline and share your content. That’s all about the relationships, not just clicks.
Social media has also changed. Social media activity for the sake of activity is just for fun. If you want to have social conversations and pass the time that’s a choice to make. But… Social media marketing has a point; you have goals and a structured plan to meet those goals.
WHAT IS “JUST CONTENT” AND HOW CAN YOU CREATE SOMETHING BETTER?
Let’s talk about the analogy: “If a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s around to hear it; does it make a sound?” and compare it to content. If you create content, put it online and nobody sees or shares it – was it worth creating?
“Just content” falls into the personal blog or hobby market. It’s created by you, for you and it serves a personal purpose. If that’s your intention that works. If your goal is successful marketing with your content you need to do more.
So how can we differentiate between things like
- Content creation vs. content marketing?
- Social media activity vs. social media marketing?
Let’s ask and answer this question I posed to Andy…
HOW CAN YOU CREATE AUTHENTIC AND POWERFUL CONTENT MARKETING PROGRAMS?
Marketing means you have a purpose. You have an audience you want to reach and relationships you want to build.
Content marketing happens when you reach people who:
- Find your content helpful
- Believe your content is relevant to their business or career
- You might be able to help immediately or at a later date and
- Might be able to help you immediately or at a later date.
In short you’re creating the opportunity to become relevant and important to them as well as finding people and companies who are relevant and important to you. Those bullet points give you a litmus test to use when you want to create valuable content and successful content marketing campaigns.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
The key lesson behind the first two bullet points: You have to know WHO your target markets are and WHAT they need. This means that you have to create VALUE for those target markets; the content has to be helpful to them.
The key lesson behind the second two bullet points: Relationships are always a two way street; you have to give to get. That brings us full circle to the point we first talked about in this post: It’s not about the content itself; it’s all about the relationships created or enhanced by the content.
In closing, Andy shared these tips for you to implement today:
- Write as if you’re writing for one reader; as if you’re talking to one person.
- If you don’t feel something while you’re writing: STOP. This means your audience won’t feel any emotion about your writing either.
- For your marketing strategy: Answer your audience’s WHY’s. Remind them why you’re in business, why they’re looking at you and why your product or service matters.
What relationships will YOU leverage this week to create amazing content?
Andy Crestodina is a co-founder of Orbit Media, an award winning, 35-person web design company here in Chicago. Andy has written hundreds of articles on topics like email marketing, search optimization, social media and Analytics. He is also the author of Content Chemistry and a two-time veteran of SOBCon. He hopes to see you there in June!
About The Author: Mark J. Carter is the founder of ONE80; his mission is bringing conversations & storytelling back to business… through mentoring (programs, events & marketing). He currently serves as Vice President of Communications for the Chicago Area Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (MPI).