Be consistent with your content

It is now commonly accepted that one of the commonest headaches provided by the explosion of opportunities for content online — and subsequent marketing communications opportunities — has been allocating responsibility for content creation and creating an internal process to make production consistent.

Moneyball movie poster

Oakland Athletics’s General Manager Billy Beane is played in Moneyball by Brad Pitt

Blogs, social media and email marketing are all hungry for creative content whether it is created from scratch or curated. The point is that it doesn’t happen by magic.

The biggest culprit to content marketing success is a lack of consistency and, in some cases, a total content failure. Research from IBM, in 2010, (thanks Rebecca Lieb) found that about 80 percent of corporate blogs never post more than five entries.

If you have seen, or heard, of Moneyball, the story about how Oakland Athletics revolutionised baseball in 2002 by focusing on the statistics (sabermetrics) that had been previously thought unimportant. Manager Billy Beane took a team, with a payroll up to a third of the bigger teams, to success by concentrating on being consistent in the areas that really mattered.

Apply this to content marketing. Many companies are looking for the big burst, the piece of viral inspiration, the devastating campaign instead of putting in the time, day in, day out on the steady production of good content.

Simply put, most content marketing initiatives fail because content, for whatever reason, dries up. You will succeed at content marketing because you keep your brand promise, develop content around that promise and stick at a process. Every week, every month, you stick at it. Consistency.

Old Spice ad

Men, and women, seemed to like the Old Spice guy!

Take the 2011 Old Spice/Twitter/YouTube campaign. It was brilliant. Probably, one of the best real-time content marketing and social media examples ever.

It was also one of the worst. Why? Because it stopped. They treated that content marketing initiative just like another campaign, because it echoed content from an offline campaign…they gave it a time limit.

Like any savvy publisher, they could have continued to adapt and evolve the content. They could have continued the engagement (and revenue growth).

There’s a simple moral here. Develop a consistent approach to content creation, or curation. Call it a Content Strategy, or whatever you like, but include it as a heading in the next version of your marketing communications planning.


Concentrate on quality content: a reminder from Google Panda

Google says: "Our advice for publishers continues to be to focus on delivering the best possible user experience on your websites and not to focus too much on what they think are Google’s current ranking algorithms or signals. "

Google engineer Amit Singhal posted this advice on the Google blog about the Panda algorithm:

“One other specific piece of guidance we’ve offered is that low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s rankings, and thus removing low quality pages, merging or improving the content of individual shallow pages into more useful pages, or moving low quality pages to a different domain could eventually help the rankings of your higher-quality content.”

Google provides some questions that one could use to assess the “quality” of a page or an article.

These are the kinds of questions they ask themselves as they write algorithms that attempt to assess site quality. Think of it as their take at encoding what they think their users want.

Google sought to increase the quality of its search results by implementing Panda. And there are websites that have benefited from Google Panda. The mega article site Wikipedia, for instance, has experienced a marked increase in traffic.

As 2012 begins, Google Panda is still on the radar of website owners and internet marketers in the daily quest for high rankings on Google search engine results.

Of course, Google isn’t disclosing the actual ranking signals used in its algorithms because they don’t want folks to game our search results; but if you want to step into its mindset, the questions below provide some guidance on how we’ve been looking at the issue:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

Don’t spam your LinkedIn Connections

Don’t Spam Your LinkedIn Connections | The Anti-Social Media.

I’m pretty open to connecting with people on LinkedIn because connecting on LinkedIn is the best way to stalk someone. In fact, I typically will connect with anyone who requests to connect with me, so long as they don’t seem like a complete sociopath.

But people have begun to abuse my willingness to connect.

These people who I’ve been connected with for months and years have suddenly decided that it’s OK to use LinkedIn to send me weird pitches. Instead of using it to cultivate a relationship, they just decide to  send me a demo of weird tool I’ll never use. I also get messages that assume I know everything about my connection’s lives, because I’m stalking every single moment of their existence.


The corporate content ownership dilemma

With the increasing importance of content, particularly digital content, in many enterprises’ marketing communications programmes, it is interesting to speculate on which corporate discipline will take ownership of ‘content’.

It has been called the Content Convergence Dilemma, the power struggle over who owns corporate content, who controls its generation, publishing and maintenance? Will Content Departments emerge to create and co-ordinate content?

PR is the discipline listening to online communities

PR is the discipline listening to online communities

If product marketing teams — for instance — produce content independently, the enterprise overall won’t have the benefit of getting the maximum out of content and, to the customer, content may appear disjointed or uncoordinated. Content integration requires each department to be candid about their objectives and to be willing to negotiate, and contribute resources, to a mutually-agreed content plan and calendar.

