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The 3 Cs of Content Marketing

  |  March 27, 2013   |  Comments

Brands and publishers must work together to evolve the content marketing landscape.

Successful content marketing programs hinge on the 3 Cs - content, context, and communication. When these techniques are applied correctly, everyone wins: publishers engage their audiences through high-quality content, and marketers leverage this symbiotic relationship to deliver transparent brand messages that convert readers into real consumers. When any one of these three Cs isn't adhered to, readers are quick to ring the alarm - perhaps the best recent example is the debacle that ensued from the Church of Scientology's sponsored post in The Atlantic. As content grows as a marketing "must-have," here's a quick rundown of what the three Cs mean to both publishers and brands:

  1. Content. When readers consume quality content, they engage with it - and ultimately share it - because it provides value to their social networks. When publishers view sponsored content as a natural extension of their editorial calendars (and marketers respect the need for authenticity), audiences are more inclined to share what they see. Readers flock to the Oh Joy! blog for beautiful lifestyle content rooted in author Joy Cho's unique perspective. This post incorporates a branded message while staying true to the editorial style and imagery Cho is known for.
  2. Context. Successful content marketing campaigns put a brand's message in the right place at the right time. (You wouldn't expect to see a post on leather handbags on your favorite vegan food blog, would you?) Content marketing has to be an invited guest or it will stick out like a sore thumb. Devour readers come to the site to engage with and consume the latest and greatest viral videos. It makes perfect sense for a cool sponsored video (like this one produced by Cadillac) to be showcased on the site.
  3. Communication. Savvy readers can smell inauthenticity a mile away. Publishers should always be upfront and disclose the origin or motivations for sponsored content. Such transparency sets an audience up for a successful reading experience and makes them feel more comfortable with a brand providing that content and experience. This post from Little Green Notebook details the author's history with the sponsoring brand and encourages dialogue from readers who share in her affinity.

When high-quality content and appropriate context are missing from the equation, readers feel violated by both the publisher and marketer, breaking down the entire publisher-marketer-audience ecosytem. Paying attention to the three Cs keeps everyone happy as brands and publishers work together to evolve the content marketing landscape.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laney Whitcanack

Laney Whitcanack is Federated Media Publishing's chief community officer. Prior to joining FM, Laney co-founded BigTent in 2006 and focused on innovating online and offline ways to connect people with communities they care about. She spent the decade previous to BigTent coaching and training hundreds of community leaders, in the U.S. and Mexico, most recently as the director of community programs for the Coro Center for Civic Leadership.

A published author and speaker on entrepreneurship and community organizing, Laney received the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2008. She is currently a board member of Zeum: San Francisco's Children's Museum and The Princess Project and is involved in even more community groups after the birth of her daughter, Campbell, last year. Laney has a B.A. from UCLA, and MBA from the Simmons School of Management, and an Ed.M from Harvard University.

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