The Power of Real-Time Content Marketing

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h1People want new information that presents a new take on something they think they already know.

David Meerman Scott, Web Ink Now

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David Meerman Scott has spent a lot of time thinking about content marketing. His philosophy in a nutshell is that the old rules of PR and marketing in mainstream media don't work on the Web. Instead, he believes anybody can earn attention by publishing their way in using social media tools, blogs, podcasts, viral marketing, and other online media.

His hugely popular blog, Web Ink Now reads like a content marketers handbook – full of advice for marketers, publishers, bloggers and brand managers alike thinking about how content can reach an audience. It's ranked by AdAge Power 150 as a top worldwide marketing blog. He's also written several bestselling books including The New Rules of Marketing & PR, Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, and most recently Newsjacking. At SAY Media we also know him as one of Seth Godin's picks as a top business voice in the SAY 100 Business channel.

We checked in with David to see what he's thinking about content marketing in 2012, the trends he's following now, and who else he reads for marketing inspiration.

You're great at spotting trends early (like Real-time + Marketing) – what's your secret? I draw on things I've learned in my career outside of marketing and try to draw parallels to see how I might adapt it somehow to the world of marketing. For example, I worked at several electronic news organizations including Knight-Ridder (where I was Asia Marketing Director based in Tokyo and Hong Kong in the late 1980s and early 1990s). The idea of news content driving action always fascinated me - that a story about a company in the news could drive a stock price. Wow. I moved back to the US in 1995 and started working in marketing for technology companies in the Boston area. In 1989 I started playing around with the ideas I learned from the electronic news world by creating my own news and publishing it on the Web as marketing. It worked. We got great SEO and many leads. So in 2002 I started my own business to refine the ideas and write about them. I started my TypePad blog in 2004 and published the first content marketing book on the planet in 2005 called Cashing In With Content: How Innovative Marketers Use Digital Information to Turn Browsers into Buyers. It's dated now, but I've been writing about what we now call content marketing for a long time.

My very first job was on a Wall Street bond trading desk. It was all about real-time. If you waited even one second to make a trade when the time is right you could lose out. A few years ago I realized that every business now has access to the same real-time data as bond traders - real-time news, real-time social media, real-time Google indexing. But I also realized that more than 99% of marketers were doing campaign marketing - focusing on the future rather than the moment. There was a huge opportunity to do what I called real-time marketing so I started writing and speaking about it.

What are the most interesting content marketing trends you're following right now? The most interesting by far is real-time. When a smart marketer sees something happening in the marketplace and reacts instantly (having already gotten pre-approval to do so from the company) by creating an instant blog post or tweet or video, that company leaves the competition, who are planning next quarter's campaigns, in the dust. I'm also interested in mobile marketing. Adding the GPS component to content creation opens new opportunities.

You're a big believer in the power of content – what important changes do you see ahead in 2012 for content marketing? The biggest change now is that people are beginning to recognize the power of content marketing. That's a good thing. However, most are just talking about their damned products like they've always done and calling it content marketing. You've got to think like a publisher and create content that is valuable for your buyers, not create for your own ego. Nobody cares about your products - they care about themselves and solving problems.

Newsjacking: Tell us how that works in a nutshell… and how businesses should be using it. As journalists scramble to cover breaking news, the basic facts—who/what/when/where—are often fairly easy to find, either on a corporate website or in competitors’ copy. That’s what goes in the first paragraph of any news story. The challenge for reporters is to get the “why” and the implications of the event. Why is the company closing its plant? The corporate website may offer some bogus excuse like “because it wants to spend more time with its family.” Competitors may quote some expert’s speculation on the real reason, but a reporter can’t cite that without adding something self-demeaning like “according to an expert quoted in the New York Times.” Journalists need original content—and fast.

All this is what goes in the second paragraph and subsequent paragraphs. That’s why the newsjacker’s goal is to own the second paragraph. If you are clever enough to react to breaking news very quickly, providing credible second-paragraph content in a blog post, tweet, or media alert that features the keyword of the moment, you may be rewarded with a bonanza of media attention. Newsjacking combines content marketing with real-time to reach journalists looking for people to quote in stories. Newsjacking is all about creating content right now - this instant, in real-time - so journalists find the content when they are looking for another angle on a story.

What are your all-time most popular blog posts? And what do you think that says about what businesses are looking for/need? Here are a few popular ones:

Social Media Marketing Explained in 61 Words

Who the Hell ARE These People?

People want new information that presents a new take on something they think they already know. The appreciate humor and they want you to get to the point quickly so you don't waste their time.

What other content marketing blogs or voices do you follow? Who's doing it right? This is an incredibly dangerous question because I always leave people out. I'm a Seth Godin fanboy and read all his stuff (and have since he started his TypePad blog) some 10 years ago. I love what Bob Lefsetz is doing. He writes about music, but I'm convinced marketers can learn from him. I read the blogs from HubSpot, Eloqua, Junta42, Duct Tape Marketing, Copyblogger and others.

What's your content marketing advice for this year's presidential candidates? I'm such a geek about this stuff. All marketers can learn from presidential campaign strategies. It plays out in real-time for you to watch live. What fun. I've written two posts so far this year with things that interest me.

Marketing Advice to Jon Huntsman and His Daughters

President Obama Newsjacks Iowa Caucus by Joining Instagram

Follow David on Twitter @dmscott