Kill the word "content" in content marketing.

Kill the word ‘content’ in content marketing

Content marketing has been the new “it” thing in marketing for a few years now, but many people don’t understand the term.

Why? It’s the word content.

It’s broad and meaningless, vague and confusing. Yet, somehow, it’s everywhere. And, whether we I like it or not, it’s working.

What is content?

A quick background on content marketing

The idea with content marketing is that it’s a softer sell than traditional marketing.

Rather than using clever copywriting beautiful visuals and big “buy now” buttons, the content marketing approach focuses on what could be useful to the customer.

The goal is to acquire long-term customers and draw them in through interesting, well, content.

Which brings me to my next point: What is content?

Content can be just about anything.

It could be this very blog post.

It could be a YouTube video.

It could be tweets, Facebook posts, Instagrams, or a Tumblr.

In the B2B world, it’s more likely to be a white paper, infographic, ebook, webinar, or guest blog post.

And that’s just a sample of what the content in content marketing could be.

How do we define content?

Dig through the dictionary definition and buried in the middle of the second definition, content is classified as “information made available by a website or other electronic medium.”

So content is information. Digital information.

Accurate enough, but not at all specific.

To define every form of online publishing as “content” is to not define it at all.

And there lies the problem. At the end of the day, the content is question is just another form of marketing.

If an advertisement, an email, a tweet, an about page or even a full-length feature film put the content in content marketing, than what are marketers doing when they’re not using content?

The origins of content marketing

All this is is the next phase of the brand as a publisher trend, which isn’t that new either.

Brands have been publishing (see: content marketing) as far back as the 1950s, when Jell-O handed out recipe books to American housewives.

Which really just means that brands are spending marketing dollars on writing, video production, graphic design, and whatever it takes to get their message out in there in the new mediums that the Internet provides. Which is basically just marketing – digital marketing.

It helps that the biggest web companies are backing the trend big time.

Google continues to update its search algorithm to focus on interesting, timely, relevant content; in part by penalizing bad content. Just read up on the Panda 4.1 update.

This is great, especially for online news organizations from the New York Times to Buzzfeed, which are constantly churning out new articles, photos, and videos – a consistent flow of fresh, compelling information and entertainment.

Add in the fact that Facebook is favoring link posts in the news feed while downplaying cat videos and clickbait, and the online ecosystem is continually being shaped to favor higher quality…well, content.

Even TV is all about content

It wasn’t so long ago that TV just stunk. Ruled for the last decade by reality shows like Survivor and Jersey Shore, we’re onto a new era where everybody wants to be the new HBO: a premium brand constantly focused on a quality product.

All of this is great for consumers – Netflix is worth paying for because almost entirely because of original content like of House of Cards. But there’s that word again: content.

Kill the word content

It’s nice to have a trend that is win-win for brands and consumers. I just wish we had a better name for it.

Today in tech: nerd dating, new apps and free iPads

  1. Finally find out if there’s anything after the credits without wasting time – Anything After is the app for that:
  2. Kleverbeast Brings App Creation To The Masses For $29/Month by @jordanrcrook via @TechCrunch. That’s democratization.
  3. This is very cool: Transfer Files From Your Phone to Computer With a ‘Bump’ via @mashable. #tech #apps
  4. Reading: LinkedIn Feels Generous, Hands Out Free iPad minis To All Employees on @mactrast Gah! Jealous!

A social sharing app that won’t sell you out

A new iPhone app, Digisocial, lets your share your voice with your photos.

A new iPhone app, Digisocial, lets your share your voice with your photos.

Just-launched iPhone app Digisocial adds a new wrinkle to social photo sharing: audio.

Take Instagram’s photo sharing and social network, add Soundcloud’s audio streaming capabilities and you’ve got Digisocial, which made its international debut in the Apple App Store January 16.

It’s not quite video, but it’s more than photo. In fact, they even coined a term for what exactly it is you’ll be sharing when you download the app: voicephotos. With apps like Snapchat gaining popularity in the social photo sharing community and Facebook adding phone calls through its Messenger application, the heat is on.

