Call It "Brands That Share"™

by Nancy Rathbun Scott

The AMA sponsored a webcast featuring Chris Brogan,president of New Marketing Labs, and Pawan Deshpande, CEO of HiveFire.

Content Curation Is The Secret To Becoming A Thought Leader, the webcast shed light on an evolving and still fluid conversation about content marketing and content curation.

Before I present the outline of Chris and Pawan’s comments, here’s an important point. This webcast and a host of blog posts and books over the last couple of years – the number of which is growing rapidly – are exposing a new marketing initiative that will evolve into “Brands That Share.”™ I believe businesses large and small will move to distinguish themselves from competitors by shifting from “Brands That Promise” [traditional marketing] to “Brands That Share" [evolved marketing].

Here’s what Chris and Pawan had to say about the role of content in establishing “thought-leadership” and becoming Brands That Share®.

What Is the Role of 
Thought Leadership?
• influencing a SPECIFIC audience
• talking about information both INSIDE and OUTSIDE your own company. Note: If you’re only talking, you’re 
not a thought leader. You must also understand what are others saying.

What Are the Five Stages of the “Thought Leadership Cycle”?

• Topic identification and positioning - follow the topic in general - bring in 3rd party case studies and research to bear - develop your own content, either original or extrapolated or triangulated from others’ content (for example, this blog post) - communicate outwards about other organizations and what they are doing right
• Research – see what others are saying
• Production – producing original content (blogging, video, social media, etc.)
• Repurposing – organizing and structuring content, repurposing 3rd party content as well
• Distribution – delivering the information through appropriate channels

The Evolving Role of Content Marketing

• Marketers are struggling with providing content. They are called upon to publish white papers, blog posts, enewsletters, website content, etc. As technology evolves, marketers need to be on even 
more channels. Thus, the explosion of content marketing.
• Vicious cycle: more and more content demand, more and more time and resources committed to content development, more and more content created, more and more competition, more and more content created to meet more and more content demand ... etc.
• Information consumers have too many choices, so 
trust becomes a key factor in choosing content. For example, consumers go to Google for information because they trust that Google will produce the top 10 choices in their query. Consumers also trust Word of Mouth (in particular, a friend), so they also have begun to shift to the social channels for finding information.
• Consumers put trust in 
various channels, depending on the need: (Google for empirical information; The New York Times, for example, as an established, reliable source; social media for the “inside scoop.”
• Trust Development: Find the good stuff where it lies and share it, even if it’s competitors’ information.

The Blog Is Fundamental To A Thought-Leadership Strategy

• Do you have a blog? This is how webcast participants responded to that query (a “real time” survey):
-16% yes, and I’m happy with it
-30% yes, but not happy with it (amazing; 3 in 10 are not happy with their blog!) -35% no, but are considering -18% no, don’t know where to start
• 70 million blogs had already been tracked by technorati in 2007; the blogosphere is adding 120,000 blogs per day

How do you measure corporate blog performance? It depends.

• Brogan: Do not measure by the number of comments, or the number of hits or views. Rather, how many of your next-action steps have been taken? (e.g., how many ebooks have been ordered, how many items downloaded, etc.)
• Deshpande: the number of views is irrelevant; only “next-action” counts. Also, lead generation may not be your goal. Verne Global [see case in point, below] doesn’t even have a lead capture system; their goal is being in front of their audience every day (credibility and influence).

What Does 
Content Curation Involve? 
• Creates “actionable” content through aggregating and gathering (curation) plus distilling • Pulls sources from inside and outside the vertical market • Boiling down and sharing thoughts • More than a news resource, curators provide an original, innovative perspective around issues • Curators become a trusted, go-to source • You create a community to which people come to meet other people. Curating content is a great way to build a roster of content that will attract people.

Content Curation As A Thought-Leadership Strategy

Cases in Point:
Huffington Post and Arianna Huffington: thought leadership as a content curator, sharing insights and her own perspectives, publishing her own original content, also sharing different points of view
• Verne Global: How does “expertise” relate to an increases in business? This company established themselves as a thought-leader in a specific green space.
• They set up a site called “
green data center news” - original blog content - pulling in outside resources, too
• They receive queries and also "inbound PR" (that is, interest from major media outlets for opinion and industry thought leadership.
• They have experienced growth in lead generation and customer interest.
• They have saved $100,000 in traditional marketing expertise.

Questions To Ask About Your Role As A Content Marketer

1. Is your brand or industry focused on a particular issue and does your company have an innovative perspective on this?
2. Do your prospects already conduct extensive research in order to perform?
3. Do you already monitor a variety of sources?
4. How does this activity tie into your marketing plan
5. How might I do content curation with limited staff?
Deshpande: It's time consuming, but with automation it can be done -- automatic identification, organization, sharing of content.
• Brogan: Sometimes it can be done by hand, using Google reader, but you must bring it all in; headlines become very important here for sorting. Note: Chris subscribes to 700 blogs.
• Brogan: It's a dedicated process. For me, it's a two-way street with one-hour of connecting with people to develop traction and acceptance; it's also a half-hour every day to create my own material.
6. What are the legal considerations in curating content?
• Curate content but never pirate contact • Attribute sources
7. How Might B2B marketers deal with content curation?
• The buy-in process is different for B2B. With B2B, you need to connect with and convince multiple people in a single customer-setting, so you need more content, more variety of content, more reasons, more data, etc. • The B2B process is more complex so all the touchpoints need to be addressed, which makes curation a natural fit.