Content marketing has taken quite a journey since its beginning. It may be hard to believe that the concept of content marketing existed before the invention of the internet, but it’s true! The pioneer movement of content marketing began long before the internet was even a thought, taking the form of newspaper ads, radio spots, and even hieroglyphics. From hieroglyphics to digital, content marketing has evolved into a masterful display of branding and advertising. Before we talk about what’s now trending in content marketing we’re going to take you back in time a bit.
What is ‘content’ anyway?
Let’s stop there for a second and address the possible elephant in your room. You may be reading this blog post and asking yourself “What is ‘content’ anyway?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. While content is a common topic among Twitter discussions and Google searches, the question still remains: what is content exactly? Some say content is simply a group of words put on a page or computer screen – but is that true? We say not. “A group of words” is how you would define the word “paragraph” or “sentence”, not “content.” What’s missing in this definition of content is the intention behind the words. What is the purpose of content? We’re going to dive into all you need to know about content – specifically content marketing – since its beginning, how it has transformed over time, and what it means today.
A definition provided by CMI founder Joe Pulizzi states that content is “compelling information that informs, engages, or amuses.” Content can have multiples purposes, whether that be to provide a laugh or encourage one to take action. While this is a satisfying definition of content in general, slight nuances are necessary when forming a definition of content marketing specifically.
Michael Brenner said it well in a tweet about the difference between content and content marketing. He says “content” is typically produced because someone in the organization asked for it, while “content marketing” is what the audience wants. They key phrase here is what the audience wants. The intention behind content marketing is providing a targeted group with what they want to see and hear.
What did the people want to see and hear back when content marketing first developed?
So, we briefly mentioned hieroglyphics above. That’s because the earliest evidence of communication through content appeared in stone-carved symbols and pictures. These cave paintings were first found in Malaga, Spain. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact purpose the Spaniards and Egyptians expressed with their hieroglyphics. However, we think it’s safe to assume their messages recorded very important information. You can check out more information about the beginnings of written language here.
This year marks a time in history when readers valued unique content. A newspaper titled The New York Sun made its way to the top of its competitors after publishing a series on the possible discovery of life on the moon. Readers were hooked. Of course, the whole thing was later revealed to be a hoax, but their mark was made. Readers still turned to their newspaper for a little taste of something unique.
1895 Brand Publishing:
John Deere’s tractor may have made its way into some of the most popular country songs, but the agriculture brand isn’t solely known for its classic green and yellow colors and impressive products. They also pioneered the idea of brand publishing with their consumer magazine. This magazine featured ads, articles, and agriculture tips. Magazines offered consumers the opportunity to sit down with their favorite companies in the comfort of their homes.
When you shop on Amazon, what’s the most important thing you do before you click “confirm order?” You read the customer reviews! Reviewing a company and its products first started all the way back in 1900 when Michelin published its first guidebook. This guidebook is now one of the premier restaurant reviewers, with chefs across the world lobbying for their place among the 3-star reviews. These reviews allow customers to make a more informed decision when buying products.
1904 Recipe Book:
Jell-O responded to their increasing popularity and gifted consumers with its first recipe book. A recipe book isn’t impressive today, considering most of us now access our favorite recipes online. However, a collection of recipes – especially Jell-O recipes – made history back in the early 1900s. Today, Jell-O is evolving with society and continuing to market its brand well with the latest content marketing strategies.
1924 Radio Station:
Sears pioneered the power of radio advertising with its Sears-Roebuck Agricultural Foundation show. Their purchased radio time announced Sears as the “World’s Largest Store” and targeted farmers nationwide. They also opened up the station to music and comedy programs. Radio allowed consumers to connect with companies without leaving the house. Instead, everyone gathered together in their kitchens and living rooms.
1982 Comic Book:
Today we love our Marvel superheroes. Their fame began in 1982 when Marvel and Hasbro partnered together to create the “Real American Hero” comic book and TV series. This cross-channel promotion launched the story and character of G.I Joe, who remains a popular favorite among fans of the superhero world.
1994 The Birth of the Internet:
It’s hard to imagine a time when there was no such thing as the internet. In reality, the internet made its way into mainstream content only 25 short years ago. O’Reilly and Associates launched the first commercial website in 1993, and by 1994, Netscape Communications was born.
2000 The Free eBook
Marketing mastermind Seth Godin offered his revolutionary eBook titled “Unleashing the Ideavirus.” The eBook has been downloaded over 1 million times and is credited as the catalyst for a new content format. Today eBooks are a quick way to send detailed information to a potential customer/client.
Do you know who holds the title for the world’s most famous viral video series ever? That is Tom Dickson with his Blendtec “Will It Blend” series. His first video featured his blender turning marbles into dust! He has since been seen on The View, where he and Woopie Goldberg enjoyed watching all kinds of items blended. Check out The View episode here.
2009 The Blog!
Marcus Sheridan’s pool business almost fell bankrupt until he tapped into the power of blogging. His FAQ blog saved his company, and now River Pools and Spas is the most-visited pool website in the world! Marcus Sheridan is now considered a marketing and sales expert.
2013 Content Hubs:
Engagement and generating leads was first driven by Uberflip’s debut of Hubs in 2013. Since then, the centralization of content has taken off, as we can see today in the most popular social media platforms.
2017 Personalized Experiences
2017 brought a personal touch to content marketing. ABM (account-based marketing) hones in on the one-on-one marketing strategy as a way to target specific individuals. These streams of content significantly increase the probability of closing a deal with a customer.
2019 In the Moment Content:
Today content marketing has become a very intricate and intimate experience. Content marketing has become more complex with strategies changing between social media platforms. Thanks to Tom Dickson and his video series, video content has grown and remains a top strategy among multiple platforms. However, today people want to see personal in-the-moment experiences in a company’s videos.
Why is that? The technology of today’s society has produced an intricately connected world. However, the fast pace of today’s society has resulted in, ironically, a lot of disconnection. The attention span of the consuming world is getting shorter and shorter. Companies face the challenge of successfully grabbing an audience’s attention before it scrolls on to the next piece of content. How do we bridge the connection gap? With a story.
Micro-Content and Short-Form Storytelling
We all like to hear a story, right? Content that is sure to grab someone’s attention is a video that tells a story. Micro-content and short-form storytelling are the new trends in content marketing. Ideally, your video needs to demand attention within the first 6 seconds, otherwise, it risks losing the viewer. It’s no longer enough to simply “hope for the best” with your content. Our current society requires a much more thoughtful and dynamic piece of content.
In-the-moment content records moments as they happen. Here are some examples of moments you can start sharing today.
Milestones for your company: Did your company reach a goal? Goals can be a certain number of followers reached or a sales goal. Update your audience with these details! If your company is starting a new partnership or making a move into a bigger building, you will want to post about it. Your audience wants to be included in the success of your company.
Events: Share about the events happening at your company, whether that be a fundraiser or a conference. Take pictures at these events and post them in real time! Open up to your consumers with what’s happening inside the walls at your company. Hyperchat’s Senior Vice President recently had a baby, so we posted about that!
Your Team: The employees at your company are the backbone of your whole operation. The easiest way to familiarize consumers with your company is to put a name to a face – literally. Post pictures of your team and have them share a little about themselves. Sharing birthdays are a great example of in-the-moment content!
Content marketing is an art. If you need help designing your content, schedule a demo with us today!