Posts Tagged ‘brand journalism’

The History of #Hashtags

November 15, 2013

Hashtag imageOnly six years ago, a hashtag was regarded as a simple symbol most commonly used in front of a number. Today, hashtags have become one of the most valuable content marketing tools. They now even appear in many leading brands’ TV commercials.

And it doesn’t stop there. Hashtags have become an integral part of people’s everyday lives – from a teenager’s Instagram photo to a marketing director’s tweets.

For marketing professionals, the hashtag’s short but rich history proves its unique ability to attract attention and help build conversations around a marketing message.

In the splendid infographic below, social marketing specialist Offerpop has compiled some key moments in the history of the hashtag to show how, in under a decade, this commonplace sign has turned into a global icon.

History of #Hashtags (Infographic)

(click on the image to enlarge)

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Content marketing is companies’ top priority for 2013, says new report

February 9, 2013

by Brian Oliver

A growing emphasis on channelling resources into content marketing is the single most significant digital trend in 2013, according to a new report produced by Econsultancy and Adobe.

Based on a survey of some 700 business respondents from Europe and North America, the Quarterly Intelligence Briefing: Digital Trends for 2013 report found that content marketing is regarded as this year’s top priority by 39% of respondents (compared with 29% in 2012).

At the same time, marketers’ excitement about social media appears to be waning a little. The report found that social media engagement is lower down the list of priorities than a year ago, as observed by both client-side and agency respondents.

Only 35% of respondents thought social media presented one of the most exciting digital-related opportunities in 2013, compared with 54% who saw it as the biggest opportunity last year.

Mobile optimisation is seen as the ‘big thing’ for 2013 by 43% of respondents, while 35% cited “targeting and personalisation”.

Social media analytics was named as important by only 9% of marketers (compared with 19% in 2012).

Neil Morgan, senior director, EMEA Marketing at Adobe Marketing Cloud, says: “The report is aimed at shining a torch on some of the trends which will have the biggest impact on the way we work as marketers over the next 12 months and beyond.

“It is our first opportunity to compare with the same report a year earlier, and it’s great to see that many of the trends which surfaced have increased in their significance to marketers, notably content, conversion, mobile and social.”


The Quarterly Intelligence Briefing: Digital Trends for 2013 report can be purchased HERE for £250 (excluding VAT).

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Brian OliverAbout the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications.


CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Consumers resent favourite brands bombarding them with email marketing campaigns

January 24, 2013

email-logo-md blueWith more than half of online marketers said to be giving email marketing greater priority than building their social media communities, a new YouGov survey – commissioned by Emailvision – warns that poor email marketing communications can negatively affect consumer sentiment toward a company or brand.

Consumers are just as likely to turn against their favourite brands as other brands if they are bombarded with too many marketing emails, the survey suggests.

It found that three-quarters of UK consumers would dislike a brand after being bombarded with marketing emails, while 71% of consumers said being sent unsolicited messages would also make them resentful of a brand.

Other factors that can make consumers resentful of their favourite brands include listing their name incorrectly in an email (50%) and getting their gender wrong (40%).

The survey also revealed that 40% of respondents would refuse to share any personal information with a brand in exchange for better targeted offers, rising to 49% among the over-50s. The only personal details they would be willing to share are their name (28%), their age (37%), and their gender (38%).

Emailvision director Neil Hamilton said: “When a customer purchases from your in-store business, they give you money in exchange for a product or service. When a visitor interacts with your online business, they are giving you their data in exchange for a relevant experience with your brand.

“If a business doesn’t choose to make use of this data correctly, they are missing out on important knowledge that could positively or negatively impact business for years to come.”

He added: “It’s imperative that a customer never becomes ‘just a number’ even in a database of millions. Technology enables all businesses to treat their customers to a personalised experience across multiple sales channels.”

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Content marketing now accounts for 20% of UK marketing spend, says OnePoll survey

June 15, 2012

Growing importance of content marketing leads to rebranding of APA as the Content Marketing Association


According to new OnePoll research, content now accounts for a fifth of UK marketing spend and 73% of marketing directors expect their content budget to stay the same or increase over the next 12 months.

One in 20 of the marketers surveyed said they expect their content budgets to increase significantly in 2013.

The OnePoll research was commissioned to mark the rebranding of the UK’s Association of Publishing Agencies (APA) as the Content Marketing Association (CMA).  

The Association says the rebrand is designed to “better reflect the work of its members” and to highlight the importance of content in today’s marketing strategies.


In a statement on June 13, the Association said: “The overarching aim of CMA is to promote the use of editorialised content as an effective marketing tool to client-side marketers and showcase the range of channels that can be used to editorially engage customers … from digital – such as smart phone apps, tablet-enabled microsites and branded TV – to the more traditional customer magazines.”

