Content Marketing

What the “Zen Masters” of Viral and Content Marketing Know That You Don’t

Lots of people talk about “viral marketing” but apart from a (very) few, lighting-strikes-once exceptions, there’s very few who have built a business or even a soundly executed marketing strategy from it. One of those few is BuzzFeed

If anyone can honestly be said to have “cracked the code” on viral, it’s arguably got to be BuzzFeed, the social publishing/advertising company who recently passed 30 Million visitors per month in viewership, whose 2012 revenues tripled 2011s, and who has recently been featured in both the New York Times and The Atlantic

And what’s BuzzFeed’s secret?

Well, it would be a dramatic oversimplification to ascribe their massive success to just one “secret.” According to BuzzFeed’s founder and CEO, Jonah Peretti, it’s actually 7 things. But the real “secret” they know that you (likely) don’t, and that I guarantee will help you with your online video content marketing, is this:

The have absolutely zero shame in promoting their “viral” content.

They’ll pay for promotions in order to generate views on the content they want people to see and read. In fact, here’s a screenshot of a recent Facebook Ad for one of their articles:








So anytime that they’ve got solid content they want people to see, they’ll advertise and promote it. In fact, they never expect the viral aspect of their content to carry the load, only to provide a bonus over and above what’s brought in by advertising. To quote from a New York Magazine article on Buzzfeed 

“His standard is that for every ten views an advertiser pays for when it buys a viral ad, it should get two shares. (‘There is no free lunch,’ Watts likes to say, ‘but maybe you can have a cheap snack.’)”

In other words, the experts on viral sharing expect only 20% of their content views to come from sharing, with the rest coming from ads and other promotions.

When Did Marketers Become Ashamed of Their Profession?

Perhaps the real shocking thing about this “secret” is that it’s shocking at all.

Because the people who seem most reticent to extol the virtues of promoting and marketing online video are, ironically, online marketers. They’re the only ones who often disdain paid ads as somehow sullying the “purity” of a viral success — as a form of “astroturfing.”

So why are the very people who are professionals at advertising and marketing, so critical of the value of those activities when it comes to online video?  Why do they want to be recognized for achieving results by viral (e.g. dumb luck) instead of through the savvy application of their professional skills?

Video stats for a recent Viral Video Success, show that a solid majority of the views are ad-driven, despite marketers’ claims to the contrary.

It would be like meeting your new doctor who downplays the “authenticity” of diagnosing problems and proscribing treatments in favor of spontaneous remissions and psychic healing or something. Who’d trust a doctor like that?

Same thing with a lawyer who claimed to win his cases without actually filing briefs or motions or engaging in negotiations or appearing in court. Not a lawyer you’d want representing you, I’d suspect.

And yet, many online marketing executives do just that when it comes to video content marketing: they portray themselves as achieving success without having to actually DO any promotion or advertising.  

TV producers and film-makers — undoubtedly the masters of generating success and creating value from video and film content — know that the promotional and advertising budget will cost 50% to 100% of a movie’s or a TV episode’s production costs. Paramount Pictures would never dream of releasing Star Trek Into Darkness without advertising it with $90 to $150 million worth of TV spots, billboards, trailers, etc.  And BuzzFeed — the acknowledged masters of online content marketing — know that the more advertising they give a piece of content, the better chance a video will have of achieving success. 

So why do the marketing professionals avoid pay per view ads as “astroturfing” and cheating, instead of embracing it as the very methods of the masters?

I’m saying this almost as a rant, because I recently read an article with a prominent marketing expert (a CMO) stating with confidence that he would never promote a viral video. He claims that “it is all about the content” or something like that. And I seem to see statements like this again and again.

It never ceases to shock me that, as a film-maker filmmaker sitting in a boardroom full of my clients’ marketers, I’m often the only one in the room who actually believes in the need for and power of advertising, promotion and marketing.

The anti-promotional myth as it pertains to viral is really just that. In fact, whenever someone tells me of a viral video success — a supposedly “purely viral” spreading of a marketing video, I can reliably look at the amount of “promoted views” and find that they represent somewhere between a quarter to a third of the total. Even when the marketers behind the video deny spending money on advertising.

So now you’re plugged into the big secret. Yes, Virginia, even the very best — especially the very best, actually — in the fields of viral marketing, content marketing, and video marketing make heavy use of no-kidding paid promotion and advertisement.

