The content marketing land rush is on. Everywhere you turn, ad agencies, PR firms, SEO firms and others are claiming to be content creators. However, most of them are coming at content from the wrong angle – and that’s not me saying it, it’s the audience saying it. Okay, it’s me saying it too. The problem with the approach to content marketing so many are taking is that they’re treating content as the next wave of advertising, but it works far better if it’s the next wave of journalism.
If you want to call what those firms are doing “content marketing,” fine. But brand journalism is a higher level of content marketing; journalistic content is better, deeper and more trusted than ad copy or SEO-driven keywords. In 2014, trust must come before the sale; the goal of any marketing strategy should be to build trust with believable, useful content. Doing this requires an editorial sense.
Most marketers have zero editorial instincts. Virtually none of them have ever worked inside a newsroom. That matters if you’re launching a content strategy with the goal of telling great stories and informing the audience.
As Contently Managing Editor Joe Lazauskas said in our recent chat “Good editors have great instincts when it comes to content strategy. And a lot of brands are having their content strategy dictated by CMOs who have never worked in editorial. It’s insane.”
Increasingly, it’s possible to use algorithms to approximate an understanding of the audience… although those algorithms seem to be delivering us a lot of listicles and cat videos. They’re fine, and they may drive traffic, but they are not game changers. The value they provide is typically pretty shallow.
Great content – journalistic content – is both art and science. Great editors have a kind of sixth sense that enables them to understand what stories will resonate with an audience and be truly impactful. When they first hear a detail or two, they quickly begin to envision what the final product might be. They consider how best to tell the story, and they search out facts and anecdotes that will bring the story to life. They understand how to uncover and tell stories that our brains are hardwired to receive.
This is why brand journalism is a higher level of content marketing. It appeals to the audience’s more human instincts.
Audiences are ever more discriminating and they have more options for information every single day. They see through transparent sales pitches and they tend to shun brands that only try to sell them, while seeking out and engaging with brands that are trying to help them.
Most CMOs have been trained to sell stuff. Most marketers have an inclination towards advertising. That’s a good and valuable thing, but it is also limiting when it comes to creating content that human beings actually want to consume and share.
At Scribewise, we believe that the best content is created specifically for human beings. And that requires human beings to do the work.