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Picks of the Week: Sept. 25 - Oct. 1

Today, we share insight on: a strategic approach to content marketing, social technographics updates from Forrester, an SEO guide for beginners, Google's new URL shortener, and the future of media with a look at several online models.

Content Marketing

How to Develop the Strategic Pillars to Hold up Your Content Strategy 

This is an excellent article in which Chris Mortiz outlines a specific, strategic approach to content marketing. Chris argues that after completing the discovery phase (determining what information you have and who you’re trying to reach), there is another crucial element before diving into tactics — determining your strategic pillars. This is done in several stages:

  • Identify and prioritize your business goals.
  • Clearly understand the needs of your buyer personas, including their carriers to purchase, “ah-ha” moments that make them buy, and what questions they ask your sales team.
  • Back up the knowledge about your personas with research and analytic data.
  • Plot our your pillars based on the needs of your audiences. For example: “In the case of ‘they need reinforcement from peers before they’ll buy’ you could summarize the pillar as ‘Social Proof.’” From here, you can determine the best types of content to help you make the case for each pillar.

At the end of the process, you'll have developed a handy content-pillar diagram that can help you and your team visualize how to best approach content marketing tactics. See Chris’ full post for details, and stay tuned for part two, in which he’ll discuss how to prioritize your pillars, determine the appropriate buyer personas for each and make your existing content work to your advantage.

Content Marketing & Social Media

Forrester: Social Networking Adoption Charges Ahead, Growth of Other Social Behaviors Slowing

Forrester Research released A Global Update of Social Technographics, a method for categorizing different types of Internet users as Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators and Inactives. The report included data from more than 275,000 consumers in America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

The results may surprise you: though the number of people who consume and share information online has increased in all markets, none showed growth in the number of individuals who create social content.

According to consumer insights analyst Jacqueline Anderson, this information is somewhat disturbing: “a lack of growth in social creation translates into a lack of fresh ideas, content, and perspectives.”

Though I haven’t yet read the full report, I’d be interested to see what is classified as “content” in the study. With more people on social networks, they have to be sharing something. In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a consumer-based study; I would venture to guess that a similar look from a business perspective may show different results.

New Stuff From Google

SEO Starter Guide Updated 

Google refreshed its two-year old SEO Starter Guide, complete with more information and examples. If you’re new to SEO, or need a solid refresher, check out Google’s guide, covering:

  • SEO Basics
  • Improving Site Structure
  • Optimizing Content
  • Dealing with Crawlers
  • SEO for Mobile Phones
  • Promotions and Analysis

Goo.gl URL Shortener

Google released its URL shortener, Goo.gl, this week, and Matt Cutts shared a helpful Q&A about it on his blog. The biggest takeaways for marketers, in my opinion, are:

  • This shortener was developed to “do things the right way (e.g. 301/permanent redirects), and… be fast, stable, and secure.”
  • My shortening URLs through your Google account, you can then login and view analytics data for any URLs you share.

For more details, see Danny Sullivan’s take on Goog.gl and how it compares it to the already widely adopted Bit.ly. Key findings:

  • Though analytics from Goo.gl and Bit.ly are similar, Google’s is presented more cleanly. Google offers the ability to see data from the past day only, but Bit.ly lets you see specific conversations. So, depending on what’s more important to you, one of these data points may help you decide which to use.
  • Goo.gl does not offer the ability to customize short URLs, a feature that many like about Bit.ly.

Danny also discusses Goo.gl's differences with Twitter’s URL-shortening option, which he explains is actually a URL “wrapper,” not a shortener.

So, should you use Goo.gl? Why not? Give it a shot, and see what you prefer. My only hesitation is that it isn’t yet integrated with the Twitter applications I use, which can so handily shrink links via Bit.ly — even using your account, if you provide the API Key.  

Media

At an Advertising Week panel discussion on the evolution of digital media, Dan Abrams, founder of new aggregation company Mediaite, said that the company will launch three new sites and turn a profit by early 2011.

In support of his curation-style journalism model, Abrams stated, “If you're doing good content and you've got devoted communities of people coming to your site, you're not only going to be successful, but profitable.”

In rebuttal, NPR’s “On the Media” host Bob Garfield said that Mediaite’s model is not journalism. He stated: “If three-paragraph distillations of other people's writing is your idea of content, god bless you. Then everyone's gonna do well and eight professionals will be doing real journalism while there's still a little cash in the pipeline. That's not quality content. Quality content is content that matters, not what most entertains; not the juiciest tidbit about Justin Bieber."

Though Garfield admits he has a rather old-school view of journalism and reporting, he works for a fairly forward-thinking media powerhouse that has found success online. It just goes to show that the future of journalism is still unclear, and it will likely take creativity, and trial and error, to see what works for different kinds of content.

Apparently though, TechCrunch has been doing it right, as it was acquired by AOL earlier this week.

Adding TechCrunch to the mix is the latest move by AOL in its effort to become the global leader in sourcing, creating, producing and delivering high-quality, trusted, original content to consumers. However, don’t worry too much about TechCrunch losing its quality and focus, as both companies promise that AOL "doesn't want whatever makes TechCrunch special to go away.

That being said, this is one more step toward what could become a pretty big deal. If you've ever read The Fountainhead, you have some idea how powerful a single news outlet can be. With AOL continuing to increase its hold of digital news assets, I can't help but think: What would online news look like if AOL owned it all?

What were your favorite articles of the week? Comments are open for your opinions.

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