A lot has been written of late about content marketing, and rightly so - creating online content that inspires and/or entertains and/or educates your target audience is a smart strategy in today's noisy hyper-connected world if done correctly (and with dollops of enthusiasm).
Social media too. Participating on the social web as a genuine (and generous) human being can provide wonderful side benefits for a business 'cos people do business with people whom they know, they like and they trust.
Unfortunately, much of what I read these days about content marketing (and I read heaps) is skewed towards the more technical aspects of producing content and using social media tools. It seems that anything with an acronym in it - SEO, ROI et al - gets the attention of people, yet often the 'secret sauce' is missing.
All important, yes, but I ask: where's the darn passion?
Where's the purity, the humour, the vision, the generosity of spirit? Where are the cool and interesting content-based initiatives that engage people, make them sit up and take notice and get involved?
By all means, get SEOed up to the hilt; ROI yourself 'til you're blue in the face. As I say, all important, but along the way, every now and then try to be a wee bit interesting. (I expanded upon this theory in Leading Company).
Here are a three examples of how being interesting can cut through, get noticed and engage people (well, they caught my eye!):
GARY VAYNERCHUK: VaynerMedia
Gary Vaynerchuk is a hugely successful entrepreneur and best-selling author who has parlayed his growing personal brand into numerous revenue-generating ventures. The foundation of his success is the $60M+ WineLibrary.com business, but he has also in recent years overseen (in partnership with his brother AJ) the tremendous growth of his bi-coastal social media branding agency VaynerMedia.
Vaynerchuk is a renegade who stays true to what he likes to call his 'DNA'; he is passionate about growing relationships and building his ever-growing tribe of fans and followers.
Vaynerchuk recently floated the idea of participating in an interview (podcast, video, blog) every day for 2013. Now, Vaynerchuk is a super busy guy but he still finds time to (thus far) make good on his promise.
TOPRANK ONLINE MARKETING
I like what they did in the run-up to the recent New Media Expo event in Las Vegas (it used to be called BlogWorld - I went to the conference when it was in LA in 2011, it's a must-attend event if you're into blogging, social media and content marketing).
This, from TopRank's blog:
To help our readers get the inside track on the players and insights at this show, TopRank has partnered with BlogWorld’s NMX to bring you aVisual eBook (The New Media Rat Pack: 52 Tips on Content and Community From the Top New Media Experts) filled with tips from 52 of the speakers presenting on topics including: blogging, branding, content marketing, social media, podcasting, and video.
You've got to get your hands on this bad boy - it's extremely value-packed and free, delivered with context in terms of the Vegas event. In short, it's interesting and fun and informative. DOWNLOAD HERE.
GRETCHEN RUBIN: The Happiness Project
The initiative was a way to engage people around the themes discussed in Gretchen's new book, Happier At Home.
Every morning for three weeks, participants received an email from Gretchen with a resolution for them to try at home, "as a way to strengthen your bonds with others".
Gretchen says on her website: "In just twenty-one days, you really can take many small steps – without spending much time, energy, or money–to deepen your relationships."
In addition to the emails, Gretchen posted on her blog daily so participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with others doing the challenge.
CONTENT - CONTENT - CONTENT!
Also, interesting. And engaging and highly participatory from the public's perspective. An ideal 'spark' for generating word-of-mouth buzz!
WHAT THINGS CAN YOUR BRAND DO TO STAND OUT AND GET PEOPLE INVOLVED AND ENGAGED?