Santa Claus

8 Big Myths of Content Marketing

Myths are woven into our DNA.
We have heard about the Loch Ness Monster, the Yeti, dragons and other man made creations and legends that live more within the imagination than reality. But without those tales, the tapestry of our lives would be a little less.
Who wants to take away the fairies, super heroes and Santa Claus. Stories are intrinsic to what makes us human.
The art of storytelling is part of every culture. Sharing the events of the day around a camp fire, the kitchen table or the company water filter often sees us conjuring up a romantic image of the compelling wordsmith and the entertaining jokester.
“Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story” is something that needs to be embraced.
Content marketing is an art and a science
Content marketing has become an art and a science with a dash of promotion in the mix. Like any good cake recipe, the right types of ingredients and the quantities will be the difference between success and failure. In that mix sit terms like engagement, trust and credibility. All good, but on their own the cake won’t rise.
So what are some of the myths that have emerged around the digital content campfire?
Myth #1. Build it and they will come
Content marketing is synonymous with the term inbound marketing. Add the other phrase “attraction marketing” to the discussion and people think that content on its own will produce traffic and leads.
The misunderstanding of the true meaning of these terms leads people to think that just creating the content will attract opportunities and produce business changing marketing strategies.
Content marketing is two words and content is only one of them.
Myth #2. Content creation is more important than the marketing
This follows on from the first myth.
The creatives and the writers of this world often fall into this trap. Their misguided mantra is often “I create and therefore I will succeed”.
Sorry, that won’t do.
Some of the best artists of this world often had a “hustle gene” or a partner that went out and made it happen. Salvador Dali, the famous Spanish surrealist painter was a painter that was not only the creator but the marketer. He maybe took it a little bit too far.
But he knew how to get attention.
In a digital world the sheer noise, velocity and volume of content creation means that the marketing is 50% of the game.
Viral content is often associated with luck.
Publishers like Buzzfeed and Upworthy have made us realize that leaving it to luck is not an option. Content marketing success is now more science, big data and the relentless pursuit of optimizing content for sharing and traffic.

Myth #3. Tons of ordinary content is enough
What is ordinary content?
To me it means a bland, 400-600 word blog post that is missing a voice, insights and an x-factor. Visuals are also vital.
I could go on, but you know what I mean.
Ordinary content shouts out these messages. I don’t care, just having a go or maybe it reveals an underlying lack of confidence that says “who would want to read my stuff anyway”.
The competition for online attention is getting harder and when I started 6 years ago the content standard required wasn’t as high.
This is one of first blog posts that I published on March 25, 2009. This will not do today. Disclaimer: But, don’t let that stop you from starting the content marketing journey.

Some recent research by Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media about the standard of content for bloggers (and content marketers) is revealing with 1.500 word posts becoming mainstream.
Content marketing is growing up.
Taking something from “good to great” means more reading, more polishing and maybe some deeper research. It means wrestling and wrangling the content into an art form that reveals your brand purpose and mission.
But I forgot something. Passion.
Being passionate about your topic is often the difference at the end of the day. Content that is written just for inbound links and search is often missing the heart and soul of what awesome content is all about.
Myth #4. Content marketing is more about search engines
Google’s mission “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” has sometimes lead to an abomination or two in content marketing strategy execution. Their motto “don’t be evil” is maybe something that good content marketers should embrace.
Writing content that is just written for search engines should be made a sin.
Write for humans, touch their emotions and your content has a much better chance of being shared with viral velocity.
Myth #6. Good content marketing doesn’t need much technology
Social media and content marketing are almost like kissing cousins.
Related, close but not the same.
When content marketing emerged, the technology that surrounded it was either raw or non-existent. Using social content was seen as a manual job otherwise it was not proper.
The thinking was often that “using technology made social not social“.
The reality is that content marketing is many moving parts. This includes images, videos, blog posts, many social networks, multiple media, metrics, optimization, email, search and more.
You will need technology, apps and digital marketing technology platforms to create, publish, launch, manage and measure “at scale”.
This means marketing automation platforms like Hubspot, Infusionsoft and Marketo are becoming essential for even small to medium businesses.

It also means using technology and apps like Shuttlerock that enable you to crowd source content from your readers, fans and advocates.
Make it easy for your marketing team to collect, curate and publish brand content.

Myth #7. Content marketing is just about giving away free content
Bloggers are the epitome and essence of content marketing. Many bloggers (and content marketers) have fallen into the trap of only giving away free content. They forget to ask for something in return. They think that conversion from traffic to leads and sales will happen on its own.
You need optimized ”Calls to Action”.
Want something for free like a free PDF then I need an email in return. Want to read that ebook. That will be $7 thank you. Want some premium resources and maybe online training then the credit card needs some loving.
Great content marketing achieves 3 goals. It’s a lot like dating. Attraction, seduction and commitment. In digital marketing that translates to the following.
If you don’t achieve the last goal then you are doomed to fiscal failure.
Myth #8. Content marketing automation is evil
Content first has to be created, then it needs to published and finally it needs to be free to be pushed out into the big wide digital world and achieve its mission. That will mean it may have to achieve many roles:
Growing brand awareness
Building credibility and trust
Drive link building
Create thought leadership
For a noisy world with 2 billion smart phones and 1 billion websites, this means that automation will be a necessary evil. Some call it inhuman and others call it smart. My mantra is this:
“Automate the content distribution but not the conversation”
This means you can be authentic and smart!
Over to you
Are you using digital marketing automation software as part of your content marketing strategy? What is the standard of your blog posts?

