Will Content Marketing Destroy Social Media?

 In Content Marketing

There was a recent exchange on twitter where a prominent, intelligent and well-respected analyst predicted that content marketing will destroy social media.

I mean “Whoa!”…The power of content marketing!

The suggestion was that content marketing will result in the rapid erosion of the sacred trust we all have in the established media.

I certainly do not agree with these statements, but I do think this topic deserves a healthy dialogue and discussion…

Some of the relevant questions this raises for me include: what is the definition of content marketing? Where is the line between editorial and advertising? Is it blurring? Are marketers pushing the boundaries in pursuit of more leads or are publishers loosening their standards to collect more advertising dollars?

I’ll offer my point of view and share the opinions of a few colleagues of mine who are actively participating in this discussion.

But don’t let us hog the spotlight, chime in with your opinion in the comments below or on your social channel of choice…

Content strategy will actually save marketing!

I’ve written before that traditional marketing is on the decline and that I believe educational and informative content along with an audience-first approach are the only ways to deliver more customers, more revenue and better business results from marketing efforts.

So a statement like “content marketing will destroy social media” is by definition a blanket statement (and probably an attempt at getting lots of Re-Tweets). I’m not sure what definition of Content Marketing was intended in that statement but it seems highly likely to be referring to undisclosed “black-hat SEO” attempts at building links, or in some other way undermining public trust with content that has a veiled objective of only promoting the sponsor.

I believe today’s buyers and content consumers are way too smart for such tactics.

In its simplest form, Content Marketing is about meeting all the information needs of your diverse audience, through owned, earned and yes, even paid media, and through all the varied formats of content that we all consume.

When the objective is appropriately on meeting our audiences’ needs and not our own self-interests, then content marketing is the only way to be effective at reaching our buyers and influencers.

And any level of understanding of the media landscape will show you that there is a battle for customer attention taking place as consumer generated content is over-taking journalism at a rapid rate. And this is due to the simple fact that too few of us content consumers want to pay for so-called “trusted-source” journalistic content.

So we are all forced to try and understand the source of the information we are consuming. And to try and discern their objective or “angle.”

The right content at the right time…

As my SAP colleague Chip Rodgers (@ChipRodgers), VP and COO of the SAP Community Network said in a recent tweet:

 

Where is the line between editorial and advertising?

According to Bob Evans, former SVP and Editorial Director at CMP Media and TechWeb, and former VP of Strategic Communications here at SAP, “one of the urban legends swirling around in this new age of content marketing is that all ‘traditional’ journalists are 100% objective and unbiased, whereas any other content creators are biased. That’s utter nonsense.”

Bob continues, “add into this the recent and extraordinary impact and influence of social media, where hundreds of millions of people who used to be passive consumers of information have become creators and amplifiers and conveyors of information—and in some cases highly influential opinion-shapers. Are all of those views irrelevant, biased, or untrustworthy simply because they’re not part of a supposedly ‘objective’ traditional media that turns out not to be objective at all?”

“Sponsored” journalism and the new advertising model

Content production and delivery over the ages of modern humanity has always been paid for and influenced by someone, somewhere. The “someone” and the “somewhere” may change over time but the system remains largely unchanged.

Content gets written and distributed because someone is paying for it. The content must meet a relative standard of quality and perceived objectivity or it will be rejected. Except that now, the financial burden is shifting from the consumer and the advertisers who want to reach them to the the publisher and the advertisers who want access to the audience.

So we’re seeing relatively new pay models emerge as traditional media companies are being forced to the point of extinction. Publishers, as new as the Huffington Post and as established as Forbes, are embracing the era of the “sponsored post.”

And marketers such as my company SAP, and others like IBM, Dell, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Gyro are getting into the game. Programs like this are helping us all to evolve to thinking more like publishers – to put our audiences’ information needs ahead of our own. They are clearly labeled as “sponsored” and they are helping media companies to deliver against more of their visitors’ content needs.

Are advertisers blurring the lines between editorial and advertising?

