What is content marketing? An old school look at the technique

Stream of consciousness

They say you shouldn’t write blog posts as a stream of consciousness, that they should be planned, crafted, pounded into a listicle, or a two thousand word bit of evergreen content that Neil Patel and his army of munchkin content writers crank out.

I do actually say the say thing, but sometimes you have to go old school, clear out the old noggin and do a brain dump. Forget for a minute your tribe and do one for you, which is what this post is. I snap awake at 5.59 with a head crammed full of thoughts and just need to get them out.


This of course is what blogging used to be like, and it was fun.


You got to really know the blogger as you would get warts and all, sure it’s indulgent, but it was a clunky depiction of the human condition and as there wasn’t any Twitter, Insagram, Linkedin, Facebook… Ect, in those days you had little place to go, time to gather your thoughts, play a little with the language.


Thinking along these lines I realise there is way too much content being produced right now, most of it will never even be read or consumed. I am reading a lot about content shock lately, but the problem I see is for those businesses online who are trying to reach people, to turn them into paying customers.


I hate jargon.


Or maybe not, because I do use it. But what I hate is those who use jargon to mask their like of knowledge or talk about an old, ancient thing with a new phrase which comes over like they just invented it. “Influencer marketing”, is one that seems to be replicating itself, Ebola virus like across the blogosphere (is that term even used anymore, grandad?). As if “influence” is a new thing that bloggers just came across.


Socrates I am sure would disagree.


But this is the nature of online publishing, you can complain like a cynical old git, or you can join in.


But I think there is a third way.


You see, people constantly over complicate things.


Content marketing is only about two things, communcation and persuasion.
Your content must do both to acheive its objective.


All you are doing is taking a thought that is in your brain, and allowing a piece of content to carry it to another human being’s brain.


Thus content is merely a mechanical device used to transport thoughts.


This is taking things down to the fundamentals.


Which is useful because that’s where the good stuff can happen.


Not following made up jargon like “inbound marketing”, “influencer marketing”, content marketing”, and all the others. That is what my friend, Andrew Burnett calls, bollocks. We had a good chat yesterday on the nature of marketing and the judicious use of the term “bollocks” in a presentation. I was for sparing use, if at all, as things are special, magical words only to be used to highlight the most intense of things.


But then Andrew is a tad intense, which is a good thing.


As this bit of writing is a stream of consciousness, it wont be edited. No, that’s against the rules. Plus it wont have a crafted ending with a call to action that invites you to sign me up as a creative content consultant, to help out your agency team that seems to be drying up for ideas, or if you;re a small business to get you to sign up to my social media management service.


No, blog posts like this just seem to drift away.


The deep blue sky of dawn is turning to a grey sky of daylight.
Seagulls are given a last cry before the sounds of the Megacity that is Truro drowns them out.
And children are getting up to read Bin Weavils comics before school.
Time to finish this blog post and get the porridge on.
I hope you enjoyed this one
Have a fantastic day.

Is Instagram worth adding to my content marketing mix?

Upate, I started actively promoting my Instagram account 4 weeks ago and it now has over 1,500 real followers. Read more about it in my Essentials for Instagram marketing, post.

According to Forrester, when it comes to brands, Instagram gets an engagement rate which is 58 times better than Facebook. From a marketing perspective, we should really be looking at building an Instagram presence. Check out our current offer pricing for social media management.

Instagram

I wanted to know if Instagram is worth paying attention to, as I keep being told about people and businesses that are using it to great success. So I started building my Instagram account to see what the results were,

My philosophy when it comes to new platforms is to go where the hungry people are and ignore the hype that the gurus are shoveling.

What I have found out on Instagram is very tasty, there are a lot of hungry people.

With this in mind I started to test the platform and look for ways to make using the platform more efficient, or in other words game the system.

Currently I have 649 followers, I follow 496 and my posts get around a 100 likes on average.

There are some tricks of the trade I have quickly found out.

#hashtags work, but the trick is not to put them in the post, but in a comment. This way you don’t look too spammy and after a few comments your #hashtag mambo gets buried.

Your #hastags should reflect the business you are in. I see chancers cramming and spamming with little effect.

hashtags

Your content must be fantastic. No duh, you still can’t put lipstick on a pig. There is major competition for eyeballs.

