SEO and Content Relationship Status Update: “It’s Complicated”?

Voting’s open for your favorite proposed SXSW panels for 2013. SXSW is probably the most exciting of the annual conference/festivals that cross technology, media and art. (Wait, the only?)

SXSW divides its events between labels of education, film, music and interactive. It’s in this last designation where we marketers can raise our work into the realm of art! Or at least have heady discourse about developing communication styles and the evolving role of brands in popular culture.

Comments and voting are open for next year’s panel topics. Among the panels proposed, there’s a standout for a content focused marketer like myself: Brands as Publishers: Defining Church and State. This discussion seeks to gauge the tolerance for brand communications in this age of transparency, scrutiny and amplified voice.

Brands As Publishers: What Consumers Expect

Young Man Yelling Through MegaphoneSocial media is often touted as a revolutionary communication channel. The Internet presented the first time conversations became multi-directional, with consumers speaking to brands and to each other with unprecedented ease. But regular users’ tolerance for marketing on social channels quickly clamped down. As anyone in content marketing will tell you, brands today have to earn their spot in the Twitter stream and Facebook feed.

To that end, we’ve heard a million times that content must provide value in order to meet users’ high standards for inviting a brand into their personal space.

Advice so deceptively simple it’s practically worthless. :P

That’s probably why the questions slated to be answered during this SXSW session are worth second look; giving thought to your brand’s response to these questions will help you form actionable strategies for brand communications on the interactive Web.

They are:

1. How does a brand maintain authenticity in a publishing program?
2. What is the role of a blogger in the world of content marketing?
3. Do audiences who read branded content know that it is driven by brand goals? Do they care?
4. What does success look like for a brand?
5. Do brands need traditional editorial supervision in order to achieve success?

Brands As Publishers: What’s Going On Now

The findings of SEOmoz’s annual SEO Industry Survey reveal what businesses are emphasizing in their online marketing efforts today. A CopyPress analysis of the results underscores a misalignment of priorities. If cultivating conversation holds the most potential for brands, then why are we spending so much time elsewhere? Dave Snyder writes:

“The question I have to ask on both fronts is, “what are you doing for your SEO and Social Media offering if it doesn’t involve content?” I totally understand the specialty that is SEO in terms of technical work, however that is not the bulk of the work that SEOs do on a day-to-day basis. After your site’s architecture and crawlability is strategically cemented, it is time to focus on the sustainable act of content creation and link acquisition.

The same goes for Social Media Marketing; regardless of the platform, the cores of social media are engagement and content. Social media can be utilized by marketers to engage in conversations with their customers, however it’s the content itself that helps guide these conversations.”

As many content marketing professionals would point out, conversational or content marketing is not a new discipline. Conversational marketing has been here all along and can be seen in business philosophies like “the customer is always right”, promoting positive interactions with customers. The difference now is that the microphones are louder and everyone is taking part in the conversation. Are you listening? And what are you really saying on your side of the convo?

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

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