“Content is King” has been a widely used term in marketing for years. This mantra has certainly become part of our language, maybe even part of our DNA.
But I think this is one of those common phrases that we take for granted and that may actually be meaningless. You probably know somewhere deep down. I think something else is the king.
Let’s unpack this today.
First, let me say that I bring up this topic on a very high level for a diverse global audience. Some people might tune in and argue, “Well what about ???” … and I’ll say, “Of course.” There are many exceptions. But let’s look at the big picture and the overarching trend.
The reality check
To put things in perspective, please commit me to a thought exercise.
Think about every product you’ve bought in the past two weeks. This can include groceries, clothing, a car wash, houseplants, insurance, medicines, office supplies, toys, books, etc.
Now look at this list and determine: How many of these purchases have been directly or indirectly influenced by company content?
If you’re like me, the answer is zero. Branded content does not affect 99.999 percent of consumer purchase decisions. We don’t see this corporate content, and when we see it, we probably don’t believe it … let alone subscribe to it.
For most businesses looking to connect with consumers, content certainly isn’t king. It is not queen or prince or even fool. It ends up in the store somewhere under a voucher. Not all good and good in marketing begins with a new YouTube channel or blog.
I think this famous quote from Seth Godin is dramatically exaggerated. “People don’t buy goods and services. You buy relationships, stories, and magic. “
Seth has to take a trip to Walmart.
But what about SEO?
You are probably thinking that I’m missing the main point here. A primary goal of content is SEO. Many of the products we buy are based on a Google search. And of course you would be right.
The pandemic has sparked a huge surge in e-commerce. We are now seeing a holiday-like level of shopping every month.
But if you’re like me, you go to Amazon and fill your cart. Or maybe another big site like Etsy or eBay. Or you can order from a local grocery store for roadside pickup.
Research shows that search volume increased dramatically during the pandemic, but almost all of the volume is related to the coronavirus. This supports my point of view that a lot of the ecommerce surge is not necessarily due to SEO as we buy goods and brands that we already know and love.
In another article, I also explained why fewer and fewer companies benefit from search, as Google keeps more than half of all search traffic to itself.
The content is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to the search. But I wonder if the search affects at least part of the business success less. As I noted at the beginning of this post, it depends.
Bottom line, content may have been king five years ago when it was more of a novelty and actually contributed to SEO benefits to a far greater extent than it does today.
Where do we turn now?
I learned how to paint with watercolors and took online lessons from a wonderful artist named Eric Yi Lin. In his tutorial, Eric mentions the materials he uses. So I bought this. Why mess around? I don’t have time to experiment. Let’s get started. < and I click on Amazon to place an order>
This is how most of the marketing happens today. We don’t believe in advertisements or corporate content. We believe ourselves. For me, Eric is an influencer.
Content is no longer king. User generated content is king and has been for some time.
As Mathew Sweezey points out in his excellent book The context marketing revolution
On June 24th, 2009 something significant happened. For the first time, the amount of content published by real people exceeded the amount published by corporations and media outlets.
We then entered an era of “infinite media” that led to content shock and the ongoing war for attention that preoccupies every marketer on earth today. Corporate content was left behind. The content of our friends and the influencers we admire is much more interesting, relevant and believable.
And that’s the content that makes us buy things.
Everything hail UGC!
“User generated content is social media’s greatest gift to marketing.” – Ad Age magazine.
User generated content is what makes the marketing world work these days. A key idea in my book Marketing rebellion
(and that comes from McKinsey) is that two-thirds of our marketing happens without us. Our stories are carried on by our customers.
The customers are the marketers.
The content they create does our marketing job … much better than we do.
Once you accept this fact, you will also resign yourself to the idea that our content is not king … Your content is king. So the focus of marketing has to turn dramatically. How can we make less effort? our stories and more effort Your stories? How are we invited to our customers’ meetings?
I suggest that content marketing requires an entirely different mindset to be successful.
Everyone welcomes the new king UGC.
.Mark Schaefer is Managing Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and COO for B Square media. He is the author of several best-selling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, university professor, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion Podcast is one of the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your corporate event or conference soon.
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