- Our Blog
Social media—once a competitive, dynamic space—has gotten predictable. Facebook added a hundred million users in a quarter? What else is new? Facebook is in trouble for failing to stop fake news, extremist messages, and child pornography? Par for the course. Facebook shamelessly copied another Snapchat feature? Yawn. It’s all been going on for years.
At the start of 2017, I made the shift from ad tech to martech. In the last decade, I had helped build and steward the brands of two successful ad tech firms recognized for their innovation and amazing cultures, but it was increasingly difficult to ignore the headwinds facing the old media model. The consumers had spoken, and they didn’t want interruptive advertising experiences anymore.
I lead a double life, but there’s a secret weapon that lets me get away with it. At Contently, I’m both our director of content strategy—which means I oversee strategy work we do for hundreds of clients—and also the editor-in-chief of our internal publications, The Content Strategist, The Freelancer, and Contently Quarterly. I love both lives, and I stubbornly refuse to give either up.
A few years ago, a pale woman with crazy eyebrows and a keytar strapped to her back shot a home video. Standing on a street corner in Melbourne, Australia, at dusk, she wore a kimono and held up Sharpied signs. One by one, the signs ﬂipped. They explained that the woman had spent the past four years writing songs. She was a musician.
Tell someone to write a poem, and chances are they’ll freeze up. Tell someone to write a haiku, however, and we bet they’ll bang one out in less than 10 minutes. The reason: Constraints unleash our creativity. But how can you translate that to the complex world of content marketing? The diagram below will help you do just that. The Story Funnel-Matrix The funnel-matrix has two dimensions.
We would have never gotten Star Wars if the Modesto, California, police weren’t so good at their job. Or if George Lucas wasn’t such a reckless driver. Before he became a filmmaker and the beloved creator of Star Wars, Lucas wanted to be a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. But they wouldn’t let him in because he had too many speeding tickets. His backup plan was film school.
I was a wide-eyed, frizzy-haired 25-year-old when I first got the offer of a lifetime: to be in charge of content for a small tech company called Contently. When I asked my new boss for direction, he pointed to the freshly painted mural on the office wall. It read: “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” “Just do your thing,” he said. “Tell awesome stories.
A few years ago, researchers at Johns Hopkins University examined Super Bowl ads to see who was getting the best bang for their buck. A Super Bowl ad on CBS costs $166,666 per second. That’s $10 million per minute. The Super Bowl is one of the few occasions when TV audiences are actually happy to watch the commercials.
Last January, Uber declined to participate in an organized taxi strike amidst the immigration ban protests at JFK airport. In fact, the company even turned off surge pricing to and from the airport. But instead of leading to a quick boom in business, the move upset consumers. In a matter of days, Uber lost 200,000 customers, and people were boycotting the brand on Twitter with #DeleteUber.
Contently cofounder Shane Snow has been called a lot of things in the press: “maverick,” “wunderkind,” “insanely addicting.” According to these people, he’s apparently the love child of John McCain, Mark Zuckerberg, and a bag of Doritos. But I’ll let you in on a secret: He’s actually just a huge geek.
I recently interviewed two leaders who have each influenced hundreds of millions of people. Over the course of two days, I spoke to Evernote CEO and former Google[x] executive Chris O’Neill, and General Stanley McChrystal, founder of McChrystal Group and the commander of U.S. Forces in the Middle East under Bush and Obama. O’Neill and McChrystal are known for getting the best out of people.
My parents have no idea how to define content marketing. They could tell you what I do on a daily basis (write, edit, brainstorm, crunch data, send infinite emails), but the industry itself is a mystery. Same goes for my friends, who still have to ask what Contently does every time I see them even though I’ve been here for four years.
The other day, I was struck by a quote I read in a blog post about vulnerability from author and Wharton professor Adam Grant: “Good communicators make themselves look smart. Great communicators make their audiences feel smart.” Grant’s words reminded me of the time I discovered, to my horror, that I write at an 8th grade reading level.
When someone tells you they need time to figure out who they are, bad news is on the way. That’s just as true in business as it is in romance. Identities are important because they help us set expectations. When there aren’t any consistent expectations, relationships end. Snapchat is not normally a place for heartbreak, but given its current identity crisis, it could be headed ...
Whenever Facebook tweaks its algorithm and decreases the reach of news stories, publishers usually treat it like a lover’s quarrel. But according to a Digiday report, Facebook has been sending each publisher the “We need to talk” text, warning them of the most apocalyptic algorithm change yet. If you think that’s hyperbolic, well… just look at Digiday’s homepage right now.
Late last year, I wrote an article for Vice News about whether humans can fall in love with artificial intelligence. Spoiler alert: We can. Normally, I’d link you to the webpage so you can read it to learn more, but in this case, I can’t. The article only appeared on Snapchat Discover, the daily magazine-like spread of stories meant to pique the interest of younger readers.
I want to tell you about the last time I cried. A few months ago, inside a little laboratory in Claremont, California, I was hooked up to a machine that measures your brain activity from an armband. The lab belonged to a neuroscientist named Dr. Paul Zak, and the brain machine is called the INBand, a new device that looks like an Apple Watch and goes on that part of your arm w ...
Content marketing is in a crisis. Once you sign up for a few brand newsletters, you get pounded with the same generic how-to articles. How to Use Social Media to Boost Your Small Business. How to Make Your Team More Productive. How to Save Money for Your Kid’s Future. And, most ironically, How to Deal With Email Overload.
Content marketing industry news and analysis, by Contently