All posts in “content marketing”

The Shared Experience: Live TV and Social Media


Ruth is the Director of Business Development at Social Media Group. You can follow her @rutbas.

Our family recently moved into a new house. My husband was lobbying hard to “lose the cable”. It would have been cheaper, but I resisted. You never know what’s going to happen I said. I may have felt differently if we had a fancy new TV set… but I’m still working with the TV we got when we first set up house, way back in the 90’s, so I held firm. I just suspected that there would be times when only live TV would do.

These last few weeks have been such a time.

We have all have snuggled around the TV to discuss the merits of Presidential candidates, marvel at how vulnerable “life as we know it” is with the onslaught of Sandy, and generally counted on the cast of characters across all the networks to guide us through the build up to election night. I still love that CNN map. And did you see Letterman do his show on the night of Sandy? I found it hilarious, and poignant all at once. OK, granted, I saw it on YouTube after the fact (Check it out)… but I love that Letterman went live with the show.

And nothing beats seeing those election results come in live. Loved it when Peter Mansbridge held up cue cards because the “number machine” was acting up, and was presenting everything backwards…

Granted, at any one time, all of my family members supplement live television viewing with various devices. It was very entertaining to watch the last set of Presidential debates while following Twitter. I’d never done that before, and I get the appeal. When Sandy hit I could track power outages via the Toronto Hydro Web site on my phone, and feel very on top of things. But the main event for us was still on that little box in the living room.

While we continue to have our shared experience with respect to media, around the television screen, families like ours are supplementing the experience with those various tweets, posts and conversations that clearly expand the “shared experience” outside of the household. My husband got thousands of views for one of his election posts one night. Sometimes, it’s just weird. It’s like we’re having this shared experience, and publishing it to the world at the same time. Or something like that. I hardly know what to call the emerging model- but I suspect it’s the new normal.

Check out the info-graphic below,  “TV Goes Social: The Rise of the Second Screen”  to see how radically our TV viewing habits are changing…  and integrating into the social media experience, whether watching the live version or canned version.

What has the experience in your household been in the last few weeks with regards to live TV viewing and social media?


Webinar: Content Marketing on the Social Web

Jordan Benedet is a Manager on the Client Strategy and Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @jbenedet.

Join Maggie Fox, Ann Handley, and C.C. Chapman tomorrow, Tuesday Jul 31st at 12pm EST / 9am PST for a free live webinar titled Content Marketing on the Social Web, hosted by Social Media Today.

The internet is full of content which can quickly become a blur to internet users. The quality bar for content has been raised. Continually producing high quality content is not always enough to reach your ideal audience anymore. Content overload is now a reality!

Marketers need to make adjustments to strategy and tactics in order to differentiate content, reach the right audience while they are in content consumption mode, and help solve problems. These adjustments require a detailed understanding of your audience such as: topics of interest, common problems, and the delivery method of content.

The panelists of Content Marketing on the Social Web will discuss questions like:

  • Who is excelling in content marketing right now?
  • Where does good content come from?
  • How fast does a marketing department have to move to keep up with changing tastes?
  • What kinds of businesses are best at content marketing?

We hope you can make it – register for the free webinar now!

How Content Marketing is Changing Everything – SMG Webinar Recording

Recently, SMG’s Leona Hobbs hosted a webinar, How Content is Changing Everything. Drawing on SMG’s experiences and expertise, she explored how content marketing is emerging as a major challenge (and opportunity) for marketers, how progressive programs and partnerships are changing the way branded content moves across the web, and how it can effectively be used to earn attention and shift marketing from push to pull in a billion-channel universe.

For all the details and to watch the recording, check it out here.

If you’d like to be the first to hear about upcoming webinars from SMG, pre-register now!

New Free SMG Whitepaper: Unleash the Power of Content Marketing Part 1

SMG Content Marketing Logo

Today, we’re thrilled to release part one of our latest whitepaper: Unleash the Power of Content Marketing: Strategy and Considerations for Operations.


Truly a labor of love, when we sat down to write this whitepaper (it is jointly authored by Leona Hobbs, Michelle McCudden and myself), our vision was to provide a guidebook for marketers looking to execute content marketing programs inside their organizations.  Drawing on the expertise we’ve gleaned working with our clients on content marketing programs, we quickly realized that we had enough for two (or more) whitepapers.

So, we’ve split them up. Part one covers Strategy and Considerations for Operations – this is our best counsel and advice for leaders and executives about how they can set their teams up for success in the execution of content marketing programs. Part one of Unleash the Power of Content Marketing covers:

  • How to define your program
  • Building the case for change
  • How to structure operations
  • Content marketing and the sales funnel

Please take a look at an excerpt from Part 1 of Unleash the Power of Content Marketing and if you like what you see, download the entire thing. We’re always interested in conversation, so we look forward to hearing back from you. How does this whitepaper match your experiences as you plan strategy and operations for content marketing?