And you should too. 

Social Storytelling Through Digital Video

This interview with About Face Media CEO, Barry Poltermann originally appeared in the June Issue of Advantages Magazine.


As brands continue to evaluate their budgets, now is the perfect time to introduce new ideas for engaging customers. one branding concept that is growing in popularity is social storytelling through digital video. Barry Poltermann, CEO of About Face Media, has worked with Fortune 500 brands in retail, banking government and consumer products.

“What interests me in video content that generates user-initiated views, as opposed to pre-roll, auto-play or other interruptive techniques.” says Poltermann “In particular, I like storytelling videos that bring a brand to life in a genuine manner.” Storytelling videos, valuable information (to the consumer and interesting characters get consumers to give a brand attention. Companies are realizing that even if they get customers to click on their video within social channels, they aren’t retaining or engaging customers with their marketing message by using traditional corporate video techniques.

“When you produce a storytelling video and see that it’s watched 60% – 70″ through the end on average, and then compare that to your TV commercial and see that only 20% of viewers are still watching after 10 seconds, you start to question the value of that content,” says Poltermann. “The more people measure what actually gets watched and how long it is watched, and often it is shared, the more videos will focus on storytelling.”

PUT YOUR STAMP ON IT: Bring your brand to life with videos and characters that show your company’s personality and tell the story of what you can do for clients.


Once Again: Are You STILL Making These Fatal Video Content Mistakes?

This post by About Face Media CEO, Barry Poltermann originally appeared in MediaPost as a follow up to this post.


No one plans to make bad marketing videos. Yet, the majority of them ARE bad. And most of the time, it’s because the clients or the video producers fell into one or more of these deadly mistakes.

A few months back, I talked about deadly video content and the “advertising vs. programming” mindset that can turn branded content into wasted opportunity. Here I take it a step further and look at two common mistakes made by brands in their video content creation, along with practical solutions for making the content sing.

Mistake #1: Starting video production with “We want to tell people about X.”

Nobody tools around the Internet seeking a good sales spiel. Cat videos, yes. Sales spiels, no.

Now, you may think that people should find your company’s sales pitch way more interesting than a cat video. But you don’t get to control what your audience finds interesting.

So instead of saying “we want to tell them about X,” you need to start with “we think our audience will find Y interesting.” It’s possible, of course, for X and Y to overlap. But in this event, X will usually end up implied or only tangentially addressed, while Y will be the direct and explicit focus of the videos.

A few years ago we produced a pilot episode for a car company showcasing a new owner’s reaction as he took a test drive in one of the company’s new vehicles.


The choice of content was dictated by the desired audience, which happened to be customers who had pre-ordered a vehicle and were still awaiting its delivery. Our audience members wouldn’t have been interested in a traditional promotional piece, but they were interested in seeing new owner reactions because they too were awaiting a ride in their new-technology cars. It was a subject matter that had inherent relevance to their situation and interests.

The “Y” in this case was: “Here’s what it’ll feel like when you get your new car.”

The “X” was: “You made the right decision in buying a X-Brand vehicle, and we’re delivering new cars daily while working very hard to get you your new car delivered ASAP.”

Without Y, no one wants to hear X.

Not surprisingly, the video was widely shared by these car owners, primarily online through their owner’s club. In fact, of the 1,000 or so people who had pre-purchased a car, nearly half of that entire target audience watched the pilot episode.

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Online Video Has Higher Impact than Television Advertising [INFOGRAPHIC]

The online audience for online video advertising is hungry for content. A new Inforgraphic from Adweek highlights the growing trend. It’s true that advertising dollars are shifting from television to online video but there is still a large gap. It’s easier to reach your target audience, less expensive and more effective. Even harder to reach and niche demographics are becoming more receptive to consuming content online. 


Taco Bell To Create UGC-Based SXSW ‘Rockumentary’ via MediaPost

Here’s an interesting new documentary project from Taco Bell.

In the latest expansion of its “Feed the Beat” program, Taco Bell has partnered with Twitter to offer fans the opportunity to have their footage included in a “rockumentary” of two bands playing at a branded event during this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences & Festivals.

