As 2015 rolls toward its midpoint, the notion of content marketing is pretty well embedded within the industry as the way to go. As traditional media continues to diminish and new media is so stratified, it’s up to companies to become their own publishers.
But outreach, especially on social media, is a whole other game.
This brings us to brand journalism, a phrase which is often used interchangeably with content marketing but has a further meaning. With content creation, a company is presenting itself and its employees as experts with useful knowledge to share. Brand journalism is about telling the story of the brand — which can mean content you’ve created yourself, or sharing that of others.
PR Daily had an interesting recent article by Kevin Allen, “Content creation vs. content sharing” that lays a lot of this out. Among his most salient points:
- “94 percent of search engine users will click on an organic search result over a pay-per-click link. That means your owned content has to be on-point from an SEO standpoint.”
- Informative posts focus on starting a conversation. They are links to a third party’s site, trending news story, etc.
- A business’ website and especially its blog needs to be comprised of its own content.
- Google’s newest algorithm, Hummingbird, focuses on what a user’s intent is: semantics and predictability, looking at whole sentence instead of individual words.
- A company’s social media presence benefits from being an “informer” over a “self-promoter.”
- Consider inviting your followers to submit creative content for contests, and publish their work.
Overall the idea is to get consumers to trust your brand and look to it for information they’ll find informative and entertaining. That will lead them back to your website or contacting a person, where you can start the selling process.Edit this post
I’ll admit, as someone who was an enthusiastic and fairly early adopter of Facebook, I was slower to take up Twitter. I didn’t acquire my own handle until 2009, and had a hard time mastering the short-but-sweet tempo of Tweets. Part of me thinks I still haven’t.
I’ve done it all in a media career stretching two decades — reporter, editor, designer, blogger, broadcaster — but I was never particularly good at writing headlines. It’s a specialized skill set that is most closely indicative of being good on Twitter, in my experience.
That’s why I was pleased to find this article on the Journalist’s Resource, “Spreading messages on Twitter: Research on best practices for wording and rhetorical craft.” Obviously given the name of the website, the advice is targeted at journalists, but is equally useful to marketers practicing brand journalism or public relations operatives who regularly interface with the media.
The piece demonstrates what many social media gurus already suspected: the click-through rate on links posted via Twitter is much, much lower than on Facebook. A quartet of researchers studied 1 billion links shared on Twitter — their eyes must be tired! — and found that only in 3,000 produced a “large event,” which they defined as reaching 100 or more additional people.
Truly viral events, where a link or tweet is shared thousands of times, is literally a one in a million shot on Twitter.
They quote a paper from the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) with the following suggestions and observations:
- Making a direct appeal for others to share appeared to help. This could be seen with messages that included specific calls to action such as “rt,” “retweet,” “please,” “spread,” “pls” and “plz.”
- Longer, more informative tweets were generally more successful. Likewise, messages that employed words commonly used in the target community were helpful: “Although distinctive messages may attract attention, messages that conform to expectations might be more easily accepted and therefore shared.”
- Messages that imitated news headline style were more successful. The use of negative and positive words also seems to encourage retweets.
- The use of Twitter handles and second-person pronouns — “you” or “your” — in tweets do not necessarily increase sharing rates.
- Keeping vocabulary relatively simple can also help, as can the use of generalizations that have wide applicability.
A lot of good information here that I’ll be putting to good use as I tweet onward!
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No matter what your vocation, from Hollywood actor to marketing executive, you’ve no doubt heard the advice that “less is more.” The phrase, first attributed to poet Robert Browning, has evolved into an almost universally-accepted truth
that audiences appreciate a simple, subtle presentation over a loud, brash one.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than in marketing and websites, where we’re constantly being told people don’t want to see a wall of text on a homepage, or wade through tons of content before getting to the information they came for.
Simplify and streamline
Jason DeMers at Forbes sums it up well: “We’re faced with increasing evidence, statistics, and research findings indicating that consumers are tired of being bombarded with extraneous information, which distracts rather than assists them in their buying decisions.”
In his article focusing on the marketing success of Apple, DeMers argues consumers want us to simplify the decision-making process. The best way to do this is by giving them the information they need to know — and leaving out the rest.
He also includes some salient data, like only 16 percent of website visitors read every word on a page, and the average American sees anywhere from 250 to several thousand ads or marketing messages every day!
But is “less is more” really the right approach for EVERY circumstance and outreach platform?
After all, the great movement in marketing these days is “brand journalism,” in which companies bypass traditional media and tell stories directly to the audience. Also called content marketing, the goal here is not to just sell, but to provide useful and/or entertaining information that will lead them back to the company’s products and services.
For instance, one of the things we often do at Coles Marketing is create articles for a client’s website or newsletter, such as gardening tips or planning for the new Medicare investment tax. In this case, a well-researched column of 500-600 words, including attractive photos and useful links, would seem to fall under the definition of “more is more.”
Spare on top, thicker below
And in some audience engagements, people really do want more information than a superficial outline. Medical care and financial investment are two areas that immediately spring to mind.
If you were looking for an OB/GYN or someone to help you plan for retirement, who would you choose: someone with very vague rah-rah type of content on their website and messaging, or a company or organization that demonstrated its deep knowledge base?
Also, Google’s latest algorithms favor lots of subheadings and links, so more content is often better for SEO purposes.
Our take is your initial engagement with an audience should be simple and direct, but give them a pathway to discover more in-depth information about who your company is and what you do. The strategy should be like male-pattern baldness — spare on top, but thicker below.
For example, we recently created an entire new website for a healthcare provider client. Their homepage and navigation are models of elegant simplicity. But you can also go deeper into the subpages and find a wealth of knowledge about various medical conditions.
So in short: give them less, but offer them more. And Coles Marketing can help!Edit this post
Categories: 2014 September Newsletter, Newsletters | Tags: Tags: advertising, agency, brand journalism, Coles, Coles Marketing, Coles Marketing Communications, communications, communications Indianapolis, content, content creation, Content Marketing, Indiana, Indianapolis, marketing, Newsletter, seo, web, Web Design, website, websites