In Part I of Spotlight on Content Marketing (Content Marketing is not a new concept!) I made the following claim:
There is nothing new about the concept of content marketing. There is also nothing new about today’s preferred choice of delivery for content marketing (the web)……but combine that with the power of social media and you’ve got enough to inspire a series of endless workshops that will take a reassuringly expensive bite out of your marketing budget.
The reason B2B businesses are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon is because they are finally realising they have the ability not only to generate leads by producing creative, helpful stuff, but also because they can produce, publish and distribute it themselves! In short, they can share it. The rise of social media has been the tipping point.
The key is in the method of delivery. 48 years after the first publication of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man his claim that the “medium is the message” still rings true.
Simply put, it’s taken social media to highlight content as the basis of a good marketing strategy.
A Slow Progression
Back in my early days of tech marketing it seemed we felt empowered that we could commission a new media company to build an expensive website with messaging and branding that changed as often as we liked……then we discovered content management systems and found we could make the changes ourselves. Things only got better from this point onwards.
I think you can probably see the theme I’m getting at here. The self publishing nature of the web has empowered us. Early adopters included citizen journalists and early bloggers. However at this point, I don’t think a lot of B2B businesses had caught on. Or if they had, they were simply taking advantage of the ease-of-publishing to push out more sales-heavy, content-light marketing materials.
What I’ve observed is that while the web emerging as a new channel didn’t seem to enough to make things click for most B2B tech businesses, the sharing nature and foundation of social media has opened people’s eyes. I don’t actually count social media as a new channel – it’s the web….or better yet, it’s a series of Web 2.0 applications. But by its sharing-based nature it’s made us see that what people want is not to be “marketed to” 24×7. People want and now expect (via social media) a stream of personalised, helpful information.
So while content marketing is as old as the hills, in many senses, it didn’t really come in to its own (particularly for many B2B tech businesses) until they were provided with a really obvious way to deliver it.
Social media + content marketing = the very best of friends
In the next part of this series I am going to talk a bit about the thinking behind a good content marketing strategy, and the growing relationship between your content and social media a means to deliver it.
McLuhan, Marshall Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, ^ Originally published in 1964 by Mentor, New York; reissued 1994, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts with an introduction by Lewis Lapham