Bloggers, Brand Journalists and The Importance of Content


If there’s a word that’s been impossible to escape in 2012 or 2013 then it’s CONTENT. Even more than ‘Talent‘ it’s been a word that unites sectors and disciplines, marketers and HR, managers and non-managers. A word on which everyone has a view, for which every business has a need, and one that inspires many to claim that they know all the answers.

As someone who spent the last two and a half years creating, curating, sharing and searching for content on behalf of a major digital business I can tell you that there’s a lot of it about – much of it of questionable quality and value.

I’ve also spent almost 5 years creating my own, through social channels and this blog, but when it’s for you then the odd misfire is acceptable (still can’t believe how few of you interacted with this blog on my favourite band Wilco, and what we could learn from them about talent management!) and the attempts to try something different aren’t always as critically viewed (although I accept you’ve probably seen enough pictures of my fish & chip dinners on Instagram).

Earlier this year the Content Marketing Institute produced this presentation on 2013 trends in content marketing…and some of it’s survey findings would have come as no surprise:

  • Top challenge is producing enough content
  • Next top challenge is producing content that engages
  • Other challenges such as variety, integration and measurement seemed much less important
  • The main goal for content marketing is brand awareness
  • The second goal is customer acquisition
  • The goal of customer retention/loyalty came in 4th
  • Case studies were deemed the most effective tactic
  • Larger companies tend to outsource content creation

So let me get this right, given that it came from marketers themselves – content marketing is mainly aimed at awareness and getting new customers, volume over quality is the challenge, and someone else is being trusted with your voice. Hmmm.

Does anyone know the customer journey? At what point the potential new customer may be interacting with the content? How is it being shared? How many existing customers (seemingly unimportant) are being turned off by this noise? And why is someone else talking for us?

For social platforms, as with email and the phone before, is it a case of new shiny communication routes being flogged every which way to try and create as much noise as possible? Because noise = success. Right??!!

The content that’s right is the content that works, the stuff that connects, informs, enlightens, educates, amuses or captivates – all or any. So it’s important to get the right balance and the right people producing and sharing it. The number of likes has ceased to be of relevance – it’s the quality and identity of those likes that are important. Repurposing the old marketing approaches for a new platform will miss the opportunity to create something fresh and vibrant that will capture the imagination.

And strategy is important too…is keeping and building loyalty with your current customers really only the 4th most important??

There seems to be a trust of external agencies. I’ve heard many reasons – they can scale content, produce a broad range, have access to the tools for video and graphics – but what about the words and pictures? Have they got the knowledge, insight and authority to write them? Can they authentically speak for you? And do they understand your customers and clients? Can they really create a connection? How will they share the content that they produce – or support your sharing? What are the social profiles of the people who will be working on it?

In my last (short) blog I featured a current newspaper analysis of how the retail industry is looking to Pinterest to save their Xmas trade – sorry guys, but a social platform doesn’t do it by itself…it needs time and attention, to be planted and watered, and tended with care and engagement.

But if we are to trust agencies, why not individual bloggers?

This post on predictions for 2014 via IBM makes reference to the importance and increasing relevance of ‘brand journalism‘ and the positioning of their business as a ‘media house‘ that doesn’t rely on the media, but on getting people onside and into your business who can tell your story. This includes employees too.

And crucial to telling this story will be journalists, bloggers and influencers. People with authority, followings and reach, and the skills to create the type of content that engages, connects, inspires and informs.

In the hospitality sector many companies are already teaming up with bloggers to marry social networks and content marketing campaigns and are able to leverage their networks for greater reach as well as gain further insight to how their customers and potential customers think.

As the Content Marketing Association said, writers, bloggers and the like “already understand that the craft of storytelling is based not on sentences or arresting straplines but on a journey in which characters represent our lives“.

They are also able to bring knowledge, network, access to information, influence, trust and authority. You need to get the best people – they will be your voice and the cost of not getting it right will be greater than the savings from doing it cheaply.

At this point, if I were a tech or consulting business I’d be topping and tailing this blog with some self serving research that showed I was the solution to everyone’s content problem…but I’m just a humble content and social engagement guy hustling for some new work who happens to tick all the boxes above 😉

Let me know if you want to talk more about content…

(image via

If you want to find out more about what good content looks like and how recruiters can use it to source and attract the best talent through social channels then book your place on this one day workshop when ace social recruiting trainer Katrina Collier and myself will tell you how

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