Brandon Gutman, a contributor at Forbes.com, recently declared that “2012 has been the year of growth for content marketing.” Gutman went on to detail the different types of content marketing strategies from brands like American Express and Marriott. As we move closer to the end of 2012, we decided to look back on content and determine whether it really is king this year. The answer is yes, and here are four content-related developments that are expected to carry over into 2013 and beyond:
1. Curated Content
Clearly brands have begun to embrace content as an important part of their overall marketing strategy–even brands that don’t have a big budgets, as Dan Vinh, VP Global Marketing, Renaissance Hotels at Marriott, pointed out. Since the majority of TypeA’s clients operate under the general banner of “lifestyle,” we were most intrigued with the Renaissance Hotels’ use of two platforms: the Navigators platform, which helps guests to discover the local city outside their hotel and the RLife LIVE program, which helps guests to discover new music, films, arts, food and drinks inside the hotels. The idea behind both programs is to provide rich content for engaging guests online…but what we really find intriguing is the way they have turned their hotel staff members into curators. Curated content–what we call the “One Kings Lane” effect–is definitely a concept we will continue to see in the years ahead.
2. Inbound Marketing
Back in July, a guy by the name of Ken Krogue, wrote a piece on Forbes.com called, “The Death of SEO: The Rise of Social PR and Real Content.” (If that headline doesn’t scare you into reading further, we don’t know what will!) He began the article by talking about Google’s “Penguin release”–a code name for the algorithm that decreased search engine rankings of companies who were using schemes to artificially increase their website rankings.
Now to some extent, Search Engine Optimization has always been a wild, wild west, constantly changing with the unpredictable winds of smarter and smarter Google algorithms. (Ahem, did you know that Google changes its algorithm about 500 times a year?) But the Penguin release weakened the traditional role of SEO and paved the way for a more complex system called “inbound marketing,” a one-two-three punch consisting of SEO, content marketing and social media. In other words, content marketing is “the pursuit of developing and distributing content that solves customer problems and generates leads”; SEO is “the pursuit of getting your content to appear in the search results; and social media “is a delivery system for your content.”
What’s the common thread amongst all three? You guessed it. Content. The idea is to be “content-focused with an emphasis on quality and publishing frequency (quantity),” says www.business2community.com.
3. Shareable Content
Now that Google seems to believe that social-media-promoted content is more relevant, it’s all “about social ‘shares,’ and you can’t fake that (easily),” writes Krogue. But how do you create content that is shareable? Isn’t that the million dollar question? You first have to know why people share great content, according to Social Fresh, and the reason why they share great content is that it makes them “look good, smart, controversial, connected, funny, insightful or a go-to resource.” Pretty basic, right? You want to write, design, record, or film real and relevant content that benefits those who search. Oh, if only it were that simple!
4. Transparent Authors
Many experts believe that Google’s AuthorRank will eventually “dwarf all other ranking factors in the near-future.” This means that anonymous content will be outranked by content written by an established and credible author. As Tom Anthony of SEOmoz.com explains, it’s a “shift in our mindset from where we are getting links from to who we are getting links from.” This is why PR–in the sense of the old adage “it’s who you know”–will be tantamount to modern day content marketing.
“PR has made a full-on 180 degree swing,” SEO consultant Adam Torkildson told Krogue in Forbes. “I started in PR as a major. Now it is the ultimate, because it is about who you actually, really, know. It’s the buzz you create. And how much value you provide your community of followers in return.”
That’s why your relationships with well-connected bloggers in your niche and even content exchanges (we’re talking about developing meaningful partnerships with established authors and influencers, not faux link sharing) can help less established blogs gain online authority. Or, you might try these suggestions, per Forbes.com’s Denis Pinksy, which pretty much sums up what we’ve been saying all along: 1) Create the kind of valuable content that your audience is looking for and will actually going to want to share; 2) Hone in on topics you’re passionate about, don’t just shotgun a whole host of subjects and 3) Start using Google+ because Google will be using your “In circles” to gauge your author rank. It sounds simple, but you know it’s not.
What do you think? Have you seen any other developments this year that will impact the world of content marketing next year?