By Erin Rodat-Savla published October 29, 2014

Analyzing Human Data: Take a Dive to Find Out What Your Customers Really Feel

Silhouette Of An Attractive Female Snorkeler

With social listening tools now commonplace, plenty of companies keep track of what people say about them online. What they find, however, is there’s a big gap between tallying brand mentions and deeply understanding what customers (or potential customers) really think and feel.

Most social listening tools can’t make sense of subtlety: They can’t make out complex human interactions, such as expressions of irony or playfulness. They still struggle to interpret still and moving pictures. They can’t keep up with fast-changing abbreviations and memes.Continue Reading

By Brad Young published October 19, 2014

How Merrill Lynch Uses Content Mapping to Reach Affluent Americans


Visualize your brand’s ideal customer – not the numbers but the real person. Now think of how she interacts with your product. Where does it meet her in the real world? What needs does it answer? Does it make her smile or make her smarter?

You want to know enough about the people in your target market to clearly answer these kinds of questions about your relationship with them, and for content marketers, to create successful content mapping.

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By Jonathan Crossfield published October 8, 2014

Are Social Media Content Agencies and Experts Taking You for a Ride?


There are many agencies, consultants, and “experts” living off the perception that social media marketing is a complex science, beyond the ken of mere mortals. Their social media content strategies are driven by as many graphs, metrics, and loosely defined abstract concepts as the client is willing to pay for.

It’s a sleight of hand that creates a lack of genuine accountability. Many clients outsource because they’re convinced they lack the knowledge to manage, let alone measure, their social media content efforts. This leaves the agency to not only drive the strategy, but also to advise on what success or failure looks like. Some even control the tools that measure their own self-serving KPIs, plugging easily achieved numbers into agency-devised equations to calculate (cough) “goals” such as “return on experience” or “brand engagement.”

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By Vanessa DiMauro published October 5, 2014

Why Listening Communities Belong in Your Marketing Strategy

feet-wooden floor-cco logoYour content is well-written and well-produced, engaging, even useful. But is your audience really paying attention? We all know what it’s like when someone won’t stop talking — it’s very hard to stay engaged. Have you tried listening to your audience instead?

Online communities are primordial (pre-web, even) discussion, content-sharing, and collaboration applications. While many brands use online communities for bottom-line-focused activities such as lead generation, others focus on listening, which helps them uncover powerful sources of customer insights, content, and industry credibility — all of which can support their marketing strategyContinue Reading

By Jonathon Colman published September 28, 2014

Why Content Strategists Shouldn’t Lose Sight of Actual People

smiling guy in hat, glasses-cco logoEditor’s Note: At the Content Marketing Institute, we’ve been spending a lot of time lately talking about content strategy — and what we’ve learned is that marketers on the whole have a hard time understanding the discipline, never mind integrating a content strategy approach into their current activities. For that reason, in the February 2015 issue of CCO magazine we’ll be cracking open content strategy and asking experts in the field to describe how it works on the ground.

In the meantime… One of our favorite experts on the subject is Jonathon Colman. Jonathon is not only a content strategist at Facebook, he’s also a blogger and author of the now-infamous Epic List of Content Strategy Resources — for those who want to take a deep dive into the subject.

Rather than ask questions of Jonathon from a pure marketing perspective, we wanted his fellow content strategists to get his thoughts on current issues. Our crack team of content strategists includes Laura Creekmore, Natalya Minkovsky, and Carrie Hane Dennison. Continue Reading

By Roanne Neuwirth published September 21, 2014

Why White Papers Still Matter: Their Role in Effective Content Marketing

pen on reportContrary to headlines in the marketing press, the white paper is not dead. While versions of the concept have proliferated and greatly diluted its potential power, if done right the white paper continues to serve as the basis of highly effective content marketing. The question is, what is the best way to leverage this old marketing workhorse given our plugged-in, multi-channel world?Continue Reading

By Kirk Cheyfitz published September 14, 2014

The Future Is Now: 4 Rules for the Post-Advertising Age

crystal ball with eye-illustrationWith abject apologies to the young Bob Dylan, nobody in adland needs a weatherman to know which way the wind blows these days. It blows toward great content.

Seriously? We’re gonna have another debate about the future of advertising? It’s a little late for that. But there’s still time, I think, for a heart-to-heart about how, and how quickly, we get there. Continue Reading

By Bryan Rhoads published September 11, 2014

7 Ancient Archetypes Your Brand Storytelling Should Use

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She has sat on a cliff-side perch overlooking the Columbia River for millennia, witness to countless seasons, migration of salmon, varying tribes and traders — including the famous passage of Lewis and Clark — and now a modern-day interstate in the distance.

She Who Watches is a pictograph etched into a large stone above the Columbia River Gorge in the state of Washington.

She tells the story of change, living well, building good houses, permanence, and her people’s mythology. She symbolizes a local chief (Tsagiglalal in local Chinookan) who fell prey to the deceitful coyote, which turned her to stone so she could watch over her people forever.Continue Reading

By Sarah Mitchell published September 7, 2014

Brand Storytelling: Turning Casual Fans into Passionate Followers

photo collection-people in striped tightsMany brands build communities and even acquire fans, but precious few turn fandom into cult followers through their marketing strategy. But one notable exception is Black Milk, a quirky Australian fashion brand, which uses brand storytelling to chart the future of retail, social cliques, and the so-called “third shelf.”

The great equalizer in attracting the new fashionista set is content, and no brand understands that better than Black Milk Clothing. The online retailer sells Spandex clothing (primarily tights) and is rapidly expanding to dresses, skirts, and workout gear.  What’s so special about that? Black Milk is revolutionizing how online clothing brands use social channels and consumer-generated content to sell online. And it’s getting bankable attention — without fancy shop windows or big advertising campaigns. In fact, Black Milk has never advertised, never promoted a post, or paid for a “like.”Continue Reading

By Andrew Davis published August 31, 2014

4 Branded Content Lessons From a Content Cancellation

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Editor’s note: In his new column for Chief Content Officer Magazine, Andrew Davis is dishing out content marketing guidance to unsuspecting targets… whether they want it or not. This time, Davis serves up unsolicited advice to video hosting company Wistia, which recently canceled its regularly distributed video series called Top Hat Tuesday Tips. Continue Reading