2011 saw a huge expansion in the awareness and practice of content marketing. 2012 will show more refinements to the system that has proven so effective.
As most of our readers know, we’re huge fans of content marketing. Like many other industries, accounting firms can achieve great strides in brand messaging and loyalty through effective use of words. A recent article by Pawan Deshpande takes a look at the newest trends in four areas of the content marketing space and makes a few predictions for marketers’ behavior in 2012.
Message. The new trend is to incorporate a firm’s brand messaging into the larger context of industry niche news and best practices. This ties into curating information, another important aspect of content marketing. Out is the old habit of offering marketing materials thinly disguised as content. Firms that offer good information and link to articles of real value are the ones who garner the most respect and the largest number of followers. Readers don’t want a constant stream of self-promotion – they want news they can use.
Content channels. Both readers and marketers continue to rely less on standard information channels like RSS feeds and dedicated news sites for their updates. Instead, they’re turning to Twitter and other social media sites that offer content from a variety of sources. This drives the behavior of marketers along with the users, as each responds to the opportunities found there. Deshpande goes so far as to predict the appearance of a popular new social media vehicle (the next Twitter, perhaps?), a novel physical medium (think of how drastically the tablets and smartphones reshaped behavior) and a new content-sharing mechanism (a post-infographic tool) in 2012. It will be very interesting to see these emerge, if indeed he is right.
Curated content. Offering readers the best and most relevant news means that your firm will often share articles and information from other sources, and even from your competition. This can help establish trust and respect for your brand, and further the reputation you and your firm are building as thought leaders. What’s passé is using content without properly linking to the source. This amounts to stealing content that you’re repurposing, and we all know from kindergarten that stealing is bad. Besides the ethical concerns, it costs the firms who still do it the goodwill that comes from putting their readers’ needs first by honestly sharing what they can use, even if it’s from the other team. People do notice and make judgments about your overall ethics based on this behavior.
SEO. Search engines take social media results into consideration, so it’s to your firm’s advantage to share content there as well as on your website. Keywords matter on social media sites for search optimization, just as they do everywhere else. Even so, smart firms are easing the focus on strict keyword conformity with their content. With rigid limits and excessive repetition of keywords, you run the risk of being viewed as a sneaky marketer, and a poor writer. Even worse, readers will wander away in search of more varied and useful content. Keep it interesting by including a variety of meaningful content, that’s not too search-word focused.
Content marketing is here to stay, and ever evolving, with obvious benefits to accounting marketers as well as the readers who rely on it to bring them tasty tidbits of news and entertainment. This phenomenon is one your accounting firm should take into account as you’re thinking of the best ways to expand your reach. You just might have some fun along the way, too.