It reminds us a little (or a lot) of the Beastie Boys‘ 2006 concert film/documentary Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That where the Boys gave out 50 cameras to fans to shoot their show at Madison Square Garden.

A very cool interactive idea.

And one that is very dependent on the editor.

Happy editing!

Read more at MediaPost.

Content Marketing’s Revolution: From One-Offs to Continuous Storytelling via The Huffington Post

Everything we’ve ever said is now on Huffington Post.

Really, John?

Yes!  Well most!  Like…

Do continuous stories in series!  Not just one-offs.

Promote your content (don’t just make good stuff and let it die out there)!

And several more great tips!

Here’s the intro:

Content marketing is not a new tactic. From the days of advertorials in print, to content hubs built by online publishers, to brand integration within programming on television and digital media, brands have long recognized that content can often be more powerful than advertising to deliver a story.

But content marketing is undergoing a revolution as brands move beyond “one-off” executions to full-blown continuous storytelling. When a brand is in a position to capitalize — in real-time — on the lights going out at the Super Bowl, we’ve reached a new level of marketing agility and impact.

Attractive People In Attractive Clothes Are Attractive

You know how when you see really attractive people in really nice clothes they always seem to look great?  Weird, right?

I came upon this recent short film from Calvin Klein featuring a super good looking actor and a super good looking model both wearing super good looking clothes.  And they both look great!

It’s (I guess) a shot at branded content that people would love to watch no matter what brand was behind it.



More After The Jump

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Financial Storytelling: An Interview With Angel Investor, Bob Okabe

Filmmakers and novelists come to mind first when I think about “stories.” They are the naturals, grappling over whether  a story always is made of three acts and a conflict. Is it a journey to the ‘inmost cave’? Is it heroes and villains and mentors and sidekicks? Is it Homer or McKee? Syd Field or Shakespeare?

But—what of the lawyers, wrestlers, reporters, songwriters, stand-up comics, and the many others who rely on storytelling within their professions? After all, stories are everywhere. They’re pervasive in human nature, and in human history.

Bob OkabeThis is the first in a series of posts featuring interviews with a wide range of individuals, from all walks of life, to explore where stories reside and how they are defined, varied, and utilized.

The first interview is with Bob Okabe. Bob is a former investment banker and CFO, who teaches investors and entrepreneurs how to tell their story at The Angel Resource Institute. Bob spent twelve years as an investment banker, working at firms such as BancAmerica RobertsonStephens and Lehman Brothers, where he spent much of his time helping companies hone their business stories.  


What is financial storytelling and why do you have an interest in it?

Bob Okabe: I learned about financial storytelling as an investment banker.  I’m a member of the board of trustees at a non-profit called the Angel Resource Institute, which tries to improve the dialogue between entrepreneurs and investors, to make it easier for investors to understand entrepreneurs and why their companies might be worth investing in— what they’re looking for and the types of things that resonate with them, so that it’s easier for the entrepreneurs to acquire the capital they need to grow their businesses. That’s where the financial storytelling comes in.

The biggest difference with financial storytelling versus other kinds is that it’s not necessarily natural for the recipient of the story to want to invest or to lend money. They have to be convinced to do so. This is versus, let’s say, going to see a film. You see a certain type of film because you want a certain type of entertainment—drama, romance, comedy, action—so you’re happy to spend money to get it. When an entrepreneur is looking for capital, they’re the movie trying to get the investor to buy a ticket. And, while the person listening to the entrepreneur’s story might be willing to invest, they rarely have this burning desire to go invest. They haven’t said, “I am going to invest money today”or, “I’m going to lend money today.” It’s more, “I may if…” and the “if” has a lot to do with the quality, tone, and tenor of the story.

What does it mean when a potential investor says that “a company has a good story” or “I didn’t really like their story”?

Bob Okabe: If you are a commercial banker and you’re trying to lend money to a company like About Face or your local hardware store, it’s more about the numbers and results and analysis. When you are an entrepreneur seeking money for your company, or if you are an angel investor or venture capitalist raising and investing money, it’s much more of a subjective analysis. Do I believe in the investor’s or entrepreneur’s story? Do I trust that this person will do their utmost to achieve what they say they can do? What they say they can do has the ability to be an attractive investment opportunity.

