A few years ago, the idea of a product or corporate blog was all the rage (2009 – 2011). Using social media sites (then Linked-In and Facebook) was even more compelling. You get your message out in the open. You can write in detail exactly to your readers. You get feedback quickly and answer questions right away. All the benefits of the internet (web) without the work of building a site by hand. We were suppose to be in content marketing heaven by now (2015). For some of us we are more productive and our messages are going more easily. Some are actually running not only campaigns, but real social media groups (lists, pages) which were hard to do in the pre social-media days and before the smart phone use. But, it looks like this is the exception not the norm. There are still many companies who struggle. Many blogger writing the same type of posts and getting no comments and probably very few readers. Even more so, there are people who are actually “going backward”. Giving up on blogs and social media work. Spending more effort and money on advertising and direct mail (landing pages, affiliates, link building, SEO, etc.) Is this the end of the “content marketing” era?
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against SEO, direct mail or advertising. Each has it’s place. But, these are essentially traditional (old school) marketing methods in a new format. What was done in print moved to a “digital” technology. The old techniques miss a crucial point. The ability to deliver information not only quickly (this the old marketers love) but also to deliver to specific audience. Bloggers know their readers through comments and mentions (we don’t have digg any more, but Facebook likes is essentially the same). Bloggers also know through direct messages if they are writing relevant, interesting or useful material. Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn are a great way to see who is interested in your content. Here you also get discussions in parallel to your blog.
Change is hard when we don’t accept the difference between the “old” and the “new”. Writing, editing and promotion is not something most people have done twenty or even ten years ago. The copywriters from ad agencies, the reporters from magazines, the advertising media buyers are highly skilled in optimizing for a narrow channel. Newspapers, TV, radio even magazines were all narrow channels in terms of “content”. They reached huge audience but with highly crafted writing and graphics. Today the craftsmanship is in writing in depth about narrow subjects. For many (including me) it’s hard to describe in “old” terms what you can do today. Just telling a newspaper editor the speed of responses on a blog is scratching the surface. The way messages “go viral”, the way people come to the articles weeks and month’s later and “refresh” interest is a vital difference. Until you actually get in the game, descriptions are not useful.
Next: what do we do with the ones who stayed behind?