Seven Principles of Content Marketing

Now that we’ve all agreed that “Content is King (Again),” and Content Marketing is all the rage, maybe it is time to think about some easy-to-follow tenets.  Let’s keep this simple.

101496658Follow a 70/30 Rule – 70% of content curated, 30% branded.  Why? Because the rest-of-the-world is at least 70% more interesting than your brand; and, promoting external content builds social capital, makes grateful fans of influencers.

All content should be SHAREWORTHY.  Don’t publish junk.  Better to be quiet than to queer the signal-to-noise ratio.

All content should benefit SEO.  Note that search engines increasingly favor Social Signals and Blended Results (multimedia).  Keyword optimize your content whenever possible and appropriate, across all channels.

All content should be digestible.  Big pieces should be readily and easily broken-down into component parts (e.g., a big infographic could be made available in smaller chunks)

Content should be channel optimized (by channel, by device) and distributed synchronously across social outposts.

Earned Media (MSM or fan-generated) is the best media.  (Really? Yes.)  A reputation for credibility trumps a reputation for creativity: credibility today lends authority to the creative endeavors of tomorrow.  And in our overheated media market, credibility comes from third-party influencers and from peers.

Paid Promotion – deployed flexibly, for the best earned media (primarily) or for the best branded content (secondarily) should be used to extend content lifecycle.  Where it makes sense, Social Advertising should tout user plaudits vs. features/benefits: make the customer the star.

… There are more than 7 principles in successful content marketing, of course. And some might argue that these are not even the most important seven.  Let’s hear your thoughts: what are the must-have considerations for success?

Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 2:20 pm By Todd Defren
34 Responses to “Seven Principles of Content Marketing”


  • Content sharing platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter are proving ever more popular, but is the sheer volume of sources at risk of becoming overwhelming for digital marketing professionals? How do we manage these communities best, and how can content be created and proliferated effectively?

    Todd Defren, who writes for PR Squared, recently posted the ‘Seven Principles of Content Marketing’, a blog that covers the essential principles behind planning content marketing campaigns. In his post, Defren suggests a 70/30 split between content curation and branding. He also focuses on ‘shareworthy-ness’ and bite-sized portions with homage paid to credible sources. Tactically, Defren encourages curators to distribute their content synchronously across social outposts, ensuring the posts are optimised as search engines favour enabled results. If you need good examples, we enjoyed looking through The Content Marketing Institute’s ‘100 Content Marketing Examples’. Is there anything they missed?

    In his blog post Defren notes there are more than seven principles, and we can offer three simple key rules you can follow to create a great content-based campaign.

    The first is CREDIBILITY; ensure content has had thorough research before creation. Defren suggests credibility comes from third-party influences and from peers. Craig Pearce reinstated the argument for third-party credibility in his Marketing Mag post. Pearce examines how credibility is something earned, but that organisations require credibility in so many aspects – especially by enhancing its content creation.

  • Julie says:

    I heard about this 70/30 rule at a recent IABC conference in Chicago and tracked it back to this post. Just wondering where your 7/30 ratio came from. I like it, just hadn,’t ever heard of it before. Is it from your experience, or is there another source? Thanks!

  • Lydia Natallia says:

    From my opinion, all content has to be shareworthy because there’s no point of you sharing junk content, people won’t be so interested to read your content. Content has to be unique to be able to capture people’s attention..

  • Mario says:

    I agree with the paid promotion, especially if you use endorser that is suitable with your brand attitude, the result will be terrific

  • Taimarie Locke says:

    I agree with your post that content should be the biggest concern when people are posting things on the web. It is critical to any organization that the information they are providing is not only up to date but also factual. I also find it interesting that you mentioned search engine optimization (SEO). As a growing public relations professional, I have realized the importance of increasing my personal SEO to optimize my content through all the appropriate channels.

