Four Things that The Beatles taught us about Content Marketing

When thinking about content marketing, many only think about companies and brands using the tool to attract customers. What most of us don’t think of is the fact that it transcends branding in the business industry and the tactic can actually be found in both the movie and music industries as well.The Beatles

In the ‘60s, four young chaps from Liverpool were on top of both industries. The Beatles were taking the world by storm with their abundance of hits as well as their financially successful movies, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, which featured many of the popular tracks from their records of the same names.

Now that we are in the digital age and content marketing has become such a powerful tool, it is important that we learn from those who came before us to use similar strategies. It is no question that we can learn a lot from the greatest band of all time; here are four things that John, Paul, George and Ringo have taught us about content marketing.

1.    You-centered

  • It is no secret that the Fab 4 were extremely beloved by their fans. Aside from their style of fashion, lack-there-of-grooming and silly yet charming personalities, the band was able to do this by focusing their music on the listeners. Of their entire collection of music, around 44 titles of tracks included the word ‘You’ or ‘Your’. Creating music that is you-centered is important to connect with fans, and this is also true for branded content. By focusing on your fan-base, or target audience, you will have much more success when trying to connect.

2.    Reuse and Syndicate

  • Before The Beatles were famous in the United States, they had already built up a large amount of hits in England. This served as a very powerful tactic as they were able to release older songs as well as newer ones, making it seem as if they were putting out hits quicker than any band before. When creating content, it is important that you create a syndication strategy to continually spread your work through many channels. To do this most effectively, you must study the analytics of previous content to gauge the best times and channels to do so.

3.    Breaking up isn’t bad

  • Though the band was only together for a decade, each member was able to have a successful solo career. Not only did they continue to create music, but also were able to grow in different directions and attract different kinds of fans. Working on content as a team can be useful but sometimes working separately allows new ideas to flow. When your content team hits a roadblock, or is having difficulty on agreeing on a similar direction, let each member go their own way and you may be able to capture a new audience that you never would have with everyone working together.

 4.    Start a Revolution

  • Other than actually having a song entitled ‘Revolution’, The Beatles are known to have been the band that changed the game and took the world by storm with their movement. Other than The Beatles Fanspolitically, they also changed the music game by changing average fans into musical fiends. You’ve seen the videos of fans when the band hit the stage; why not create the same craziness with your content? Some ways to do this involve creating fun videos instead of just words, engaging with users uniquely on social networks or even offering promotion through free giveaways!

When you think that your content marketing has reached its maximum potential or perhaps is not having the affect that you want it to, recall the band that changed everything and their tactics of doing so. In the words of the Fab 4, “It’s getting better all the time!”

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How Social Media Is Reshaping the Landscape of Music

There is no question that social media has brought fans closer to their favorite recording artists – Facebook lets users like artists and Twitter lets users follow and even communicate with them – but now it is even reshaping the landscape of music. Not only are social networks allowing musicians to bring fans closer to their lives, artists are even using social platforms to promote and distribute their music.

Spotify, the largest and fastest growing social network for music, has made great strides to add services to create a better user experience. Other than being able to listen to a large library of songs, including new release albums, users can follow artists and, as of recently, listen to the music that they are currently listening to. Musicians build playlists of their favorite songs, much like users, and their fans are able to listen along and are updated when new songs are added.

In a recent campaign, Spotify invited users to stream “Wish You Were Here”, the first Pink Floyd track on the network, one million times to unlock their full catalogue of music. The campaign was so strong that the full catalogue, including their multi-platinum albums The Dark Side of The Moon and The Wall, was released in less than four days.

Pandora, another social music powerhouse, is also taking part in creating a unique user experience. With the release of their new service, Pandora Premiers, users are able to listen to full-length albums weeks before they are released. Not only is this taking music discovery to another level, but it is also allowing users to sample new music to assist in the decision of whether or not they will purchase upon release. The new service allows for repeated listens of tracks in any order, which has never been offered by the platform before.

Myspace, the recently re-launched social network, has a focus on music and plans to revolutionize the way that music is discovered and experienced. Owned by Justin Timberlake, musician turned businessman, the platform is being reintroduced through a 20 million dollar campaign including commercial spots with some of the current top artists who are already using the social network. Fans are able to listen and follow their favorite artists in a whole new way and musicians are able to get closer to their current fan base and even introduce their music to new ones.