So how does it work?

Digisocial allows you to snap or upload an image on your smartphone, then record some sound to pair with it. You could sign or laugh, cry or scream. So far, there seem to be a lot of cute kittens paired with both fake and real meowing.

Tap share, and you can blast your voicephoto into the socialverse via the usual Twitter and Facebook integration. And, to alleviate privacy concerns from the get-go, you can choose to share to the public, friends or only yourself.

“We wanted to provide an alternative, that from a technical and functional perspective was just as advanced, but they [users] don’t have to worry about being treated like a product,” said Marco Mereu, VP of Communications for Digisocial.

Do I own my content?

Mereu summarized the app’s concept succinctly: “It’s a digital, ad-free audio image sharing app,” he told me over the phone midway through a busy launch day.

Mereu explained that Digisocial wants to carve its own path in the social sharing world by never sharing user information, providing it to third parties or selling user content. “Your content belongs to you,” he confirmed. See for yourself: has links to the privacy policy and terms and conditions.

The focus on privacy comes at a time when users and the media are just getting over Instagram’s terms and conditions kerfuffle.

What about down the line? They’re going to have to make money somehow

The East Coast startup is self-funded, so monetization is not an immediate priority, according to Mereu.

Instead, they’re concentrating on the user experience. That means an emphasis on fun, simple and engaging ways to share and connect.

Down the road, Mereu said, they’re thinking about layering enhanced functionalities like more storage, ways to share, features, or games.

Whatever happens, Digisocial says it will remain free and honor your privacy at all costs.

Who will use it?

So far, there are more cats and scantily clad women than anything.

However, the audio does add a very personal addition to what people are already sharing online. Plus, you can post audio comments.

It’s easy to see creative uses for the app, many of which have yet to be dreamed up.

For starters, I could see models, who have already established significant followings on Instagram, using the audio as another way to interact with fans.

Photographers and photojournalists could tell the story behind their images.

News organizations like NPR could use Digisocial as another platform for sharing the news. The push to record audio feature could be used to capture natural sound, breaking news, or even a full-fledged radio report. There is no limit to the length of audio that can be recorded, but there is no ability to upload an existing audio track — at least, not yet.

Check out my first post here and give the app a whirl yourself.

New No. 1: Macklemore accomplishes range, quality and success with debut album


Ten thousand hours later, it looks like hip-hop artist Macklemore has found his success.

The smooth-spoken Seattle wordsmith debuted his first full-length in October at No. 1 on iTunes and No. 2 on Billboard in the US.

His album, The Heist, made in conjunction with longtime producer Ryan Lewis, is a medley of sunny sounds contrasted by sobering lyrics that border on profound before going back to the simple sensibilities of, say, thrift shopping.

The video for the platinum single “Thrift Shop”, featuring vintage fur coats and a Delorian, has racked up more than 44 million views on YouTube.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis create a sound that brings up immediate similarities to notable white hip-hop acts Atmosphere and Brother Ali. The collection of 15 tracks lean in all directions: some toward pop and R&B, others toward rap and introspective rock. There is clear influence from underground spoken-word king Saul Williams, who Macklemore cites as influence in a chat with Interview Magazine.

The style of music has been labeled socially conscious hip-hop: lyrics struggle through recovery and trying to make it, but take a break on easier listening like “Gold.”

Wide-ranging in accessibility, The Heist blends everything that is popular in music right now: Drake fans will appreciate the chorus in “Neon Cathedral”, while Rhianna listeners could be easily drawn to the upbeat “Can’t Hold Us.”

Everything else is expert MCing layered with incredible array of musicianship, from horns to banjo to lots of meaningful piano.

Get it while it’s white hot—you won’t regret it.

