While reading Econsultancy's CEO Ashley Friedlein's 17 digital marketing trends for 2011, I was particularly interested to read point 6: Content strategy/content marketing – the King is back. Interested because, as regular readers of my blog (thanks Mum) will attest, content strategy/content marketing/content in general, is a subject particularly dear to my heart.
I have seen first hand the rise in 'content marketing', not so much the king is back, as the king is still here and more popular than ever. Perhaps it's more accurate to say "quality content, the king is back." Because the emphasis, from the majority, is for high quality content (hurrah!)
So why the rise in Content Marketing?
Engagement and dwell time - for many companies this is becoming a more popular metric. Organisations are recognising that in an increasingly competitive market place, where the web has given consumers numerous options, it is hugely important to engage with the customer. Relevant, compelling content gives the client a reason to keep connecting with your brand.
Thought leadership - Content can have a massive impact on the way your brand is perceived by customers. Providing useful and interesting information is an excellent way to be seen as the expert in your field.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and driving traffic - Google's beginners guide to search engine optimisation talks about the importance of content for SEO: "Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it. Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site's reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content."
Social media - ultimately social media is content. Perhaps that content is just 140 characters long, but it's content nevertheless. The rules that apply to content creation, such as: be useful and be interesting, also apply to social media. In order to actively participate in social media you need something to say, and that something to say is content.
User generated content - this ties into engagement. If you want your customers to generate content, such as: reviews, comments or images, they will need a reason to do so. One way to encourage interaction is via content, perhaps an interesting article or a product review might prompt a client/customer to comment.
I was also interested to read Ashley Friedlein's thoughts on the importance of Content Curation. He says: "It’s not just about content *creation* but content *curation*" and he's right, this is a huge challenge. Managing the content: who writes it, when they write it, who checks it, where that content goes and doesn't go; for many companies this is a full time job. Organisations often have huge amounts of internal expertise and knowledge, which would make excellent online content. The challenge is often those individuals with the knowledge feel they don't have the time to turn that knowledge into useful features, guides or blogs. How to address that challenge, that is a topic for another blog post!