Content Discovery Smackdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer vs. KloutContent Marketing Minds: Ingredients of the Tastiest Content [Nutrition Label]From the Corn Field to the Digital Era: Content Marketing Starts with TrustContent Marketing: Is 2014 Really Shaping Up to Be the Year of Video?
Your Customers Aren’t Listening! How to Create Consumer Dialogue that Converts4 Tools for Nonprofit Social Listening and Reputation ManagementThe Promising Role of Social Listening in Treating Health IssuesThe Importance of Social Listening for Brands
- Public Relations
Facebook Testing a Way for Users to Buy Products on the Platform7 Website Tips to Attract More Shoppers to Your PagesHow eCommerce, Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Redefine the Retail ExperienceSearch Query Analysis to Increase eCommerce Website Conversions
- Content Marketing
Technology & Data
Social Startups: Bizible Connects All the Dots from Marketing Contributions to RevenueCreating the Perfect Profile for Your Social Media Marketing EffortUsing GPS and Localization for Social AnalyticsAnalytics and Prospect Intel: Discovering Your Ideal Prospect
- Big Data
- Tech & Innovation
3 Security Risks You’re Taking Every Day While Using Social MediaShould the President Have the Power to "Pull the Plug" on the Internet?How Safe is Your WordPress Website From Hackers and Other Malicious Attacks?
- Software & Tools
- Small Business
- Social Organization
Celebrating the Grand Re-Launch of Social Media Today! SBH Podcast Episode 8Why Should You Care If Your Employees Are Thought Leaders?Beyond Engagement: The Art of Managing Social-Media Risk in Employee Advocacy
Why All-in-One Social Media Management Systems Don't Cut It for Social Customer ServiceWhat You Should Know About Customer, Digital, and Contextual ExperienceSurging into Q3: How to Make It Better Than Q2Is How You Serve Your Customers Costing You Business?
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
Marketers, Keep Your Hands Off of Your Company’s Brand Journalism
Posted on August 23rd 2011
Call it what you will: content marketing, content strategy, brand journalism, braided journalism or just thinking like a publisher. Whatever you call it, just don’t call it marketing.
I’ve been making this point—one I thought was fairly benign and obvious—to clients and at conferences and workshops where I speak. But when a participant in my workshop in Sydney last week tweeted the sentiment, it got a rebuke, arguing that marketing departments need to stand back from content strategies was a harsh requirement.
Marketing is what companies do to promote and sell products or services. Organizatons produce plenty of it. Brand journalism, though, is different. This is content that could be inspiring, clarifying, funny, useful or just plain interesting. Because it has these characteristics, people will want to link to it, share it, talk about it precisely because it’s not trying to pitch something. As soon as it begins to smack of The Pitch, it loses its appeal.
The whole idea behind undertaking a content strategy is simple: If people aren’t talking about your company (or product or service), you don’t exist. You need content that will get people talking. Three conditions are compelling companies to create this ever-increasing stream of non-marketing content:
- The declining number of stories news organizations are producing that used to cover your company, industry and marketplace
- The increased amount of content available in general (the content published to the web in 2011 alone, burned to DVDs and stacked one atop another, would reach halfway to Mars)
- The increased production of compelling content by your competitors
The companies that get this—and there is an ever-growing number of them—have taken to hiring content strategists and journalists to execute the strategy. At Intel, three full-time journalists produce the content. At Cisco Systems, the content comes from a host of freelance journalists, coordinating by social media staff, many of whom come from journalism backgrounds. Dell has brought outside journalists in who are pitched by brand managers, but the journalists make the ultimate decision about the topics they’ll address.
This kind of content is, at its core, interesting. What makes it interesting is the degree to which it is useful, entertaining, funny, inspiring, motivating, sometimes even infuriating. But it loses all that as soon as it’s clear that it’s designed to sell. Look at Best Buy On, where videos address tablet security but not the latest cool tablet you can buy from Best Buy. Or consider a Cisco Network story on cloud computing in education. The story cites a Cisco program, just as a feature story from a newspaper might, but never argues that schools should buy their networking equipment from Cisco.
In a podcast interview I conducted with the editor of one of these sites, keeping company marketers from interfering with the content was cited as a major issue.
I’m not anti-marketing, mind you. The content produced as part of a company’s brand journalism effort certainly needs to support key marketing strategies. It would do little good for Intel to gain visibility and get people buzzing about content focused on shoes. But for marketers to insist on control over brand journalism just doesn’t make sense. In fact, smart marketers will want to keep their fingers out of this content, focusing instead on strategizing the kind of visibility brand journalism should attract, then leaving the brand journalists to do their jobs.
After all, if the material pushed gets people talking and sharing, it’ll drive traffic to the places where marketers have placed their material, ultimately driving the kinds of results for which they’re held accountable.
Marketing-hands-off of brand journalism is a sound policy marketers ought to embrace.