I think it all comes down to the adage Chip mentions above that good (content) marketing is simply a gift – or as I like to say, content marketing means having the right answers to the important questions that your audience is asking.

So it is no surprise that advertisers are looking to reach their target audiences, but the bottom line is that only great content wins.

Tim Clark (@TClark01) is Editor-In-Chief of SAP Corporate Blogs and manages the SAP Forbes AdVoice program, which has garnered some criticism from our influencer community as an example of the kind of program that potentially erodes consumer trust by blurring the lines between paid, owned and earned media.

With nearly a million pageviews, hundreds of thousands of potential prospects have spent close to 3 minutes each engaged with SAP AdVoice content. You don’t achieve those kind of numbers with self-serving, or promotional content.

The quality measures extend beyond pure readership to engagement metrics such as the tens of thousands of shares via social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, etc.).

According to Tim, this is because “every piece of our content is clearly labeled as ‘AdVoice.’ We do not get any special treatment from Forbes. That said, the AdVoice label hasn’t deterred folks from reading and sharing our content.  We work very hard to maintain a high level of editorial integrity and publish stories from SAP thought leaders that cover real life experiences and insights into a wide range of business-related topics.”

So let’s review: content marketing puts customer content needs first, it helps publishers to continue meeting the needs of their audience, and it helps advertisers earn the attention of prospects.

Now it’s your turn:

  • What is your definition of content marketing?
  • Do you see the line between editorial and advertising blurring?
  • Are marketers pushing the boundaries in pursuit of more leads?
  • Or are publishers loosening their standards to collect more advertising dollars?
I would appreciate your thoughts in the comments below or comment on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook
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Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow me LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
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Showing 32 comments
  • Tony Zambito

    Hi Michael,

    Excellent point of view expressed here. I will share some of my thoughts:

    1. From the beginning – content marketing as a term has been problematic. It implies heavily that we are taking traditional methods and using new media to distribute. Only it is more and more. I am afraid that it is still viewed in the eyes of buyers as push marketing. I would advocate for a new term – ex. smart content – or something other that changes the behavior of marketing.

    2. The line blurring is resulting in the loss of objectivity that is important to readers and buyers. The message or point of view will have a loss in credibility – even if only in appearance. If the perception is that editor’s pockets are filled with advertising dollars – then they are in the buyer’s mind.

    3. I say yes. The maddening pursuit of leads is crushing some businesses and filters are being put up everywhere. B2B marketers still hold onto old ways and haven’t learned the law of attraction.

    4. I see standards slipping – grabbing share and revenue stream is the driver.

    My thoughts and comments. Interesting – the old adage here could be that too much of a good thing could kill you. Is this happening with content marketing?

    Tony Zambito
    http://www.buyerology.com
    @tonyzambito

    • Michael Brenner

      Hi Tony,

      Great views and always appreciate your perspective.
      1) I think you are quite right on the possible need for a re-branding.
      2) I think Bob’s point in the article is that the line was a facade to begin with and so the blurring isn’t really a blurring but more of an unveiling. I trust his experience as both an advertiser and a publisher and tend to agree.
      3) On your law of attraction comment, I couldn’t agree with you more and this is why you and I so often see eye-to-eye
      4) But I will say regarding standards, some media “experts” predict that there will only be a handful of major media outfits left in a few years (2-4 newspapers in the US as an example) due to the declining subscriptions in print. And so for me, whether editors look at new pay models or go extinct, high-quality news will be a rare resource either way, right?

