If you're a blogger, content marketing is a term you've heard quite a few times before. In fact, we all have. Brilliant marketing sources like Moz, HubSpot, and others have mentioned content marketing countless times - not just because it's the hottest buzz word of the moment, but because it matters. Content marketing has always mattered - but we didn't always have a label for it.
If you were to search for a definition of content marketing, you'd find a few, but some of the common threads that reappear are:
Creation: Unique content is part of what makes a good website and it's also something that sets you apart. Instead of recycling content from other sources (e.g. ecommerce stores using duplicate manufacturer's descriptions), you're making something new and with that comes an opportunity to really create something so much bigger than traffic: an honest to goodness brand. You have the potential year to make something with personality and flair - something that gets you remembered.
Value: This is the most important part of content marketing and it's what we want - no, EXPECT - from every website. We expect to find what we're looking for and then some. At any given moment, there are countless sites that connect to the same subject. Offering value is what makes yours worth visiting.
Sharing: Content marketing is different from other forms of marketing because of its ability to be shared. It's shared freely with the world and in turn, others may share it. You build an audience with this step and that's a critical part to succeeding online - in blogging, in business, and in everything in between. The success of the web (and social media, marketing, and scores of other subjects) is dependent on building tribes of passionate people who believe in what you do or share a common link.
Since the start of the interwebz (and not just the areas with cats), content marketing has been at its core. The internet is inherently designed to offer value and information. When we do this well, audiences reward us with traffic, loyalty, and in the case of business, revenue.
So, here's the big question: if you're a blogger, does that mean you're a content marketer also?
I'll leave the answer up to you, as you should be the one to define your place in the marketing world, but rather than this question, you should be asking yourself:
"Am I creating unique and valuable content and sharing it with my readers?"
If the answer is "yes", then you're doing something RIGHT - yes, we can call it content marketing, but it's so much bigger than that. There's a heck of a lot of garbage out there and breaking away from what's easy to make something valuable is so much more worthwhile.
Remember that blogs aren't the only channel in which you can do this. Content marketing can be blogs, infographics, resource centers, e-books, and your website as a whole. It's everything. It's a lot bigger than just a blog, so when you're thinking about content marketing and how it connects back to your brand or business, remember that you have more than just one thing to look after. Consistency, ongoing creation, and the challenge of continuously offering value ties back into this - and I sincerely hope you're up for that challenge because you, and the web, deserve more than just another quick and dirty marketing tool.
My advice? Create content that connects people and offers value, and then find ways to share it and continue the conversation. That's what's really important. You have to get this right before you can start hammering on the metrics.
Content marketing is more than what I can cover in just one blog post, but if you're interested in learning more about it, how it ties into your blog, and ways that you can use this strategy effectively, here are a few resources on the subject. Study up at your leisure:
I'll put the biggest questions that have been buzzing around in your brain since starting to read this post out there: do you feel that blogging is content marketing? Does it need to be a specific kind of blogging to be content marketing? What, in your mind, constitutes value?
Mandy Boyle is the Director of Internet Marketing at Net Driven. She is also a published freelance writer and co-founder of NEPA BlogCon. She enjoys theater, not taking herself seriously, and adventurous eating.