Content is King – is Content Marketing the crown Prince?

In the past we have explained why good content – so called Linkbait – is the best Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy. This week we've seen a burst of – er … content – fly by our timelines announcing that content Marketing is now where it's at in more than just SEO.

Like this one by Entrepeneur mag:

When it comes to marketing strategies, content marketing has just been crowned king, far surpassing search engine marketing, public relations and even print, television and radio advertising as the preferred marketing tool for today's business-to-business entrepreneur.


They explain what content marketing is:

It's the creation and publication of original content — including blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos and photos — for the purpose of generating leads, enhancing a brand's visibility, and putting the company's subject matter expertise on display.

Mashable – a blog that is in itself an example of effective content marketing – carries on in the same vein explaining new more sophisticated forms of content marketing:

Lately we’ve witnessed the intersection of content and commerce, an emerging breed of retail site that features magazine-like editorials, photo spreads and inspiring video, all designed to instruct and, ultimately, sell a product.

If content is king, why are newspapers struggling?

Good question. General news (should The Telegraph write about rugby at all if there exists specialist vertical sites like Planet Rugby?), the high costs of print and distribution, the rise of expert amateur content and the erosion of cash cows like classified advertising to sites like Craigslist, have all contributed to the malaise.

The UK Guardian has been at the forefront of attempts to arrest this decline, first by launching an API a year ago (We explained what an API is here). And now USA today are following suit. This is the platform play. Open up so others can build on your content or service.

But yesterday the smarts at King's Cross fired another shot across the bow of the Grim Reaper. Reports Nieman Lab:

But it doesn’t follow that, in 2011, Craigslist has completely cornered the market on classified advertising — or, for that matter, on community messaging overall. Today, a major paper is getting into the community messaging game: The Guardian is launching n0tice, a social news platform that draws a little from Craigslist, a little from Foursquare, a little from Ning.

Put the Hacker into the Hack

N0tice is a platform play (the content is user generated) which also neatly encompasses a ready made business model newspapers know – classified advertising. But to conceptualise and build this kind of tool you need a different kind of journalist, the hacker journo. Explains Poynter:

The process of becoming a hacker journalist is different for everyone, but the pattern is common. Eventually the tools of writers cease to be enough: Microsoft Word gives way to Excel, which gives way to MySQL. And then, almost without knowing it, you’re creating the tools yourself.

And just to show their hacking credits The Guardian also launched a little bot this week that runs on their API. Tweet it a search term and it will scour the Guardian for content based on that term and bring it to you.

Content comes in many forms


Apps can be content. Content that can be particularly useful even as a customer support tool. Apple's Stores have just launched a location aware one which most stores could emulate to provide in store updates. Reports TNW:

…it looks like the app knows exactly what store you’ve walked into, what workshops are coming up, lets you ask for help, tells you how many people are in line ahead of you, and gives you the opportunity to set up a Genius appointment for your Apple devices.

Crowds with thin skines

Two cautionary tales to note this week. Moleskine thought it a good idea to crowdsource a new logo. But designers baulked at the prospect at spending hours working on a project where they stood little chance of getting rewarded. And a US brand Chapstick committed a basic but grave sin: Deleting critical comments from Fans on their Facebook page. This generated loads of 'content', but of the negative kind.

No shortcuts – Content is hard


One of the most clicked-on Tweets we posted on Twitter this week is this study that shows that links one third into a Tweet, gets more clicks. (Notice where our link is.) If only doing content was that easy as following a few rules. Far more important is curating good content. Like we mentioned last week, you'd probably need to change the skills of the people in your business. Hire journalists, bloggers, programmers or other creatives that make or build compelling … you guessed it.

Creative of the Week – Matt Reed

Alcohol has inspired many a great conversation. How many great ideas have we all scribbled on beermats? But developer Matt Reed has taken the beer-bull by the horns and developed a Siri-controlled, Twitter-activated beer-pouring system. You say "pour me a beer", the robot does the job. Nuff said; watch the video. 😉


Something to mull over

Is there a difference between content marketing and social media marketing? Or are they flipsides of the same coin?

