Today I had the pleasure to attend a webinar “8 Content Initiatives You Need to Seriously Consider for 2012”.
Given that it was February 2nd 1 PM EST which was 2 AM the following day here in Singapore, I had an ample supply of black coffee on hand. Not that I needed it as the content was gripping enough to keep me wide awake right to the very end.
The webinar was hosted by John Sonnhalter of Tradesmen Insights (@SonnhalterB2T) with guest presenter Joe Pulizzi, Content marketing expert and founder of the Content Marketing Institute (@JuntaJoe)
Joe Pulizzi began by reviewing the history and practice of content marketing and why it’s one of the fastest growing areas of marketing today. He then went on to discuss eight initiatives that all marketers need to consider now when it comes to corporate storytelling and social media.
Here is my recap of the webinar.
Update February 7, 2012: John Sonnhalter has kindly made the replay available to our readers.
John Deere has been publishing “The Furrow” magazine since 1895. This publication can be viewed as one of the earliest representations of what is known today as content marketing or corporate story telling.
The purpose of the magazine was to educate farmers on, what was then, new technology.
Farmers were educated on the new technologies available presumably with the intent to get them into the mindset to buy John Deere’s farm machinery.
“The Furrow” still exists today, 117 years later, on the John Deere website.
What we’re talking about here is publishing. Wikipedia defines publishing as “the activity of making information available to the general public.”
It is now both easier and harder to become an expert publisher.
Things have changed since the early days of publishing. It took a lot of investment to be a publisher: targetting the right people, building the infrastructure.
These barriers are now gone. Customers expect and accept content much faster, as long as it looks good to them. There’s no need to be a leading newspaper or trade magazine to gain acceptance. It’s much easier now to find the talent to write and edit content whether it’s text or video. The technology is now readily available for anyone to create a blog in minutes, for example WordPress, Facebook and LinkedIn, and start publishing content.
According to research by Google and Shopper Sciences, published in the free eBook “Winning The Zero Moment of Truth, the number of sources, i.e. content, engaged by buyers before making their decision has approximately doubled since 2010. This may increase to between 15 and 20 sources next year which represents a massive 300% to 400% increase on the 2010 figures.
Joe Pulizzi defined content marketing as marketers being publishers who own the media, whereby the reader comes to rely on the marketer for information, rather than renting the reader’s attention by purchasing space in a third party’s publication such as a trade magazine.
It is the job of a content marketer to attract new, or retain existing, customers by consistently creating or curating content that is valuable, relevant and compelling. The end game of this is to get the reader to take action. What that action is depends on the desires and business aims of the marketer.
Corporate storytelling is at the core of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), lead generation and social media engagement. For these to work well you have to tell a compelling story.
SEO: to be found by the keywords you need to have compelling content that people link to and share.
Lead generation: whitepapers, webinars and eBook downloads are lead generation activities. If you don’t have compelling content then the lead is lost.
Social media: you have to talk about things that people care about and want to get involved in a conversation.
By being the best storyteller, i.e. content marketer, you become a magnet that attracts readers.
With the removal of the barriers to entry it has become easier to be a publisher. However, because of the increasing amount of content available, it has become harder than before to get attention. You have got to be the best storyteller in your industry and you have to make the on-line connections to get the story out.
Joe shared a range of interesting statistics:
Rather than repeat them here, head over to SlideShare where you can see them in all their glory (slides 20-27).
When creating content, don’t be vague or try to go too large. Focus on your niche/persona, e.g. the mom/wife on the go.
If you want to present yourself as the leading expert, you have to get as niche as possible to make an impact on your customers. Trying to be the leading expert on pets would be tough, but focussing on pet owners who like to travel with there pets is more achievable.
Once you’ve figured out what you’re going do and flood that with great content.
“Defining the Term” – you can actually define the industry, e.g. “Workshifting” and, in fact, “Content Marketing”.
Produce consistent, relevant, very shareable content.
Reimagine your content as you go, there’s not just one story, there’s not just one story platform.
Think “before” and “after” – What can the content become? A blog post, audio, video, Tweet, Facebook post, SlideShare, an eBook.
How do you seed it within your community? Share it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, RSS feeds, YouTube, Press Release etc. There are more than 10 ways to sow your seeds.
Find your customers’ pain points:
Create content for key questions being asked.
Create pillar content e.g. eBooks, whitepapers and lists, which will attract people. This can form part of your lead generation strategy.
For every 6 posts:
Make sure that the influencer’s that you are highlighting know that you are sharing their content.
Have at least the “Big Four”: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
If you want your content to be shared, you have to set it up so that it can be shared.
Use your “hit list” and list of influencers. Ask them if they will create content for your site. If they do, then not only is your content shared with your community but also with the influencer’s community. This expands the reach of your content.
Think Like a Publisher.
Whatever you want to sell: