Tagged: content

Content Is King, But Is The King A Benevolent Ruler?

We’ve all heard the phrase “Content is King” too many times for it to actually mean much. There are too many questions left unanswered. King of which court? Who is the Queen? How do the subjects feel about content? And so on.

Ross Simmonds makes a great point in the following slide deck. He says content alone does not get the job done. You need high quality content plus high quality distribution to make a substantial impact.

Mid-way through the deck, Simmonds make the point that one ought to spend twice the amount of time promoting one’s blog post, as one does creating it. Is this good advice or bad advice? I do not want to be quick to judge, but I can report that in over a decade of writing blog posts, I have not followed this formula and have still managed to do pretty well by my blogging efforts here, and on AdPulp.com.

Would I be even more well known in my industry, and therefore more prosperous, if I were to apply the above rule of thumb and spend several hours promoting this post and every new post I make? Perhaps, but I am far from convinced it is a wise investment of my time. Thought leadership and influencer marketing have a role to play in my work, but how large of a role?

Here’s another question to ask: How important is inbound marketing to your business?

Compelling content can create leads and it can generate favorable e-commerce results. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. For instance, when looking to hire an agency, or a content provider as the case may be, it is not as simple as buying a t-shirt—the qualifying process is a nuanced dance that takes places over days, weeks and months. My point is I want inbound leads like everyone else, but I know I can’t rely too heavily on this one new business channel. Therefore, I am comfortable letting the content I create speak for itself to a large degree.

The web of marketing advice is a sea of self-assured proclamations. It’s good to look for new points of view, just as it is essential to know what business you are actually in and how to go about growing it. With limited time in the day, small business operators need to focus on the most productive means to more revenue. In some cases, the time spent promoting a blog post might be better spent fine tuning one’s Google Adwords campaign, or Twitter Ads campaign. Or the time might be better spent meeting potential clients in person.

If/when you need help understanding which marketing methods are best for your particular business, I’m happy to discuss it with you.

Build Interest And Loyalty — Find, Shape And Share Your Best Brand Stories

On Thursday, at the request of my friend Albert Kauffman, I spoke to a gathering of small business owners in NE Portland interested in improving their email and social media marketing.

My challenge was to fit a 20-minute talk inside Albert’s lengthier overview. I explained the thinking behind EC=MC and what owned media is, and how business owners want to serve their audience of customers and prospects with information or entertainment.

I pointed to Red Bull, Patagonia and Mt. Hood Meadows among others who work hard to create content that meets their audiences at shared points of interest.

A lady in the front row asked about fitting product features and benefits in to this media-intensive approach. I said there is a place for product, and this is where advertising and content can converge.

I played a podcast from Oakland’s Blue Bottle Coffee to illustrate the point.

During the Q+A at the end, Albert kindly asked about the services Bonehook provides. This gave me an opening to discuss how brand identity is closely tied to brand publishing.

I explained that the foundation of one’s brand house must be addressed before high-concept editorial work begins. This might include a logo refresh, new website, traditional advertising or a design upgrade to one’s retail or office space. Once a company’s brand house is solid, then we can focus on finding, shaping and sharing its best brand stories.

The Art of Transforming Facebook Posts Into Ads

Historically, advertising took weeks or months to create. An art director and copywriter team would “hole up” in a room for days and fill their notebooks with doodles and their heads with ideas. Eventually, a creative director would look in on the team’s progress and provide some structure. Perhaps, this explains why so many creative people refer to freshly-baked ideas as “their babies.”

While these legacy practices remain widespread, a snail’s pace simply won’t do for the fast moving social streams brands rely on today.

Sloane Kelley, new executive producer at PGA Tour and former interactive strategy director at creative agency BFG Communications, says, “Some brand teams are stuck in the old ways. I’ve seen brands plan their Facebook posts one year in advance, but they give up the in-the-moment nature of social media that way.”
“If you look carefully, you can tell which brands are planning their posts in advance, Kelley says. “I think brands sometimes forget that people don’t want to read advertising on Facebook. They want to interact.”

In fairness to the traditional approach to conveying brand messages, there is a place for planned posts. Consider updates from a brand mascot, for instance. If Captain Morgan, Bob’s Big Boy, or another personification of a brand is in the habit of delivering witty repartee on Facebook, then some degree of planning makes sense.


Earlier this spring Kelley’s team at BFG planned, albeit quickly, an April Fool’s Day prank by changing the Mello Yello can to Mello YOLO (the youth slang acronym You Only Live Once). Some Facebook fans reacted with a degree of cranky, possibly mocking outrage when they saw the change. One fan of the Coca-Cola-owned brand commented, “If there was anything that could make me put down my Mello Yello, THIS IS IT!” Another fan wrote, “YOLO is for morons.” Ouch.

The thing is, in a field where consumer engagement is a key metric, you don’t judge a post entirely by the quality or contents of its comments. How many comments is key, along with the number of likes and shares. The Mello YOLO April Fool’s post on Facebook received 248 likes, 30 comments and 88 shares. That’s because, positive or negative, getting shared more can fuel additional momentum when a brand decides to turn a post into an ad.

“Brands spend a lot of money to create reach on social networks, but the stuff that gets shared is the stuff that gets seen,” says Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, a Manhattan-based digital agency working with Pepsi, AMC, Absolut Vodka and other large consumer brands.

To create these shareable objects, or so-called “social ads,” for clients, Deep Focus relies on an always-on team of creative professionals in its new Moment Studio, a division of the company which uses what it calls a “creative newsroom” approach to produce content for client brands.

“The lean-style ads (we see on Facebook) are a passing fancy. Great work has to look like it, not like it was made by some 24-year-old with an unlicensed copy of Photoshop.”

Schafer says his agency’s Moment Studio team is “fast, good and inexpensive.” He adds that the agency’s content creators are in continual contact and collaboration with the day-to-day community managers for those brands. “The community managers are closest to the channel and know best when to post and to promote something,” Schafer says.

Timing and responsiveness is key to social media marketing, and Deep Focus likes “to reward a good piece on content by turning it into [an] ad.” In other words, when the agency team sees viral activity develop on a post, they typically put money behind the post to further promote it on Facebook and amplify its reach. This pro-active approach to boosting one’s own posts makes sense, especially when compared to the now-defunct Facebook ad product called “Sponsored Stories,” where “likes” from brand fans were unknowingly translated into endorsements.

Posting or promoting ad-like objects to Facebook for a brand does requires some level of dialogue with the client, which can slow things down considerably if not handled properly. Schafer says he prefers to have a single point of contact for client approvals, and that Deep Focus will generally make three pieces of content in the hopes of getting one or maybe two ideas approved, versus creating one execution that goes through a lengthy chain of revisions. He says the unplanned, in-the-moment content can go from concept to creation and placement on Facebook in a few hours.

How can this necessary quick turnaround — from Facebook post to ad — be reconciled with the fact that many social media accounts and strategies are run by agencies, not the brands themselves, and consequently require approvals that slow things down?

Schafer and Kelley both advocate for doing the strategic groundwork early, and in collaboration with the client, to gain trust and buy-in. Kelley says BFG’s content team can make updates on Mello Yello’s Facebook page without prior brand manager or legal approval from Coca-Cola, but they did seek prior approval for the April Fool’s “YOLO” gimmick since it involved a packaging modification.

Brands showing agencies this unprecedented level of trust is a positive sign for things to come with regard to brands’ plunge into digital. In this case, it also showcases Coca-Cola’s Liquid and Linked commitment to digital, and their embrace of new rules for an always-on medium. Being able to quickly transform Facebook posts into media spend has turned out to be a small and effective test bed for clearing some of the bureaucratic hurdles that would otherwise make it difficult for legacy brands to successfully jump into the world of social content.