The Business Of Content

Content is King. It’s a saying you’ve heard countless times… long before Social Media empowered individuals to create and distribute their own content. 

Content is the new marketing. Whether Marketers are thinking like publishers or whether brands are hiring/working with community managers to help them get results. If you can think about consumer engagement at that level, things begin to become slightly less foggy. The idea that you don’t have to wrap your messages and blast them out around the original content, but instead you can create and produce the actual content and keep people engaged and connected as you see fit is – in a way – a whole new dimension to the media and marketing business.

It’s something that the traditional media people are still tinkering with as well.

While attending this year’s Google Zeitgeist conference this past September in Phoenix, I had the pleasure of watching Ari Emanuel (fans of the TV show, Entourage, should know that the character, Ari Gold – played by Jeremy Piven – is based on Emanuel) and Patrick Whitesell, the co-CEOs of WME Entertainment, discuss the state of the entertainment business. It’s fascinating to hear from these super-agents to the stars (movie, TV, books and beyond). There is a truly amazing subtext to the conversation (which you don’t really have to read too deep between the lines to uncover) in this presentation, as they discuss the value of content and the distribution channels around them… and how they are changing.

This is 27 minutes well-worth your time…


7 Things That Blogging Does

Seven years ago (2003), I posted my first Blog post here. The day would have slipped by had someone not sent me a note about it.

After tweeting about my Blogaversary, Jay Fleischman, replied: "@mitchjoel 6.18 posts/wk for 7 yrs. Take out 1 for the podcast and you’re at 5.18; 400 words ea = 2,072 words/wk. 754,208 words total. Nice." my newspaper column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun (which will be cross-posted here tomorrow) is all about the future of Blogging. That being said, after 7 years and 2251 Blog posts, I have learned some very important lessons about the value of Blogging when I think back.

7 Important Lessons About Blogging:

  1. Blogging = Critical Thinking. If everything else went away (the readers, the comments, the community, the feedback), Blogging was (and still is) an amazing place to think about an issue or news item and work through it. I liken myself as a Media Hacker. A Blog is a great place for anyone to be a Hacker of whatever it is that they love. If you don’t believe me, then just watch this: Blogging Still Matters… Now More Than Ever.
  2. Blogging = Ideation. In using your Blog as a platform for your critical thinking, you will quickly start uncovering new and interesting business models and ideas for how you can push your industry forward or how it can/should be thinking differently. Writing a Blog, reading the comments and feedbacking into them is the ultimate Petri dish for ideation and innovation.
  3. Blogging = Tinkering. The ideas and critical thinking are not always one hundred percent final. Blogging allows you to tinker with ideas. To work at them (like a complex mathematical formula). Slowly, over time, you start realizing how wrong you were, how visionary you were and how much further you still have to go.
  4. Blogging = Relationships. It’s not about sitting in the dark recesses of your basement as you tinker away with words and thoughts. It’s about using this platform to connect. It’s about real interactions with real human beings. Some of my best friends are people that I would not have otherwise met were it not for Six Pixels of Separation (the Blog, not the concept). If you Blog, step out into the physical world. Meet other Bloggers. Share, learn and collaborate with them.
  5. Blogging = Business. Make no mistake about it. This Blog started out as a means for Twist Image to tell the world how we think differently about Media, Marketing, Advertising and Communications. Over the years, this has attracted many world-class clients, speaking engagements, a book offer and many other amazing and interesting business opportunities. So, while this is not a place where Twist Image shills its wares, it is a place that is directly tied to our overall business objectives/strategy. It consistently delivers a very solid ROI to our bottom line (take that, you Social Media measurement naysayers!).
  6. Blogging = Sharing. As each day passes, I like Charlene Li‘s latest book, Open Leadership, more and more (her first book, Groundswell rocks as well). Many people think that Social Media is all about the conversation and engaging in the conversation. I believe what makes any media "social" is the ability to share it. To help you to open up. Not only can you share the concepts by telling your peers and friend about a Blog, but everybody shares in the insights as well (whether you work for my company or not). It has changed/evolved our corporate culture. A Blog makes you think more about how you can share your content, your thoughts and why others may want to work/connect to you.
  7. Blogging = Exhaust Valve. A great Blog is great because the Blogger actually cares and loves to create content. If it’s forced, if it’s your "job," then the passion rarely comes through. The biggest lesson I have learned in my seven years of Blogging is that this Blog is my exhaust valve. After working a full day with clients and their many challenges, this Blog is my playground. It’s the place where I can let off some textual steam. Make your Blog your exhaust valve. Caution: be careful that you’re not Blogging simply to blow off angry steam. The steam and exhaust I am talking about is the pent up energy of passion that I have from doing what I love to do.

What does Blogging equal for you?

When The Web Is Considered An Inferior Media

Going back a few years, the Internet was not considered a credible media source. That changed, but it’s changing again.