The Fog of War

In a wide ranging article Fast Company takes a look at the intricate tactical dance the four big companies vying to conquer the world – Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google –  are so very busy with. The variables in this giant game of chess and the number of the fronts are so complex that we get dizzy at the possible permutations of it all. Never-mind figuring out their strategies. But two points struck us in particular: Payment systems is one of the big new territories these companies would love to colonise and that telecoms companies are a big pain in the ass for all of them.


A sobering thought: Of these four only Apple competes (and only recently) with the worlds largest telcos in revenue levels (100 billion dollar + ). Yes, the industry that gets people to fork out cash for connecting, talking is several times the size of the advertising industry. Says Fast Company:

"Facebook is reported to have made $1.6 billion during the first half of 2011 (about double what it made in the first half of 2010), but Apple makes that much in nine days."

It's not about the dosh

The Fast Company article does point out that for these four companies its not all about money. It's about reshaping the world in their image. But money talks and Apple announced its results this week. What's remarkable about it is what Apple says will happen next:

"They’re actually forecasting a $37 billion quarter, which would be the company’s biggest quarter by almost $10 billion."

In case you wondered, Google is set to make about that same amount this year. Their best yet. Amazon might get close to topping 50 billion for the year for the first time.

Do my Watts look big in this?

In the wake of criticism against Facebook for using Coal and Nuclear power to power their data centres, Facebook has kicked off an initiative to improve their reputation on the energy front. The latest step in this initiative is a partnership with the National Resources Defence Council and Opower, to build an app that runs on the Facebook, and compare users' home energy usage to that of their friends and the national average.

Over and above the green initiative behind this planned app, it has the added benefit of saving users money by making them aware of their energy consumption.

Policy wonks, you lover's of Nudges and Big Society, eat your heart out.


For publishers, it's a jungle out there

Talking of war. Amazon is not only providing a platform for authors to self publish. It's actively courting prominent authors with publisher type deals. A 122 of them to be exact. In the words of the New York Times Amazon is "gnawing away" at the services publishers, agents and critics used to provide.

Come over to the DARC side

The Guided agency we often work with was founded by a non marketing person. None of us RAAKonteurs come from a marketing background. So we might be biased but we concur with an article in the Wall blog. With social media becoming so influential and spreading throughout all the different business functions and applications, companies will require more and more people with deep social media understanding. And what are those people like? They want DARC (Digital Analytical Reach Content Creator) people. No traditional marketing skills and background are required, instead “hire people who speak digital without an accent. Hire people that blog, have twitter followers and are on G+.”

Twitter's got no need for speed?

While the big four are slugging it out, the people in the streets are concerned about Twitter. #OccuppyWallStreet Tweets have been building for weeks, yet have failed to feature in Twitter trending topics. Thats because Twitter favours acceleration over volume (speed) in its trending topics. Social Flow has a great post on how this works. A slow rising tide, although much bigger, might not trend like a sudden wave of Tweets will. An important lesson we learned as well. A day before our campaign for Alan Sugar's book #TheWayIseeIt we got it trending with 350,000 Tweets. But on the day of the event, when we got about the same number, we failed to get into trends. So hold your fire, or use another gun.


Talking of acceleration – iOS5 is a Twitter booster rocket

Last week we wrote about Apple's iOS5 tightly integrating Twitter. The results are in (already!!), and they're simply very good indeed. Since iOS5 launched, Twitter's signups have tripled.

Away from iOS5 the numbers are not half bad either. If you analyse Twitter's active users, the ones that log in more than once a month, it gets even more interesting. At the beginning of the year, 30% of these users logged in every day. That number has now surged to more than 50%. This is a much more interesting number than the amount of signups, because it reflects actual usage, and a product that's becoming a core part of people's communication lives.

Another interesting number, daily average tweet volume, now sits at just under 3000 tweets per second. Back in May, when we did a comparison between Twitter and typical mobile operators, this number was 1794 tweets per second. It means they have almost double in volume, in five months! Which means Twitter now deals with about 20 times the number of Tweets per second compared to the average telco with its SMS. That's major.