Not only have musicians joined social platforms to reshape the landscape of music, but artists are also starting their own movement to do it themselves. Hip-Hop giant turned entrepreneur and business mogul, Jay-Z, is taking the world of music by storm by offering his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, for free to select fans. Users of such Samsung phones as the Galaxy S4, S III and Note II are encouraged to download his app, JAY Z MAGNA CARTA, and the first one million to download a copy of the album on July 4th will get it for free. Unfortunately, because it is unprecedented, these copies will not be considered in first week sales, but there is no question that this movement will change the way that music is experienced and distributed.

Will more artists use similar Spotify campaigns as Pink Floyd? Justin Timberlake brought ‘sexy’ back, but will he be able to bring Myspace back? Do you think that other artists will duplicate Jay-Z’s music distribution movement? Whether you answer yes or no to these questions, it is obvious that the music industry is constantly evolving and being changed by social media.

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Takeaways from Today’s Facebook Announcement: The New Product

If you are anything like me, then you have been following everything leading up to today’s Facebook announcement with great anticipation to find out what Zuckerberg has up his sleeve. Attendees of the event, held at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, received a unique invitation that said ‘A small team has been working on a big idea. Join us for coffee and learn more about a new product’ which only built the mystery up even more. Though there were many speculations of what new product would be revealed, we now know!

“Today we’re finally going to talk about that Facebook phone,” Mark Zuckerberg announced. Over the past few years there has been a lot of talk about the social powerhouse creating its own mobile device, and now that light has been shed on the new product, we have a better understanding of how this will be rolling out.

Zuckerberg put to rest all of the rumors that his company would be creating the actual hardware, and instead spoke about how their software will be coupled with Android based phones. After the initial announcement of the new product, he said, “…more accurately, we’re going to talk about how you can turn your Android phone into a great social device.” If you are an IPhone user like me, this was a bit of a turnoff. Nonetheless, usually when something becomes popular on one system it will be added to others eventually.

Regarding the integration of the Facebook software, he discussed how social updates will appear on the home screen, which he refers to as ‘the soul of your phone’. “You look at it about 100 times a day,” he continued, “It sets the tone for your own experience and we think that it should be deeply personal.” Updates from the network will flow on the screen of these devices, even while locked. This can be an exciting feature for those of you who, like me, love to stay connected.

Also, the ‘chat heads’ that we have all become accustomed to from the updated app will appear on the top of the phones, even when the Facebook app itself is not opened. This will allow users to continue conversations outside of the social network and while doing anything else on their mobile devices.

As many others may start to think how this will be different than current mobile features, the same questions emerge in my head. Why are people going to want this software when there are already so many similar features that can be done with the free app? Does it really matter if they are on the home screen or run while they are not logged on?

To me, in many ways, this software seems to be the first steps towards Facebook integrating with people outside of the digital realm. It is no secret that Zuckerberg has been making strides to be involved with people’s lives outside of the social network, and this seems to be a strategy of expanding and venturing into new territory. They definitely want to have an impact on the physical realm, in order to connect user attitudes and behaviors with their real world interactions, and this appears to be their way of doing so.

The HTC First will be the first phone to be preloaded with this new product, and speculations of the next device have already begun. Being that Zuckerberg arrived at the announcement after meeting with Samsung’s head of mobile and co-CEO in South Korea, this could point towards the next devices to harness it. 

Whether or not this product will be successful or go the way of many past flops by the company will depend upon the future user behaviors and attitudes towards it. Regardless, it is obvious to me that Facebook is making strides to be a part of the lives of people even when they are not logged in.

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Outsourcing Content to an Agency: When and Why

As businesses face new marketing challenges, they must search for solutions outside of their own companies. In a recent webinar, Social Marketing & The Resourcing Challenge: Outsourcing vs. In-House, sponsored by ORACLE, a panel of professionals discussed when and why a business should outsource content marketing to an agency.

The panel agreed that, though the answer depends on the overall goal of the company, an agency can offer you:

TIME

  • Time is something that you can’t afford to take away from your business, especially if it is a small or medium sized business. When you and your team are already wearing multiple hats, it is more efficient to your business to find a new head than to add to your own. Mikal Belicove, contributing writer for Forbes Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine, said that your business should outsource to an agency because they “take the time.” Instead of taking time and focus away from your business and core competencies, an agency can do it for you.

EXPERTISE

  • With so many moving parts in your business, it is difficult to focus on specific aspects. An agency acts as an extension of your marketing department that focuses on these specific campaigns and strategies. Chris Vaughn, Director of Marketing at DigitalSherpa, spoke about how two years ago, agency expertise was in question, but now “they’re taking content more seriously.” Because digital marketing constantly changes, it is important to use the best practices of an agency to conquer your challenges. Rob Key, CEO at Converseon, said that a “strong role of agencies is to bring expertise about SEO and content.”