Behind the scenes at Ustream: curating 24/7 live video

  1. UStream has been putting the power of a satellite truck in people’s pockets since its inception in 2005 and now established presence as the leader in live streaming on the Internet. At a #HacksHackers meetup at UStream HQ, the curtains were drawn back for journalists and coders to check out the content and technology behind the company that owns the world record for most video ingested
  2. This is what @ustream content monitors watch to keep track of potentially objectionable streams #HacksHackers
  3. plugintodan
    @burtherman @ustream‘s content monitoring is like looking at the matrix, where the man behind the screen is the architect. #HacksHackers
  4. Content monitoring was the most intriguing—and outlandish—subject of the evening. Senior Content Manager Andrew Warner delighted with his hilarious presentation about UStream’s approach to be-headings, live violence, unexpected porn, and how to avoid turning into Chatroulette.
  5. “There’s gonna be a guy masturbating and going no man that was a performance.” Banning art on @Ustream. #HacksHackers
  6. plugintodan
    It all gets back to context. At some point it becomes about sex when you’re shaking your ass at the screen. Inside @UStream at #HacksHackers
  7. In terms of content, UStream takes an old fashioned approach: real, live human beings. The business model leads with content curation for live events, partnering with news outlets and even Pay Per View events.
  8. Cybil
    RT @Ustream: We love humans here at @Ustream! Algorithms are cool, too. Just not as cool as humans. #HacksHackers

A pocket-sized Instagram projector, now on Kickstarter


Everyone’s a photographer with a smartphone in their pocket. And despite the incredible quality that can be pulled off affordable, semi-professional equipment these days, I’m a firm believer that the best camera is the one on you.

For me, that’s all 8 megapixels of my iPhone 5.

With digital photography comes digital files, and it can be a pain to show those off on anything larger than the device you have on you.

So it’s no surprise that someone has come up with a portable solution, albiet one that works best with the lights off.

A British entrepreneur named Benjamin Bradford hopes to change how you show your photos just a little bit with something his company Mint Digital is calling Projecteo.

Projecteo is a pocket-sized Instagram projector.

Find out more from the full post over at Gadget Beats, a new tech blog I’ll be working with.

Design this: free iOS graphic template


A digital design agency called Teehan+Lax is giving away what appears to be a top notch editable file for designing iPhone app screens with Photoshop.

With a high quality PSD like this, designers can easily mock up ideas for apps, workflows or even memes based in Apple’s latest iOS.

Why are they giving it away?

Because an important business philosophy noted in the Teehan+Lax blog is living by Tim O’Reilly’s motto: “Create more value than you capture.”

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Tim O’Reilly is the founder of O’Reilly Media, the major publishing house and technology conference promoter.

Aspiring entrepreneurs should take note from Teehan+Lax, which has found success through being unique, working hard, establishing core values, and learning to say no. Founder Jon Lax blogs about it here.

Get the ios 6 GUI for iPhone 5 here:

Kay Kay does No Diggity + more dance favorites


Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, a Seattle-based indie outfit birthed from members of the previously defunct Gatsby’s American Dream have been releasing a live digital album of covers. It’s called “Experimeducation” and features dancy, jazzy, multi-instrumental interpretations of ’80s and ’90s favorites like Hall and Oates, Mary J. Blige and Blackstreet. The band continues to add new tracks every chance they get and promise 12 in total:



“No Diggity featuring Katie Kate”


A classic ’90s favorite, the original “No Diggity” was recorded by Blackstreet and featured Dr. Dre. It’s a classic R&B jam and is catchy to begin with. Kay Kay keeps its rendition as smooth jammin’ as ever, complete with snaps, claps, and horns. I can almost feel the freak dancing—er, grinding. (Can you say “Hey oh hey oh hey oh hey ohhh!”)

Katie Kate, an unsigned Seattle badass/wise-ass hip-hopper, has some slick laptop jams and a name fit for a Kay Kay collaboration. She rocks the rap interlude originally done by Dre with more flavor than Flava Flav.

kay kay

The Amazing Spider-Man: what’s missing


The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony’s high-flying reboot of the Marvel franchise, takes you on a whimsical ride through New York City skyscrapers as a high school geek bitten by a radioactive spider swings through burglars, the NYPD and a giant mutant lizard all while falling in love and learning life lessons.

