Are You Ready for the Game of Thrones Content Marketing Zombie Horde Attack?

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Many a time I have listened to the moaning and wailing of the Ben Sherman attired SEO, about the overuse of infographics and that they don’t work anyway and that if only the new Content Marketing Manager had said yes to his 500 blog domain network over multiple “C” class ip numbers, we would have no need of the hipster design freaks and their bean bagged offices.

And of course they were right to complain, but the mistake they make is in thinking they are the audience. But there is something far more psychologically painful coming to the grumpy – bitcoin rig under his bed – SEO type, and this time it’s real.

Winter is coming.

You know what I’m talking about right?

To be honest, if you are a fan of Game of Thrones, people like me are probably going to ruin it for you. Not by revealing the list of people who will die this series – as a teacher in Holland did to his class to get them to shut up – no, we are not evil. But by unleashing a wave of content marketing that has been unseen in the Kingdom of Westeros since the dark age of the Dragons….. Sorry about that, got a tad carried away, I meant since ever.

You see, the corporate marketing depts are now infested with marketing types in their early 20′s, you know the sort, the kind that constantly witter on, “like yeah, cool, no worries”, and have a slight twitch coming from being always worried that their 1970′s retro, manbag is going to get pinched.

But they get content marketing, they grew up with it. They lived on Tumblr – before runined by Yahoo, had their first sexual experience with an avatar, think high speed broadband is a human right (actually I agree with this one). They are the ones that have been weaned on Buzzfeed/Huffpo headlines during their formative years. They love content that extends the narrative of the show, like, Game of Thrones – Get the Skills.

Of course, this does not mean they can implement/action/get things done, all you have to do to this generation is show them a shiny ball, throw it and say “go fetch ball”. It only occupies them for a few minutes, but by then they have forgotten what they were doing and are now busy downloading Prisoner Cell Block H, using Pirate Bay through a Romanian proxy, whilst at work.

But these are not the people I was at first referring too, the ones who are going to ruin GOT for you. No, it’s the herders of the 20 somethings, the wranglers of the Millennials, these are people who can squeeze commercially viable output from these “information is free”, Spongebob Squarepants for Student Union President, types. Using a blend of psychology, foosball, and sugar addiction.

Understanding this crowd is probably more important that understanding your customer, as these are the trend setters, the leaders of the pack – apparently Seth Godin keeps one of them in a cage under his desk, helping him keep it fresh.

Once directed, this tribe will go and create industrial scale content for the Walking Dead commuters to consume on their smartphones whilst trying to ignore the body odour of the cycling nazi who is crammed up against them in a crowded train coming into Waterloo.

At first it will amuse and for those it will be aimed at – those who link – it will be fun. But for the rest of us we shall soon tire of the “20 Killer ‘Game of Thrones’ Items on Etsy” type content shoveled at us by the likes of Mashable. (nice find btw, Laura Vitto, and of course the Ben Sherman, shirt wearing SEO will be moaning of Twitter again, whilst setting up secret Facebook groups to mutter about Rand Fishkin.

I’m thinking the content threshold will be met before the season actually starts, the amount of link and Google juice squeezed from these low handing fruit will be more even than the juice coming from Matt Cutt’s plums.

Should you hop on the bandwagon, and pump out some “10 Reasons no one flosses in Game of Thrones”, type content, for your online plumbing supplies website? Probably not, you are competing against a tidal wave of content, vomited forth by zombie plague of those who eat, drink and avoid sex for this kind of stuff.

Like I said.

Winter is coming.

Getty allows Websites to use their photo images for free

The bosses at Getty had a meeting.

And decided that too many of these geeky, internet types

were using their images without attribution.

So they put their boffins to work

And they came up with the idea of using the “iframe” tag, just like Youtube videos.

Now that’s interesting, and a lot of fun.

Because we can create better content and more interesting websites, in exchange for giving exposure to the Photo agency.

Of course the photographer may lose out, but just as the music business has had to adapt to the changing landscape, so must photo libraries.

Read more about it on the BBC

Why Does Buzzfeed Content Work so well?

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A recent Buzzfeed content piece has proved great success in getting social signals and links, Which ’90s Alt-Rock Grrrl Are You?

969,000 likes on FB and counting.

