Social Media Was About Content Marketing All Along
Before we talk content marketing and social media, let’s talk about The Wizard of Oz. Depending on your interpretation of the 1939 film, you could argue that Dorothy never left Kansas. The qualities that she and her companions discovered (courage, smarts, and heart) were there all along, and the clever casting of actors in multiple roles strongly suggested that the journey down the Yellow Brick Road happened in Dorothy’s mind.
Even that interpretation could be taken a couple different ways. Maybe it’s depressing that we never actually leave Kansas and that Oz doesn’t exist. Or, it’s magical and eye-opening to discover our hidden potential.
While you ponder that, I’m going to suggest that a couple major phases in the history of the web—namely Web 2.0 and social media—have been about content marketing all along.
Web 2.0: The User Generated City
If Web 1.0 was us looking at websites built by brands or individuals, clicking, consuming, and leaving, Web 2.0 made us all into builders, and content into the building blocks.
You probably heard the phrase “user generated content” pretty often, and the point is that content was the draw. Blogs and websites that made it easy for users to create content and consume content created by other users flourished, and made the web feel more interactive.
Social Media: A Magical Quest Is Better With Friends
Social media evolved from the user-generated web, building networks around shared interests, geography, and ideas. You could connect with others around content, by consuming, sharing, and commenting on content other people created.
Content remained at the core of interaction, but new modes of communication enabled various roles to develop around content—including content curation.
Follow the Content Brick Road
If you started a blog for your organization, or shared photos on Flickr, or launched a Facebook fan page, you’ve been doing content marketing for a long time.
While you now know that content marketing isn’t entirely new, what has changed is an increased level of sophistication, and growing emphasis on metrics and ROI. That sophistication has given rise to all kinds of platforms for creating, publishing, distributing, aggregating, curating, and measuring content effectiveness.
What Does It All Mean, Exactly?
It’s easy to shrug and say that yes, there more things change, the more they stay the same, but the key idea here is that sometimes things that seem like stand-alone fads might actually be part of a larger trend. Content marketing might be maturing as a discipline, but even if it is coming of age, it’s important to recognize that it has some longevity already, and is not going anywhere.
This should be some vindication to marketers who hope to get more investment in their content marketing efforts, recognition of their skill sets, or the emerald green light to finally launch an official content marketing program. Does that make the content marketing journey less exciting or rewarding? Hey, even if we never did leave Kansas, we sure feel smarter, braver, and, you know...
Karo was born in Poland, and learned to speak English by watching "Saved by the Bell" reruns during her first summer in the U.S., which has left her unable to go through life without occasionally breaking the fourth wall. As Percussion's content marketing manager, she oversees and creates content that drives website traffic, engages followers, and helps fill the marketing and sales funnel. She writes about content management, content marketing, SEO, social media and web design, and how to make it all less complicated.