Content is a topic of growing interest to many organizations. ComBlu recently analyzed hundreds of conversations about content (many from the Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs compiled by Junta42 this year) and noticed some interesting trends:

· Content is definitely a growing and “hot” topic within social marketing, with content strategy leading in SOV amongst topics. Measurement seems to be the least discussed topic in the space. Blogs are discussing the value of content and specific parts of the “content process,” (i.e., strategy, creation, curation, etc.), as well as other topics like brands as publishers; consumers’ changing content needs; maximizing content value; and challenges (i.e., bandwidth, original content, etc.).

Content is a Strategy

This jives with conversation that occurred at one of the popular sessions at SXSW this year: Brands as Publishers. In addition to debating the suitability of brands to be publishers, the session also covered the difficulty in assuming the “publisher” mantle.

· Part of the debate centered on corporations following “pure” journalistic standards. Some contended that custom content is not real journalism; it is not well researched or vetted and therefore not up to journalistic standards. This was hotly contested by others in the session who pointed out that first, brands are not claiming to be journalists; simply publishers, and secondly the community will correct badly researched information. Many opined that the market will punish corporations who do not tell the truth and are too self-serving. The risk is too high for corporations to be less than transparent.

· Most at the session wanted to simply talk about the mechanics of being a publisher. They were concerned about content quality, curation, understanding how to best match owned channels to specific types of content (Address controversial topics on corporate blog vs. story-telling in an engagement hub)

This meshes with conversations that ComBlu has with brands all the time. Just this week, I was chatting with Rishi Dave at Dell about content strategy. He and his team are passionate about content and believe it is a powerful engagement strategy IF done right. Rishi contends most brands are not ready or equipped to truly be a publisher. They need to travel what he calls “the content pain journey”, which goes something like this: Most brands produce content episodically for a traditional marketing or thought leadership campaign. Then, they decide they need to amplify that content so they integrate mass social media into the channel mix. This leads to the realization that 1) they need a better process for scheduling content and 2) Holy cow! We need a lot more content. It is only then that they press pause and methodically examine their content creation and distribution approach.

It is shocking that more organizations are not deconstructing their content approach. One nugget from the SXSW session was this factoid: brands spend 25% of their marketing budgets on content creation and distribution. McKinsey estimates that embedded costs alone for content supply chain can range from $50million to $75million for a consumer products company to over $300million for a global technology company. That got your attention, right?

So what exactly is the content supply chain? ComBlu recently decided to take this topic on. We read white papers, researched and interviewed many content intellectuals and found no solid answer. So we took all the bits and pieces we learned and organized them into a cohesive approach. Our new eBook “Content Supply Chain” presents a systematic methodology for treating content as a business discipline. It introduces the concept of content equity and shows how to measure return on content assets.

It’s a good read and we hope it sparks more discussion and stimulates other ideas and approaches. How does your organization organize and manage this important function? Let us know. In the meantime, download the book and share it.

Cheryl Treleaven

Cheryl Treleaven


Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.