So when an investor says, “I like that story,” it’s usually centered on how much they have developed a belief or trust. “I trust or believe that the entrepreneur can do it. And I believe that story will help achieve the goal I have for that investment.”

So I know that sounds a little general, but it’s also somewhat subjective, just as some people might like a film or a painting and other people might not like the same film or the same painting.

It’s the same with a pitch for a startup, or an early stage company. I might like that story about a mobile application company because I was stuck in an airport and I would have liked to know where the nearest airport lounge was—so that resonates with me. Somebody else might say, “I hate airports—I just want to get in and out—so a mobile app to find the nearest lounge would be stupid.” The level of individual subjectivity plays quite a role.

When you’re telling the story of a company does it go beyond here’s who’s on the board and here’s the financials? Are you using more traditional story elements like a hero on a journey facing obstacles, and the like? Is there actually a dramatic arc being put together?

Bob Okabe: In the long term there’s a story, but not in the short term. In the short term, let’s look at the example of film. When somebody puts together a film, they have to put together a trailer—the coming attractions you see in the theater. You watch the trailer for Skyfall and they generally show you three things: impossibly good-looking people, cool gadgets, and things blowing up. They don’t lay out the story. They don’t have time to. They try to portray the three most compelling things that will get you to be receptive to that story.

I think financial storytelling starts that same way. What are those two or three most compelling things that will get the investor to drop their guard and be receptive? Then, at that point, the story can be told in a more traditional way. Sometimes it’s a really experienced management team, entrepreneurs who’ve been through this before. Sometimes it’s unbelievable science, like “this molecule will cure cancer.” And it may be different for every entrepreneur and every company but it’s really kind of breaking the ice, breaking down that wall of the willing-but-not-eager and turning it over into “I’m getting eager, I’m getting interested, I want to be involved with this story.”

Beyond that trailer-like icebreaker, I think the story has common, traditional elements, as you mentioned. The quest of the hero is the goal of the company. They may want to change the way people shop. Or the way people engage with the community. That’s the journey that the hero goes on. The hero is the entrepreneur or the founding team. They have to be generally likeable. You have to have that trust that they will succeed.

The hero conquers escalating tasks as they go, overcoming obstacles to do so. Your management team has to have that ability to overcome the obstacles on the way and stay on the path – it’s a very important part of financial storytelling.

I think the next part of it is, what tools do they have? What will make it easier for that story to be accomplished? What new technology, what cool gadget, what competitive advantage do they have that’s going to make that journey easier?

Is there a villain? In most stories, there’s usually some sort of a villain working against the hero.

Bob Okabe: That’s a great point. Well, I think there should be a villain and not enough financial stories focus on that. That villain might be slow adoption, it might be competition, it might be inertia. But there is a villain and financial storytellers need to address how they plan to beat the villain.

When somebody thinks they’re going to change the world, or the way people wash dishes or whatnot, the presumption is, to a certain extent, if you build it they will come. But, of course, some people like the dishwasher they have—or they don’t believe in using electricity and wasting resources to wash dishes, so they wash them by hand.

The competition can also be a villian. Competition can be a product that’s similar, or the previous generation of a product. The villain can also be inertia—it’s just not that important to me to adopt a new way of doing the dishes.

A lot of financial storytellers don’t concentrate enough on how they’re going to defeat the villain. It takes a certain amount of courage—or willingness to suspend fear—to make the entrepreneurial leap. Sometimes you can have so much courage that you don’t recognize the competition or pitfalls along the way. If you don’t talk about that, you lose credibility with investors. Experienced investors understand that there is a villain.

When is a financial story told? Is it through the press? At investor meetings? In investor pitches?

Bob Okabe: Financial stories should be told more often than they are told. They have to be told when you are trying to build your business. You are telling a financial story —or the potential success story of the company—certainly when you’re raising capital or getting bank loans. A solid financial story helps in other ways, such as when you’re trying to do things like develop strategic partnerships. If you’re a restaurant, you want the best meat from the best butcher shop. You have to convince that great butcher shop that your restaurant is going to be great. You need to sell them on your story.

Often you’re trying to deal with suppliers to extend credit, give you a little slack, give you a little extra time, because the result will be worth it. So you’re telling that financial story—that success story of where the business will go. You probably should tell it—and be ready to tell it— more often than you think.

