Future of content remains: good (even live) storytelling

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–What’s the future of content? That was the topic at the NY Content Meetup last July 28 at Samsung Accelerator in midtown Manhattan. The title seems ominous — but it has to be. After all, there’s just too much content out there for everyone to consume–and for those in the business of providing content, less and less opportunities to monetize their content. One thing that will save content is good storytelling, despite some ugly realities.

“We’re in the midst of an audience rebellion,” Kirk Cheyfitz said as the moderator of an impressive panel of content marketers. He is the CEO and founder of Story Worldwide, a digital-first ad agency, which has integrated journalistic storytelling, with advertising to tell brands’ stories in every media channel. Cheyfitz has extensive experience in journalism and has started and runs various media agencies.

It’s true. No one wants to pay for content. Not only that, people also want control of what they see and hear. “To force people’s attention is over,” he added. It doesn’t help that people don’t get your content directly to your site anymore. Your content gets linked in, say, Twitter. There are fewer people actually going to sites as social networks have become the default place to go to for newsfeeds, even beyond personal cat postings. And if you think people will click on those banner ads, think again. And we haven’t even mentioned ad blockers.

In a panel of creative people in the content business, there’s always a way.

“Give them some value. Be the destination,” Cheyfitz said.

The youngest in the panel, Bailey Richardson, offered the future as “you being the TV network,” as she also points how Pop-Up Magazine is making journalists, even print journalists not used to the camera or radio, to broadcast the news themselves live. She was one of the early employees at Instagram, where she worked on the community team.

With Pop-Up’s “phone stories” (directly to you), the news becomes very personal, introducing emotion to the (experience).”

Richardson was joined by Jeff Gomez, founder at transmedia Starlight Runner, Mike Knowlton, president and founder at Murmur, a next-generation storytelling studio; Joanne Tombrakos, chief storyteller and business development consultant, and Matt Wellschlager, VP Marketing at Cerosdotcom, an interactive content marketing software company.

The free-flowing conversation resulted in some great insights and new terms on how you can push content that people will listen, read and watch.

  • Take on a micro-narrative approach
  • Where is Harry Potter now? (To stay relevant), it’s now in Lego Games  where it’s the gateway drug for young people go before they go to the (Harry Potter) books and movies
  • Content is the totality, what people are perceiving
  • Work on the Plurals — those who grew completely internet native
  • (Address) the different you in different social networks
  • Do superpositioning. (Example) is Black Lives Matter.
  • Make use of agile /lean development. See if you can fail faster (so you can recover faster)
  • The future of content? Check out why people think mobile wallets is the future.
  • “Listen” to your blind spots
  • Difference of actual story and content? Content is a photo, moments–not always the long narrative arc. Some are primed for content but are not stories

Siman of 360i gives skinny on content marketing

By Dennis Clemente

The Content Marketing Bootcamp at the 360i office on February 19 was packed with marketers listening intently to Rosie Siman, a social strategist with a huge following. She works at 360i (http://www.360i.com/), a digital agency specializing in search engine marketing, social media, mobile marketing and web design and development.

The bootcamp was clearly designed to spread the word of mouth about how industry people and brands should be doing more content marketing campaigns. Only 38% of brands have a strategy in place for content marketing, according to data from econsultancy.

Having helped brands like Dentyne navigate the world of social and emerging media, Siman presented examples for people to better understand content marketing. One effective example she showed was American Express’ Open Forum.

The Open Forum has been one of the most-talked about content marketing idea, because it humanizes the American Express brand. The forum provides a wealth of resources for business owners—videos, articles, blogs, podcasts and expert advice.

Rosie Siman

Siman also explained the difference between content marketing and a TV commercial. “I’d argue that all commercials are content, just not necessarily good content. Although the reverse isn’t necessarily true: good content doesn’t have to resemble what we traditionally think of as commercials.”

The attendees agreed that the Red Bulls Stratos Jump was content but many also considered it a commercial. (It run on TV.)

But what is content, exactly?

Siman says it is defined as assets and experiences that, in aggregate, form pieces of your brand story. It can range from apps to ebooks, infographics to transmedia experiences, tweets to filtered photos. And content marketing is really just the organization, creation and distribution of these assets in order to better connect with consumers or potential consumers.

With the popularity of self-publishing, consumers have become both competitors and collaborators for brands. Some are outperforming brands with content uploaded from their smartphones, while others are partnering with brands to gain more influence.

She adds, “Let’s not forget the rise of curation, another popular buzzword from 2012 whose relevance will likely continue over the next few years.”

In the early days of publishing, the focus was on content creation but with so much content out there, filtering and surfacing content has become its own trend. Average monthly unique visits on curation sites like BuzzFeed, Tumblr, Pinterest are steadily increasing, so content definitely isn’t something that will go away anytime soon.

What can marketers and brands do? The three key pillars of content marketing include content development, syndication and distribution and optimization.

Siman gives the skinny on what brands and marketers should do:

Listen. Articulate where your consumers or fans hang out online and what kinds of content they like in addition to what they think about your brand. Even paying attention to product reviews or competitors pages can help you better understand the landscape.
Plan. Put a plan on paper. Determine who should be involved at each stage of the planning, production and approval process. Figure out key content themes or buckets. Develop your social tone of voice and make sure the team is properly trained.
Be nimble. You have to make them first! The best way to plan for real-time content marketing is to have a system in place so you know the strengths and weaknesses of the system and where you might be able to speed things up in special circumstances.
Measure and showcase success. There are so many data points available, but rarely are they all needed to tell a story. Start with what you want to know and then figure out which data points will help you paint the clearest picture.

At 360i, Siman also curates The Tuesday Ten (http://tuesdayten.com), her weekly newsletter featuring 10 must-see links. She can also be found on Twitter (twittercom/rosiesiman).