      Best, Michael

  • Dawn Groves

    RE the above two comments: The transparency that social media and open information exchange offers to all of us, is the decentralization of power.Social media is forcing us to question sources more thoroughly, confront beliefs and practices that we’ve heretofore ignored, and take stands publicly. We have to grow as consumers, able to identify the bias in whatever is published. We must grow out of naivety. We have to do this regardless; information transparency and pervasive online connection forces the issue.
    Great article and interesting comments. thanks for the brain candy.
    Best, Dawn

    • Michael Brenner

      Dawn,

      I agree completely. You articulated my point of view way better than I did. I’ve even seen studies that suggest Gen Y and the next generation of kids have no expectation of neutrality or objectivity in their news sources. They are growing up in this more transparent and democratic news environment where Facebook is an alternative to CNN and our friends filter the news for us. Thanks for helping me out 😉

      Best, Michael

  • Vijay

    Hi Michael

    Excellent article – and funny enough, just a few minutes ago – I posted a rant on kind of a similar topic. http://andvijaysays.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/the-social-media-giveth-and-the-social-media-taketh-away/

    I respect a marketer’s choice of using a channel in whatever way they want. Till you try, you don’t know. And you and Bob Evans make good points on objectivity – everyone is biased to some degree – marketers, analysts, traditional journalists and so on. So no harm in pursuing this.

    But that leaves a question – do we know if it is actually helping customers in buying decisions etc? Has SAP or any of the other vendors done studies to analyze how customers use content marketing? I have not seen it have a big impact, but readily acknowledge I only see a small number of customers and it might not be representative. I am very curious to hear your thoughts.

    Cheers
    Vijay

    • Michael Brenner

      Vijay,

      Thank you for your comment and I welcome the dialogue. I read your post as well and really enjoyed your comment that you “don’t find it funny any more” that there are people who are paid to manage social media. But I fear you are assuming that all marketing is promotion, when in fact good marketing is about customer dialogue that ensures we vendors have the right, high quality products our customers seek. And what better place to make those connections than through social media.

      Now I will concede that to many marketers, as you say, social media is just a platform to “blast out tweets and blogs that praise themselves.” But that is the role of Content Marketing: to identify the content that actually helps buyers. We do conduct research based on the buying journey and look at the kinds of content buyers need and look at all the places where they consume it (social is just one). Tony Zambito, who commented above has a whole business helping vendors to gain these insights and conduct this research.

      GOOD marketing will deliver this valuable content and offer product details only when they’ve been asked or have earned the right to suggest it. So I think we marketers need to do a better job at showing our ecosystem what good marketing is and how it can provide value for buyers and our ecosystem at large. I for one, along with many of my peers welcome the challenge….!

      Best Regards,
      Michael

  • Ardath Albee

    I’ve been thinking about this on and off all day. My knee jerk reaction was to think this was a ridiculous statement. But upon further thought I think maybe it’s just not focused on the right cause of destruction – which you did a great job of pointing out, as did many in their comments.

    Instead of “content marketing will destroy social media” how about “noise and selfishness will destroy social media?”

    This is a trend I see growing and I think painting it with the brush of content marketing was said to stir people up, rather than pose the subject for a debate.

    Michael, you pointed out many reasons why content marketing is valid and helpful in combination with social media.

    Here are a few things I see:

    1. People are retweeting stuff without being thoughtful about what they’re adding to the conversation. For example, I see RTs come up so fast after the original Tweet that there’s no way the person read what’s at the other end of the link. So are they RTing based on the source’s reputation? Perhaps because they thought the headline was cute? Just so their stream remains active? In an attempt to build their Klout score?

    2. I see both logo and personal accounts posting a continuous stream of “Look at Me” stuff. It’s not endearing and I wish they’d stop doing it. In fact, I think it was Joe Pulizzi who was talking about a ratio of 5:1. Five posts of sharing other people’s stuff that your audience will find helpful to 1 self-oriented post.

    3. Self-serving outreach seems to be attaining new heights. Just in the last week, for example, I’ve received 6 LinkedIn invites from people who say they’re my “friend” with messages about what their companies can do for me. Yet I don’t know them and they don’t know me, or more obviously, anything about my company. Same with auto DMs on Twitter. Seriously? They think this is appropriate?

    So if social media is going to be destroyed by anything, I think it will be too much self-focus, thoughtless posts that add nothing new to the conversation and just plain too much noise that people have to filter through.

