The Content “IS” the Ad

There’s a lot of angst in marketing land right now. With Google’s Panda and Penguin changes and social algorithms that favor engagement, it may look as though SEO is dead, or that traditional ads will soon be going the way of the dodo. What’s a marketer to think? Are we supposed to throw out everything we learned about marketing and advertising to date and learn to ride a new horse? How the heck are we supposed to get in front of customers now?

Well, things ARE changing. Traditional advertising isn’t yet extinct, but there is simply too much noise out there, and people are sick of it. They’re shutting out the blast advertising that has crept into every aspect of their lives and centering in on the things they truly care about—friends, family, and social connections. You need to take a step back and study this shift in order to take advantage of it.

For brands, that doesn’t mean you can simply move your blast advertising campaigns into social channels. You actually have to make real conversation with real people and help them get what they want. That means knowing your prospects well enough to understand what they want. It also means creating content that’s helpful, entertaining, educational, or all of the above—content that helps them make a decision when they’re ready to buy; content they’re willing to share with friends.

Does that mean advertising is dead? Not entirely. Smart brands have noticed that we’re moving to a “connection economy,” and they are producing ongoing content that meets the new search “relevancy” standards. They’ve studied their audiences, listened to their social conversations, and have developed plans to use that content in their social profiles to emotionally connect to their audiences and encourage conversation. When it resonates, it gets shared and receives comments and likes, which makes that brand more visible in search.

What it all boils down to is that in the new world of content marketing, the Content “IS” the Marketing. Sharing, conversation, and emotionally connected content will be the ads of the future. Instead of thinking in terms of “Convince and Convert,” start thinking in terms of “Converse and Convert.” Helpful content gives your customers reasons to stay engaged—not just react—and also increases brand advocacy.

So start thinking like a publisher because the more relevant, helpful content you create, the better you can drive engagement. And as my ROR formula illustrates… Content drives Engagement, Engagement drives Advocacy, and Advocacy correlates directly to Increased Sales. 


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Ted Rubin

Ted is a leading social marketing strategist and in 2009 started using and evangelizing the term ROR: Return on Relationship™... a concept he believes is the cornerstone for building an engaged multi-million member database, many of whom are vocal advocates for the brand, like the one he built for e.l.f. Cosmetics as the Chief Marketing Officer between 2008 and 2010, and the one being built for the new updated OpenSky where Ted was Chief Social Marketing Officer until the end of April 2011.