Jake Sorofman

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Jake Sorofman
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
16 years IT industry

A former CMO, Jake Sorofman analyzes digital marketing strategy, trends and practices, with an emphasis on mobile, social and content marketing. ...Read Full Bio

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Forget Big Data—Here Comes Big Content

by Jake Sorofman  |  April 12, 2013  |  42 Comments

OK, don’t forget big data—it’s a big deal. But, these days, content may be giving data a run for its money. Why? Because, as I’ve said before, content is the grist for the social marketing mill. Without compelling, insightful, inspiring content, social engagement simply fails to happen. Also, while big data may be the intelligence behind microtargeting, the precision of your aim doesn’t matter if the customer experience falls short.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that Gartner’s 2013 social marketing survey pointed to content creation and curation as the key areas of focus for social marketing organizations—and the most outsourced function.

Part of this research is available here to the general public, free of charge.

The rhythm and tempo of social marketing puts extraordinary pressure on marketing organizations that are more accustomed to publishing horizons measured in weeks and months than those measured in minutes and hours. Also, as my colleague Allen Weiner tells us, the expectation for content quality and authenticity has changed dramatically. As Allen says, “speak from the heart or not at all.” Amen.

What’s different about content in the age of the social web?

  • It’s human—it speaks with a conversational voice, from one human being to another. Thought isn’t hidden behind stilted corporate speak, chest-thumping claims and pompous language.
  • It’s neutral—perhaps not wholly objective, but it holds fire on the hard sell in favor of issues-centric storytelling that supports a brand’s point of view without always making the brand the hero.
  • It’s simple—attention spans aren’t what they used to be and competition for that limited attention has reached a fever pitch. The best content is stripped down and gets to the point, fast!
  • It’s visual—my colleague Julie Hopkins tells us why visual content is inspiring content. It’s also easier to consume when you’re already up to your eyeballs in dense text.
  • It’s curated—you don’t have to create all of your own content. Leverage happens when you organize and annotate third-party content that helps tell your story or sell your point of view.
  • It’s conversational—communities talk back to sustain the dialogue in the form of comments, reviews, ratings and new content of their own that defends or argues against your point of view.
  • It’s organic—it’s published fast, often in response to unpredictable moments. The now-ubiquitous Oreo cookie tweet is still one of the best examples of organic engagement in action.

It’s all easier said than done, which is why content has become more than an asset—it’s a strategy.

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