The CMA said it is not surprised that content marketing spend is rising. Research shows that consumers’ appetite for editorialised content is at an all time high. A recent study conducted by Dipstick found that a quarter of consumers’ total media consumption is now provided by their favourite brands.

“This rebrand marks a turning point for content marketing,” said the CMA’s COO Julia Hutchison. “Not only is it a truer reflection of the work that our members are now doing, it will also serve as a bridge across all the disciplines currently involved in creating content for brands.”

She added: “The marketing industry has changed significantly over the last 20 years… No trade association has successfully owned the content space and, as the research shows, with large proportions of budget now being spent on content marketing, brands side marketers want a dedicated resource. ” 

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The CMA has produced an excellent infographic about the UK Content Marketing Revolution:




CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Rapid growth of content marketing means we’re ALL publishers now

February 19, 2012

Why every company is now a media owner and a self-publisher …

by Brian Oliver

“The medium is the message” wrote Marshal McLuhan, the Canadian communication theorist, in his famous 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

McLuhan believed that the form of a medium embeds itself in the content it carries, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium actually influences how the message is received.

Historically, the medium (and therefore the message) was always controlled by somebody else: usually the powerful media owners who ran national newspapers, influential magazines, TV channels and radio stations.

As a result, companies had to rely on buying advertising space (‘paid media’) or gaining editorial coverage (‘earned media’) in order to spread the word about their products or services and engage with their target audience.

In the case of ‘earned media’, this meant continually having to compete for a limited amount of editorial space via print or broadcast media – without having any control over how (or if) a brand story was used.

But all that is changing.


The Web (which McLuhan predicted almost 30 years before it was invented) has completely revolutionised the way in which companies can communicate with their clients, customers, investors, and other stakeholders.

The medium may still be the message, but control of the medium has shifted dramatically. Thanks to the Internet, it is now firmly in the hands of companies and brands themselves. And that includes yours.

With the help of content marketing specialists and skilled brand journalists, any size of company can now be a media owner. Any brand can now be a self-publisher, with absolute control over its own medium … and therefore its own messages.


If your company hosts the occasional case study, blog post, press release, or white paper on a domain you control and own, you’re already employing some of the basic publishing, programming, and delivery concepts that media publishers have been using for years.

Content marketing simply takes this form of self-publishing to a more strategic level, with the content itself carefully planned and sustained. 

Brand-owned media can now range from customer-focused blogs, themed magazine-style microsites and social media content … to targeted eNewsletters, interactive digital magazines, videos, podcasts, webinars, white papers, eBooks and eGuides.

As well as hosting videos and podcasts on your own website, you can now even set up your own branded TV channel and radio station using platforms such as YouTube and SoundCloud.

Brand-owned media and self-published content can now be marketed holistically across other networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. 

There are now more tools for sharing content than ever before. And quality content that is engaging, relevant, informative and entertaining will continue to be shared for years to come.


Building a platform of compelling and original content can have a positive effect on your business. It can help build brand loyalty, establish real thought leadership, boost sales, and gain valuable permission to market to potential new customers (because they have chosen to ‘opt in’ to your content).

Most importantly, though, being a self-publisher provides a unique opportunity to develop a direct link between you and your customer. No more middlemen. No more relying on media companies for coverage.

But to succeed as a self-publisher you can’t just produce content at random.

You have to take time to understand your target readership (i.e. your customers) and identify the themes that matter to them. You need a ‘readership’ acquisition strategy based on defined company goals, and a long-term vision of the kind of stories you want to tell in order to influence your audience.

In other words, when developing a content strategy you have to start thinking like a publisher too … 

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications


CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Content marketing agencies set to replace traditional ad agencies?

February 2, 2012

by Brian Oliver

The content marketing agency is replacing the traditional ad agency for many companies, insists Jon Wuebben, CEO of ContentLaunch, in his latest book Content Is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web & Mobile (Nicholas Brealey Publishing).

“In the process,” says Wuebben, “these firms are savings thousands of dollars and reaching thousands more as a result.

Content marketing is the lynchpin of all successful online business endeavours.”

Even Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest marketer, seems to have finally woken up to the growing power of content-led marketing.

According to Jim Edwards of, P&G’s CEO Robert McDonald recently told Wall Street analysts that he would have to “moderate” the company’s $10 billion advertising budget because Facebook and Google can be “more efficient” than the traditional media that usually account for the lion’s share of P&G’s ad spend.

In Content Is Currency, Jon Wuebben explains why … and how.

