What is Content Marketing?

What is Content Marketing

2012 seems to be the year of Content Marketing. It’s everywhere. When you have global organizations such as Coca Cola committing their strategic and marketing resources to content marketing, it’s a significant enough shift to warrant a deeper look. To me, it seemed like a repackaging of the term “Social Media Marketing”, so I thought to investigate and share some of those findings here.

Content Marketing

This is a fairly recent term used to describe “the creation and sharing of content in order to engage current and potential consumer bases”, which is really just a lofty way to say intelligent content development. Basic premise is to:

  1. Understand your audience (their likes, dislikes, behaviour, personality, etc.)
  2. Understand their content platforms preference (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
  3. Create compelling pieces of content (videos, posts, articles, stories, etc.)
  4. Release relevant pieces of content on appropriate channels (platforms)
  5. Engage consumers in order to have them interact with the content (read this)

That’s really content marketing in a nutshell. Of course, a great deal of research, strategy and planning is needed in order to execute something like this without sucking. If you don’t invest the effort into making your content strategy compelling and interesting, you might as well not even try. This is a game of high stakes for a sliver of consumer attention. All in order to develop relationships, create affinity and establish brand preference.

Dynamic Content Creation

In a marketing context, you’ll see this term quite often and it really boils down to crowd-sourcing of content. Basically, the idea is to create a piece of content that your audience will then add onto with tags, comments, replies, photos or whatever else. OR… it might look like repository for consumer content. For example, a flickr group which caters to outdoorsy people who drive Toyota Tundra trucks. You’d create this in order to encourage and facilitate the creation of content around an idea, topic, brand or product with the goal of developing affinity.

Branded Storytelling

This is what I believe will be the next frontier for savvy marketers. It’s not a new concept, but it has substantially evolved from smart ad copy you might see in a magazine. These days you’re able to create a storyline which easily traverses multiple media and social networks. You are now able to weave a story that spans text, audio and video, all virtually seamless for the consumer. The idea is to create a story, a narrative where  your brand plays a role OR acts as a hub for story telling. For example, this could look something like Travelocity’s gnome – where users would take photos of the handsome fella on their vacations and then sharing that on the brand’s blog, Facebook or other network with all the other travellers. Another recent example would be Kraft’s brilliant Salty’s Life campaign which has wound down significantly by now. But in its heyday, people were chatting with Salty on a regular basis, posting pictures, writing stories… engaging with the brand in a new and innovative way.


Coca Cola recently launched something called Content 2020 effectively taking a leap of faith away from traditional marketing and into content marketing. Rather then me harping on about what it is and how it works, here are a couple of really great videos that explain the concept in detail, including ideas about liquid content and so on.

We also cover the topic of Content Marketing in the latest episode of the Uncut Marketing Podcast, which you can listen to below OR find it on iTunes here.




What is your take on Content Marketing?


– Ernest // Follow me on Twitter

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10 thoughts on “What is Content Marketing?”

  1. Thanks for sharing this and the videos. I look forward to watching them. Where I work I am going to be focusing on content marketing activities.

    Great post as usual!

  2. Ernest, well done!

    This is a fantastic article and I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head. I too believe that brand storytelling is the next frontier. In my opinion it all stems from the evolution of consumer behavior. I love the Coke video’s – I’d not seen them before.

    I started typing out a longer response, but once I hit 500+ words I realized that I’ll put up a my own blog post about it.

  3. Great post! I completely agree with your ideas about ‘content marketing’ and ‘branded storytelling’. However, I do find the words ‘marketing’ and ‘branding’ are somewhat misleading in the world of online engagement, as they are so deeply associated with a twentieth century cookie-cutter ‘push’ model of advertising, which is being replaced by a more transparent conversational ‘pull’ model of engagement. It’s hard to distinguish the two very different approaches by using the same terminology. But I think the terms you’re using here are as good as it gets for now.
    Excellent videos, by the way. Cheers

  4. Yes the phrase ‘content marketing’ has really started to catch on this year. The Coke campaign is playing their part in that for sure. As for the videos (great imitations of Dan Pink videos), it does seem like a lot of talking to me.

    But I really love the 70/20/10 content idea. Have your useful cornerstone content, but 10% of the time, really get out there and do something that’s never been done.

    • Thanks for the note Jack. Like you mentioned, the phrase “Content Marketing” is pretty much everywhere these days. How long it will stick around, remains to be seen. We’re seeing this really fast shift towards user generated content, which is really the aim of most social media & content strategies. How long until we’re tired of creating content for brands?

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