THE 5TH P

  • As technology has advanced, the marketing mix has evolved to not only include promotion, price and place, but also – participation. When, before, your company’s engagement with an agency was limited, there was no sense of participation. Now, it has become the most important aspect! “Outsourcing doesn’t work without participation,” Vaughn said. With current technology, agencies, especially those savvy in digital, such as Hüify, have the capability of working closer than ever with companies. To work most efficiently, an agency must have a strong relationship with your company.
Though agencies can offer these aspects to your business, sometimes deciding whether to stay in-house or to outsource is a more difficult decision. When asked ‘when?’ Belicove talked about the two best times for a company to resource an agency.

 

1.    When a business is getting started, or is still young, an agency can most efficiently help integrate participation into their marketing mix. This is a great time to form a relationship with an agency because it allows them to learn about the core competencies and culture of the company. Key said that agencies can “bring training” and are most effective when they are “embedded in your culture.”

2.    Also, businesses will always need content, especially now that content marketing has grown into one of the most vital aspects of digital marketing. An agency can help by applying their best content practices to a companies needs. One thing that Belicove sited to be true is that it is and always will be “easier to edit than to create content.”

When it comes to whether your business should stay in-house or outsource content, it mostly depends on your specific needs and resources. If you decide to outsource to an agency, be sure that their culture reflects your own to ensure that you create an effective relationship.

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The Future of Content Based on Today’s Trends

Evolution is inevitable, and this is very true in regards to technology. As we continue to interact with technology in different ways, we must adapt how it ultimately functions for us. As the use of the Internet changes, so must the way that we create and present content.

Early adopters of Internet-based information were interested in detailed and lengthy content. This demand helped to outline what has become the average blog post. An average blog has a word count between 400 and 800, usually including multiple tags and links, for SEO purposes, and graphics and images for aesthetics.

Because the majority of current Internet use has been adopted by a new audience, many aspects have changed. Rather than demanding all information, the new adopters request only the most valuable information. As a content marketer, I have noticed the rapid increase in Internet use to be attributed to two current trends, social and mobile.

With two of the highest visited sites being Facebook and YouTube, and with 75% of the world having access to mobile devices, it is obvious that the functionality of technology is changing. These trends will dictate the way that content will transform in the near future.

Though there has already been a notable shift towards microblogging, with the great popularity of platforms such as Tumblr and Twitter, content will continue to move toward a shorter format. This content evolution is due to:

1. The Rise of Scrolling

  • Even though there has been a large rise in Internet views from mobile devices, there has been a significant decrease in time spent on individual sites and content. This is due to users naturally wanting to ‘scroll’ (literally) rather than read on their personal devices. Because 80% of mobile time is spent on Apps, many companies are developing their own to try to combat this issue and attract more users.

2. Shorter Content Attention Span

  • With the rise in content and constant updates on social, users encounter vast amounts of accessible information daily. This has lead to users exhibiting shorter content attention spans, otherwise known as Social ADD. A symptom of this recent digital illness is lower user comprehension and its main effect is a large decrease in content effectiveness.

3. Emphasis on Unique Content

  • The rise in scrolling and increase in Social ADD have lead to an emphasis on unique content. Rather than having to skim through information, users want to immediately understand the main concepts and purpose. When a blog post is around 500 words, you can expect there to only be between 100 and 200 words of actual unique content. By eliminating non-unique content and creating a much more concise format, you can ensure that users will have an increased understandability.

For instance, in the near future you could read this post as:

The use of Internet has changed, due to a shift in audience and increase in social and mobile. These trends have led to a rise in scrolling and Social ADD, which in turn have led to a need for shorter content. To ensure that your content is most effective, begin to write more concisely by eliminating anything that is not necessary to the main purpose.

Writing ‘snippets’ is nothing new to content creators, as we are use to forming meta-descriptions and even short blurbs, when broadcasting content on social, to entice readers. Much like this strategy, the full content will be linked and accessible for those wishing to read further. Other than being more effective, this will help to differentiate between ‘brand advocates’, those that like the brand, and ‘brand operators’, those that actually engage with the brand.

 It is evident that the change in technology functionality and audience needs will lead to an evolution in content. As current trends continue, solutions for these content problems will need to be formulated.

