Content Marketing

    The Art of Keywords.



    There isn’t any. There is very little art in keyword infested content. Writers who pepper their digital work with keywords so the algo can find it, aren’t writing they are data processing. Recruiters will tell you to make sure you have a list of keyword skills in your resume so the algo, at first pass (Who can read 200 resumes?) finds you.  Similarly, web developers and SEO jockeys want lots of keywords on the homepage and primary layers to make sure your site rises to the top on Google. And content marketing writers, as grammatically correct as they are, know they’re being paid by the search not the word. So, where’s the art? Where’s the poetry? Where is that heart-felt, emotive story? In many cases it’s not even copy anymore, it’s search palaver.

    Great writing, persuasive writing is an art. Look at all the best columnists, bloggers and vloggers — they didn’t rise to the top because of keywords. Their content was the marketing. What’s next, musical notes the tones of which are searchable? I loves me some G minor.



    It takes a blog.


    Here’s the difference between the Daily Beast’s content strategy and that of AOL.  Daily.  AOL has a broad set of content properties with a new video focus and a top-tier Poster mentality, but the Daily Beast is all about today.  Combining of the Daily Beast and Newsweek was all about allowing the Beast to learn the journalism craft and investigative reporting and to infuse news gathering DNA into its being.  Whether or not the Beast subsumes and devours Newsweek, only time will tell (I suspect it will), but this is the play for the Beast.  It has set its sights on the Huff Post, part of the AOL family, and made an interesting move yesterday.

    By bringing over the Daily Dish from The Atlantic yesterday (there’s that daily word again) and paying Andrew Sullivan for his column/post/blog, the Daily franchise will grow in stature and readers.  The brand is taking form.  In the magazine media form, first there were monthlies, then weeklies.  Online has allowed for dailies.  Of course newspapers are dailies and if anyone should own the daily label it should be them, but for some reason they can’t seem to get out of their own way.  It takes a blog.

    Go ahead and laugh, but it won’t be long before someone comes along and takes the “hourly” franchise.  Peace. 


    Herding Content Cats.


    What’s the Idea? is soon fielding a piece of research to better understand the state of the state of content marketing. The survey should go live this week. It is partly the result of some consulting I’ve been doing this summer in the digital space on content strategy. Our feeling is that there is a lot of content marketing talk but very little codified strategy. I understand it’s a fairly new, pop marketing pursuit and as such heavily in tactics mode – a la, during World War II, build tanks furiously, we’ll figure out how to use them – but when it comes to marketing, too much emphasis on tactics sans strategy can dilute brand meaning. So our poll will quantify the use of content strategy on websites and social settings, especially in mid-sized companies. herding cats

    Today I came across a new-ish title in the press: Chief Content Officer. I suspect it’s an outgrowth of this content marketing frenzy. Anyone tasked with herding the content cats with a chief title is okay by me. But is it a real chief title or just a director level title? And does the chief content officer have the same power as the chief marketing officer? I would hope not.

    As a brand planner and someone familiar with the executive suite, it is obvious to me that the CMO should set direction for the chief content officer. A company with dueling chiefs in this area (healthy though the ultimate outcome may be), seems way dysfunctional. I love the function of a chief content officer, don’t get me wrong, but it feels a little affected and nouveau. I’ll do a little more studying and keep you posted. Peace. 


    Content Marketing Cons.


    Business-to-business (B2B) brands have spawned a new type of marketing today, one growing by leaps and bounds. It’s called content marketing. Before it earned its current name, this was simply advertising and promotional material, e.g., brochures and fulfillment pieces. It was a big business, fueling ad agencies, trade publications and printing companies.

    But content marketing today is very different.  It is primarily words in the ether. Fodder for search engines. Manufactured schema for driving sales though copy and to a lesser extent pictures and video. A new class of B2B content marketing shops have opened up around the country churning out real writing on topics ranging from agriculture to zoology. Gone are the days where you could bury your keywords on a page (white words on a white background) and raise your search profile. And you can’t just copy and paste other people’s copy onto your site to build search ballast. Google has caught on.

