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.

Change ain’t so bad…or is it?


Comic by Reza James Farazmand.

Comic by Reza James Farazmand.

It’s the biggest word buzzing about right now, but to some it’s a frightening one.

Whether it’s freeway construction, mall upgrades, identity changes, proposed stadiums or new political agendas; we are always quick to scour at whatever someone else is planning for us.

Why does change make people so uncomfortable?

It seems people get extremely comfortable with the way things are, and when someone wants to offer something different we may go along eventually, but it will be kicking and screaming the whole way.

Yet we always adjust. Why? Because we have to.

People are quick to reject transformations that don’t seem necessary. We also reject anything we don’t like, so it’s no surprise to see companies like Facebook and PepsiCo getting flack for changing their looks.

Users seem to rebel against any Facebook facelift when they should be applauding the social networking site for staying with the times.

The thing is, no one intentionally changes for the worse.

The dictionary defines change as becoming different, modifying, transitioning or converting.

Most of these words are generally positive. We need to stop seeing change as a bad thing.

Now, not everyone is on the right track: there are sparse fans of PepsiCo’s new logo that is either a funky smirk or a guy taking his shirt off.

And Tropicana is reverting back to its classic look because people didn’t need anything different from their orange juice.
Orange juice may not need to change, but we do.

If we don’t, we fear a static culture. A culture that remains unaltered becomes rigid and old, ultimately destined not to last.
Take construction as another example. The swarms of hard hats and orange vests doing work where Temple Ave. turns into Amar can take drivers 30 minutes to move two blocks, but it also generates an otherwise subdued creativity.

Some cars seek alternate routes in the Stater Bros. shopping center to make their way faster.

From an economical standpoint, the creative coping mechanism is a good thing.

It forces fresh thinking out of necessity and this will always bring out something better in the end: perhaps the stores by Stater Bros. have actually gotten more traffic from what they thought would be a obstruction to business.

Without change, creativity would be stifled.

It’s all too easy to remain satisfied with status quo, but refusing to be open to new ideas kills the innovation that America thrives on.

Take Cal Poly.

Officials are working on a campaign to re-brand the university’s image. And that could mean a potential name change.
Considering the confusion between Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona Pitzer and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, this is probably a good idea.
That might mean a little change around this place, so don’t get hot and bothered if you start noticing some differences.
Henry David Thoreau said, “Things do not change, we change.”

A possible interpretation being: we change the things around us because we change.

Things aren’t supposed to remain the same.

Yet, every time an organization tries to do something “out of the box,” people are up in arms at the slightest sign of discomfort to get to the finished product.

One solution is that the change agents need to better communicate their reasons for change and initiate a dialogue for feedback and input from those being affected.

And if no one weighs in, at least they had the chance.

And people, be more willing to accept new things.