    On the upside, we’re all getting really good at filtering, so it’s probable that social media will survive. The interesting twist is that in order to beat those filters, our content marketing will have to reach increasing levels of excellence to get through.

    • Michael Brenner

      Hi Ardath,

      Thanks so much for you thoughtful response. I think you’re quite right that this is not a topic to avoid. We marketers have a bad image not because we are bad people with ill intentions but because the majority of marketing is noise (I want to say is “crap” or worse). As Tony said, marketing (or content marketing) needs a re-brand and how ironic is that?

      I think audience-first is the main priority of any corporate marketer. And quality content is the next one, as you say,in order to break through the noise.

  • Olivier Blanchard

    It really depends on your perception of content marketing. It has been so bastardized in the last 18 months that I can relate to the statement. It isn’t to say that 100% of content marketing is bad, but more than 50% of it is. Maybe more than 80%. So… I can understand where he was coming from.

    There’s also a need for a balance between adequate marketing (that has value for consumers) and the kind of engagement that isn’t fueled by a profit motive. The space between achieving that balance and losing it is razor-sharp in the social space – perhaps more so on Twitter than on Facebook.

    So… there’s context to the statement. It makes sense when you look at it that way. Outside of that context, okay, it becomes a blanket statement.

    • Michael Brenner

      Hi Olivier,

      The stats support the case, don’t they? how much of the content we produce as marketers gets viewed, shared and commented on? The sad turth is that you are right.It is not the majority.

      Thanks for adding the context to the statement!

  • Joe Pulizzi

    Michael…thanks so much for calling attention to this. Some very thoughtful comments here and I don’t want to repeat anything (especially Ardath’s excellent comments), but I will say this.

    1. Content marketing has been going on since the dawn of cave paintings…the idea of telling helpful and engaging stories to, ultimately, attract or retain a customer. John Deere’s The Furrow magazine, for example, has been published since 1895. This a wonderful example of content marketing as truly helpful. John Deere has helped educate farmers in so many ways, acting as a trusted advisor. That trust pays off in a customer relationship.

    Today, most people think that content marketing is somehow new…it’s not, it’s just exploding because all the barriers to publishing have gone away, and like it or not, we are publishers.

    2. I’ve been in the content marketing industry for a long time now. It used to be called one of 30 different phrases…custom media, custom publishing, customer media, branded content etc. As a salesperson, a long time ago, it was challenging to sell the concept when EVERY customer called it something different.

    I chose to use “content marketing” because, over and over again, it was the one term that got CMOs to sit up a little in their chair. They immediately got it. Wrong term or not, we are starting to at least get on the same page, even though some people use it in the wrong context.

    3. BAD content marketing is a wonderful thing for everyone who competes with the brand that distributes unhelpful content. Those companies lose trust and attention. Once that happens, it’s hard to get that back. Great content marketers earn that trust and forge awesome bonds. What an opportunity for brands that “get it”.

    4. We’ve been here before every time new channels open up. The same questions are always asked. We don’t give consumers enough credit. As Google’s ZMOT shows us, they are looking for more information than ever before, and will find it. Smart companies are the information providers.

    5. I can’t stand blanket statements.

    6. Traditionalists are scared of content marketing because it means that they MUST change or go the way of the do do. Traditional marketing won’t go away, but IS very powerful still when integrated with powerful online and offline stories. It’s not one or the other, it’s both.

    Thanks Michael

  • R "Ray" Wang

    Great discussion. I’m mostly concerned about trust. Trust is the new social currency. http://blog.softwareinsider.org/2010/12/16/best-practices-five-simple-rules-for-social-business/

    Without it, we destroy the basis for engagement and relationship.

    What am I afraid of?

    As others have stated, content management has so much potential for abuse. We see it already with thinly veiled advertorials. We see it with sponsored white papers written by “independent” analysts.

    The newness and pureness of social media is what draws users to engage. If we deafen that with the equivalent of ‘junk mail”, spam, and telemarketing in the guise of content marketing, we’re in trouble as we’ll hit another level of social overload and disengagement.

