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In her own words, Sonia Simone is a marketer for people who hate marketing. As CMO and co-founder of Copyblogger Media, her no BS approach has helped countless businesses effectively communicate and build relationships with their customers.
We’re eagerly awaiting Sonia to join forces with Peter Shankman on the PR panel at BlueGlass LA, where she’ll be talking about the reality of social media marketing and giving her take on why trusted recommendations are the new PR.
This interview with Sonia reads as a refresher on what anyone creating content should be doing, but probably isn’t…
Interview with Sonia Simone
1. What trends do you expect to see in content marketing this year? Have you seen any new content mediums that excited you or that you can see being the next big thing?
The biggest trend I expect to see this year is one that seems negative on the surface — a proliferation of marketers jumping onto content as the “next thing,” without serious consideration for what really makes content marketing work.
That means more noise, but it also gives a real advantage to those who are willing to stand out by creating content that’s genuinely useful and interesting.
2. Many people wonder if infographics are a passing fad. How do you think infographics can evolve to still gain attention as people get so used to seeing them?
We need to be careful about paying too much attention to the social media hyperconsumers. Just because they’re tired of something doesn’t mean it’s not working brilliantly for normal people.
Social sharing tools like Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ mean that people will be sharing more infographics than they ever have. As long as there are visual learners, infographics will be successful … as long as they’re communicating valuable information in a user-friendly way.
The bar is being raised — audiences won’t respond just because it’s an infographic. But they will respond to content that can teach them something valuable in an interesting way. Quality is going to be king.
3. What is the most viral piece of content you’ve ever seen (or had the biggest impression)? What’s the most viral piece of content you’ve ever worked on yourself?
Truly viral content isn’t just popular — it creates real-world change.
My favorite piece of effective viral content this year was the animated GIF created by The Oatmeal to explain the SOPA blackouts. Very entertaining, with a distinct voice (no one combines vulgarity with surrealism quite like The Oatmeal), and genuinely educational about an issue that matters.
I’ve done a few things that have gone truly viral, including the SOPA piece I wrote for Copyblogger, but probably the most meaningfully successful was a post I wrote called Is Your Tribe Holding You Down. It didn’t just get views and shares, it inspired people to think of themselves in a new way. Eventually that spurred us to create an entire community of business owners who consider themselves the “Third Tribe” that was defined in that post.
4. Different audiences and demographics still prefer different types of content when it comes to their consumption habits. Do you fear that a share of the market might be lost if content moves to more visual or motion-graphics based pieces? Or do you think people will naturally continue to adapt and enjoy most dominant and interesting forms of content creation?
Content needs to match the preferences and desires of the audience … period.
On Copyblogger, we’ll always include text in the mix, because our audience are readers. If that ever changes, we’ll change. For us, visual and audio content are a seasoning — text is the meat of the meal.
Give your audience a range of formats and observe what works best. Do that and you’ll never have to worry about falling prey to profit-killing fads.
5. How far do you think content marketing will go? Will we eventually expect added value from all advertising/marketing?
Content marketing will go exactly as far as the audience wants it to go. We serve at their pleasure. Customers are the ones who will decide this, not marketers.
6. How can content marketers “hone their skills?” How important is it to be dialed in to the group minds of influential communities online?
If you’re a writer, write content. If you’re a producer, produce content.
There is no shortcut for doing the work, hour after hour. Create the best content you know how to make, and pay attention to what works.
We need to be dialed into buyers — how they think, the words they use, the problems they face. Too many content marketers become enamored with the social media echo chamber. Get out of your bubble and go listen to some customers.
7. Lastly, your articles have helped countless people become better writers. Who are the writers that inspire you?
Seth Godin and Dan Kennedy were both very important to me when I was starting out, and, in a way, the marketer I am today is very much their mutant offspring. How’s that for a visual?
Brian Clark was a major influence on me from the early days of Copyblogger, and it’s been my great, great fortune to have him as a mentor and business partner.
Pema Chödrön helped me see how to teach with kindness and a sense of humor. And more than 20 years in social media and online community have been invaluable in teaching me not to take myself too seriously.
Thanks for sharing some invaluable advice, Sonia! I already plan to corner you with more questions at BlueGlass LA :)