“Content is King” Bill Gates, 1996
The phrase “content is king” gained popularity back in the early dotcom days. Most notably, it was coined by Microsoft’s Bill Gates in an essay entitled “Content is King” released on January 3, 1996. In this essay, Mr. Gates prophetically stated “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.” He painted a real comparison of success via the Internet with long-term winners, to date, in media. It was no surprise that those who delivered engaging and consistent quality information and entertainment—content—via their channels (i.e. TV, newspapers, magazines) survived business ebb and flow and experienced the greatest gains. Gates described the emerging Internet as an open and inviting opportunity to even the smallest of participants, irrespective of location and on an international scale. He said there would be great competition for supplying content in not just software and news but gaming, sports, directories, and online-communities devoted to special interests. Gates talked of an interactive and real-time experience with such content unlike printed magazines and even newspapers of that time. The Internet would be a liberating marketplace and would foster new ideas, experiences and commercial opportunities beyond our wildest dreams, all the while, “Content is King.”
This was all such exciting news at that time. And, I was in the thick of it. With a background in magazine publishing and a newly “elected” position as eBusiness Director for the Music & Entertainment division of United News & Media Corporation, all in my late 20’s, I knew we had a tremendous opportunity to retool a marketing strategy all around it! We were special interest publishers and recognized brands. We had hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Our magazines were legitimate marketing tools. Yet, most importantly, we created and had tons of content; expert content. Investors flocked to our corner. Expert consultants were employed. It was a time when it was clearly our business to lose.
A New Day
Fast forward to 2011—and a learned customer and business dependence on email, texting, Tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, a 24-hour news cycle, special interest mobile apps, and integrated, interactive media. Despite all of the new channels, one thing has not changed “Content is (still) king!” There is, however, more of it. From more sources. In more and various formats (i.e. 140 characters or less). And, via more channels than ever before, including mobile phones, tablets, eReaders, netBooks, etc. Making it a part of an integrated marketing strategy is critical yet more complicated.
Bill Gates was pretty right on with his predictions. As a consumer, I see myself drawn to content that is interactive, special interest, real-time and from various sized sources and locations including major news media and industry thought leaders all the way down to local bloggers, friends and family members. I am hungry for and see content which shapes my opinion and influences my decisions. As a business owner, therefore, I understand the importance of creating and distributing content; high quality, professional content that is easily accessible, and available across various formats and channels. And, promoted so my customers know it exists, they can become easily engaged, and can respond because of it. For the independent content marketer/publisher, here are several ways to distribute content. From publishing status updates and photos on Facebook and Twitter, to informational and entertaining blog posts and videos on YouTube, to professional and company pages with streamed content on LinkedIn, to name a few, the world is my oyster and the marketing opportunity is immense.
What Bill Gates did not mention in his essay was that as the Internet and other channels as we’ve discussed provide new opportunities for content marketers to distribute quality content, getting said content found, consumed and shared is not so easy. Levyl Master Black offers the following “5 Content Marketing Strategies for Small Business” to help improve the effectiveness of any content marketing program. (from Mashable, June 8, 2011):
1. Plan Your Content Ahead of Time. Brainstorm ideas and titles. Then come up with bullets for each piece of content. See which web pages on your site are the most popular for content your customers are looking for. Check Google Reader and Twitter hashtags to aggregate most popular news from your industry. Repurpose old content you may have written.
2. Create Content That Pops. Be sure content is digestible (usually less than one minute), bite sized sections. Format the content so it’s easy to skim, read and take in. Consider including pop culture icons and references for added traction.
3. Search Engine Optimize Your Content. Research keywords and keyword phrases that get the most traffic relevant to your topic. Use Google Keyword or a similar tool to do this and then use those relevant keywords in your content title, in the file names of the articles you publish and images throughout your entire article or webpage. For example, I entered in “content marketing” into Google Adwords and the most relevant searched term that came up next to “branding” was “marketing strategy.” So, I decided to include it in the title as well as sprinkled it throughout this piece in an effort to get more traction.
4. Create Backlinks to Your Content. Respond and leave comments of value with your posts that include links back to your content. Consider publishing your articles to sites such as: Yahoo! Contributor Network, PublishMyself.net, ArticleOnlineDirectory, AuthorPalace, Ezine Articles, Buzzle.com and Articlesbase. Link to old content in your new content.
5. Make Your Content Social. Use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote your content. Consider posting a question to stimulate interest and then a tiny url (tinyurl.com) to drive users back to your content. Make sure your content is sharable using free social plugin tools such as AddThis. Encourage ReTweeting.
How will you use content to attract, acquire and engage new customers for your business? Will mobile further support content marketing as an additional distribution channel and critical piece of your ‘marketing strategy’? Will content still be king in the next ten years? I’ll go on record to say yes, it will…
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Naples, FL since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over five years. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com or call 239.963.9396.