  • Justin says:

    I usually don’t take the time to post but this info compelled me to, thank you for this post.
    - admin

  • Kaitlin says:

    I understand what you’re saying about content needing to be digestible, especially infographics. Have you seen this done before? A big long inforgraphic is often hard to digest all in one sitting, but isn’t that kind of the whole point of an inforgraphic, that all of the information is there to look at all at once?

  • Good post and tenets. The only one I’d question from my B2B and B2G experience is the 70/30 split. I want my clients putting out high quality, original content that takes a position on some major issues in their specific vertical. That will accomplish their business goals faster than aggregating someone else’s content.

    One thing not mentioned — reaching out for third party content. Can be a great way to engage influencers and companies your client wants to get closer to.

    I also think that garnering earned media is a natural byproduct of a well executed content marketing strategy.

  • This reads more about 7 Principals of Distributing Content than creating the content itself. But that’s okay:

  • JenChicago says:

    This is fantastic. I was just talking about this last night but your explanations help so much.
    Rock on!

  • deb lavoy says:

    Actually, Tim, I think you’ve picked a perfect example with Patagonia. They have a crystal clear mission and message and market. So they are free to communicate fast, free and well. Once you have that vision, you are free as a bird. I’m not saying content needs to be meticulously produced, I’m saying that the aggregate whole needs to mean something, to be valuable, to accrue credibility, purpose, vision, meaning. Once the vision is clear – even if the vision is clarifying the vision – it grows, evolves and accelerates in all kinds of ways. You’d be surprised, tho, how many companies are still struggling to understand their mission and their narrative.

  • deb lavoy says:

    agree – analysis paralysis is the other side of the coin, but if you’re just talking, if you aren’t making an overall important point, its worth taking some time to figure out what you are, and why you matter. Even that journey can create “shareworthy” content. But yet another link to yet another random infographic is not going acrue credibility or value to your brand or your org. Content marketing for the sake of it might get you in the game, but its not going to win it.

  • deb lavoy says:

    i think you may have left out the most important point of all. Content has to matter. It has to be meaningful, impactful, worth talking about. Random cute kittens is not content marketing (unless you’re selling kitty litter). I prefer the term substance marketing. You need to have something important to talk about. You need a destination that supports and aggregates all of the material, you need a way for people to engage and remain engaged. I guess you’ve inspired my next blog post too! I think the key point here is that the tactical values – SEO and the like – need to align with core marketing values – they need to add up to a meaningful whole.

    • Todd Defren says:

      All content should be SHAREWORTHY. Don’t publish junk. Better to be quiet than to queer the signal-to-noise ratio.

      To be “shareworthy,” it must matter, eh?

      • Tim says:

        Nice post, Todd, but I have to agree with Deb that being shareworthy doesn’t necessarily cover the fact that when creating content it’s imperative to always put your audience front and center and keep them in mind when producing a story. I see a lot of stuff that is “shareworthy,” but not necessarily something that hits me like a ton of bricks and builds the emotional connections I think many brands are shooting for with branded content. I’d say the most important thing any brand can do when creating a content strategy and content itself is ask routinely: “Why does the viewer care?” and “What value is the viewer getting from this.” Without it content won’t have the same emotional punch so many desire and it runs the danger of coming off as self serving.

      • Todd Defren says:

        While I don’t disagree in theory, a marketer can also over think things—and then act too slowly, which means any effort that doesn’t nail it is doubly vexsome/expensive. I’d rather be thoughtful, shareworthy, AND fast.

      • Tim says:

        I see and understand your point, but I think it’s smart of marketers to rather miss it, than rush to create “sharable” content that has a short shelf-life and is only a momentary distraction in the overwhelming noise that the Internet creates. Take Patagonia for instance. They are a forward-thinking brand that created beautiful catalogs, web videos, marketing material and multimedia content that was thought out, painstakingly edited and put the audience first. They humanized their clothes, embedded their culture into the hearts of millions and created life-long bonds with future and current customers. While there will always be a place for real-time content and legacy content, the principles they are built on should not change and quite frankly I feel agencies like yours can set itself apart by adopting those. Including some of the ones mentioned above in your post.

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