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Content Marketing – The Voice of Your Business

Social media has given companies a life-like presence online and content marketing serves as the businesses voice to consumers. As digital business strategies have vastly changed, companies are becoming more aware of their need of finding this voice to speak to their consumers too. Content marketing has come a long way over the past few years but seems to be proving itself vital to online business in 2013.

In the article Content Marketing in 2013: What the Experts Think, author Andrew Warren-Payne notes many marketers’ thoughts of content marketing. When asked why it has reached its tipping point this year, Doug Kessler, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Velocity Partners, said, “It’s tipping because it works. Content is the engine of search, social, outbound and web marketing. It’s also the fuel for lead nurturing. It took awhile for people to see how and why content is so powerful but it’s on every marketer’s radar now.”

Now that content marketing is established as a necessity, businesses are faced with these 3 questions:


1. Where to get content?

  • As the need for content has grown, so have the opportunities for businesses to find their voice. In the article 10 Ways Brands Will Win With Content Marketing in 2013, author Shafqat Islam agrees that both big and small companies are changing their content strategies. “Having an intern write three measly blog posts a week isn’t going to cut it. Even a network of freelancers isn’t enough,” Islam says. These apparent signs have lead businesses to search for teams to maintain the flow of content.

2. What content should be marketed?

  • Content should be valuable, relevant and attractive to readers. It is important to create content that can help current consumers and nurture leads by generating interest in new possible customers. “If you’re going to be creating and pushing out content,” Islam says, “it needs to reach all target markets, from international to hyperlocal.” Being able to reach multiple markets through content can be difficult, but it can be made easier by knowledgeable and experienced content marketers.

3. Where should we market the content?

  • There are many social media outlets that can be used to engage consumers with content, but to decide which to use accurately takes marketing strategy. The most important aspects to remember are the purpose and audience when choosing the correct outlet. James Keady, Digital Marketing Manager of McLaren Automotive, says, “Content marketing is reaching a point where having a digital presence is no longer good enough to achieve cut through, you need a value add proposition and this is best done through a strong content strategy that reaches your audience on the right platforms at the right time in an engaging way.”

Now that content marketing has reached this undeniable peak, many businesses are beginning to notice and it is becoming clear that these voices are being heard. 

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The Art of Social Media Storytelling (A Campfire Story)

When thinking about the art of storytelling, I envision a group of individuals gathered around a campfire, swapping funny and relatable experiences with each other. The same analogy is true for social media storytelling, except in the digital realm there are many stories being told and a lot of the individuals are gathered around multiple campfires at once. As the voice of your brand, it is vital to build a bright fire of content that attracts individuals to engage in the conversation. To ensure that your storytelling is the most effective, it is important that you:

 

1. Locate your campers (Analyze your audience)

  • Before you begin to research or even develop content, it is necessary that you determine who your readers are by conducting an audience analysis. By creating a good foundation and forming a deep relationship with the brand, you will be able to analyze and target the appropriate audience of consumers.

2. Find your campsite (Choose your social platform or content medium)

  • After determining your audience, you need to establish which medium would be optimal for the conversation. In many cases, you will have one site for the full content and will be using social platforms to broadcast the story to your target audience. When broadcasting your content on social media, it is very important to maintain the style of your brand as well as create unique content that fits the style of different platforms.

3. Find and cut your firewood (Research your content topic) 

  • Now that you know whom you are writing to and where you will be publishing the content, it is time to research and develop your topic. Even if you are an expert on the topic of interest, it is still critical to conduct research because of possible changes or new trends that you may not be aware of. Compiling the most up-to-date and relevant information will make your content stronger and more meaningful to your audience.

4. Build your campfire (Outline and develop your content)

  • After researching and compiling related information, you can begin to create an ideal outline and develop your content. When building your content you should keep your target audience and medium in mind, as they will help to form your tone and style. These will change depending on the whowhat and where of your content so it is very important to be extremely knowledgeable about all three.

5. Light your fire (Publish your content)

  • With the content developed, you have now reached the point of publishing. Before doing this, it is key that you ensure your content matches your ideal outline and is both understandable and concise. To increase the capabilities of your content you may also want to create tags, metadata, keyword links and even attractive graphics.

6. Add wood..and lighter fluid..to build your fire brighter (Attract and Engage your audience) 

  • Publishing your content is not the final step, as engagement with your audience is your overall purpose. As your audience interacts with the content on different platforms, it is important that you continue the conversations to further engage and create unique connections.
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