Are you talking about story and story elements because that’s how I’m framing these questions, or is this something that people in the financial business talk about?

Bob Okabe: It’s been under analyzed in the financial industry. When you’re an angel or venture capital investor, you’re investing in something yet-to-be—the unknown, right? Will this phone become the new iPhone? Will that social networking application become the next Facebook?

So to a certain extent investors don’t want you to know what really pushes their buttons. They don’t want to be fed a formula. It’s kind of like dating web sites. They don’t want to tell you their algorithm, which matches you up with the potential significant other, because they don’t want people to game the system.

Investors tend not to have a discussion similar to the one we’re having because they don’t want to be fooled, they don’t want to have their buttons pushed. So, not revealing that formula is actually a strategy on the part of investors. I would say that it doesn’t get talked about at all.

When you present to more than one investor—whether its multiple partners in a venture capital firm, or multiple angel investors in a group—they talk about it among themselves: “Here are the parts I didn’t like about this story. I didn’t like the assessment of the competition” or, ”Gee, I wish the CEO were more experienced.” Those discussions happen between investors, and I think that there is some discussion of business storytelling in that safe environment of… “Hey, we’re all on the investor side.”

Who are the best business storytellers—the people that tell the story of their companies really well?

Bob Okabe: It’s really hard to say who is good at it unless you were there at the beginning. You could argue that Mark Zuckerberg is good at it. Look how much money he raised and he didn’t give up much of the company. It’s really hard to tell how much of it was the way Mark Zuckerberg told the story, or the consensus that Facebook as an idea was just so compelling: “It’s okay that we let this young kid in a hoodie run it.” It’s in a lot of ways impossible to break those two pieces apart. You could argue that anybody who makes it from founder to CEO of a multi-million dollar company is great at telling the story, because the story came true.

Are there certain people who just know how to present their case in a way that’s really dramatic?

Bob Okabe: It’s important. I listened to a business plan pitch yesterday for these two people who wanted to create an app for your phone that helps you find craft beers. And, it was kind of like, why would you do that? But they told the story so well. There were five of us listening to the plan. “Wow! That’s a pretty good story.” So there is that certain part… it’s like when you read a restaurant menu, it may have Maytag bleu cheese or organic New Zealand spring lamb. You know they tell you those little components that make you feel better, or increase your anticipation of what you’re going to taste. Good financial storytellers do that, too, because they are relaying something that may or may not happen. To a certain extent, they are telling a myth or a fable  about a future that doesn’t exist yet, and you have to suspend your skepticism to be willing to invest in that.

Barry: Thanks so much for giving me your time and expertise.

Bob Okabe: My pleasure.

Barry Poltermann is CEO of AboutFace Media, a company specializing in storytelling through short-form documentary video distributed online via social media. His clients include 3M, Kmart, Trek, Sears, Staples, MasterCard, Unilever, and Wilson Sporting Goods. He can be reached at


Best 100 Brands In Branded Content via GoViral

GoViral has published a list of the top 100 most powerful brands of 2012 in branded content.

Taking the top prize is Red Bull - and the top 100 didn’t even factor in that whole dropping Felix Baumgartner from high enough to break the sound barrier thing…  So good on you, Red Bull.

Here’s an excerpt from the GoViral list’s preamble:

New social channels and the explosion of video content have opened up doors for brands to own the conversation with their audience and bypass traditional gatekeepers (and in the process save millions of dollars in ad spend). We wanted to look at how brands were using social video to connect with their audiences and which ones had seen the biggest return on their eorts in 2012. Ultimately, the reward is for a brand to become part of the conversation rather than sit ignored on the sidelines in a 30 sec ad break.

Back in 2010, we were saying this about the old Interruption Marketing model:

Why did our captive audience want to be free in the first place?  Didn’t we have a good thing going?  We told them something we wanted them to hear, they heard it.  What’s wrong with that?  The problem was, and is, that they can now get what they want without us thanks to that pesky American entrepreneurial spirit.

Point is – it’s necessary to engage the audience in conversation, and GoViral’s top 100 are the brands doing the best job.

Coca-Cola’s Breakthrough in Brand Storytelling

The new design is closer to a magazine, with content for consumers.

