Joy Parks

Archive for the ‘content communities’ Category

What do you know, Joe?

In content, content communities, content strategy, great writing, What works on January 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm

If the Joe in question is Joe Pulizzi , and the topic is content marketing, then the answer is PLENTY!!! The founder and driving force behind Junta 42 , the knowledge/service provider referral portal that has encouraged and enabled countless companies to add the content marketing to their communications mix, Joe (who seems like a really, genuinely nice guy from the few emails I’ve exchanged with him) is taking content marketing to another level with the establishment of The Content Marketing Institute. Bursting with case studies, research, stats and the chance to sign up for a FREE (!) subscription to the forthcoming CCO: Chief Content Officer quarterly magazine, the CMI not only tells would-be content marketers what they should be doing; by being such a valuable source of content about content marketing, CMI shows them how it’s done…and done right. The Content Marketing Institute is both example and inspiration to marketers and communicators who agree that all companies must become media companies—and that the future of marketing is content marketing. If you’re not already one of the true believers in content marketing, download CMI’s ebook, Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions for 2011.

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The “A” List

In content, content communities, content strategy, Uncategorized, What works on January 4, 2011 at 10:33 am

Being a long-term believer in the power of list-making (if they ever stop making index cards, I’ll be lost!) and a recent fan of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), their current post on the value of checklists not only makes content developers aware of the need to ensure quality, but also offers tools to make it happen. Take a look–and while you’re there, check out their list (in the list of lists!) on how to hire a content marketing writer, it contains some real gems of advice if you’re looking to work in the industry.

Branded content now commands 32% of marketing communications budgets

In business development, content, content communities, content strategy on May 4, 2010 at 9:11 pm

The Custom Content Council, working with ContentWise, today released their 10th annual industry study “Characteristics Study: A Look at the Volume and Type of Content Marketing in America for 2010.” And the future couldn’t be brighter. Despite a recession and reduced ad spending in traditional paid media, U.S. spending on the production and distribution of branded content has increased to $47.2 billion. The large bump, the details of which are available only to Council members, is attributed to the inclusion of electronic and other forms of content marketing for the first time this year.

Highest proportion of spending on branded content ever
According to the Council’s news release, the most common forms of branded content (also known as custom content) are “website updates of articles, blog posts and e-newsletters, while the least common are mobile and e-zines, such as flipbooks and interactive PDFs.” And while mobile content may not be widely used right now, the study notes “it does rank as the medium that most marketers believe they are likely to add or invest in next year.” Even more optimistic is the study’s findings on the proportion of marcom spending on branded content—a whopping 32% of overall budget, the highest percentage of spending dedicated to branded content in the study’s 10 year history.

For both companies looking to benefit from their own content marketing program and the content strategists and creators who already know the value of branded content, the news doesn’t get any better than this.

Conversation Agent demonstrates why strategic content and good writing demand respect

In business development, content, content communities, content strategy on April 20, 2010 at 3:59 pm

This morning, Valeria Maltoni’s Conversation Agent, the number one blog on the Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs (as listed by branded content expert Joe Pulizzi) carried the headline “Top Company Blogs Require Content Strategy, Expertise, Good Writing.”

Granted, my first response was “you think?” But considering the number of semi- or soon-to-be-abandoned (you can always tell) corporate blogs I’ve seen—and the fact that content for far too many websites and other online communications is done as an afterthought, not part of the strategic plan, it dawned on me that for someone not involved in the marketing of writing and content strategy services, this idea might be quite revolutionary. So kudos to Conversation Agent for bringing the value of good content forward—and for so dramatically showing the direct relationship between professionally written, strategically-developed content and corporate success.

Timing is everything: Why (and when) you need a content strategist

In business development, content communities, content strategy on April 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm

While plenty of people are writing about content creation and why it has to be done (Junta42’s Joe Pulizzi just issued his list of Top 42 Content Marketing blogs, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), there hasn’t been a whole lot of discussion about who exactly is supposed to plan, create, manage, organize and preserve all this content.

More and more, I’m seeing the term “content strategist,” but the work description hasn’t been all that clear—and there’s not a lot of mention of the value they bring to a company’s overall communications efforts. So I was thrilled to see Magnify.net CEO Steve Rosenbaum’s blog entry on fastcompany.com, “Filter or Be Flooded: Do You Need a Content Strategist?” It’s the most clear-cut explanation of what a content strategist can do that I’ve seen so far. One of the most important points he makes is when the content must be dealt with in the planning/strategic process.

“… content isn’t the thing the copywriter does at the end of the design and development phase of Web site development, it is the output of your site, fresh and evolving every day in a conversation with your visitors and your customers and your partners.”

Sure, a content strategist, particularly one with a background in writing, can write your site, ghost your blog, script your video; in short provide the actual content—much like a copywriter. But the greater value lies in their role in understanding your company, your customers and your expectations, and charting an ongoing, all-encompassing content development and delivery strategy from the start.