Yes, any mediocre content on Buzzfeed is going to get more action that brilliant content on a mediocre website. But the huge numbers here represent that the content is brilliant.

Buzzfeed has made it’s name in the field of brilliant “pop culture” content. It doesn’t always produce good stuff, but you don’t have to if you regularly knock it out of the field.

So what makes this work?

The celebs chosen are not current and even when at their height were not considered mainstream.

They represent what I like to call a “small footprint, but high impact theme”. They may not have Global reach but the people who grew up with these artists have them deeply imprinted on their psyche.

The “personality quiz” technique, has been used for years in teen and womens’ magazines and is an old staple. It requires little focused attention, is done in minutes and provides something to have a conversation about.

People need something to talk about to fill the empty void, but lets not get too existential right now.

The fact that this content requires you to only make 7 clicks, where you probably don’t even read all the options and give it considered though adds to the genius of this content. As it’s instinctual, it’s possible that it’s more accurate.

You don’t have to think too hard to engage with this content, it leads you through what you have to do simply, and clearly.

It’s easy to be critical of such content if you are an intellectual snob, but if you want mass results, you have to go after a mass, populist theme and present it in a way that engages and doesn’t require too much attention and thought.

Try to Watch a Bon Jovi video without thinking of Spinal Tap

For me, Living on a Prayer is the, Bon Jovi song.



When creating content you have to be aware of cultural connotation

A connotation is frequently described as either positive or negative, with regards to its pleasing or displeasing emotional connection

Some people will have not watched Spinal tap, and some may not have even heard of it. Which means the headline above will be lost on them. They will also not get the reference from the BBC iPlayer, which goes to 11 on their volume scale.



It’s important to be aware that some will not only have a different emotional connection to the stuff you are putting out, but also will not even know anything about the stuff you are putting out.

Most get away with this by simply running with their own tribe and thus they share the same cultural capital as talked about by the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu. Note: It is a proven fact if you quote a French Sociologist, you will seem more intelligent than you actually are.

If you are creating content for others, and for tribes that you are not a member of, you need to aware that the reader may not know what you are talking about. This is why most blog content is very shallow and broad in tone.

The headline above will resonate most with those whose formative years were in the 80′s, and by definition represent a distinct target group, ie those with, Mortgage, kids leaving home, divorce, overweight, etc. This of course is a generalised list but represents high probability.

So, think twice about creating content that refers to the second verse in “Love will tear us apart”, by Joy Division, if you are marketing to 18 year olds in Midwest America.



The Joy Division video balances the Bon Jovi video just right.

Feed the viewer of your content as if it were a Velociraptor

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When creating content you should always serve the meat first and then let the viewer gnaw on the bones after, if they so desire.

My thinking when it comes to this stuff is to put the meat above the fold and then allow the detail to be revealed to those who wish to scroll. This rewards the hit and run viewer who simply wants the meat and then to share it, and the viewer who likes to spend more time and dig down to rich detail and then share.

When you have made the massive effort of tempting the ravenous viewer to your page, to feast on your tasty content, don’t make them work for it.

Feed them Seymore

Don’t make them have to think. Viewers when asked may like to pretend they like classics like Dostoyevsky, but John Grisham always sells more. Don’t make them have to scroll further to get to the meat because even if the meat is the tastiest in the world, the viewer will probably give up before they get to the end..

The importance of having the meat above the fold is huge, as most people will even give great stuff a cursory glance. Content has to impact fast and smash it in the viewers face. The detail, the complexity and the “take the viewer on a journey”, comes after that and rewards those who stick around and want a deeper narrative.

It is tricky because when we create something we have been taught to take the viewer on a journey, this thinking developed for magazines and books, when the viewer had little distraction or need to quickly move on, as they had bought the book/magazine and intend to read as much as possible.

Same doesn’t apply to web content.

I see the modern web browser as a starving Velociraptor. They are not too concerned with the complex flavours or that hint of truffle oil.

They want meat and they want it now.

My solution is to radically change your layout so that the meat is always served first, and then as the blood drips from the Velociraptor’s teeth, let them gnaw on the bones of the detail.

The aim is to create art that satisfies the hunger on viewing and then allows for further investigation and confirmation that the content is worthy of a social signal or a link.

This thinking underlies my philosophy when I consult with clients on content that gets shared.

I hope my thoughts on this helps.

Picture source