The Content Marketing Lowdown: Debunking the Myths
“Content Marketing” is a term that can be thrown around today carelessly for people to think, “this dude sure knows his stuff!” or “what the hell is he talking about?” It’s not exactly a new idea; content marketing been around since websites became money-making generators for businesses in the eBay heydays. But here in the Philippines, content marketing is a familiar concept to digital marketing people, but not exactly so for most business owners and possible clients. You’d have to explain what content is so they can understand what you’re going to do for them.
That being said, there are also people who understand content based on what the surface tells them—oh yeah, it’s about writing articles. Sure, it’s about putting stuff on my website. Ah, I’ve heard about it; isn’t that what you do when making videos for us? It can be a bit frustrating if this is your case. Your clients have to understand what the fuck you’re talking about for them to be well aware of what they need. They have to grasp how content is a crucial part of a digital marketing strategy.
Content Marketing Institute offers three common myths about content marketing, including how you can come up with a logical counter to it. We’ve also encountered these myths at Linkage, often coming from people who are genuinely interested in knowing what it does for a business and those who feel like they know shit about content marketing (but they actually don’t).
Foundry executive director Dan Rubin delivered a session at Content Marketing World that broke down content marketing myths in a paid advertising campaign:
Myth #1: There’s No Distinct Definition for “Content Marketing”
This is as much bullshit as saying “you can’t define advertising.” Of course, content marketing has a specific definition! The only catch here, though, is that it can mean different things for different people—especially for those working in a specific niche of content marketing.
The worst thing you can do when describing what you do is to stick with the general term and hope they’d know what you’re talking about. Rubin says that it pays to know what you mean by “content.” You have to define what you do in terms of content marketing when describing it.
After all, Rubin says, “content is editorial-minded assets that meet the audience’s needs.” If you work as a writer (like me), then tell them that content for you is all about creating compelling write-ups and articles that help target the keywords for a specific website in order for it to rank on Google. If you shoot and edit videos, then your content is all about creating visually-stunning footage that promotes a specific campaign or evokes emotion for branding.
Myth #2: Content Marketing Is Just the Same as Advertising
No, sir. The term “advertising” is a broad definition that can obscure one’s specific work if used all the time. Yes, you work in advertising, but you have a specific duty and department. Content marketing and advertising are different practices. Rubin defines advertising as a field where it’s used to “communicate brand messaging and/or product reasons-to-believe. Use advertising to promote products and increase brand favorability.”
Content marketing, on the other hand, is how you “earn attention to achieve consistent engagement with a brand. Use content marketing to raise brand perception, increase interest in products, and build long-term relationships.”
In a simpler sense, advertising is putting your shit out there. Content marketing is where you support the shit through blogs, videos, SEO strategies, etc.
Myth #3: Authentic = Real
I’ve been advocating for “authentic” content since the Google changes of last year took effect. The search engine platform favors valuable content that gives users what they need or search for. However, authenticity doesn’t mean that it’s “real.” Robert Rose of Content Marketing Institute offers a compelling definition of the differences between being “authentic” and “real.”
“There’s a lot of talk about the concept of authenticity in content marketing,” Rose says. “But most discussions on the topic would be better off using other words, like ‘honesty,’ ‘trustworthiness,’ or ‘transparency’ to communicate the point.” He goes on to define the word “authentic” by its root dictionary meaning. “After all, the primary definition of ‘authentic’ is simply ‘of undisputed origin; genuine,’ as in an authentic Andy Warhol painting. Other definitions include ‘accurate or reliable’ or ‘based on facts,’ as in an authentic depiction of that historic event. So, yeah, you can be an authentic jerk. You can be an authentic liar.”
Rubin also offers a logical separation of being “authentic” and being “real.” The key distinction between the two is the experience. People who describe events based on what they hear about can appear authentic because of how they use their words and the correct information gathered from their research. People who actually witnessed the event can go on to write “real” pieces about it after experiencing it first hand.
Notice how I’ve written this blog. I never talked to Rubin or Rose directly, nor have I ever attended a Content Marketing World seminar. What I’m sharing here is both based on facts shared during Rubin’s session and how it intersects with my experiences with clients (authentic). I am sifting through my experiences as a writer with the myths shared by Rubin (real).
“Basically, it’s ideal for content marketers to be authentic (accurate, reliable, and based on facts) and real,” Rubin explains.
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