Content Connects People With Products

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Customers as Part of the Content Marketing Team

Of course, some of the most compelling product-related content out there today is created by customers themselves. The Facebook page 100% Pure New Zealand, which is hosted by Tourism New Zealand, is a testament to the art of inviting users to contribute, posting questions such as "The Coolest Thing I have done in New Zealand is ..." for which it received 750 responses. It also held a "Your Big Break" contest for young filmmakers, inviting them to submit their take on the country in 3 minutes or less; the winning entry by Argentinean Andrés Borghi was chosen by Kiwi director Peter Jackson and has been viewed more than 75,000 times on YouTube.

Adam L. Penenberg, journalist and author of Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves, says to be sure that you've got what he calls "a really defensible product." If your product or customer care needs improvement, you'll hear about it from customers a lot faster, thanks to the web. "Social media really raises the bar on service for companies," Penenberg says, "because bad news travels a lot faster."

Penenberg cites the example of General Motor's 2007 campaign for its Chevrolet Tahoe SUV. Inviting customers to make their own ad for the vehicle, they failed to anticipate the backlash from environmentalists who took the opportunity to post slick ads that accused Tahoe drivers of tailgating, hating Mother Earth, and getting bad gas mileage. "These days, companies need good products and service plus [they must] provide engaging, entertaining content to customers," he says.

Hitting a Moving Target: Going Mobile with Content Marketing

One of the biggest challenges facing marketers in 2010 is mobility-delivering high-quality marketing content in a world where a reader may be at a desktop computer, a smartphone, an iPad or netbook, or on a third-party website. It's particularly true outside the U.S. Pulizzi points out, "In Asia they're bypassing the PC and going straight to mobile delivery for a lot of content." In February 2010 the International Telecommunication Union released a study that showed that in developing countries, the rate of mobile phone subscriptions passed the halfway mark to reach an estimated 57% in 2009-more than double what it was in 2005.

However, as HubSpot's Volpe says, "It's bigger than just mobility; it's about content portability. Companies just can't expect content to be consumed on their own website; better to embrace the notion that it will show up everywhere." As in HubSpot's case: The company learned from customers that TiVo was indexing its podcasts, so now listeners can hear HubSpot podcasts through their televisions if they choose.

Content is becoming an increasingly important tactic for connecting customers to products; the question is whether marketers are willing to give up enough control over who's creating it and where it's being consumed to allow it to flourish.

Featured Sites

Dorling Kindersley Books sales video -
HubSpot -
IBM Social Computing Guidelines - zz/en/guidelines.html
Johnson & Johnson blog, JNJ BTW -
Junta42 -
McNeil Pediatrics Facebook -!/ADHDMoms?ref=ts
Adam L. Penenberg -
Joe Pulizzi -
David Meerman Scott -
Tourism New Zealand’s 100% Pure New Zealand Facebook page -!/NewZealand?ref=ts

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