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Book Review: Content Rules [Ann Handley & CC Chapman]

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Book Review: Content Rules [Ann Handley & CC Chapman]

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CONTENT RULES has a pretty long-winded tagline, but it’s an apt one:

How to create killer blogs, podcasts, videos, ebooks, webinars (and more) that engage customers and ignite your business.

Kinda says it all really!

Social media today is all-pervasive but unfortunately many marketers still get hung up on the technology – they look at Facebook and Twitter and all they see are new channels to push their brand message. Of course this is folly as many brands are starting to discover, much to their chagrin.

It’s not the technology but what you do with it that’s key, and that’s where content comes to the fore.

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘content marketing’. It’s emerged along with the growth of social media (you could say it is fast becoming a buzz phrase); importantly, there are plenty of brilliant examples of progressive brands eschewing advertising and instead creating interesting and relevant content to gain the interest of customers.

While social media isn’t just about content, it does form the backbone of what a brand should be doing with its social web communications.

We live in a world where marketing is moving from carpet-bombing consumers with unwanted messages to interacting with people, giving them things to talk about, content to share with their friends and followers, as well as telling stories that inform, educate, entertain or inspire.

I’m also fond of the saying that brands can now be their own TV network, their own radio station and their own online magazine. This has never been truer than it is today, but of course, it brings with it its own set of challenges for brands.

“Okay, I know I need to create compelling content – but what next? How do I do it? What sort of content is right for my customers?”

Fair questions, and the exact reason you should check out CONTENT RULES.

Part One – The Content Rules

Part one of the book sets the scene, presenting the case for content creation (and distribution) as a marketing strategy as well as the ‘rules’ for producing compelling content.

Handley and Chapman provide a series of metrics to help marketers define what success should look like, in addition to emphasising the need for creating content that accurately reflects the brand’s personality (not surprisingly, the authors hate marketing jargon – one sidebar is dedicated to ‘Eighteen Business Buzzwords We Need to Ban Because They Make Us Sound Like Tools’).

Part Two – The How-To Section

Part two of CONTENT RULES gets into the nitty gritty of producing great content, drawing on the authors’ considerable experience (Handley is chief content officer at Marketing Profs, and previously was a co-founder of Click-Z; Chapman is the founder of Digital Dads and a popular blogger and podcaster).

Handley and Chapman take the reader through the gamut of social media content platforms such as blogs, webinars, e-books and whitepapers, podcasts and videos. All good practical stuff!

Part Three – Content That Converts: Success Stories

Containing ‘ideas you can steal’, part three brings the theory of content marketing to life via a number of detailed case studies.

Examples include:

·       the US Army (its social media efforts have helped to change people’s perceptions of the armed forces);

·       AskPatty.comis an automotive web business that generates some 20 million views per quarter; and

·       HubSpot, potentially one of the best examples going of a brand that uses content marketing to great effect – check them out here http://www.hubspot.com/).

Other case studies include Kodak, Boeing, and my favourite, Indium Corporation – here is a company that manufactures and sells specialty alloys and solders that publishes 73 (yes, 73!) highly specific bogs focused around 73 (there’s that number again!) important key words potential customers search on

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