Put Some Meat on Your Content Marketing

I talk a lot about content marketing on this blog.

As a result, when I meet people who think Twitter and other social media platforms are "magic bullets" that can start making money without time or effort, I tend to dash cold water on them by bringing up the importance of creating content.

Tweeting and posting something on your Facebook wall is practically effortless. But creating or finding valuable content to tweet about takes work. More importantly, it requires us to really understand the wants and needs of the people we want to sell to.

About a year ago, I "borrowed" (ok, blatantly stole) Hubsopot's cool title Is Your Online Marketing Strategy All Tweet and No Meat? to write my own take on their ideas in my article: Social Media Marketing: Avoid the "All Tweet and No Meat Trap.

The Hubspot article spoke to the fact that:
Many of the marketers and small business owners leaping into social media are forgetting the importance of other online marketing channels. This is a problem because social media works best in conjunction with a site that's full of fresh content like blog posts, white papers and videos.

If your marketing strategy is just Twitter and Facebook -- no longer-form content of your own -- your company will end up a big-talking cowboy without cattle. You'll be making comments about everything, but substantive contributions to nothing.
And there's the rub. Social media without content is everything critical outsiders suppose it is, just a lot of folks tweeting about brushing their teeth or having a ham sandwich for lunch.

But content for content's sake still won't do it. As Joe Pulizzi points out in his brilliant article, Your Customers Don't Care About You - Take the Content Marketing Test, content must focus on the needs/wants/interests/problems of your audience.

In this article, Pulizzi has a screen shot of a page from "MyFord" magazine, that repeatedly mentions the Ford name or names of its car models. (YAWN.)

That kind of stuff isn't content, it's just narcissism on paper.

One of the points Joe makes to test whether your material is really worth reading from a customer's perspective is, "Ask yourself, "Is our content more about our customers' pain points or more about us and how great our products or services are?"

Here's a better example:

Southwest Airlines has a a section on southwest.com called Taking The Kids, which is for parents and grandparents who are planning to travel with children.

Talk about a wealth of interesting content written FOR an audience. This stuff can't help but engage readers.

It offers information on things like:
  • How to get a sitter when you are away from home,
  • How to keep kids safe and healthy while traveling,
  • How to make museum excursions fun,
  • When they're flying solo,
  • Touring college campuses with your teens,
  • Water safety,
  • Hitting the national parks, and many other topics.
This is content that can't help but pull the right reader into it and create a little more loyalty to Southwest. It was written to solve their problems, not to tout a brand ... and yet actually it is. Branding is becoming more about connecting with an audience than it is repeatedly drumming in a product or company name into the public's subconscious.

Brands are fast becoming more about educating the public, solving problems for them or making some aspect of their lives easier. This is where the person who thinks Twitter and social media is just another mass marketing tool is missing the boat.

There are some marketers who get this concept and are off and running with it. There are others who just want to beat a slogan or jingle into our brains, and think social media gives them another way to do it.

What do you think? Can you share some examples of good or bad content marketing?

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown

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