You can use Instagram for any niche. YES YOU CAN! I note a laundry business and a dentist who are killing it. If you don’t think they can it simply means you lack the imagination and creativity to make this platform work for you. Instagram is simply a delivery system to trigger thoughts in the brain which lead to emotional associations and actions.

It takes a lot of work. I have been using and abusing social media platforms as soon as they were invented. My first post on Instagram was 245 weeks ago and you can see that I started out as a family/look how cool I am, type of feed that most users post, “ooooh a pic of a cup of coffee, how original”. But back then I didn’t see it as something to really get excited about, but now I do.

Startup

I started this experiment with 177 followers and so have built around 400 in 10 days quite easily. What is the value of an Instagram follower? I think it’s quite low, I wouldn’t think it gets exciting until way past the 10k follower mark. But in 3 – 6 months I hope to tap that.

How can I make money out of Instagram. It’s all very well having a funky social platform to share pics of coffee and quotes, but at some point you must make money. I have already made money from it. I created a pdf, a quick and easy to read download for my productised service, Creativeboris.com, called, “5 Killer tips for idea creation”. I then hooked it up to my email list and put the link to the report in my Instagram profile. Now at this point the SEO will be brushing the Dorito dust off his new Ben Sherman shirt and asking if it’s a dofollow link.
No, of course not, it is not a link for a bot to slurp at, it is a link for a human being to follow to then sign up to the email list, ready the report and increase the emotional connection to the brand of Creativeboris.com.
This is content marketing.
From my current Instagram activity I get about 2-3 sign ups a day, which I am happy with.

Ravenous

What type of content works on Instagram? I have gone for a “positive quotes” vibe. I am good with words, so I stick to what I am good at. If I were a 24 year old, hot surfer with abs of steel (hard to imagine but work with me) and golden locks of hair cascade onto my tanned shoulders (steady on). I would probably focus on something else. Great photography also excels on Instagram and living in Cornwall makes it a great option. It’s best to establish and stick with a style and theme.

But here’s the thing.

If you are a business person who does not have an digital marketing agency, or a few savvy people waiting around to be utilised, don’t invest time in this but hire someone who can. There are quite a few people out there who offer reasonable packages and I am taking on a few clients of my own, although I have limited space.

Communication

What is the future of Instagram? My experience is positive, I am finding that my own sayings actually perform better than the quotes of famous people. This may be due to the fact that people crave authenticity. I wouldn’t go the quote route for everyone, there is a lot that people can do with infographics and if you already produce infographics it’s a no brainer to chop them up and post them.

Contact me if you want to learn how I can further help you with an Instagram strategy.

Is Content really the thing you should be concentrating on right now?

content

It’s not about content.

Content is merely the mechanical process to make communication and persuasion happen.

The creative act occurs in the brain.

Content simply transports the thought into the brain of others.

If you have other things to do you can stop reading now, the above 4 lines will be the best thing you have learned today.

For those who like to go a little deeper, read on.

Content marketing has been around for a while, although most businesses have a problem in properly using it to achieve their objectives. It’s a complex technique to get right, which relies on methodologies antithetical to most business minds. This is why most businesses should stop content marketing right now and place all of their spend on advertising.

It still represents the most effective, low cost way to gain market share, but only if it is done correctly and done by people who understand the nuance of communication and persuasion.

Some see it as a way to increase the ranking of their keywords in search engines. Others see it as a way to get people on their website and get their credit cards out.

Both things are worth persuing, but they are not the most effective results you can get from content marketing. For a long time, online marketers published content to get optimise the title tag of the web page and pull in the traffic from Google, add in a few paid links for guest posts, and your off to the races. The old techniques worked well back in the day. But things have changed.

Along comes the Hummingbird algo and things all get semantic, contextual and lots of other words that will not get you laid at a Dolce & Gabanna party, and the old techniques no longer work. The SEO agency changes brand to become a “content marketing agency”, or digital agency and this makes perfect sense as it communicates better to the people who we want to communicate to.

Because Google still relies on links, they are still important. In my opinion they are obfuscating their use of social activity as a signal, probably because it could be easily gamed. But social is important in its own right, regardless of whether Google taps into it and uses it as a signal.