In the Social Storytellers blog in 2008 we featured this prediction. It was made by social media experts polled by Joe Pulizzi of Junta 42, which would later become The Content Marketing Institute:

“Corporate, non-profit and government websites will become more and more like online magazines or channels. And those who recognize the importance of compelling, authentic storytelling content in their online communications will see the greatest long term ROI from their content investments.”

It’s been coming true, slowly, over the last four years.

But something really interesting just happened at the Coca-Cola corporate website.

The brand is bringing to life it’s dynamic storytelling strategy in a big way with the re-launch of  it’s corporate Web site as — and this is where it really get’s interesting — an online magazine  called Coca-Cola Journey.

According to a Sunday article in the New York Times, the site is named after a magazine named Journey that was published for the company’s employees from 1987 to 1997.

From the article:

The journey to introducing Coca-Cola Journey began about a year ago when Muhtar A. Kent, chairman and chief executive, “challenged us to find a way to bring back Journey in the digital age,” Mr. Brown said. “And we thought, ‘Why should our great Coke story stay internal?’ ”

Coca-Cola's completely "not boring" investor relations section of their corporate website.

The use of the word “story” is significant because the Web site changes are indicative of the growing interest among marketers in recasting their communications with consumers as storytelling rather than advertising. Just as attention is being paid to developing content to use for brand storytelling, an appetite also exists for corporate storytelling.

“The hot thing is to talk about being publishers,” Mr. Brown said. “We have this belief in great, real content and creating content that can be spread through any medium as part of our ‘liquid and linked’ strategy.”

To make that easier, “my team, the digital communications and social media team, has been re-formed in the last year to look more like an editorial team at a long-lead magazine,” he added, “with a production schedule and an editorial calendar.”

This is exciting stuff. Content marketing isn’t just for airline magazines any more.

Adage Digital has Thoughts on Video Marketing… & Charcoal!

Adam Kleinberg at Adage Digital has a good analysis of what works — and what doesn’t work — in online video marketing.

He tells a brief story that illustrates one of the most perplexing things about Youtube marketing right now. Why don’t brands create more simple, useful, promoted video content on Youtube? It’s the lowest hanging fruit.

“Google is a zillion-dollar business because they stumbled upon something powerful in the marketing funnel—intent. When people want something, they search for it.

Rapidly, video is becoming a more and more critical part of that search. This summer, I decided to put my BBQ skills to the test and figure out how to make a brisket. It didn’t even occur to me to read a recipe. I went straight to YouTube to learn how. I went through dozens of crappy home videos before I finally found a good one.

Shame on Kingsford Charcoal for not making sure I discovered a quality, search engine optimized video they produced. That’s a big missed opportunity.

What are your customers looking for? Make sure you help them discover it.”

Marketers Deploy, Measure ‘Non-Promotional’ Content via eMarketer

Content marketing.  Social engagement.  Successful connections.

That’s what every brand wants.  Or should.

Here’s another excellent study from eMarketer on what success in content marketing really looks like… and steps on how to achieve it.  The whole post is very quotable, but the following should show you the roadmap for what you’ll be reading there.  Read the article for many, many more great points.

In its report, eMarketer defines several factors that help brands create great content marketing. Best practices include creating value, telling a story, choosing the right channel and building traffic.

Data-Driven Brand Storytelling: 6 Steps to a Credible Story Via Content Marketing Institute

The Content Marketing Institute has published an article on using relevant, third-part data as the basis for telling your brand’s story.

The article takes you through six steps that can lead you to successful data-driven storytelling.

The name of the game is credibility, so if you can build your story on credible sources, you’re in good position to engender trust.

Here’s an excerpt:

One way for brands to increase content credibility is to introduce trustworthy third-party data as part of their stories. Credible stories are rooted in something that’s real, not just your ideas. So for example data, research and numbers can be the foundation of the story, while your ideas and opinions add perspective to the story.

What Is Branded Content from YouTube and Adjust Your Set

Quick – define “branded content”.

Can’t do it?  Feel it’s become too nebulous and hard to define?

Don’t worry.  Chris and Anna are here to help set your mind at ease.

Chris Gorell Barnes, Founder and CEO of “Adjust Your Set”, a new, multi-channel video agency, and Anna Bateson, YouTube Marketing Director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa come together in this video series to discuss branded content, getting videos seen/shared, and a slew of other online video topics.