    Today B2B marketers are employing “by-the-pound” content farms. Farms filled with ex-trade publication writers, retired professors, tyro English majors and other so-called subject matter experts (SMEs).  The problem is, they don’t work for the companies they represent. They don’t get the brand strategy. It’s original content, yes, which Google applauds, but it’s “Choice” content not “Prime” content. And it’s driven by the algorithm, not the brand.

    The best content is homegrown. Prime content gets noticed and shared. It gets commented on and argued. If you can’t write about your own company, if you have to hire mercenaries, you are feeding Google but diminishing your brand.



    Grey’s Anatomy’s Droopy iPad App.


    There is an iPad app for fans of Grey’s Anatomy, says CIO Magazine, developed by TV rating company Nielsen, that offers interactive social activities to viewers tied to events in the program. These events are “watermarked” to the show dialogue.  I’m interested.  Coolness.  I am always on the lookout for “1 plus 1 equals 3” mashups of media that go beyond the expected. That tread new ground.

    And then I read that the Grey’s Anatomy app pops up questions like “What do you think will happen next in the plot?” “Or tweet this to a friend.”  Droop.  The app also offers character info, games and quizzes. Droopier. 

    It sounds as if the media socialists on the show are making the app an extension of a fan club when there were so many other ways to go. The show is about medicine and doctors and hospitals, why not go that route?  Why not inform, educate, surprise?  Or how about offering up some type of production notes about the cast and the scene?  I’ll bet if the app developers actually listened to the audience in real time, without a social media engagement agenda, they might hear insights they hadn’t expected. Go deep. Think deeply. Think about strategy not tactics. Don’t extend, invent. Peace!

    Apple. An opt-in monopoly?


    Apple has decided that ebook publishers and retailers, whose books make their way onto Apple devices, must allow the books to be purchased via Apple.  If you are an iPazzle owner and go to Amazon to buy “The Help” there must also be a link to purchase that book from iTunes/Store as well.  Apple will earn 30%.   Sony an ebook retailer has already balked at this dictate.

    Apple is not saying you have to buy from them, just that they deserve equal access.  Seems fair enough.  Apple Fanboys and girls may wish to give their hard-earned to their favorite brand, as is their right, but where will this taking a cut of the content stop?  Will Apple at some point want a penny for every phone call that lands on an iPhone?  And how would you sell that to your custies? “It goes to R&D to help design better products?” Might work.

    Apple, already an opt-in monopoly of almost cult-like dimension, is creating a platform (read Steve Lohr’s article in The New York Times) that stretches beyond hardware and software and into that amorphous area of services.  They had better be a bit careful though. Opt-in is one thing…dictatorship quite another.  Peace!



    The next big thing will be a video webisodes channel for mobile devices. More and more today, you see people on trains and benches staring down at their mobile phones.  If they are not typing or moving the cursor they’re watching movies.

     Not everyone has time for movies.  You might have 20 minutes of alone time on the way to a museum, club or ballgame. You’re LOLed out and don’t want to bother someone with another inane cell phone conversation starting out with “Hey. What are you doing?”  The answer?  Log on and find some video programming. It will start out as a single curated channel called Mo-Tube or something, containing short length “mobi-sodes” of 16-22 minutes in duration. After a while there will be more channels and programming segments, but it will start with a single new branded channel. Not necessarily serial in nature, these mobi-sodes will be designed to load and stream efficiently and, I’m guessing will be available via subscription.   Aol, you feel me?

    New Type of Programming.

    This will be a new type of programming – not radio, not TV, not movies.  Just little chunks of original and mashed-up programming that stimulate the viewer, fill some time and get the brain moving. Mobi-sodes. Coming to a device near you…in three years or less.

     PS. I know someone will say the channel exists already, but if a tree falls in a the woods and no one is around….

    My Spanking by David Poque.