Santa Stringer

City Comptroller Scott Stringer wants to play Santa Claus. With taxpayer money. At least it seems that way after a spate of big-ticket legal settlements by his office, and in…

‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special 2014 Recap: The Ghost of Christmas Never

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, meeting Santa. (BBC)

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, meeting Santa. (BBC)

To begin with, let’s just get this out of the way: No, a lot of what happens on this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special doesn’t really make very much sense. It is a fun story about dreams within dreams, several of said dreams involving a real, living Santa Claus who may or may not exist. And if you think about it for about 20 seconds, it all starts to come unraveled.

For instance, the whole chain of events that led to our protagonists’ series of nested dreams, we find out, is set into motion when the Doctor encounters a “dream crab”—a psychic parasite that reads your thoughts and traps you in a dream state while it eats your brain—on some alien planet. Then it follows the Doctor’s thoughts to find and suck out Clara’s brain, too. The whole story in which the Doctor flies to Earth and finds Clara and takes her to the North Pole turns out to be a shared hallucination. The Doctor was actually on the alien planet the whole time, while Clara was in her bed on Earth, both with crabs on their faces.

But if the Doctor never actually flew to Earth, then how did the crabs get to Earth to capture Clara too? The crabs don’t fly. And why on Earth did it pick four other random people to bring into their dream? And if the whole point is to keep them sedated and happy while they suck out their brains, why is their shared hallucination a freaky dream about being trapped at the North Pole with brain-sucking crabs, rather than about having a lovely Christmas at home, like Clara’s own dream-within-a-dream (within-a-dream (within-a-dream)(I think)) was?

Yes, it is really hard to pull off a dream-within-a-dream story without creating plotlines that make no sense—just ask Christopher Nolan. (Actually no, don’t. He’d just take three hours to tell you something he could have explained in 20 minutes.)

The thing is, though, it feels downright uncharitable to pull this episode apart this way. It is a Christmas story, after all. It is a fun, celebratory and ultimately great story, one that manages to split the difference between heartwarming and terrifying in a clever way that represents Doctor Who at the top of its game. It was certainly the best Christmas special this show has turned in since its 2005 reboot (not a high bar, admittedly), and it carried the main Clara plotline forward in a touching and emotionally satisfying way.

Say what you will about Stephen Moffatt and his narrative foibles (I certainly have), but he does have a particular talent for turning the weaknesses of his show into its virtues. And “Last Christmas” is the best example of this yet: It is an episode built around Moffatt using his own storytelling limitations, and the narrative limitations of Doctor Who, against themselves in productive and enjoyable ways.

By making everything we see parts of various dreams, the show makes us understand how the logic of Doctor Who has always been dreamlike. We are always being thrown into a new situation whose background is a bit hazy. There are always going to be things that don’t make complete sense if you think too hard about them. Some stories are always going to seem like they are reconstructed out of elements of other stories. And, most importantly, the Doctor has always been a living myth, a demented version of Santa Claus who bestows his gifts (“all of time and space,” natch) on just one lucky good child, every once in a while.

The special distinction of Clara as a companion is not her grit or her passion or her loyalty. She has all of those things in spades, but so did many of her predecessors. Her real accomplishment is her understanding of this basic fact: no matter how long you spend with him, the Doctor is not someone you know; he’s someone you believe in.

Which brings us to Santa Claus. Nick Frost portrays him with admirable realism, a funny guy who nevertheless never becomes a punch line, and who can go toe-to-toe with the Doctor when he needs to. And the fact that he may or may not actually exist only adds to and resonates with the clever themes of the episode—for one thing, how much more ridiculous are flying reindeer and a sleigh than a time-traveling blue police box?

In other words, Moffatt has also managed to find a way out of the conundrum of cheesy Christmas specials. This now-decade-old tradition generally suffers from its own contradictions: a heartwarming holiday tale, ostensibly for kids, set within the universe (and carrying forward the story) of a complex and self-referential sci-fi tale. The specials tend to slide into either treacly Miracle on 34th Street territory on the one hand or incomprehensible hodgepodgery on the other.

But by setting everything in dreams in which Santa is at once the savior figure and the signal that the world is really fake and therefore a trap, this year’s installment manages to sidestep that problem entirely. The heartwarming bit becomes the narrative complexity, instead of having to sit uneasily beside it.

It’s also a clever conjunction of themes. Dreams and Santa Claus don’t have all that much to do with one another. But there is one place, of course, where the two meet: wish fulfillment. And thus it is that, without sacrificing the dark tone of the show—they’re getting their brains sucked out my face-hugging crabs the whole time, remember—we get a series of narrative satisfactions that will gladden the heart of any Whovian.

We finally get a proper sendoff for Danny Pink (though hopefully not to Samuel Anderson; there’s still his grandson Orson, after all), set in the innermost dream of the episode. We get to see the Doctor smile with true joy, for once, reminding us that he is, in fact, an incarnation of the grinning boy Clara knew. We get one possible version of a final parting between the Doctor and Clara, a touching scene in which Clara has grown very old and lived a full, adventurous life without him.

And then, because the Doctor makes a wish, a real wish, Santa Claus comes back one last time to fulfill that one too. Because the old-Clara scene was actually the last layer of their dreams. (Or it was an original ending, written before Jenna Coleman decided to stay on the show for another season. Or both. Probably both.) And once they are fully awake and back in the real(-ish) world, the Doctor and Clara realize, touchingly, that their journey is far from over.