Oh, and Part 2 of Unleash the Power of Content Marketing covers concrete steps for achieving excellence in execution of content marketing tactics. Its scheduled for release in a couple of weeks.

How Content Marketing is Changing Everything – Free SMG Webinar March 22

SMG Content Marketing

Content Marketing is the latest buzzword – but what does it mean for marketers?

On March 22nd at 12pm ET, explore How Content is Changing Everything during a live webinar hosted by Leona Hobbs, VP of Social Media Group.


Webinar Overview – How Content is Changing Everything

Disruption. It’s one of the most common buzzwords used to describe the social web. But when we use it, we have largely been referring to technology and platforms – broadband web access, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. But what about content? In some places, there’s too much, in others, not enough – causing major problems for established business models. In this presentation we’ll explore how content is emerging as a major challenge (and opportunity) for marketers, how progressive programs and partnerships are changing the way branded content moves across the web, and how it can effectively be used to earn attention and shift marketing from push to pull in a billion-channel universe.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What is Content Marketing?
  • Why should I care?
  • What can I do with it?
  • How do I find my target audiences?
  • What kinds of results can I expect?
  • What do I need to get started?


About the Presenter

Leona Hobbs

Leona Hobbs, Vice President & Partner. With over a decade of experience in communications and marketing, Leona leads the SMG account teams and provides social media and digital communications counsel to SMG clients. A specialist in digital communications and social media marketing, Leona frequently speaks about Internet-powered communications to students and at conferences. She is an advisor to the Public Relations Program at Loyalist College and a volunteer organizer of the Toronto Girl Geek Dinners and PodCamp Toronto. In 2010, Leona received The International Alliance for Women World of Difference 100 award in the Community category. / @flackadelic



Is the Future of Advertising Many Lightweight Interactions Over Time?

Leona Hobbs is Vice President & Partner at Social Media Group.

From Paul Adams (currently at Facebook, formerly head of social research at Google) comes this interesting post where he muses about the future of advertising:

To be a successful advertiser on the web in the future, you will need to build content based on many, lightweight interactions over time.

Now this certainly strikes a chord with me, as we work at SMG to bring content marketing services to our clients and shift their marketing activities from mass/broadcast to targeted/value-add. Mr. Adams considers the way people build relationships (any relationship) over time. We meet someone in passing, bump into them at a party, and gradually, over time we develop a friendship – a lasting relationship.

Because marketing and branding are very new relative to the history of our species (only 150 years old at best) it makes sense that we would build relationships with brands the same way. Many, lightweight interactions over time is how we’re wired to build deep, emotional connections. Therefore, our marketing plans should be built around this insight. We have intuitively and subconsciously made rough attempts at this by spreading our messages across multiple media—magazines, billboards, TV, radio, web banner ads. Add on the other lightweight interactions we have with brands—in the retail store, chatting with our friends, seeing other people use the brand—and we have an interesting framework: many, lightweight interactions over time.

Paul Adams thinks disruption and attention as the framework for advertising is ending and I am inclined to agree. Attention, however, is still what we’re after, and as marketers, we need to earn that attention. Many of our clients are facing the reality that their marketing must change to provide a sustained stream of value-added branded content, quality interactions and experiences with fans and followers and remarkable experiences offline and on. Maggie and I have been singing this song for a few years now: success with integrated digital and social media marketing = sustained momentum in channel + campaign.

Because we build relationships with things through many lightweight interactions over time, advertising will need to do the same to be heard. Although specific short-term campaigns around launching new products and new product variants will exist, they will be built on top of a solid ‘always-on’ foundation. The ‘always-on’ foundation will be far more important than short term campaigns because that is how people act in real life. Our real life relationships with friends are ‘always-on’. Our real life relationships with brands are ‘always-on’. Advertising will need to be the same.

The entire post is certainly worth a read. Also, Paul Adam’s book Grouped: How small groups of friends are the key to influence on the social web contains more relevant insights for marketers as we shift our modi operandi to build lasting relationships with our customers.

How Brands Become Publishers in a Media Tidal Wave

tidal wave

James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @jamescooper

In the beginning, there were brands. Some of these brands were in the media business but the vast majority were not. Many of those in the majority relied on media companies to help them connect with their customers. That was then.

Now many brands are the media. What do I mean by this? I’ll start by pointing out that it’s nothing new for brands to be content producers—many have been doing it for a long time. What’s changed since we’ve entered the social digital era, however, is that brands have ever-increasing control over the content they produce and how they use it to connect with their customers.

