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I’ve worked at the same company for the past three and a half years, but it feels, at times, like I’ve worked for three different companies. That’s just the nature of startups; you’re reinventing yourself more than Madonna in the ’80s. Contently’s mission is still the same as when I joined in 2013.
Here are a couple of embarrassing facts about myself: 1. I have a catalogued list of my favorite content marketing SlideShares. 2. There’s one that’s my most favorite, and I reference it all the time. I’m talking about Why Content Marketing Fails, by Moz founder Rand Fishkin. It tackles the biggest content marketing mistakes with the help of clip art and some pretty bad fonts.
I spend most of my life doing five things: sleeping, scheming, reading, writing, and answering questions about content marketing. Lately—as I’ve traveled from Toronto to London to Austin to speak at conferences and lead strategy workshops—it’s mostly been the latter. Here’s one question that keeps coming up: What does Facebook’s fake news problem mean for content marketing.
Welcome to the March edition of Ask a Content Guy, which we’re now renaming Ask a Content Strategist! It’s the same old column in which I answer your most pressing content marketing questions, except now with a name that makes a little more sense considering I’m not Bill Simmons. Like I always say: Never stop iterating, and when in doubt, go with the more SEO-friendly title.
Yesterday kicked off my favorite event of the year. No, I’m not talking about SXSW Interactive, the annual tech festival where I attempt to turn myself into a beer-soaked taco. I’m talking about NFL free agency. This year, the Moneyball approach to team-building has finally made its way to the NFL, and I’ve spent the past two days texting fellow data/football geeks at Contentl ...
I lead a double life, but there’s a secret weapon that lets me get away with it. At Contently, I’m both our director of content strategy—which means I oversee strategy work we do for hundreds of clients—and also the editor-in-chief of our internal publications, The Content Strategist, The Freelancer, and Contently Quarterly. I love both lives, and I stubbornly refuse to give either up.
Go find a six-year-old—preferably a nephew or niece, not some random kid at Whole Foods—and ask them to make up a story. Watch as their eyes light up, how their words jumble together with excitement and wonder. Observe how their arms wave and their fingers spread, as if they’re conjuring a tornado of imagination.
Sometimes, this graphic haunts me. This insane supergraphic (via Scott Brinker) classifies nearly 4,000 marketing technology solutions available today. When Contently launched in 2011, there were only 150. That means there are about 25 times more companies creating content about marketing and competing for my target audience’s attention.
A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting down with a prospective client from a large financial institution, trying to help the marketing team craft its 2017 content strategy. At one point, I explained that experimenting with paid Facebook distribution could be a cost-efficient way to grow its target audience. “Oh, we’re B2B,” someone said.
When I speak at marketing conferences or talk to Contently clients, there’s one question I get more than any other: How did you build such a big audience for The Content Strategist? I’m grateful that hundreds of thousands of smart people read the Content Strategist each month and subscribe to our newsletters, but that wasn’t always the case.
Want to know why content marketing has become one of the hottest media trends? Look no further than the fact that brands that excel at content marketing are 27x more “on fleek” and 7x more likely to generate “all the feels,” according to an unverifiable infographic of content marketing stats we just saw on Twitter.
It’s time to panic about another social network. Last week, Medium CEO Ev Williams announced that the company was laying off 50 staffers, closing its offices in New York and Washington DC, and ceasing it’s ad-sales operation. In Williams’s estimation, the company’s Outbrain-esque ad structure to push advertorials on people contributed to a “broken system” of ad-supported media.
When the Content Marketing Institute releases its annual Benchmark Reports, I beeline for one stat: How many people had a documented content strategy? Every year, the shockingly low number of marketers who have a documented content strategy has been the most troubling stat in the robust report. I always expect to see a dramatic rise, but it usually lingers around 33 percent.
The Furrow, John Deere’s magazine for farmers, has been in print since 1895. A few years ago, we published an article about the esteemed magazine, looking at how it’s managed to stay relevant in print even as digital outlets started to dominate. In marketing circles, The Furrow is a legendary entity, the Adam of brand publishing. In 1912, it had a peak circulation of more than 4 million readers.
I’m about to confess something that’ll probably come back to bite me in the butt during my next job interview: I’m a disorganized person. I’ve heard this since kindergarten. “You’re going to have to learn to organize your stuff better if you’re going to make it in the first grade,” my teacher, Miss Jessica, told me.
When it comes to digital advertising, a “big four” have emerged: social ads, display ads, video ads, and native advertising. According to a Salesforce survey of 4,000 marketers, native advertising is currently the third-most popular tactic, tied with video. Native advertising has come a long way since The Atlantic was shilling for Scientology and giving Jeff Jarvis a panic attack on Twitter.
Six years ago, I started working in content marketing. At 23, I helped start an online newspaper out of a Park Slope, Brooklyn coffee shop, and by some stroke of luck, we connected with an upstart digital agency that offered us office space and a small retainer. In exchange, we promised that our small squad of editors and freelancers would serve as the company’s on-call editorial team.
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As 2016 comes to an end, the media industry faces an uncertain future. Fake news has flooded Facebook, captivated the attention of people across the nation, and likely influenced a presidential election. A BuzzFeed report found that the top 20 fake news stories about the election were shared 1.4 million times more than the top 20 real news stories.