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Brands: Content Marketing Does Not Mean Become Content Creators

Interesting post today in Digiday, with an interview with Ford’s CMO Jim Farley on the subject of how they have a big evolving focus on social marketing, using content THEY create as a lever.  http://www.digiday.com/brands/why-fords-cmo-has-content-on-his-mind/

I applaud Jim and his team on clearly being visionaries…but something not quite adding up for me here.  Of course figuring out social is key, but creating good, engaging content is not easy.  That’s what media companies do…is it really realistic to believe that most brands can become experts at this?  Or that it would be cost-effective to do so?  Besides, a key currency of social media is authenticity…how authentic will content be seen to be if it is quite frankly created with the intent of making you buy something, even if circuitously?  One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is stretching into an area that is just not fundamentally a core competency.  Especially when there is a better, easier way.

I was first introduced to the concept of content marketing several years ago by Gilad de Vries, who was at Carmel Ventures at the time, investing in a company called Outbrain (he liked it so much he joined the company later – I liked it enough to put it on our websites).  I don’t know that it was formally called “content marketing” yet, but that’s what it was (is). The idea was that content ABOUT brands/products (or related/relevant material) is being created all the time…by professional media, bloggers, consumer even… independent, authentic content.  This content creates CONTEXT to engage consumers and draw them into a purchase funnel (or keep them engaged with a brand/product they already use).

The thing that really resonated with me then was the idea that brands could use various mechanisms (such as Outbrain) to direct audiences to INDEPENDENTLY CREATED positive content that would create that context to sell.  I wish Ford and all the other brands out there well in their content creation endeavors, but I really think for the most part, they’re barking up the wrong tree.  Find content relevant to your niche, or better…positive reviews of your product, and make sure you’re prospects see it.  Even if you do somehow coax me into landing on a page about your new Ford truck that you created yourself, frankly, I’ll be much more persuaded if the article is in Road & Track.
UPDATE:  I was quoting Gilad de Vries from several years back.  He reached out to tell me that he in fact sees many examples of  companies creating great, relevant, non-sales-y/pushy content (see below, thanks to Gilad).  I don’t doubt it…and he is the expert.  I’m not saying brands can’t create any content, but for massive scale & impact, if I were a brand manager I’d still be searching out truly independent, brand-positive content, and figuring out how to direct my prospects there.

GE, The Txchnologist: http://txchnologist.com/post/31817280955/finding-3-d-printed-objects-weakest-links

– GE, ecomagination: http://www.ecomagination.com/

– Unilever, TheAdrenalist: http://www.theadrenalist.com/

– P&G, HomeMadeSimple: http://www.homemadesimple.com/en-us/pages/home.aspx

– GeneralMills, Tablespoon: http://www.tablespoon.com/

– RedBull http://www.redbullusa.com/cs/Satellite/en_US/Red-Bull-Home/001242746208542

– Quicksilver: http://blog.quiksilver.com/

– AMEX, OpenForum: http://www.openforum.com/

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This entry was posted on September 19, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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