Content's Marketing's Hard Rain A-Gonna Fall
As much as I love a good debate the one I covered on ScentTrail Marketing on Friday between +Guillaume Decugis and Mark Schaefer is moot (http://www.scenttrail.com/content-shock-vs-curation/ ). Dylan explain:

"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
And where have you been my darling young one?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

If those lyrics sound like Internet marketing flying from pillar to post trying any and everything to fill market marketing voids as traditional media takes its final bow and exits stage left then you know the refrain.

A hard rain's about to fall on content marketers.

First drops are falling. Google isn't futzing with their algorithm just to make half their users unhappy despite it feeling that way. Google is moving pieces so content is KING and Kings of Content rule the world.

In the Content Shock conversation between Guillaume and Mark the Scoop.it CEO noted how #startups changed the media ecosystem. These startups share common features including:

* Curation is the core of their offering.
* Densely multi-author.
* Quality content pings at an amazing rate (due to how densely multi-author each platform such as HuffPost, Mashable or TechCrunch is and they are adding new content contributors all the time).
* There is some social reward / #gamification to separate GREAT from Good and Bad content.
* Self-sustaining - self-sustaining means spam algorithms have to be NSA level good and some "patrol" comes from the community.
* Sophisticated Ad Serving - when you have this much content a site must find ways to cut the distance between YOU (any visitor) and CONTENT YOU WANT. One way to do that is with sophisticated "ad" or content serving.
* Advanced personas, segments & predictive algorithms - another way to increase relevance and engagement is with sophisticated models capable of predicting the world while requiring few "touch points".

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Guillaume is right and wrong. Yes startups have and are changing how we think about #contentmarketing , but the price tag associated with entering the space is much higher now. The point I make is the future is about the roll-up, about the platform and "platforms" cost more money than most bloggers can afford (still).

What that future means for writers, thinkers and bloggers like Mark and me is the health of our tribe will be related to writing for a hub (or two or three). I've written for Technorati (http://technorati.com/people/ScentTrail/) and write for Curatti.com now (http://curatti.com/author/martinsmith/).

Once Google's full force and credit is behind its author tag then hubs will look for writers, thinkers and bloggers capable of bringing their audience along. The math is easy. When a platform like Curatii.com aggregates contributors such as  +jan gordon +Karen Dietz and +Nikol Murphy (to name just three) it wins. Curatti wins by forming a multi-author hub, a commons.

Commons (or social platforms) will always be more powerful than any single author. Yes Seth Godin is powerful, but Facebook is 100x more powerful (why Seth created Squido because he is no dummy that one).

Smart move, by someone, would be to BUY CURATTI.com NOW since in a year the price will be 5x and in three years the price will be in the millions. Buying the kind of #SEO displacement Curatti.com will have by then is easier (so much easier) than actually creating it (trust someone who has been up that "community" mountain several times it is the hardest work you will ever do to get people to love you well enough to advocate, share and love you back).

The hard rain about to fall on content marketing so well detailed by Guillaume and Mark in my ScentTrail post (http://www.scenttrail.com/content-shock-vs-curation/) holds important implications for bloggers, #entrepreneurs and investors:

* Websites are dead and gone.
Platforms that aren't social and whose Quality Deserves Freshness ping rate from User Generated Content isn't high are dead too.
* Own the social / mobile conversation to own the traffic.
* Bloggers will fall into two categories - big enough to survive alone (minority) and those who will need a "rich uncle" like +Scoop.it or rich aunt like Curatti to aggregate and include their content in a highly social, sophisticated data management, multi-author platform.
* Hubs (the RICH) will get richer.

Some bloggers like Mark might be right on the dividing line between being able to make it and needing a rich uncle hub's support. Smart move is to diversify the site's content and ability to generate User Generated Content. Some of those moves can be created cheaply (at first) to see if ROI goes up as time investment goes down.