Which brings me to the point of this post, “Why waste money on content marketing?”. I think the answer that most people would have hanging in their head but would never iterate in a verbalised format is that they “hope” content marketing would work.

information

The data however is against them. Consider a research report published by Buzzsumo.com:

The research, which analyzed the shares and links of 1 million posts, found a low level of content engagement they characterized as “striking:”

* 50% of randomly selected posts received 8 shares or less
* 75% of these posts received 39 shares or less
* 75% of these posts achieved zero referring domain links

Now, these are only the posts that they found, we don’t know how much content gets published that does not even get found by the Buzzsumo search bot.

Maybe you think this is OK for 50% of posts to receive 8 shares or less because the other 50% of the blog posts a business is putting out gets 1,000’s of shares. But if you look at most blogs you see that the share is consistent. It either gets a huge amount of shares consistently, or it gets a little amount consistently.

In other words, it’s not the content that is driving the shares.

If it were, then people like Seth Godin, who sometimes writes stuff that is a tad crusty around the edges (who doesn’t) wouldn’t still gets links and social shares. The evidence clearly shows that an influencer with a rabid fan base can get mediocre content promoted. When someone with little influence can put out great content and it mostly gets ignored.

This is because of the complexity of the relationship between the influencer and the fan, it’s not just about the content. It’s more about how people relate to others and the human condition, than about whether or not you use long form content or infographics.

It’s the culture, the brand, the emotional connection between the reader and everything the piece of content represents. It is not the content in isolation. You couldn’t get anything doing without content of course, it is essential, but it is only part of what makes the piece of content successful.

I have said in the past that the Secret of Ranking in Google is to build great content, but it’s not enough. It’s essential, but only gets you to the starting point.

The secret to content marketing, is to build a great relationship.

If you wish to know more, sign up to my email newsletter and I shall send you some interesting stuff.

Image source

STOP Building content right now and focus on Culture!

Content2

Unless your content is in the top 10% of all content currently being produced, you may as well not bother.

In fact you may as well invest your money in cupcakes and give your copywriters a rest.

Which will mean you will have happy copywriters and wont have shoveled more mediocre web content online, for people to ignore.

Do you ever wonder why your stuff doesn’t get any social signals, when not even your own staff, whose very jobs depend on your success, ignore your content?

It’s very simple, and you don’t even have to hire me as a content strategist for me to give the benefit of my years of experience.

It’s because your content is mediocre.

Your content isn’t crap, because crap does get a reaction.

It’s just that it’s beige, bland, boring, something that few people in their right mind would even think of sharing with their friends. It’s not sexy content.

twitter moments

The thing is, your agency isn’t going to tell you because you pay them for the production and they don’t hae the skill set to be a kickass publisher of attention attracting content.

Your copywriter is not going to tell you. They are too worried that the 504th line of their epic poem they are writing about Ernest Hemmingway’s beard to worry too much about your misunderstanding of content marketing.

You do content, because you are told that is what you should do. You hear it at conferences, on blogs, from smooth talking salesmen from the local SEO content marketing agency.

But it’s not what you should be investing in.

Because good content comes from good culture.

What I mean by culture is you have to have an interesting story and be prepared to tell it. You have to be transparent about who you are. You can’t hide any more, people like to buy from people they like, they want to associate with people they aspire to be.

This age has changed from the an information age, because information is flowing as freely as the screams of joy from a Tennessee whore house (too much?).

information

It is now the age of culture.

Do you have the right culture?

What are you kidding me? You’re a human being, you can chose your culture, your brand, the way people feel emotionally about your business.

See it from the perspective of someone who does not know your business. Why should they care, what is it about you are your website that makes them excited, that connects with them on an emotional level.

Discover the essence of why someone would care about your business and there you have the secret formula.

Now, most of you wont get this and that’s fine. Connecting the dots in this new age of content shock, you will realise that content marketing is not a sustainable strategy and there needs to be a little secret sauce added to get things moving.

That secret is one of culture, some call it branding but I think it’s way more than that. It’s also about relationships and how you are as a human being.

This is a bit of a rambling blog post I know, and not honed and edited to maximise the readers experience. But this is written in one pass, because that’s my culture. It’s where the good stuff is. It may not even make sense to most, as someone said of my last post. “I need a sub-editor”, and that is true, but don’t let that get in the way of the message I am sending out here.

We are currently in a massive crisis in the content marketing world, except most don’t believe it or don’t want to believe it.

To summerise:
Make the best content you can that elbows its way into the top 10%
Build a culture within your business and content that resonates on an emotional level with your customer base.

Image source