6 Content and Social Media Leaders Speak Out

One of the best ways to find out where a movement is headed is to talk to the people working on its leading edge. Branding Magazine reached out to several authors, consultants, agency leaders and big-brand social/content directors with four key questions:

  1. Do you see content marketing becoming more or less central to
    marketing a brand?
  2. What are the main opportunities you see in content?
  3. What are the main challenges or obstacles?
  4. What notable brands do you think are doing a good job leveraging content?

The full interview and complete answers will appear in the soon-to-be-published Branding Magazine premium edition Content Marketing: Trend or Turning Point. ( NOW AVAILABLE: Get the Content Marketing Issue ) The following gives just a taste of the commentary and forward-looking insights:

Six authors, agency leaders and brand marketers discuss the future of content marketing
L-R: Rick Wion, Mark Schaefer, Ann Handley, Doug Kessler, Lou Hoffman, Michael Brito

Do you see content marketing becoming more or less central to
 marketing a brand?

Rick Wion, Director of Social Media at McDonald’s:Content has always been essential for good brand marketing but it is more important than ever because good content will help for stronger bonds with your consumers and in the best cases give them a ready-made and highly sharable way to be brand ambassadors. As an example of how content is becoming so central to branding and marketing, at creative reviews at McDonald’s one of the measuring screens we use is sharability. We ask ourselves, “Is this creative something that that I would share with my friends?”

Mark Schaefer, CEO of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and author of The Tao of Twitter, ROI: Return on Influence   and You Were Born to Blog: “I don’t think there is any question content has to play a bigger role in marketing if for no other reason than consumers are spending less time with traditional  forms of media and advertising. People are sick of ads, sick of being sold to. But they will spend time with a good story from somebody who is trying to authentically help them.”

What are the main opportunities you see in content?

Ann Handley, Content Director of MarketingProfs, and co-author of Content Rules: “The key opportunity is the ability to communicate directly with your customers by owning the media, versus begging for attention or buying it. The key to success is to not squander that opportunity with terrible corporate-centric content, but instead to solve problems for your customers, or share resources with them.”

What are the main challeges or obstacles?

Doug Kessler,
Co-Founder and Creative Director of UK-based B2B content marketing agency Velocity Partners: “The biggest challenge is that everybody is now generating lots and lots of content. So it’s harder and harder to make yours stand out and grab an audience. We did a slideshare on this called “Crap: Why the Biggest Threat To Content Marketing Is Content Marketing” and I still think that’s the biggest challenge for us all. (Editors note: Kessler just put out an excellent, related presentation “The Future of Content Marketing: Five Beyonds.”)

Michael Brito, SVP of Social Business Strategy at Edelman Digital and author of Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in Your Organization”:  “Content marketing can be done in a silo. Any marketing manager can hire an agency to create an ad or a video.  This lack of collaboration is causing brands to create disjointed content and engage in community management without have a solid vision.”

What notable brands do you think are doing a good job leveraging content?

Lou Hoffman, CEO of the global Hoffman Agency, which leverages PR, social media and owned media. “I think the brands doing a good job tend to be the ones willing to try new things.  Even though it’s been around for some time, I consider Open Forum from American Express a trend setter. Very savvy to identify a void in the market and target small biz with the platform. They took the concept of corporate publishing to a new level.

I also like what Johnson and Johnson is doing, particularly the sponsorship of a channel on Huffington Post targeting moms. It blends paid, owned and earned media. They’re proving that if you deliver useful content, most people don’t care where it originates.

Content Answers Your Organization Needs
Each of the experts above gives further insights into the promises and pitfalls of content as we examine this growing discipline in the upcoming premium issue Content Marketing: Trend or Turning Point?  (Get Your Content Marketing Issue Copy) or Subscribe to Branding Magazine

How would you answer each of the questions above? Please leave us your comments below.