Technology

How Technology Has Democratized Content Marketing

Have we reached a point of content saturation on articles about content saturation? It’s true that there is a lot more content and a lot more noise competing for attention. For bigger brands this may not be a welcome development. After all, they always had the resources, content and access to distribution that made content marketing effective.

But for smaller businesses on tighter budgets, changes in the content marketing landscape have been decidedly positive. Laments about content saturation from that crowd just seem like hollow complaints.

The fact is that the technological advancements that have increased content output are the same factors that have allowed smaller brands into the game in the first place. Would you rather have access to a content marketing toolkit in a competitive landscape or not have access at all?

In this post we’ll take a look at the technological innovations that have democratized content creation and distribution and allowed small businesses to benefit.

Content distribution on your terms

The barriers and middlemen between you and your audience have dramatically and consistently melted away over the last decade or so.

Consider the options you had to distribute any content you created in the past. Your options basically included books, magazines, newspapers, direct mail, billboards, television or radio… and let’s not forget skywriting.

As a business owner you don’t control any of these channels. Your content must be accepted by an editor or you must pay for the privilege of communicating with your audience.

Contrast that with similar channels today that offer far more control. You can easily self-publish written content with a blog, eBook, whitepaper, or slideshare deck rather than going through a publisher. Television can be substituted with video hosting and sharing tools like YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia. Podcasts can replace radio, be distributed for free with iTunes or Stitcher, and consumed on demand. Direct mail becomes email…  and I guess Twitter is the new skywriting. Haha

Content can be shared on a much larger scale without the marketing budget that would have been required in the past. Social media and SEO have become key methods for reaching a new audience. And you can maintain that audience like never before with owned channels like your website or email list.

Even when a major channel like Facebook drastically reduces organic access to your audience, there are dozens of other social channels with fewer barriers able to pick up the slack.

So yes, while content saturation is real and there is more competition for attention than ever, small businesses and organizations with tight budgets have more direct access to their audience than ever before.

Inexpensive devices to capture amazing audio and video

Advancements in hardware technology have opened up content formats that would have been unapproachable for many small businesses in the past.

The cost of cameras, video equipment and microphones continues to fall as quality and usability improve. Even the capabilities of a smartphone make amazing content achievable for any business. For just a few hundred dollars – which you probably already spent – and you have the tools to create striking visual content.

The camera quality on the latest phones is better than most high end cameras were not long ago. With each iteration new features like improved panoramic capability and slow motion get better and  better.

The sound capture on phone microphones is pretty amazing too - especially if you are able to keep the phone close to the sound source. Picking up a few other tricks - like using one phone to film and another to capture audio - will improve the output even further. For more suggestions, Wistia has a piece on creating great video with only an iPhone.

There are also some very affordable shotgun microphone attachments that enhance audio even further. An inexpensive lighting setup can provide even more polish with a minimal investment.

The increasing affordability of drones offers new opportunities as well. Check out this video featuring the Lily Drone. It promises the ability to capture aerial video all by yourself that would have required a helicopter and camera crew in the past.

Your ability to create something amazing is limited only by your own creatively and knowledge of your audience.

Software to design and edit content like never before

The job of editing, enhancing, designing, and packaging your content used to require an entire team and tens of thousands of dollars (or more) in equipment.

Today, an inspired creator can put out a remarkable product with nothing more than a laptop, a smartphone and some enthusiasm.

An out-of-the-box MacBook basically serves as a fully equipped creative studio. The Pages application allows you to mix text and imagery to create magazine quality documents. The Photos application offers basic photo editing, retouching and organizaton. iMovie serves as a very capable mobile video studio. GarageBand enables musicians or a podcast creators to generate amazing audio content. And Keynote provides  a great tool for giving compelling presentations.

If your budget is even tighter, many of the primary capabilities of those applications can be performed directly on an iPhone with standard or inexpensive mobile apps.

Design help is even easier to get. Freelance job sites make finding and working with a professional designer more convenient and affordable than ever. Other platforms like 99designs are innovating on the process further by providing a platform for small business owners to setup design competitions and choose their favorite result.

The ease and low costs of today’s tools make it possible to produce content that many small brands would never have been able to attempt just five or ten years ago.

Summary

  • Technology has made great content marketing more achievable for SMBs that ever before
  • Today’s distribution channels put far more control in the hands of low-budget marketers
  • A smartphone in the hands of a creative person is a content generation wonder-tool
  • Standard creative apps make polishing content cheaper & easier than ever
  • “Content saturation” is merely a symptom of a golden age of small business content marketing