Medium. It’s a social publishing platform that’s started to get more attention lately. So I thought I’d dig into it a bit more, create an account, and futz around to make sure I have at least a rudimentary understanding of how it works and why people use it.
Trying new platforms is kind of a hazard of the job in digital marketing. I might not be an active user of Snapchat, Yo or Kik, but it pays for me to know what they are. My fellow digital marketers know what I’m talking about.
After I set up some initial suggested subjects (the same way you do for content discovery in apps like Flipboard), I thought I’d drill down and do a search on a subject near and dear to my heart—content strategy. One of the top posts I encountered caught my attention. The headline was:
I knew it was nothing but clickbait, but I had to read it. Not because I was worried. But because I was amused.
Why had they determined content strategy was dead, especially as I see it just now taking root in many companies? Would they offer any evidence or just wax philosophical about how they and a few of their friends had a coffee shop conversation wherein they called the time of death, because they felt they had figured out something more transcendent? Was it pure clickbait for the numbers, or was there a deeper goal at hand? Or was it simply a way to position the author’s services as thinly differentiated from the herd?
“But Hal,” you might say, “why wouldn’t you take a post like that seriously?” Simple.
Go ahead. Google (insert tactic here) is dead. You’ll find search engine result pages littered with the predictions and declarations of the deaths of every marketing tactic used today. In fact, if you get creative, you’ll find posts about tactics being dead that haven’t even been tried yet.
TV. Direct mail. Social media. Email marketing. Blogging. All dead. Evidently, most of us real marketers have been too busy using these dead tactics to make money for companies to realize that we’re surviving off a zombie horde of dead marketing methods.
Now that you know declaring content strategy dead has more to do with the author’s personal goals than the actual state of content strategy in the real world, here are a few of the reasons that so many web authors declare marketing tactics dead.
This post was a textbook example of reason #6: Trying to differentiate. The author claimed that content strategy was dead and that it’s being replaced with user experience. At the end of the post, the author revealed he worked for a company specializing in the user experience tactics he was pitching in the post. For anyone who got to the call to action at the bottom of the post, this was a really transparent grab for new business and thinly veiled attempt at manufacturing differentiation. (SIDE NOTE: I definitely value user experience and the place is plays alongside content strategy in the larger customer experience.)
Evidently the author in question missed an important irony. If the post effectively helped him generate business, he would have actually proven the effectiveness of content strategy.
I’ve been talking about marketing tactics throughout this post because they’re most frequently the targets of death declarations. But you can read this post and use “marketing strategy” interchangeably with “marketing tactic.” Internet death dealers may take aim at larger strategies just as easily as specific tactics or media. Content strategy, for example, is made up of many media and tactics.
Tweet me @halwerner. I’d love to hear them.