The week in content marketing with strategist Lieu Pham
This week we go underground to learn about the dark art of YouTube bots. We also do a deep dive into the successes of Marriott, Facebook Vice Media and Amazon – if you’ve ever wanted to a build an empire, these are the case studies to examine. John Malkovich appears in a trailer for a film, with some clever cognac branding, that won’t be seen for another 100 years, while Elon Musk’s quest to fast-track a driverless future sees him tweet for talent.
Elsewhere, popstar Rhianna teases out her new album by launching her new website, and PR Daily introduces us to Babbler, a network for media relations.Also, Content Marketing Institute unpacks a new study on the state of content marketing in Australia with some surprising insights.
Media & Marketing
Why Marriott is Getting into the Brand Content Game
The digital age has seen a fundamental power shift between brands and consumers with consumers coming out on top. The Marriott is one of those progressive brands that believes you’re only going to be heard if you’re audience wants to hear from you. Putting its money where its mouth is, the international hotel chain has invested in “Two Bellmen Two”, a branded comedic 15-minute film that forms the centrepiece to the brand’s content strategy, which also includes other tactics, such as live events, a magazine, web series, etc. The Marriott’s increased investment in content reflects a growing trend among businesses in the way they’re marketing.
How Amazon’s Long Game Yielded a Retail Juggernaut
This year Amazon shares have doubled, seeing it break into the list of the world’s 10 largest companies, according to this article from The New York Times. Reporter Farhad Manjoo attributes some key reasons to the success of Amazon, including the cash cow that is its cloud computing services “Amazon’s Web Services”, the growth of Prime subscription, and its costly investment in supply and distribution. Jeff Bezos’s methodical and long-game approach to strategy is undeniably paying off for investors.
How Vice Grew to a $4 Billion Media Powerhouse This Year
From a free magazine in Canada to a $4 billion valuated company, Vice is one of those media unicorns – its thriving despite the highly cluttered media landscape. So how did they do it? In one word: diversification. Vice has been partnered with everyone from HBO and Disney to Snapchat and A&E Networks, and it’s got some big names on its payroll, including director Spike Jonze. The company itself has a host of channels, including a record label, marketing agency, clothing line, film production, and now content licensing. It’s not surprising that the company is reported to make close to $1 billion in profits this year alone.
Rhi is giving Drake a run for his money in the marketing stakes with her new marketing ploy, which is reminiscent of the latter’s “If you’re reading this, it’s too late” campaign. The R&B musician has launched AntidiaRy, a website to tease out her new album Anti. Curiously, when you visit the site, there’s a Samsung logo, giving the impression there’s a brand money behind the creative. Only time will tell. At the moment you can only view the site on your mobile device – it’s currently at ‘watch this space’ status when accessed via your desktop. It’s very cool, with a 360-degree (almost) video and some short clips – check it out at: https://www.antidiary.com/
While Australian brands are gaining a clearer understanding of what a successful content program looks like and have started to recognise the need for a rock-solid content marketing strategy, companies are more likely to doubt the effectiveness of the actual content they’re producing. The Content Marketing Institute takes a deep dive into the reasons that could be fuelling a dip in content effectiveness but a push in strategy creation.
Social & Tech
Babbler is the first real-time media relations platform in the digital age that enables the media industry to connect and communicate with each other in a highly digestible format. The network makes the lives of PR and media professionals easier by enabling them to post and share everything from industry news and press releases to alerts and events. Watch the demo video on Ragan’s PR Daily for a better look.
Welcome to the seedy underground world of YouTube botting – that is, the business of selling fake YouTube views. I’m a big fan of Kernel’s themed editions (past themes include Weirder Web, Future of Sex, Net of the Living Dead, Geek Girl Revolution). With YouTube’s rising popularity, it’s never been so important to look good – a.k.a. have a high view count. In true Gonzo style, this Kernel journalist decided to test out the murky world of buying views on a video that had no chance of going viral.
If I think back to my past jobs, career opportunities have always come from digital word-of-mouth – via Twitter, LinkedIn and (less so) Facebook. In fact, one of my most rewarding jobs was through Twitter – a city reporting job for CBS New York when I connected directly with a tweet from the then editor, Andrew Nusca, who’s now doing a smashing job over at Fortune. It’s not unusual these days for brands to use social to cast their line into the talent pool, and it looks like Elon Musk is doing just that for Telsa. (Note: no automobile experience is required.) This isn’t surprising, considering that vehicles are increasingly becoming more software-based. Musk claims automation is three short years away.
FastCompany went inside Facebook to give us an in-depth look at the social media giant’s 10-year plan. Unsurprisingly, the future and growth of Facebook is supported by significant investments in three key vehicles: artificial intelligence to gain deeper audience insights; virtual reality via its $2 billion purchase of Oculus VR; and its plans to bring the internet, and with it Facebook, to the 4 billion-plus humans who aren’t yet connected. Judging from Facebook’s growing acquisition list, which includes WhatsApp, Messenger, Groups and Instagram, there’s no doubt that Facebook is set to meet and exceed its ambitious goals.
It’s pretty awkward when you’ve broken up with someone and you continue to see them pop up in your Facebook feed. Finally, there is now a Facebook feature that allows you to rewrite history – well, not quite, but it does at least limit how much people see of you and your ex, and how much your ex sees of you. What I want to know is what didn’t they think of this sooner? So long, ghosts of boyfriends past!
First came a book that we’ll never read, and now there’s a Hollywood movie we’ll never see. Author Margaret Atwood, known for her progressive views on creativity, made history when she submitted a book into a time capsule (Future Library) – a work of fiction that won’t be released for 100 years. In the same spirit, Hollywood actor John Malkovich has appeared in a film that won’t be released until 18 November 2115. The film, aptly titled 100 Years, is a partnership with Louis XIII Cognac, a liquor aged 100 years. See what they did there?
Tips & Tactics
This helpful Content Marketing Institute blog takes us through SEO basics, spelling out terminology, and explaining the various branches of SEO – off-page, on-page and technical – in a refreshingly clear way. If you take one thing from this, it should be that SEO is about how awesome your content is.
When it comes to content marketing, we’re constantly trying to prove ourselves. Remember that when it comes to content marketing, those micro conversions are the incremental milestones that lead to the macro conversions. This LinkedIn blog shows us some non-fluffy ways to improve ROI, including focusing on relevant engagement (quality over quantity), attracting prospects who may not even know about you (see SEO blog from CMI), giving you an opportunity to shape the conversation, and so much more.
If email is part of your acquisition strategy then you should check out this helpful blog by Copyblogger outlining some winning tips for creating a click-worthy subject line. There are some great callouts, including arousing your readers’ curiosity, providing a sense of urgency and being benefit-led.
Instagram, which boasts more than 400 million members, is a powerful platform for brands and marketers who can harness its visual prowess. So why aren’t brands flocking to the platform as a key channel for engagement? According to this Ragan piece, only 34 per cent of brands are on Instagram, a stark contrast to the 80 per cent on Facebook and 70 per cent on Twitter. As a relative newcomer to its social counterparts, Instagram is an untapped minefield.