One of the most interesting developments within the small business community in 2013 was the meteoric rise of content marketing. From retailers to the service industry, it seemed like everyone was trying to integrate articles, videos, and even games into their marketing strategies. With a bandwagon this big, however, there were sure to be some detractors.
One of the most oft-repeated criticisms is that content marketing isn’t doing anything that blogging or advertorials did in the previous decade. While it is true that small business owners have been blogging since the dawn of the web, the major difference is that the content being created now is much more dynamic, planned, and integrated with social media. It sounds simple, but these developments have elevated traditional content creation to a level that now competes with the mainstream advertising industry in terms of both effectiveness and importance.
That said, content marketing is only just getting started. This year we’ll see content marketing networks shift from catering to large corporations to individual users, much in the way that Wordpress brought website publishing to the masses.
Some of the leaders in this arena are NewsCred, Shareist, Kapost, and Contently. The killer app of these platforms is that they remove the burden from the business owner to try and create his or her own content. Instead, the goal is to link marketers with freelancers who then can create custom content based on the marketers’ needs and then distribute the article, video, or slideshow to the websites of various partners and publishers.
Everything is streamlined and all of your decisions get logged in a clean dashboard that lets you track where your content is placed and how many people engage with it.
Because most of this is still brand new territory, there’s no reason for the average small business owner to throw out their existing marketing agenda and fully replace it with content marketing. The trick is to find the right balance of content marketing that both supports and enhances your existing marketing strategy. That means creating the right tone on your website and social media outlets, so that when someone comes across your content somewhere else on the web, there’s no confusion once they get back to your ecommerce site or Facebook page.
The best part is that you get to retain complete control over the content that you create. Sure, it’ll take a little brainstorming to come up with the message itself, but then you get to hand over the responsibilities of creating that content to a professional who already knows the digital landscape and can write effectively with your customers in mind. If you think that content was king in 2013, then this year it’ll be a true Master of the Universe.