Creative of the Week – Rihanna

Once again the music industry is using Facebook to promote their wares in a creative way. Rather than purely relying on the traditional promotional channels, Rihanna is using her own Facebook Page to create a buzz around her new album. The more people engage with the Unlocked app and the more tasks they complete, the more exclusive preview content is made available.

Simple, but efficient. So far it's resulted in more than 700,000 new Facebook fans, and, perhaps more surprising, more than a million new Twitter followers.


Here at RAAK we are big fans and avid users of Instagram. After trying to wedge Instagram into quite a few ambitious pitches, we finally have one flying: Check out Ted Baker Rutting Season – a project we’re doing with the Guided Collective, based on Instagram and Facebook. It’s happening live in Manchester tomorrow, and in London next week Saturday.

Rutting Season

Instagram joins the mile high club
Speaking of flying – social media savvy low cost airline, Bmibaby, has been encouraging customers to hashtag their holiday snaps via Instagram.

Now they are taking it to the next level, by flying Instagram groups around Europe. Brilliant!

Facebook on the iPad

Facebook releases their iPad app
After a year and a half of delays, rumours, denials, lunches and lawsuits, Facebook has finally released an iPad app. While it delivers on quite a few visual aspects, reports about how buggy it is made it to the top of my Google News search on “Facebook iPad app”.

Well, isn’t this just classic Facebook – they will fix all those bugs, quietly, one by one, slowly move features they don’t want you to use away from the interface, and tweak, tweak, tweak, until they’ve optimized their money-making potential to the teeth.

This approach seems to be paying off in a big way for them – Cost Per Click has risen by 54% during the third Quarter of 2011- as a result of marketers spending 25% more on Facebook advertising.

To see the dramatic effect such tweaks can have on big brands, consider The Wall’s listing of top brands, firstly by likes, and secondly by the new “talking about” metric. All of a sudden the focus shifts, as it should, from enlistment to engagement, leaving many top brands in the dust.

The Guardian – Crowdsourced
Jeff Jarvis has been talking for quite some time of news as process, as opposed to news as a final product – Often in reference to Google’s culture of releasing half finished, Beta products. The very act of finding, making sense of news should now be part of news, he says. It is part of Beta culture. Release information early and release it often, and get feedback from your audience.

Live blogging is an early manifestation of this trend, for example: live Tweeting during the UK riots.

Now The Guardian has gone one step further. They’re opening up the traditionally closely guarded newslist.

If you want to suggest a story to The Guardian, just Tweet it with the hashtag #opennews.

Foursquare, Twitter and Apple iOS 5
Apple’s new iOS5, the latest version of their mobile operating system, integrates tightly with Twitter. This is a major development, allowing you to share photos, links, places and videos from right within Apple’s iOS apps, requiring only a single, system-wide signin.

Foursquare has also released a big new feature built on iOS5’s push notification improvements. It is called Radar, and it determines when you are close to a venue you might like, and prompts you to check in there.

How does it calculate this? You’ll be prompted to check in if the venue is:

  • on your To-Do list
  • on a list you follow
  • has three or more of your friends already checked in

Sounds great, doesn’t it? And Facebook is glaringly absent from all of this.

Google does everything well, except what really matters
In What Will Google Do?, Jeff Jarvis claims that part of Google’s success is that it is a platform. He highlights their ads: embeddable by any media owner. YouTube videos is another example.

That’s all superficial, says a Google engineer Steve Yegge.

In a bitingly honest and eloquent rant on Google Plus, the engineer goes on to point out how Amazon has done what Google has not managed. They’ve made every part of their organisation into a possible modular business, and they’ve worked very hard to accomplish this.

If you’re interested in the future of business, read this rant or this summary.

The network beats the hierachy, now what?
As the #occopywallstreet protest spreads across America people are starting to ask: “what next?”. When Matt Taibbi wrote a list of things protestors should demand in Rolling Stone, one of the smartest thinkers out there, Zeynep Tufeckci, was dismissive.