You might think that the drive for more corporate transparency, coupled with social media’s voracious appetite for content, would have internal corporate departments vying for the rights to push out content.

In reality, brands’ internal departments defer to PR and say, either, “You do it” or, “Tell us what you need and we’ll see how we can help”. PR is not necessarily the repository of all the skills that are needed. They will depend on Marketing, or outside agencies, for copywriting, graphic, coding, video and editing skills crucial to content development.

However, PR professionals probably have the best feel about what content will appeal most to an enterprise’s communities. They already participate in communities, offline and online. They’re the ones tracking what the mainstream media want to write about and talking to editors and journalists. They’re the ones who often monitor social media in PR programmes — talking to community members and customers, running polls, testing out hashtags, flagging potential landmines and running buzz and sentiment monitoring.

Brands can derive huge value from PR’s ability to create, manage and tweak the workaday content calendar. It’s from their efforts that Marketing should be monitoring the nuggets to develop into the big ideas which have already been proven within online community interaction.

This case study illustrates how a PR team’s community relations groundwork led to insights into an audience sector, what concerned them and how media campaigns could be constructed around the insights.

Social media will continue to reveal key marketing information and public relations could develop another string to its bow as early testbeds for accessing, developing and trialling creative ideas.

Top 15 Content Marketing Predictions for 2012

With nearly 80 contributors, the predictions were plentiful. But, for whatever reason, here are my favorite 15.  Enjoy!

I believe that Google+ will become a new blogging platform and that in addition to sharing content, users will start creating their own content right on the G+ site. – Ali Goldfield

2012 is the year more organizations embrace the convergence of employee personal branding and corporate branding through content marketing strategies. – Bernie Borges

Content Marketing jobs will be at their peak due to the constant need and hunger for lead nurturing mechanisms. – Celine Francisco

Brand marketers will continue to hire their own brand journalists and build out their own editorial departments. So if you’re a publisher…watch out! Your own advertisers and sponsors will be competing more and more with you. – Daniel Burstein

As real-time becomes the norm and journalists search Google for thought leaders to quote, more and more marketers will newsjack their way into the media. – David Meerman Scott

2012 will be the year of hard work – and the year we all focus on building our content brands: getting famous for great content not just for great widgets. – Doug Kessler

New button is added to social sites… The “Shut Up” button to quiet trolls and people that don’t add any value to the conversation. Okay, maybe it’s not a prediction, just a wish. – Douglas Karr

Media agencies will either create new content marketing specialized groups or expand the roles of “search strategists” to “content strategists” and include effective and efficient content distribution to their responsibilities. – Gilad de Vries

Mobile can no longer be treated as an isolated channel or a “nice to have”; it will become a primary way to speak to customers and prospects. – Gordon Plutsky

Creating content around the needs of the customer, not the needs of the brand has been proven time and again to work. More companies are going to see the value and ease of providing that in 2012. – Jason Falls

There will be a slew of top brands that start to buy established niche media properties instead of starting from scratch. – Joe Pulizzi

Content Marketers will begin to to place even more focus on video storytelling by expanding the distribution of video content at the retail level through the gaining momentum of QR Codes. – Nate Riggs

I think you’re going to see a lot of activity around Social TV. We’re starting to see critical mass around key live events (Super Bowl, Awards Shows, etc.), the same programming that networks charge big dollars for. Social TV integration will either support those traditional ad spends, or be used by those who can’t afford a :30 spot during the Oscars. – Rick Liebling

Brand marketers will realize an editorial function is needed to define their overall content strategy and planning. Content will be tweaked for different media. Brand marketers will not only distribute their own content, but also start curating third-party content to reinforce their messages. – Pam Didner

And my favorite, from my friend Paul Conley, is below (in its entirety).

I expect that 2012 will see two changes in who creates the content in B2B content marketing.

First, public-relations departments and agencies will move into this role in a big way – and do a better job than the marcomm-type folks who dominate the space now. The reason is pretty simple: marketers don’t have a culture that is open to journalism. And make no mistake: if you’re in the content-marketing game in B2B, you’re in the journalism game. News happens. Often when you least expect it — like when your feel-good interview with an executive turns into major news because it contains an off-the-cuff remark about your industry that infuriates people and moves share prices. Most marketers don’t handle things like that well. They don’t have what journalists call “news judgement,” so they get blindsided when they create content that becomes news.

Second, I think traditional B2B publishers, who moved into the “marketing services” space with great fanfare in the past two years, will retreat. In fact, they already are. This was never a good idea. Legacy publishers don’t get the Web. The only thing they had to sell in the market was the one thing they shouldn’t be selling — the ability to co-opt their journalists!

So, what’s your favorite?  What did we miss?

via Top 15 Content Marketing Predictions for 2012.