Despite the production value of a mid-1990s cable access show, there is good information to be had in these videos.

Here’s an excerpt from Ms. Bateson:

I think Branded Content is an outdated descriptor – because what you’re talking about is content, it just happens to be made by brands.


Last Week to Vote for AboutFace Media in the SXSW 2012 Interactive Festival Panel Picker

Well, folks the time has come. We have until this Friday to collect as many votes as possible for this years SXSW Panel Picker. Our panel is one of thousands up for public voting and the panel selection process is very competitive and the votes of the “crowd” make a big difference.

You don’t have to be attending SXSW to vote.

4 Must See Content Marketing Resources Via Business 2 Community

Every once in a while an article pops up on our radar that everyone interested in this space must see.

This time, it’s called 4 Must See Marketing Resources and it comes from the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joel Pulizzi.

The article is focused on big brands that are changing the way they market, as Coca-Cola puts it, from “creative excellence to content excellence”.  The other big brands (featuring videos) are Google and Red Bull.

The article also cites broader research showing that, well, here’s an excerpt:

 Research from CMI and MarketingProfs from over 1,000 business marketers detailing content marketing spending patterns, usage and challenges.

Key Insights:

  • 9 out of 10 organizations market with content marketing.
  • On average, B2B marketers employ eight different content marketing tactics to achieve their goals.
  • Marketers, on average, spend over a quarter of their marketing budget on content marketing.

Here’s one of the videos featured, from Coke.  Go check out the article.


Why Truth In Story Beats Spin In Story

Spinning a story usually comes off as not altogether authentic.

And that can lead to losing your audience.

This is an insightful article on the subject from 101Fundraising, a crowdblogging site focused on fundraising.

Here’s an excerpt identifying the problem.

Read the article for the solution.  (Hint: be genuine in telling your story.)

What’s going wrong? We all took notes at the conference storytelling sessions, we read all the blogs – what are we missing?

Is it possible that we’ve taken the truth and reduced it to a ‘story’? Has the emotional impact been lost in brand translation? Have we sterilized the raw authentic voice of our beneficiary because we worry it won’t be signed off?

Brands as Publishers: The Changing Rules of Search & SEO via Search Engine Watch

We’ve been saying that brands need to become publishers of their own content for years now.

Well, check out this excellent case study by Toby Murdock of Search Engine Watch on DiscoverAfrica.

The article takes you through DiscoverAfrica’s journey into the online space, mastery of traditional SEO, then needing to provide useful, quality content to stay on top of the competition.

It is perhaps the most clear and convincing argument for publishing one’s own content I’ve seen.

Here’s the summary:

The strategies for web marketing and SEO have changed dramatically, both for Discover Africa and all marketers. Search’s dependence on technical tactics has given way to a new paradigm focused on quality content.

Companies like Discovery Africa who can make the shift and build content marketing machines will be the ones who survive the changes and excel in the new content-centric era.

Brand Mentions in Social Video Content Have No Effect on Sharing Potential Source via Reel SEO

This is an interesting article on a study that concludes the emotional response of your video is far more important than the branding (or non-branding) contained therein.

So, the lesson?

Make good videos that connect with the audience, branded or not, and people will share them.

Here’s an excerpt:

People share commercial videos for the same reasons they share non-commercial clips.

The popularity of ads, just like YouTube videos of funny fails or cute kittens, is based on the strength or valence of the emotions they elicit.

In other words, content that elicits a marked physiological response is the key to sharing success.

Denny’s And Dave Koechner – Branded Content

Denny’s, one of the United States’ largest full service restaurant chains with about 1,500 locations, is in the content marketing game.

It sponsors a fun series, Always Open, where comedian and actor Dave Koechner sits in a booth at a Denny’s with another actor or comedian and makes funny.

Its home is on  Guests include Jason Bateman, Amy Poehler, Jessica Biel, and Andy Richter.

Paul F. Tompkins’ Speakeasy, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, is a similar format for branded content.

Soft-sell and entertaining, Always Open doesn’t push Denny’s on the audience and the show’s participants don’t talk about how great the food is.  Instead, the content is left alone and the end of the show has a tag card with the Denny’s brand logo.  That’s it.

It’s a nice way to promote Denny’s and the classic, relaxed vibe of eating in an American diner with a friend.