    David Poque, a technology columnist for The New York Times, is a very interesting character.  He’s a thoughtful, important and market-moving purveyor of what’s hot and what’s not.  Sometimes his columns are a bit like a PC Mag review, but mostly they’re a fun Anthony Bourdain-like travelogue through the tasty streets of technology.

    I have seen Mr. Poque on public television and he has a subtle nervousness about him on camera that doesn’t come across in print… so if I were my mother and in an advice-giving mood I suggest he stay in print.  Interestingly, Mr. Poque’s public and private personas are a tad different.  I posted about one of his columns once with a differing point of view and it really rubbed him. (I advocated not providing in-box instructions with new products to save paper.) His angry and personal comment on my blog surprised — telling me there is a bit more to Mr. Pogue than meets the eye.  (A side that might be fun to read outside of the NYT guardrails.)

    My prediction:  Mr. Poque will either leave The New York Times within the next 3 years and create his own branded site or AOL will make him an offer he can’t refuse.  Yahoo could, but they have a lazy eye.  Peace.

    A Content Marketing Tip and Story.


    Content marketing starts with being seen. Following is a story and insight. And a Twitch Point crumb trail.

    This morning I was reading a New York Times article (a daily anchor read) describing a new ConAgra Slim Jim campaign. I twitched over to Twitter and followed an author by the name of David Vinjamuri, quoted in the article, writer of a book called Accidental Branding. I have heard of the book but now, thanks to the media surround, will consider buying it.) On Mr. Vinjamuri’s Twitter feed, I read and how his Amazon reviews rock, according to Mars Dorian. I might consider following Mr. Dorain but didn’t have time. His name will go into the gray mush database and should it come up again, he’s in.

    The notion of being an Amazon review rockstar is very interesting to me, and plays into my Poster vs. Pasters theory of online magnetism. Mr. Vinjamuri, blogs, writes book, Tweets and no doubt does lots of other posting. His Amazon reviews, however, are placed on a canvas that seen by many and more importantly, seen in context. He has found a place where concerned readers congregate and he is posting there — with things they like. (In doing so, he is creating twitches back to himself.) Had Mr. Vinjamuri doen the review on his own blog he’d have to wait for his Google ranking on the topic to float up. So he used Amazon to fish for acolytes. Genius.

    Just as inbound links are the key to Google rankings, commenting and leaving a trail of crumbs on other people’s sites is a key to content marketing. It’s the last mile. The one most people forget about. It’s the map or directions to you and your site. There is way too much Fotchbook focus for marketers today. They create content for Fotchbook (faccia, is Italian for face) and becasue the platform contains so many crumbs, people tend to stay there…giving Mr. Zuckerberg all the traffic. So Posters, you need to troll. You need to troll in rich waters. And you need to create content back at the ranch that will build greater affinity. Sorry for going long today. Peace!

    A Content Creation Rant.


    You’ve heard the expression “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” It’s awful and belittles one of our most important professions. It brings to mind a pet peeve related to the web so I’ve modified it, “Those who can, post; those who can’t, curate.”

    I was reading about Contently getting its Series B round of funding, which I’m sure it deserves, furthering my belief that this outsourced cottage industry of content creation is getting out of control.  Crazier than that, however, is the curation business. A friend of mine who is in the school security software space recently sent me a newsletter from Paper.LI with an article about Disney World. Guess it was a slow news day.

    I write a lot about the difference between “posters” and “pasters” in web publishing. Anyone who can copy and paste falls into the latter category. Those with original thoughts are part of the former. Good brands don’t outsource content by the pound, they create it themselves. And manage it themselves – hopefully guided by brand strategy.

    Content marketing was initially developed as a way to improve search results. Real content vs. cheesed content with lots of keywords.  I suspect the curation business is an outgrowth of this as well and way to build links without much effort. Content creation and curation is probably a half billion dollar business by now. 80% is effluvia, unoriginal noise.

    Get your brand strategy right then build your own content. See what works, what’s engaged and keep learning (teacher reference). Peace!