We’ve seen this story before. And not just in the comic books created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Toby Maguire brought Spider-Man to life on the big screen 10 years ago and followed up with two sequels recent enough for most people to remember the plotline.

But a fresh cast starring Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man and a new twist on an old story keeps this superhero movie swinging.

I liked the movie a lot. It was slick, lots of fun and the acting and effects were believable.

But what stood out most were the pieces that were missing; essential Spider-Man mythologies distinctly not included in this retelling of the origin story.

MaryJane Watson, Harry Osborn and J. Jonah Jameson, key players in all Spider-Man stories were nowhere to be found in The Amazing Spider-Man.

MJ is out and Gwen Stacy is in for Director Marc Webb’s interpretation. Emma Stone plays a convincing sweetheart who falls for the emotionally bruised Peter Parker, who is angry after he loses his parents and then Uncle Ben. Gwen is Peter’s first love in the comic books so the timeline of this film seems earlier than the 2002 Spider-Man. It’s also important to note that two biggest spidery comic book series are “Spider-Man” and “The Amazing Spider-Man”, so its not so far fetched to build this offshoot of the original arachnid story.

It was disappointing not to find J. Jonah Jameson and a major downplaying of The Daily Bugle, the fictional newspaper run by the always boisterous JJ. Maybe it was a little early for Peter to be shooting for the Bugle but the yearbook photographer approach seemed forced…and with no photojournalistic integrity or reason for Garfield’s character to be taking pictures of the Lizard, viewers new to the franchise were probably left wondering.

The Osborn family was almost entirely absent from The Amazing Spider-Man. There was plenty of OSCORP but no Norman or Harry (not really anyway). Keep an eye out for some allusions to Green Goblin, but a glimpse of Norman’s silhouette is the best we get.

Lastly, the infamous line “with great power comes great responsibility” was intentionally missing from a more brooding and serious approach to the webslinger. Peter’s Uncle Ben, played by Martin Sheen, has a semi-inspiring rant at one point that basically covers it and probably includes all the words, but he never outright says it. Clearly an intentional tactic to avoid campiness.

It’s pretty clear to me that everything missing from The Amazing Spider-Man will make its way into the sequel, which is already slated for 2014 and confirmed to not jump ahead in time. But as a lifelong comic book nerd and major Spider-Man fanboy, I can’t help but wonder where these essentials will fit in to the new Spidey.

An all-day Marvel marathon for diehard Avengers fans

Movie theaters across the country will be swarming with fanboys and fangirls Thursday, May 3.

And not just fro the midnight premiere of Marvel Comic’s epic, star-studded, BIG blockbuster THE AVENGERS.

This time, the action starts an entire 12 hours early with the ultimate Marvel marathon.

Starting at 11:30 AM, diehard fans can watch all six comic book films leading up to the debut of Marvel’s now world-famous team-up.

It seems The Avengers will catapult past X-Men as Marvel’s most popular franchise, at least in movies. The film has already grossed $178 million overseas, and the marathon will only add to the buzz…and profits.

AMC Theaters seemed to have the idea first, with movie site Fandango capturing the details (and your money).

If you’re not near an AMC, there’s also:

Cinemark’s Marvel Avengers Movie MarathonCinebarre’s Marvel Avengers Movie MarathonRegal’s Marvel MarathonKerasotes’ The Avengers Anthology and the Carmike Marvel Maniac Super Hero’s Movie Marathon.

Check the pricing and the options as some movies are in 2D, others in 3D. AMC is charing $40 for the whole deal, while Cinemark is undercutting them at $20 but with fewer locations. Regal is offering 5 of the movies for $35.

Who’s calling out of work on Thursday? (Not me, I’ve got the day off!)

The six movies to be screened lead up to the midnight debut of The Avengers:

Iron Man
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2
Captain America
The Avengers