As Egypt liberals encounter increasing problems, and the Wall Street Occupyers are still looking for a strategy, the question remains: can the network – which has been successful in defeating hierarchies, offer solutions? Read a RAAK Storyfi of the interesting Twitter exchange.

This week’s news letter starts on a sad note. Millions of people who didn’t know Steve Jobs personally, felt they knew him through his products, into which much of his personality was poured. From the tidal wave of memorial posts, we found this one from Daring Fireball to be the most beautiful, and this one from the Atlantic to provide a healthy balance. The reaction to Steve Jobs’ death on Chinese Social Network, Weibo, was especially overwhelming.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

#Occupy[your city here]

Gigaohm has a fascinating piece on the movement that started with the Twitter hashtag,#occupywallstreet. They point out that, regardless what you may think of their politics, it’s a fascinating phenomena. The Financial Times went further, giving it’s blessing to the movement as a good thing, in particular the fact that it has no leadership, and no specific set of demands. The protest’s strength comes less from its aims than its form – its adherence to a cumbersome type of popular democracy in which anyone in the “general assembly” in Zuccotti Park is not only consulted on all decisions but can block those that he or she dislikes.

Adobe bursts onto the HTML5/CSS3 scene

Remember Flash? Well, it seems Adobe has not been procrastinating while mourning the death of one of its flagships. This week, they burst onto the scene with two important acquisitions and a very interesting CSS proposal. Let’s look at the acquisitions: 1. Typekit: a service that make beautiful fonts web usable, and hosts them on a scalable, robust, content delivery network.2. Phonegap: a product that takes HTML5 mobile web apps, and turn them into Native apps. This all seems just too obvious: Dreamweaver is going to output HTML5 and CSS3 pretty soon. Why is this a good thing? It means suddenly millions of Flash developers will, in stead of turning up at job centres, start outputting HTML5 and CSS3. That is why.

Facebook’s ad strategy is now clear

Like Google, Facebook is an advertising company. That’s no secret. What has been vague up to now, is exactly how Facebook is going to differentiate themselves from Google in the advertising space. This is now clear. Mashable points out that Facebook is revealing their strategy with the new Ad Unit feature. It shows a brand’s ads, which can be liked an commented on, to people who like a brand page. In other words, they are focusing on a brand’s fans and close friends to deliver the message.

In addition, Facebook has launched a new metric, called talking about, which meassures – and displays to users, the total amount of likes, comments, shares or checkins a page is receiving. Add to that the fact that Facebook pages are now available in all languages, and it becomes very clear where Facebook’s attention is focused.

And just to add a bit of spice to all of this, Royal Pingdom released some comparitive stats, which shows that Facebook now has as many users as the entire Internet had when Facebook launched, in 2004! In the meantime, the Internet has grown by more three and a half times.

Facebook vs countries

Twitter really matters, but at what cost?

When Virginia’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit last August, the first Twitter reports sent from people at the epicenter began almost instantly at 1:51 p.m.—and reached New York about 40 seconds ahead of the quake’s first shock waves…
In a fascinating article The Wall Street Journal explores the marvel that is the data coming from Twitter, referencing how stock trading firms are now using it to beat the market, as well as Market research. They also point out that two companies, Gnip and Datasift, have been made gatekeepers by Twitter. However, while an investment firm may be able to shell out thousands of pounds for Tweets, what about social scientists researching conflict? At prices ranging from $3 per hour for a simple query the cost of tweets through these gatekeepers soon add up.

Creative(s) of the week – Early adopters of Facebook Timeline

Facebook timeline

Facebook has barely launched Facebook Timeline, and only to developers (in a clever stint that makes developers jump through a few hoops that expose some of the new platform features to them), but already people have become very creative with their timeline designs.

NASA Embraces Twitter

Nothing says “space” quite like NASA. But, it seems the space giant is not too high in the clouds to miss what’s happening right here on Earth. They’re going to allow 150 of their Twitter followers to watch the next Mars Rover launch.

Yes, the trip is not paid for, and yes, it is a “follow-us-and-win” campaign, but hey … don’t say you don’t really want it!