He describes the fine art of content development and shows how customer-grabbing content can tell the story of a product or a business.

He looks at how to optimise content for search and social media so that it gets noticed, and provides an insider’s view on the ever-expanding technology and content marketing landscape. The book also includes a suggested “road map to online marketing success”.

Content Is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web & Mobile is available on Amazon in all major formats.

More information is available at where Chapter 1 can be downloaded for free. 

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications


CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Google updates are making quality content the dominant factor in SEO

February 2, 2012

by Brian Oliver

More marketers are finding that Google’s recent changes and updates to its ranking system are now making quality content the key driver in search engine optimisation (SEO).

At the same time, the changes are shrinking the importance of technical SEO tactics led by mathematicians rather than genuine information providers.

This dramatic change in SEO presents an enormous opportunity for content marketers to gain a competitive advantage over rival brands – especially if their competitors are not yet using content-led solutions, such as customer-focused blogs, social media, targeted eNewsletters, videos, eBooks, white papers and eGuides.


Now more than ever, the consistent use of high-quality, keyword-driven content, such as that provided by Focus Content Marketing, can elevate your website to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) … and keep you there.

That’s why content marketing is now seen as one of the most effective online marketing techniques available to marketing managers – and why many observers are tipping content-led marketing to explode in 2012.


Last year saw some of the biggest and most important changes to Google’s algorithm, including the controversial Panda update which reportedly knocked the wind out of the sails of several high-ranking sites.

Ever conscious of the need to keep improving its service to users, Google introduced these algorithm changes because it recognised that some websites with top Google rankings were simply high-traffic, low-quality content sites stuffed with keywords.

It set out to limit the visibility of poorly-written filler material created by content ‘farmers’ in favour of sites boasting better-quality authoritative content.


Google now uses quantifiable social engagement metrics and recorded data (such as the length of time people spend on a page) to determine how valuable a page is to everyone who lands there.

When people spend longer browsing certain pages, Google assumes the content has been read and the user obtained the information they were looking for. The search engines consequently give those pages a higher ranking.

If your content is well-written, informative and puts the reader first, it is more likely to keep your potential customer on the page – and Google will recognise this. In other words, if you publish content that keeps your readers happy, Google will be happy too.

Similarly, quality content with higher incoming links will also be displayed at the top of the search results.


Most importantly, though, delivering trustworthy, problem-solving content will not only elevate you in the search rankings, it will also show potential customers or clients how you can help them. It will enable you to gain their trust … and potentially lead to a positive purchasing decision!

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications


CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Focus Content Marketing offers customer-focused blogs, eNewsletters, eBooks, digital magazines, videos, social media … and more

January 23, 2012


Focus Content Marketing is a London-based online news and content agency that provides integrated content marketing services – and helps companies of all sizes to implement a customer-focused content strategy.

Our keyword-driven content marketing solutions include the strategic planning, creation, distribution and curation of:

Customer-focused blogs

Social media content

 Website content

Tightly-targeted eNewsletters

Interactive digital magazines



White papers




We provide tailor-made original content – written by experienced journalists – that provides an efficient, low-cost method of ‘educating’ customers and building awareness of your products or services.

We cost effectively connect companies to customers at all stages of the buying process by telling engaging, relevant, informative and entertaining stories that audiences want to hear.

As a sister company to Focus Marketing Communications, we combine many years of experience in business journalism with a B2B communications consultancy that has been providing creative solutions and strategic advice for more than 25 years.

Customers need objective advice

A 2011 McKinsey & Co. report* highlighted customers’ growing “thirst for objective advice” and showed how a premium is now being placed on problem-solving and strategic-thinking skills.

That’s why we create trustworthy content designed to show your customers or clients how you can help solve their problems.

By giving them the information they’re seeking, you can interact with them on a much more personal level … building trust, and keeping you front-of-mind.


Communicating with customers is changing

In today’s ‘opt-in’ culture, telling interesting well-written stories is a more cost-effective way of attracting attention than traditional ‘interruption marketing’, such as advertising or direct mail.

As a result, more companies are now putting journalistic-quality content at the heart of their SEO and social media marketing strategies.

Customers who opt-in to your content are, in effect, giving you permission to market to them.


Google updates have pushed content to the fore

Google’s recent updates to its ranking system have pushed quality content to the forefront, while shrinking the importance of technical SEO tactics.

Now more than ever, the consistent use of high-quality, keyword-driven content can elevate your website to the top of search results … and keep you there.


Interested in working with us?

We’d like to hear about what you’re doing and how we can help. Just give us a call on 020 8641 8614, or email us at Focus Content Marketing.  

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*We’re All Marketers Now, McKinsey & Company, July 2011


CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing.