How Content Trades Equity For Engagement

Most marketers still don't deliver value with content marketing. Sort of a shocking statement coming from Forrester Research -- consider the emphasis Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines put on content. Not only search engines, but social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. As wearables like Moto 360 and Google Glass become more popular, the content served on the devices will become a major advertising source.

Real estate on wearable devices will become extremely precious, even if the wearable device pushes the content to the synced mobile phone rather than the wearable device. Jordan Rednor, cofounder of beaprotagonist.com, questions the fairness of search engine algorithms and whether the engines excluded specific content for one reason or another. He said authenticity plays a major role in the success of content, and as an example points to the more than 600,000 people following the Twitter account of John LeFevre, the author behind the @GSElevator and the book Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance and Excess in the World of Investment Banking.

Simon & Schuster's Touchstone imprint had picked up LeFevre's book based on what the publisher thought were tweets of real-life conversations overhead inside the elevators at Goldman Sachs, but the publisher canceled the deal after discovering they lacked authenticity.

Fake tweets put a different value on the content, such as entertainment, but fail to provide authenticity. It's not entirely fare to compare the content marketers talk about in Forrester's report in the same context, because the marketers interviewed for Forrester Analyst Ryan Skinner's report, Build Your Content Brand By Delivering Customer Value, consider their content truthful and authentic.

Still, the marketers participating in Forrester's report said that aside from the content, execution and distribution must follow a process, as well. Their "track record of executing on content marketing is poor." In fact, two out of three said they are not effective at it and don't create clear value for the business or their customers.

Kind of surprising after discovering that more than 90% of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C marketers admit that they're practicing content marketing. Marketers do have success by creating stories that inspire, giving away valuable content to pull consumers closer to brand messages, and build relationships with consumers.

Those content marketing strategies that fail do so because they offer little value to consumers, suffer from low visibility, don't tell a compelling story, and creation and distribution becomes more expensive than expected. Also, linking content efforts with business outcomes falls short.

One of the more interesting points in the study suggests that "democratization and transparency will transform the implicit linkages between external customer advocates and internal brand goals into explicit relationships." Skinner tells us that some forms of content crowdsourcing and funded activities already blur the lines between fandom and ownership.

Forrester conducted the North American Technographics Online Benchmark Survey in April 2013, surveying 61,167 U.S. and 5,800 Canadian adults ages 18 to 88.

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