In the early days of online publishing (even pre-Blogging) the simple fact that any one individual could publish their text, images, audio and video online created a major stir within the major mass media outlets. In fact, their only defense in trying to maintain control over what the public consumed was to scare the world with stories of online publishers not living up to the journalistic integrity that we have come to expect from our news and media outlets. To this day, there are still traces of this (look no further than the articles covering the accuracy of Wikipedia entries).

Can the Bloggers be trusted?

It’s a powerful thing to say, but we’ve come to learn that the vast majority of Blogs (and the Bloggers who publish them) are overly transparent about who they are, what they’re Blogging about and where their intention is (those who are transparent gain credibility, conversation and audience). On top of that, the Bloggers that do not disclose things like conflicts or when they are being compensated are becoming easier and easier to spot.

…But things are starting to get ugly again.

Yesterday, Paid Content, ran a news item titled, Condé Nast Enlists Web Edit Staff For Samsung Advertorial. Here’s the gist of it: Condé Nast is attempting to protect the traditional wall separating advertising from print editorial by having online-only staffers create an ad insert for Samsung… the use of web staffers was seen as a compromise and a way to avoid clashing with print editors who were considered averse to allowing their own staff work on an ad product.”

Either you’re believing in this digital content stuff or you’re not. You can’t be half-pregnant.

There are a couple of factors at play here:

  1. Making a differentiation between print and online journalism (in terms of quality and value) is downright silly.
  2. By allowing the online-only staff to do the advertorial content, this activity diminishes their ability to be considered credible (today and tomorrow).
  3. The overall action creates a bad moral compass for the company’s ethics of journalism at a macro level (it’s sounds like they’re looking for some kind of ethical loophole).

The Web is not an inferior media.

The sooner that brands, advertisers and publishers stop treating the Internet like the red-headed step child of the media and marketing mix, the sooner they’re going to be able to better understand how they can connect and build their brand in this new world where consumers are connected, looking for real interactions between real human beings and are, ultimately, not just a passive audience, but active participants, voices and community members. Publishers aren’t the only publishers anymore. People are now also publishers and brands (and Marketers) are publishers too. So, we need to change our code of ethics around editorial content and advertising, and not just look for loopholes and ways to capitulate.

What do you think?

Your Blog Is Your Business

Your Blog is your business, unless it’s not your business.
If you Blog as a hobbyist, that’s fine, but if you’re Blogging to grow your personal profile, build your business, create some semblance of thought leadership or to simply share some of your thoughts and ideas, nothing is going to really happen, unless you treat it as a serious piece of your business. It’s not easy. In fact, if you ask anyone who Blogs regularly, it’s one of the hardest things to do.
It’s easy to forget about your Blog.
Being impressed by someone who regularly Blogs would be a dwarfed emotion compared to the stat of abandoned and forgotten Blogs. For every Blog that is regularly updated, there are probably thousands of Blogs that have been
orphaned. The problem with most Bloggers is that they’re not writers. They don’t see Blogging as a craft and art that must be practiced, pushed and prodded on a consistent and constant basis.
It’s easy to let a Blog drop.
In fact, it’s easy to let any of the many Social Media channels that you use to connect and share to drop off of the priority list. Sure, there are days when
the inspiration runs dry. Sure, there are days when the day-to-day stuff gets in
the way of the words. Sure, it’s easy to say that it’s “the work” that must come
first. But, before you do all of that, ask yourself this: “what was it that made you this busy in the first place?”
It’s not easy to let a Blog drop.
Think about your clients. Think about the work you’re doing. How did you happen to close those pieces of business? I’m lucky (some might say cursed), but a majority of the success we’ve had at Twist Image comes from the work we do – right here – on this Blog. When we started Blogging in 2003, we (and I say “we” because although this is my worded playground, it is a group effort and a huge
part of the overall business strategy of the agency) had a few clients and a few employees. The mass media and industry publications didn’t care much about us, because there wasn’t much of a story there to tell. Blogging enabled and empowered us to share how we think about the Digital Marketing landscape with the world. This Blog prodded along (it still does), and whether it’s working with a major brand, securing a business book deal or getting talent bureau representation, we stay focused on the fact that a lot of that came (initially) because of this Blog (in fact, it still does). Yes, we needed the work to stand on it’s own (both the creative and strategic) and we need to keep nurturing all of those client and business development relationships, but to this day many brands find us (and want to work with us) because of the ideas we share here (amongst other reasons).
This Blog is our business.
So, when you think you’re too busy to Blog or other priorities float on to the radar, try not to forget that Blogging (if it’s a part of your overall business strategy) is your business and the important work that must get done. What do you think?
A special thanks to Chris Brogan (author of Social Media 101 and co-author of Trust Agents with Julien Smith) for the inspiration with his Blog post: Your Blog Is Not Your Job.