“Can agencies participate in content marketing without crossing that ghost line (and helping companies to continue to be non-authentic)? Would the content fall more to the traditional side (while still be shareable/social?)”
Companies are always going to need content. As “the irrelevant corporate website” continues to become more irrelevant, the need for fresh, timely, engaging, useful content resources is only going to increase.
We tend to think “content marketing” is a corporate-friendly code word for “blogging.” In some cases, it isâ€”the best problogging and corporate blogging have a content marketing mindset. But they’re not interchangeable terms.
In my mind, content marketing isâ€¦ well, using your web content to market your business.
What’s the difference between a really useful blog post and an “article?” Do you really care who wrote it, if your primary interest in that piece of content is the value the content itself provides? Does making that content portable and easy to share make sense, even without a particular person’s byline? Does making it visually engaging and presenting it in a slick way make it non-authentic?
Yes, there’s a business case for having the company president blog to create warm fuzzy feelings between consumers and company. But for some companies, that’s a horrible idea and a bad fit for their corporate culture.
My main point (and I do have one) is that there’s also a business case for simply providing kick-ass, value-add content based on information that is either your business’ main product or service, or a by-product of your main product or service.
Transforming “information and data” into “engaging, portable, search-friendly content” is a huge, wide-open opportunity for agencies to provide value to their clients.
The beauty of this approach to content marketing strategy is that it scales down as gracefully as it scales up. Every brand, from individual consultants to multinational corporations, has a unique value proposition. Sometimes that UVP is grounded in the brand’s unique and appealing personality. Sometimes it’s grounded in a particular product, or feature, or the way the company does business differently.
It’s the “consistent, distinctive brand voice” that works equally well for a personal brand or a corporate one, and fits on the social web. And it’s time to face facts: the social web has become the mainstream web. (Hat tip to @ShivSingh of Razorfish.)
Your unique value proposition can be a great starting point for your content marketing strategy. Because it provides the “hook” that makes your content more appealing than the other guy’s (at least to the audience your business is centered around reaching).
(Extremely) Quick ‘n Dirty Guide to Content Marketing:
You* know stuff.
Offered in the right (friendly, engaging, portable) form, the stuff that you know can be helpful/valuable/entertaining to people.
People will like you for offering it to them.
People will tell others about you giving them good stuff.
Those people may well need to buy your product/service.
Lather, rinse, repeat.