The personal scriptorium of Joshua Corlew.
“Content marketing is the only marketing left.”
– Seth Godin
I recently discovered my new favorite blog the other day: The Content Strategist, powered by Contently.com. The blog focuses on all aspects of creating, managing and correctly using high-quality content in a new age where the old advertising and journalistic models are rapidly being replaced. As an Editing, Writing and Media major, and headed into a Master’s program for Rhetoric and Composition, I find this to be fascinating (and not in part because it concerns how I will probably earn a living).
Contently expound on a few major thesis, found in their blog, their free e-book, and thier manifesto, all of which I believe are true and are going to have great impact on how we receive and relate to news, advertisements and any other media where content is king. I’ve listed them here for my own sake of understanding them better as well as for the possible interest of anyone else.
1. Social = Success. Period. – It comes as little surprise that in a day where Facebook is as ingrained into our lives as brushing our teeth that a company and/or new’s outlet’s best way of reaching and befriending customers is through the realm of social media. The Content Strategist argues that most company’s success in the near future will be almost entirely based on their ability to productively use the strange new tool of social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs. In a post by Ella Rhiley-Adams, the founder of Federated Media, John Battelle, lays out the important difference between marketing on the television and marketing in the age of Web 2.0. When it comes to television and the old ways of marketing he says that “the value of content is directly proportional to the efficiency with which it aggregates ‘eyeballs,’” but today “the value of content on the web is directly proportional to the number of connections it starts or sustains.” Essentially, if a company’s online content fails to spread among people and cause any sort of relationship, it will die. The internet is founded on the social platform and if your content is not socially spreadable it is inefficient and ineffective.
“The value of content on the web is directly proportional to the number of connections it starts or sustains.”
– John Battelle, Founder of Federated Media
2. Publishers and News Corporations Are Dead – In an age when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, can tweet that Osama bin Laden has been killed by American soldiers before the news corporations ever get it out to the public, we know that one of the main strengths of news corporations is lost; speed. In addition, with the public perceiving so many slants on the actual story by different news outlets (Fox=conservative, MSNBC=liberal, etc.), they are starting to opt out for people with less reputation but greater reliability. Even since their inception, blogs have continued supplanting the old model of getting news out with relative consistency.
Book publishers are feeling the heat as well with the rise of self-publishing and dying need of a hard-copy to legitimize a book’s “quality.” The new age of e-books has broken down the floodgates for all those aspiring authors looking to get their books out to the public. The problem with both the new model of news and book publishing is, of course, how will we know what is good news and good books without news corporations and publishers acting as a watchdog? Answer: the same we figure out what is “good” most of the time. If online content is good, trustworthy and written well, it will be shared on Facebook, Twitter and more. Soon it will be prominent. If a book is good, and many people find great literary content coming out of an unknown author, it is relatively easy to let the world know, since we’re all about three clicks away from each other. It all comes back to the keyword: social. The rise of social networks on the web allows for the spread of quality content. People don’t want to share something they think is trashy or that they think is only ok; they share what they love.
3. Rise of the Quality Content/Death of Pop-Up Ads– The end result will be that those with the best content wins. This is great, since that is how it should be all the time. The internet forces transparency, and those who try to hide behind cheap advertising gimmicks only come out looking bad. Have you ever once been persuaded to click on those annoying pop-up ads? Neither have I. But if a company, like Dell, has its employees working with customers over Twitter, having conversations, sharing tips for improving computer speed, and publishing blogs that are relevant and helpful to their consumer base, all without any advertising other than the fact that their name is attached to great content, than one might form a favorable impression of a company. This is how it will play out. The structure of advertising will become much less organized, much more social, and much more headed by great contract content writers. This will lead to the death of stupid advertisements and result in a much more involved, much more socially-oriented, and, ideally, much more profitable way of connecting with customers.
Here is an example of these principles at work. Bill Simmons is a writer for ESPN who had a great idea. He wanted to take the model presented by the Huffington Post and have a bunch of excellent writers and/or celebrities publish content they wanted to publish, and have it all in one place. The one requirement was that it be sports-related. He threw the idea out to ESPN, who at first didn’t want it, until he threatened to bring it elsewhere, in which case ESPN then agreed to partner alongside him. The result is working favorably for ESPN.
Grantland is one of my favorite sites on the internet, because it takes the dull, dry way of sports reporting modeled by the CNN-style ESPN writing and turns it on his head. Excellent writers are putting out insightful, entertaining, factual and extremely well-written sports content all in this one place. There are the obvious articles that deal with the current games and then there are articles dealing with whatever else these writers feel passionate about. It’s like a journalist’s/news reader’s dream come true. On Grantland, content is king, and because of that, it is a joy to read. This is what the future of web content, publishing and news reporting looks like.
We endeavor to support the rise of quality content, in a freelance Internet, commissioned by brands that care about transparency and social good, and by media companies that believe that great creative work is worth paying for.
– Contently.com (from thier “Contently Manifesto”)