A Blog’s Not Just a Blog: The Evolution of Content Marketing
It’s a question just about everyone gets on a regular basis: What do you do?And as someone who ghostwrites client blogs for a living, the right answer has often eluded me.If I say I’m a writer, people automatically assume I’ve written a book, or that I write for a magazine. It’s a response that instantly elicits a high level of prestige and respect. But while I have written for magazines, that’s not what I do now.If I say I’m a ghostwriter, people usually need clarification. They have a vague idea of a ghostwriter as someone who writes a book for a famous person who couldn’t string two words together on his or her own, but then gets none of the credit – still a respectable job in their eyes, just one that keeps a writer out of the spotlight.Interestingly, though, if I say I’m a blogger, all I get are polite but disinterested – and sometimes even dismissive – responses: “Ohhhh….” or “Huh. Really? Ha-ha!” “Blogs” have become so ubiquitous, and “bloggers” so numerous and varied, that most people associate the terms with mediocre-quality writing and an inflated sense of self-importance. My own parents told me in no uncertain terms when I was first hired at MZ that it must be some sort of scam, because no one could possibly get paid a real salary “just for blogging!” (Happily, they’ve since become convinced that I do, in fact, have a real job.)Even companies who understand the role that a blog plays in a digital marketing strategy often see it as the least important link in the chain – a necessary component in the mix, but one that adds much less value to their online marketing efforts than, say, SEO or social media marketing.But here’s the thing: Blogs aren’t just blogs anymore. Sure, years ago it used to be common for companies to have a blog just to have one. Everybody else was doing it, and you could stuff them full of keywords for SEO benefits, so why not? Just slap some content up there once or twice a week, and you’re all set! And of course, since the first blogs on the scene back then were personal ones, filled with random musings that interested no one but the bloggers themselves, that was the model many companies used in writing content for their own blogs. As long as it was updated regularly with something, anything somewhat relevant, they figured it was doing its job.But since that time, blogging for marketing purposes has evolved into something much more sophisticated. Something so different from its humble roots that it really needs a new name in order to differentiate it from its past.And that name is content marketing.What we do in the Content Development Department here at Marketing Zen, and what any online marketing agency worth its salt does, is most definitely NOT blogging. It is content marketing, applying the latest in digital marketing strategies to each and every blog post, white paper, eBook, webpage, or outreach article we write. Yes, expertise in the craft of writing is vital to this profession, but that’s far from everything – a well-rounded, in-depth understanding of every element that goes into creating and then implementing the perfect content marketing strategy is also necessary.So what is content marketing exactly?At its most basic level, content marketing means creating and distributing content strategically in order to build a relationship with an online audience that will eventually lead to their becoming customers.There’s no room for “fluff” pieces or pointless rambling in this new world. Content marketing takes every aspect of online marketing and ties them all together in one unified whole.First, SEO. Keyword research tells content marketers which topics are trending, which are evergreen – and which to avoid. By looking at the words and phrases people use when searching for information about a particular industry, we can position each blog post we write to be easily found by search engines, through both its overarching topic and the SEO keywords we carefully incorporate into the text.Second, social media. By studying what drives audience engagement on social media, content marketers gear their posts towards likeability and shareability. Blog topics, the voice used, even the images chosen to accompany each post are carefully selected based on a study of what gets clicks and comments and likes from a given client’s audience on social media.Third, thought leadership. Content marketers spend hours poring over industry websites for each client, in order to keep up with trending thoughts and new developments in each one’s field. Each and every blog post must contribute in some way towards positioning a client as an expert in their field, as the go-to resource for valuable, insightful information on their industry, and so careful research is done to ensure that each client is always on the cutting edge.As you can see, a lot more goes into content marketing than simple blogging. The key difference is strategy.Each client has different goals, different needs, and a different audience, so each one will necessarily need a different and unique content marketing strategy to be developed. Once this strategy is put in place, it is then tweaked and reworked until the perfect balance is found. That balance is what successfully attracts traffic from search engines and social media, makes website visitors into loyal fans and followers online, and then converts them into customers – hopefully for life, due to the relationship of trust that has been developed.So what do I say now, when people ask me what I do? I tell them I’m a content marketer. It requires a bit of explaining, but it’s worth it for the reactions I get. And it sounds much more like a real job to my parents, as well.If you want to take your business to the next level through content marketing, contact us today. We’d be more than happy to help you transform your blog into the marketing powerhouse it should be.