If your company is strong in the world, but not strong online you will need to partner with a "rich uncle" in your segment or business vertical. Could your content win the lottery and scale your blog or website? Sure, someone does win the lottery I just don't like the odds :).

Better to find a hub who has a significant head start in your space and cut a deal. Remember to negotiate on several dimensions including:

* Followed links (if they are stupid which they won't be so don't demand this).
* Ability to pay for more representation in relevant sections.
* Editorial and content support (don't put banners on websites and think they will do anything helpful since they won't).
* Tie your compensation to their PageRank (if it goes down you shouldn't pay as much no matter how much traffic they shift since the Quality of that traffic will go down too).
* I like to pay for ACQUISITION not views so people joining your list or buying something. Strong players won't do that deal so do the best you can paying for views (which is long term stupid).
* Discuss ways you can create content to support them. Initially you won't be giving them as much as they you, but look ahead and be willing to grandfather their deal even as your Klout grows (this allows them to arbitrage the future a little and is a smart move if you know what you are doing since most websites GAIN authority over time).
* Blend cause marketing in too since doing so brings an emotional tie and content richness other people they are doing deals with may not.

When you do your first "content support" deal shoot for partners in every strata of your segment. Shoot for PR7s (hard deals to get), PR5's (easier to get) and PR3's (easy to get because not as valuable NOW). If you string great and trending PR3s together into a support network they may carry you and your content as they gain (have to treat that a little "junk bond-y" i.e. cut a lot of deals and figure most will wash out).

I'm using PageRank because it is a model system created by Google. You can use any model you want, but organize your partner list into Great but expensive, Good and less expensive and Trending and cheap. Be sure not to BUY links since to do so is original sin.

This means if you do a great deal with a PR7 DO NOT fire a bunch of links that have the keywords you want in the anchor text as that is a big THEY BOUGHT THE LINK signal to Google. Create relationships. Some of those relationships, especially with the smart companies who know the value they've built, will cost money, time and support.

If you are lagging or new you MUST understand how to create a relationship with the hubs in your space. Every space has a hub (or will) and your job is to develop mutually beneficial support. You win, they win (and know they may WIN more at least at first). OR, play the content lottery and well good luck with that :).

No matter what, get ready for a hard content marketing rain that shakes things up yet again. If Internet marketing feels like a game of duck, duck, goose you aren't too far off. Best strategy is to organize the game (if you can afford to do so). Next best strategy is to align with a hub. Next best after that is align with "trending" hubs to be like Curatti.com.

And if all of that sounds like informed gambling welcome to Internet marketing in a RICH GET RICHER age.

Marty
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6 comments
 
What a great post +Martin W. Smith. Like you, I believe content will still reign supreme especially curated content. That's the untold story in all the flurry over Mark's original post. And I very much like your points about the need to be writing for more than one multi-author platform. I love being part of Curatti and +jan gordon's group. Many thanks for bringing more clarity to the content discussion with your post here! 
 
As much as I want to disagree with you, overall your rather long-winded argument is plausible for many industry segments +Martin W. Smith.
However, a big flaw I see lies in how your argument applies to SMBs - the majority of companies that generate jobs in the U.S.

This segment depends on "the website," and most don't have the time and/or money for full-fledged content marketing and commons development.

Many who've tried to grow followings and have had at least "some" success still can't quantify the value of social (commons) ROI. What do you have to say for this massive segment of the U.S. economy regarding your future vision? I am truly interested!
 
+NetSpeak Solutions Will see if I can tighten up tomorrow. Got pulled in 3 directions at once today so need to do some editing when I have a moment. Thanks for the alert. Marty
 
+Martin W. Smith Sorry it took me so long to get back here - read this twice, packed with great insights as always, I thought +NetSpeak Solutions question was interesting looking forward to your response on that. Last but not least thank you so much for mentioning Curatti in this context, it is appreciated beyond words. Looking forward to reading you next gem tomorrow :)
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