It's only a matter of time before some marketing pundit boldly declares this to be the Era of the Boldly Declared Era. Our attempts to make sense of the rapid changes in consumer media consumption have spawned such era-defining labels as "Web 2.0," "Emerging Media," "Generation Facebook," "The Death of Print," and most recently, "The Splinternet."
Historically, a mania for naming has been a sure sign of cultural anxiety, and in our industry, it's a sure sign that marketers are still percolating over the big questions: Will social media take over the world? Will streaming content kill broadcast? Will someone eventually click on a banner ad? Will society finally grind to a halt when there's nothing left to tweet about besides Twitter?
As an industry, we're struggling with these questions because we're stuck in outdated categories. We still think advertising is advertising and social media is something else. In fact, advertising and social media are the same thing: They're content. We can find answers to the vexing questions of our time the moment we realize that all marketing is content. And at the risk of adding yet another era-defining label to the mix, I want to suggest that the new approach demanded by these rapid changes is something White Horse calls content marketing.
Content marketing is already occurring; it's all around us. Marketers that do it well might not even know that they're doing it because they weren't burdened by the old way of thinking in the first place. Fortunately, it's possible to bring a stone tablet down from that mountain and share what works about content marketing. Its 10 commandments are as follows.
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Good point, Nicole. How did I manage to leave out relevance? It's definitely a key determiner of success, and in general, the targeting ability is within our grasp, so no excuses.
Eric, great list. There is one point that your article makes implicitly, but that could use more emphasis: content shall be relevant - otherwise it won't be consumed. Now that users can skip ads they don't find relevant (online flash ads for example), choose between which ads they are shown (Hulu), and give a thumbs-up to ads they find somewhat interesting (Google and Facebook), it is much more important to create "content marketing" that is relevant to your particular audience. Market research and segmentation are critical - so is listening, as you point out in your Starbucks example.
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