I was listening to some old performances on KEXP, (the most awesome radio station on the planet) when I came across a set by Macklemore, the rapper from Seattle who has, with the help of the Internet of course, carved out a hugely successful career. At the end of the set, he was questioned by the presenter as to why he gives some of his music away for free, his response was simple and instantaneous; “Spread it, get it out there to the people – then go play”. What struck me was not just what he said, but the conviction with which he said it. And the comment immediately made me think of content marketing and spreading the word. Clearly, there are lessons for content marketers in the way some artists have adapted to the new “sharing economy”–the world where people are sharing everything from their homes, to their cars, to their music.
So here goes – the top three things I think content marketers can learn from artists like Macklemore:
1. Trust Your Content and Tell a Story
It feels scary to put yourself out in the public domain, doesn’t it? Whether it’s your first recording as an artist, or it’s that controversial whitepaper you have created on the most important issue affecting your industry. It is an unsettling feeling, right? It’s natural to question whether your content is good enough or whether your message will resonate with anyone. But you have to put it out there, tell your brand story, and see how your audience responds.
So why does Macklemore trust his content and why should we, as content marketers, care? Well, love or hate his music, his stories appear genuine, come from personal experience, and are in his own words. Macklemore is a great example for content marketers–he tells authentic stories that people relate to and share.
Does your content come from your own experience or that of your business? If it does, then you are on the right track and your content is genuine. Confidence in your content or message is just as crucial in content marketing as it is for Macklemore. You need a belief that what you are saying is awesome and worth spreading. Content marketing success does not happen in an instant and it is not defined by one piece of content. It is defined by many.
2. Be Prolific, but Remember Quality is Key
Go to YouTube, Google, or other social media sites and search for Macklemore, you will see pages and pages of results, right? In YouTube, alongside the official videos, you can find clips from sessions he has done on stations like KEXP, NPR. You will also find lots of interviews he has done on television. Macklemore is a content machine. He has seized the momentum and fueled it with more and more content.
Although he seems to have a large arsenal of content, you get a sense that each piece of content was part of a plan–a content ‘arc’, if you will. Different topics, themes, and formats—all very well thought out. A great lesson for the content marketer here is that while it is critical to have a regular drumbeat to your content production, equally important is the quality of that content and how it supports the message you want to share.
3. Listen and Talk, Talk and Listen
The third, but by no means least important lesson for content marketers courtesy of Macklemore is really quite simple but critical: listen to your audience and when they talk, engage with them. Macklemore has demonstrated this at key points in his career. For instance, he was accused of “selling out” by some fans because he has sold his music to appear in TV commercials. He engaged with his fans and responded because, like all the best content marketers, he understands that the best content is not created in isolation and pushed blindly out in hopes that someone, somewhere will get it. Instead, the best content is created by those who listen to their audience and understand that awesome content is only awesome if someone loves it and tells their friends about it. Make sure you speak and listen to your audience, and your content will be the winner.
So remember our key points for content marketers courtesy of Macklemore: be authentic, be prolific and always be listening. What other lessons have you learned about content marketing from artists such as Macklemore?