Is content marketing dead or is this just the beginning?
What is content marketing? As defined by dictionary.com, content marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.
What brought me to think about this is the increased amount of business we are doing with clients and exploring their content strategy and that of their competition. This increased immersion into the trend has made me think about the evolution of this marketing. We have gone from advertorials to TikTok and now I’d argue backwards to voice (See Clubhouse) but nevertheless, content is king, as they say.
Advertorial – If you’re old enough, you know what this is. If not, then take in the history lesson. We used to buy space in a printed document that was circulated via US Mail or the newspaper that was thrown off my bike or the many other newspaper delivery kids around the country. Think about this – we would pay to type up a letter or a research paper that tried to sway a reader to buy or consider our product while making it look like it was supposed to be part of the publication – like some regular old article aside from the “Advertorial” notation on the page which most people wouldn’t see.
Public Relations – While this is an industry, they are content producers to the utmost degree – earned and unearned coverage included. Great products or stories are earned, everything else is placed content. The media event in NY - content marketing. The suite at the football game or weekend stay at the resort in the Caribbean – content marketing. The ultimate goal is the same and just a different way to achieve that goal. This has been going on for a long time.
Influencers – YouTube started it all. The original channel of influencers continues to drive content marketing both authentically and inauthentically. Kudos to the influencers that recognize sponsors or paid ads but shame on those that don’t. With new channels has come the evolution of an influencer and their content marketing abilities. From sponsored giveaways by @MrBeast to Owner/marketer @RyanReynolds being the spokesperson for his Mint brand, the influencers use their reach and “influence” to drive sales.
Blogs/Thought Leadership – Writing has been a medium for reaching more people but now brands are built solely on their thought pieces. Take for example, McKinsey. The consulting firm’s website looks like a content hub. I am not even sure it says “consulting” on the site. They have transcended their industry and are now a content producer that brings in new business as a result of it.
Pods – This is a huge opportunities for brands. Why are they sponsoring content vs creating their own? Spotify is gobbling up media companies to create a content empire while travel companies are paying to sponsor content. Um, why not create your own global travel podcast? Hire an independent traveler to share content with you and not make it all about YOU. It’s ok if they fly budget on a route you don’t cover and still talk about travel. That’s authentic.
TikTok – Love it, don’t engage a ton but I get it. Quick hits and tons of circulation leads to original content. As for brands and their own content, it’s a delicate balance of engaging while also being careful not to overdo it. I am afraid it will find itself to the way of the dodo but so long as it evolves and is able to monetize that engaged audience, they will be fine and brands will continue to push product or partner with influencers.
Clubhouse – Somehow we have decided that we now want to see less of each other. It was only a matter of time plus the COVID Zoom fatigue but let’s be honest, this doesn’t last, right? This goes the way of the dodo and MySpace. I engaged a little when it started and I was invited and now I just get a ton of notifications about rooms I don’t want to be in on topics that I never asked about. I see how individuals and brands are making themselves profits on there but I find it somewhat inauthentic. They are offering biased opinions to increase the number of people reaching out for business.
The leading brands are investing smartly in the new content marketing. The evolution has been fun to watch and grow with. My youngest son probably will never know that a phone had numbers on it at one time. It’s all voice activated for him and he is 11. He interacts with it while eating cereal. It's amazing. Imagine what current 2-year-olds will be doing in 8 years and how they will interact with devices and people. While this is all based on the written and spoken word, it’s amazing how it has evolved and we, as marketers, must stay at the forefront of having opinions and thought about these mediums.
I love talking about this stuff, how about you?