    Rather than keep ranting on this, let’s move to the next level here. I’m thinking we need some ground rules in content marketing to address the trust issue.

    1. Any sponsored material should be clearly stated upfront.
    2. The sponsors and their affiliations should be noted.
    3. Any paid relationships should be transparent.

    What other rules do you think we should add? What else will preserve the level of trust? What’s required for more transparency?

    Look forward to reading your thoughts?

    R “Ray” Wang
    Principal Analyst & CEO
    Constellation Research, Inc.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Ray, I agree with you that “trust is the new social currency.” But I also think that the potential for abuse has always been an issue. If you watch Fox News, or read the Huffington Post or Business Insider, you need to be able to discern the “angle” of the producer. There is no pure journalism as Bob pointed out and there never was.

      I like the ground rules and the sponsored post examples I pointed to (Forbes, Gawker, HuffPo) follow those rules. It is actually in the advertiser’s best interest to highlight the relationship as an “ad” as the intent is to show affiliation with the topic as opposed to selling.

      What I think the real problem is not content marketing but bad content marketing. I can’t imagine anything that we can do to stop this from happening. But I do believe that the transparency of social and the more educated and critical content consumer votes with their feet (or eyeballs) and with their ability to create a backlash.

      So my suggestion is that the ground rules need to be a shared responsibility:
      1> Publishers need to clearly label sponsored content as separate from their own editorial
      2> Marketers need to work harder to add more value in their content instead of veiled attempts at promoting themselves
      3> Content Consumers & Buyers share some of the burden to simply ignore bad content marketing or call us out when we cross the line

      This is a great discussion and a worthy exchange. Thanks again for adding your comments and looking forward to any additional thought?

  • Robert Rose

    Michael….
    First and foremost – wonderful post. Thanks for the discussion.

    The problem I have with a statement like this – is that it is both true and false at the same time. So, sadly doesn’t really get to the heart of what (at least I think) the originator meant. Clearly, they were trying to simply be provocative – but I think did it in kind of a ham fisted way.

    The statement assumes that “social media” (as a concept) is something that can actually be “destroyed”. And, it implies that social media is some pure of heart, kumbaya place that is being sullied by the impurities of commercialism. It’s basically the 2012 version of the Charlie Brown scene where he laments that he doesn’t recognize the meaning of Christmas – and complains that even his dog has “gone commercial”. My response to that – and to this analyst – is the same that Linus has for him – “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world – you’re the Charlie Browniest.”

    Social media is just where the conversation is happening. It’s just people. So, it’s just as filled with idiots, negativity, trolls – and yes overly commercial messages – as any other place where content is displayed and conversations among people happen.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with the definition of marketing – or content marketing for that matter. We shouldn’t have to re-define or clarify a practice (new or otherwise) just because some people will ultimately do it poorly. We just have to work hard to rise above the noise, further the cause – preach best practices and deliver results.

    As Linus says.. It’s not a “bad little tree. Maybe it just needs a little love.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQeKdvXliIU&feature=related

  • Stan Faryna

    Not any content will save marketing – I would like to point out. For content without character will never truly matter.

    As MLK, Jr. said so long ago, we shall be judged by the content of our character.

    In other words, the only good content is the content that serves; it must be good, useful, and it must speak to our dignity and conscience as human persons. Everything else is just spam.

    Let me put it another way, content strategy will only save marketing if it helps us (you and me) to be relevant, crucial, and significant in our world, in our lives and circles of influence, and in our contribution and compassion.

    We can not live on spam, spam, spam, eggs, and spam (ref. to Monty Python). And if spam shall prevail, marketing is not the only thing that will dead. The heart and conscience of Man will be dead.

    In other words, the abolition of Man. Which we have been warned about by the likes of C.S. Lewis, Chesterton, and, yes, John too – John who wrote the Book of Revelations.