Recently, as Amy Vernon of PBS MediaShift points out, there has been a lot of buzz about how “We’re all publishers now”, almost to the extent of becoming a cliché. This applies not only to individual bloggers and social network users but also to brands, especially those with deep pockets.

In his Silicon Valley Watcher post, Tom Foremski describes the mounting flood of brand media as a “media tsunami”. To avoid getting washed away in a total wipe out, it’s important for brands to stay at the crest of this media tidal wave.

How can brands ride the wave?

Brands need to focus on creating content that provides real value to their customers.

Ted McConnell, in his recent AdAge post, recommends that, instead of constantly trying to persuade customers to buy around every corner, brands should distribute content that gives advice, support and guidance to “help customers get where they want to go”.

In essence, brands can achieve this by making content that is informative, entertaining and/or instructional.

What options do brand marketers have for providing customers with
value-rich content?

  1. Do it yourself. In order to produce value-rich content like a media company, you need to think like a media company. Understand and use media industry best practices to create and distribute content that makes customers trust and like your brand, and come back for more.
  2. Collaborate with publishers and bloggers. Identify content creators with influence in your market and acquire their relevant content for branding and sharing with your customers. How this content is “acquired” can range from direct purchase to in-kind compensation with products and services.
  3. Partner with a digital agency. Work with a digital agency that understands the social and digital environment and has a proven track record of scaling content and producing results. The agency should help you create new content, and mine and repurpose existing content of value.
  4. Curate content. Creating new content is demanding and daunting for many companies. Content curation will help you find the best content related to your brand, enabling you to organize and package it in a way that adds a whole new level of value.

In closing, allow me to return to Foremski’s idea of an impending “media tsunami” by asking, have you turned your brand’s bow to steam headlong to the crest of the wave? Or is your brand sitting in a life raft while you hope and pray it will somehow surface on the other side?

Make that Social Content Shift… 5 steps to creating social content assets out of what you already have!

Most companies and organizations already lots and lots of content. There are likely some real social content gems in those archives of Powerpoint presentations, pdf files, binders and Web pages that have built up over the years. In mining your existing content archives, the challenge becomes finding the time, energy and motivation to unearth those “gems”.

Here is a quick and cheerful set of five steps, to undertake the task:

Step 1: Go through a “back of the envelope” upfront analysis of your goals for social content creation. Some questions to get you started include:

• What social networks do are important to post content to?
• Who is the target audience?
• What action will the user take they’ve consumed your content? Visit your website? Share it to their social networks? Determine your main Calls to Action.
• Consider time and budget. What format and quantity of assets can you afford to create?

social media groupCreative Commons License

Step 2: Conduct a content audit to determine what do you already have? If you’re like most organizations, you’re going to be looking for…

• PowerPoint presentations (they may contain some graphs and diagrams)
• PDF’s, Case studies, sell sheets…
• Webinars, tutorials
• Your own Web site – is there could be some great material that could be refreshed in a new format?
• Expertise from employees – think interviews, profiles, quotes… lots of possibility!

Step 3: Pick your content themes, and create a short list of content ideas. Some hints:

• Where does it make the most sense to focus time and money? The area of focus should be strategic.
• Creating content takes time, so start by picking 3 or 4 key areas that are popular with the target audience to highlight via social networks.
• Determine what “success” looks like. What metrics will make the most sense for your business? Do you want to build your brand awareness? Generate new leads? Create the appropriate metric for your social content project, and make sure your content can support it.

Step 4: Brainstorm some content formats for each identified idea, and create a brief for the person or team who will be producing the content.

• Keep your mind open, and don’t be shy about exploring new and different formats. Consider slide shows, info-graphics, animations, video… there are lots of options!
• Determine the budget available for each format. Costs will increase as you consider new graphics, copy, animation, video, interactivity etc.
• Talk to the team who currently manages the organization’s social channels about any input they may have into this process. They will be able to provide some valuable insights into what resonates with your audience.
• Write the brief, which should include some basic information such as:

  • Objective of content asset
  • Target audience
  • Content format
  • Call to action
  • Brand guidelines
  • Your timeline
  • Requirements- e.g. do you need copy developed? Graphics? Animation? Be specific about what you envision for the asset, and what you need!
  • Budget range

Step 5: Once you have your brief, you have to figure out who is going to produce your content, and do a reality check on budget, feasibility etc. Some pointers:

• Determine if you have the skill set to produce the content asset internally. You can likely handle a blog post, but many organizations do not have in house graphic designers or video production crews.
• Determine if your agencies are familiar with creating content for the social Web – you may be pleasantly surprised, or not…
• Do consider talking to an agency with a strong track record in the social media marketing space.