Says Rosenbaum, “As you dig into the Content Strategist world, you see that there’s a theme that develops. Once you get outside of conventional content makers (newspapers, magazines, books, etc.) the role of content is pushed down in organizations to copywriters who often have little say, little time, and little respect. But in the new world of content absorbing PR, Marketing, CRM functions, media relations, support, corporate and investor relations, Content comes out of the back room and moves to the front page–content is the “face” of the always-on corporation. So, Content Strategy takes on a mission critical role for all public functions.”

Which means that if you’re expecting your staff (including in-house copywriters, if you have them) to develop content, you can still benefit from including a content strategist in your overall online communications development team. While your staff may be able to write well enough to communicate your corporate message, can they deliver the right content in a compelling brand voice that will develop the right kind of relationship with customers? Do your in-house copywriters feel secure enough to potentially defy their colleagues when it comes to determining what customers want and need to know versus what marketing wants to tell them? And do you really think, considering current workloads, that you can count on even the keenest employee to blog or tweet regularly? Even if you are confident that you have the means of developing your own content, think of the content strategist as part coach, part editorial director, part long-term planner and sometimes, part referee. But definitely think of him or her before you get too far along in the content development process.

If not, you simply may not reap the full value of your investment. Kristina Halvorson, author of Content Strategy for the Web (and interviewed by Rosenbaum for his blog) admonishes businesses to “Treat Content like a critical business asset…if you treat Content as an 11th-hour issue, you’ll have bad content, unhappy employees, disappointed users, and budget overages.”

What do you think your audience will swallow?

In content communities, What works on March 17, 2010 at 12:15 pm

After years of working in the advertising industry and sitting through countless pitches— when I see a particularly annoying or ineffective television commercial, I have to wonder what went on in the presentation meeting. Sometimes it seems as if traditional advertising is digging its own grave.

I would have paid good money to be at the pitch for a commercial for a mainstream brand of yogurt that’s currently running. I would have paid even more to know what was going on in the mind of the marketing executive who decided to green light it. Basically, it’s a woman in a long flowing gown, flanked by young men in tuxes (and possibly tails), singing and dancing about yogurt to a hokey broadway-esque tune.

Considering that the number one target market for yogurt is power moms who buy it by the case load because a) calcium and vitamin D are important for growing bones and apparently it’s easier to get a child to eat a cup of pink fruit-flavoured goo than drink a glass of milk and b) keeping a power mom’s schedule is rough on one’s digestive system. I’m trying to figure out how a power mom, a woman who lives in sportswear and quite literally doesn’t have time to go to the bathroom, can relate to fancy gowns, boy toys and dancing to show tunes. Seriously, how does this commercial in any way relate to yogurt or, for that matter, to contemporary marketing approaches?

Then there’s the Stonyfield approach—based totally on useful (and quite beautiful) branded content. Granted Stonyfield is a small boutique brand, but it’s got the marketing savvy to be a lot bigger. First of all, CEO Gary Hirshberg wrote Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World, an insider guide to running a profitable, environmentally responsible business. That’s big time credibility. Plus the Stonyfield website is full-on branded content. There’s a simply gorgeous video featuring beauty shots of the yogurt’s natural ingredients and the farms where the milk is produced, articles on organic living, a downloadable “go green” handbook, plus more conventional content like CRS goals, coupons and recipes. Not only is it a visual feast, but at a time when the local food movement is telling power mom she needs to be on a first-name basis with the guy who grew the tomatoes in her lunch salad, this level of branded information hits on all cylinders.

Let’s see—a traditional 30-second spot featuring an irrelevant dancing routine that has nothing to do with the product, ignores the needs of its audience and offers little but a corny sales pitch…or beautifully produced branded content that understands its audience and offers both information and a sense of community. The traditional approach is about the product, the company, the sale. The branded content approach is about understanding customers, responding to their needs and building relationships.

So which one do you think would be easier to swallow?

And a child shall lead us …

In content communities on February 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine bought her six-year-old daughter a Webkinz™ stuffed toy. Not knowing much about the Webkinz phenomenon and the amazing online content that Ganz™ has created as part of the Webkinz play experience, she didn’t notice that this particular toy was missing its online secret access code.

Her daughter certainly did. After all, she had access to the rich viral network of Webkinz info found on the grade one recess yard. The little girl patiently explained to her mother that without those magic numbers, the Webkinz was “just a stuffed animal.” Then she went next door to play with a friend who could unlock the site.

Eventually, the toy was paired up with its code and restored to its full play value to the delight of both the mother and the little girl. But what I found interesting was how fully this six-year-old understood that the online content was an essential part of the toy—that it wasn’t just an add-on, but intrinsic to the play experience.

It’s a fact that bodes well for the future of branded content and its creators.