    Did I go deep on you? [laughing] Hopefully – not a Jack Handey kind of deep. Hand jobs are so blah…

    • Michael Brenner

      Stan,

      You just somehow masterfully combined MLK, Monty Python, C.S Lewis, Chesterton, John the Gospel writer, Jack Handey and an inappropriate sexual reference all in something close to a hundred words.

      And you know I am carrying the Be Useful/Helpful/Audience-first flag so I think we’re on the same page!

  • patmcgraw

    Michael,

    Great post and discussion.

    I would like to respond to something you said in response to Vijay – “But I fear you are assuming that all marketing is promotion, when in fact good marketing is about customer dialogue that ensures we vendors have the right, high quality products our customers seek.”

    I agree with you 100% – in theory. In reality, for the majority of businesses that hire a ‘CMO’ or ‘SVP Marketing’ or even a ‘Marketing Director’, marketing is nothing more than promotion.

    For many, content marketing is producing content and pushing it onto the public. But it comes from the company and (sorry Supreme Court) companies are not people. So there is a lack of engagement, a lack of relationship building – a failure to connect.

    A little less content, a little more conversation would be a tremendous improvement for many businesses.

    Again, thanks for a great discussion – I wish there was more of this out there vs. blogs without comments and registration forms that are a little too intrusive thanks to the database staff…

    Pat

    • Michael Brenner

      Pat, I am with you all the way. I started in sales and outperformed many of my peers by simply trying to establish relationships and have value-based business conversations. I don’t think as a salesperson I spent a moment “selling” and yet I closed million-dollar deals and gained some life-ling friends!

      As a marketer, I have always believed that promotion was the quickest way to a slammed door, opt-out or the worse. In the last 2 years alone I have seen engagement rates to outbound promotions fall 50% and then 50% again.

      But here’s the light at the end of the tunnel: at some point these overly-promotional tactics become too expensive for marketers to continue. There won’t be enough suckers on opt-in email lists to SPAM or people answering their land lines to cold call. And all that will remain is engaging, helpful, useful, and maybe even entertaining content that attracts buyers.

      I believe the day is coming soon and it is all thanks to the transparency of social media and the continued abuse of bad marketing that will get us there quickly.

  • Joe Pulizzi

    Michael…

    >>>Drucker quote: “The aim of marketing is to understand customers so well that the product or service sells itself.” <<<

    AMEN…that's what content marketing is all about.

  • Tony Zambito

    A quick couple of comments again. On the point of high-quality new becoming rarer – that is I think is becoming one of our country’s – let alone business – most significant problems. Objective news has been the lever of democracy since the founding of this country.

    I love the Peter Drucker quote from Joe – used a few in a recent webinar. Looks like we’ve got some Peter Drucker fans on here! Love it.

    Like the comment from Robert – thinking about it – a name change perhaps will mean little if people are not doing it better.

    Like Ardath’s view on the retweets and etc. Much being done with little thought.

    Thanks Michael also for noting the value of research and understanding buyers.

    Love the conversation!

    Tony Zambito

  • Toby Murdock

    great post Michael.

    it seems that you are consider whether “content marketing will destroy journalism” as much as whether it will destroy social media.

    i’ve heard lots of people decry the former. but the fact is there is no lock-in for the audience any more, no distribution monopolies. if content from marketers is biased, no one will read it. all content has to stand on its own value.

    ultimately is is the change in economics that will drive the success of content from brands as opposed to content from traditional media outlets. i’ve written about this on CMI: http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/09/future-of-content/

    these economics are so overwhelming that i think within a few years the majority of content that we consume will come from brands.

    • Michael Brenner

      Great point Toby, there is a bit of a mixing of social media / journalism in all this. And the economics of information and content consumer expectations of free are totally driving the change.

      And a nice bold statement there. Very interested in what others think about that one!?!?!

  • Milena

    Hi, great article. Content marketing is a key differentiator – it will be your competitive advantage and will contribute effectively towards improving the overall content quality on the Web. So yeah, content marketing is king:)

  • Lexi Rodrigo

    How can content marketing destroy social media when social media is a vehicle for content marketing? And a great one at that?