I’ll write next time on what to do with all that content once you produce it. Content marketing has the potential to generate results, but it is tricky to do, without great content!

The Great Content Challenge

We all know we need it. We can recognize it. The challenge is to get it. To create that perfect intersection of relevance, “edutainment” value and authenticity that will make consumption of your content a satisfying experience. In other words, people out there in the universe will want to consume and share your content!

Why is it so difficult to create this type of content? Why is it so rare? Increasingly, good quality content is becoming a serious business asset that can generate eyeballs, click-throughs, and ultimately, leads for your business. It’s getting so this content piece is a “must have”, as opposed to a “nice to have”.

In my mind, there are three things that make good quality, shareable content really hard to create. Not to say there aren’t lots of challenges, but these are the stand-outs for me:

  1. It takes a lot of time and skill to produce. It always takes more time to produce great content than anybody thinks. Assuming that you go to the trouble to hire a great content producer in order to create something that is relevant, entertaining and authentic, that producer will have to properly understand your target audience, the value-add nugget of information you can provide to your audience, the sub-culture of your audience, your brand identity, voice, etc. You get the idea. We’re talking full creative brief, multiple revisions, identifying the right visual look if the content is graphical. Not to scare anyone off, but this can be a major project.
  2. It’s got to be short. Copywriting and word-crafting have never been more important skill sets than in today’s social media content world. Whole new disciplines are evolving around writing social media-friendly lines of copy that will generate interest and social activity, while keeping content short, easy to scan and easy to digest. This is really hard. Always. Full stop.
  3. Your content has to add value. You need to deliver the goods. You can thrill, inspire, inform and entertain—go ahead and indentify what will work best for you, but you need to add something to the equation. You need to thoroughly understand where you can add value, and how. And you likely need to understand the relationship between your target audience and your product, brand, service, company or topic. This is the intersection between the intrinsic skills of a creative team and the deep understanding of your audience that can come from research, twenty years in the business or shared life experiences. It almost doesn’t matter where it comes from, but that understanding is likely going to be there, if your content is resonating.

As someone who has always loved words, ideas and visuals (I was that yearbook editor in high school), I love that we’re here. I love that after all my years working with technology, we’re coming back to the age old skills of storytelling and connecting with your audience. But we do need to remind ourselves that writing, drawing, painting and crafting content has always been hard and producing the best of the best, will always be a messy, painstaking process. Just because we can publish it with a tap of a finger does not make the creation process any easier. Just because Seth Godin makes it look easy, doesn’t make it so.


What do you think? Am I missing something?


Social Media Round Up Oct 21st: Content marketing around the 'net

“Content is King”

Content marketing is one of the most discussed topics at SMG everyday, and this week we would like to share some of the conte-related items that caught our attention with you. For those of you not entirely familiar with content marketing, I think this short interview Social Examiner did with C.C.Chapman, co-author of Content Rules,  should provide the basics.

From the interview, Chapman explains his definition of content and why it is important for brands,

“Content has been around forever, since we were kids. We’ve been creating content whether we called it content or not. We email newsletters, print ads, radio ads, all that is content. So it’s nothing new, we’ve known content marketing forever. The problem is, now in the internet, anybody can create content, publish content, get it out there. And let’s face it, there are a lot of them coming out, there is a never ending stream of content coming out. So doing content marketing and doing it smartly and strategically is the thing that’s hard and gets people lost. You maybe doing it, but you maybe doing it the way you did 10 years ago, but your customers are not the same as they were 10 years ago.”

He makes good points. Now with social networks it takes a lot more consideration and planning for brands to create content, even for the entire marketing strategy.

What does Content Marketing mean for B2B companies?

Now let’s take a look at content marketing for business-to-business companies.  Research conducted by has presented insights on how Content Marketing helps B2B companies to boost their lead generation effort. eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher, author of this new report says:

“Informative, nonpromotional content in the form of webinars, white papers, videos, blogs and peer recommendations on social networks and forums can attract prospects,”

“It can also be used to build and maintain ongoing relationships with potential buyers—a must for remaining top of mind throughout the purchase process.”

The figure below shows the different effects generated by different types of contents for B2B and B2C  companies.

Based on the research, Fisher continued:

“Online content is the fuel for the new B2B marketing lead generation engine,”

“In creating informational, educational and actionable content in the form of white papers and webinars, marketers can effectively lure early-stage buyers into their sales pipeline.”

“By mixing this content with comparative, company-specific and interactive content—and regularly sharing it via email or e-newsletters—marketers can build relationships designed to nurture prospects throughout the sales funnel.”

Content Marketing and  SEO

Good content assets go far. This infograph from Brafton shows that a good content marketing strategy helps brands to deeply engage with their customers and helps the brand to boost SEO ranking on search engines.