  • Gregg Freishtat

    Great topic and insightful post. It important to remember, as you noted, that all social media companies are supported by advertising or subscriptions – period. The reality is that the CPM/advertising model is under duress as evidenced by the dislocation in the publishing world. So….it could easily be argued that social media will save publishing because of content marketing. If content marketing makes it easier for consumers to discover all the content from around the web – on a specific topic – at one place, I think its a win for everyone. Policing this emerging market to prevent abuse will be an issue but one which will work itself out because consumers have low tolerance for abuse.

    Content marketing will kill social media. The question is what will happen to social media as we shift from user generated content being the cornerstone of social media to a mix of UGC and professional content intermingling in social media, publishing, and the work of brands doing their sales and marketing with the tools that are available online.

    We are working on all sides of these issues at http://www.scribit.com and http://www.verticalacuity.com.

    Gregg Freishtat
    CEO, Vertical Acuity & Scribit

  • Bhaskar Sarma

    The discussion here is as good as the content in the post.

    A comment like “Content Marketing will destroy social media” sounds like link bait.

    Social media in it’s current form might be around since the last 6-7 years but the idea behind it, of people talking to others about things they care about has been around since language was invented. Content marketing in the context of providing information and persuading people on a particular course of action is just as old.

    As far as providing value and objectivity is concerned, I think people realize that nothing is free from bias. A good piece of content will have a particular slant or a call to action, and that’s expected. What is crucial is that this call to action should result in value to the reader.

  • Patricia Wilson

    Great post. The only issue I would take is the one that assumes sponsored stories make the journalism less objective.

    I’ve been buying media for 20+ years and one of the criteria of investing ad dollars has always been the credibility of the media.

    Believe it or not, media planners (at least reputable and well-trained ones) do care about how a medium is valued by the reader or viewer.

    If I place a Ford ad in Fortune magazine, I am aware that Fortune may write a story on Ford and it may or may not be flattering. That is a risk advertisers take to be in a publication readers trust. The lines between edit and advertising have been blurred by some publications for years. But many publications hold that line as sacred.

    I would say I’ve noticed the blurring of the line more in digital and in broadcast. Newspapers and magazines (some at least) still attempt to separate edit and advertiser interests.

  • R Wang

    Here’s the link to my post on why we need clearer rules on #contentmarketing http://t.co/Wq9Po7P

    Enjoy.

  • Adam Crawford

    Do we all have this notion that media and integrity had been intertwined until social came along?

    Time to wake up. The media has always been biased. But with social we are forced to wake up, smell the coffee and most importantly …. something my Mom always used to say, “consider the source.”

  • Bethany Brightmore

    Great post Michael!

    There have been so many debates about content marketing; can it be defined as marketing? Does it drive social media (FYI I say yes to both).
    In regards to SEO, it seems to be a bit of a dark art still, but then again doesn’t that give content marketing more value? (if it’s done right that is).
    The one word I think of when discussions such as these a rise, is “engagement”. Your marketing is successful when it engages the right people. How does it do that? Through content. How it is written, how it is presented, but the writing itself needs to have a hook, a strategy, a purpose (hence the marketing part).
    We wrote an article about the content marketing and the 1% rule which you might be interested in reading:

    http://bit.ly/wiC4cy

    • Michael Brenner

      Hi Bethany,

      Thanks for your comment and for the support on #MMchat. I agree that content marketing is social marketing. In fact, I say content marketing is only needed to bridge the gap between the now (largely traditional) and the future (largely engaged) marketing. The gap is in the mass of traditionalists who haven’t woken up to the new world.

      I think SEO is simple: follow the widely-known rules, create content people want and want to share, make it easy to consume and it will get authority in search engines. To me keywords are just questions. Our content should contain the answers.

      Will definitely check out the link. Thanks again!

      Best, Michael

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