Contentions: Bringing creativity, brand, and distribution together

As an expertise, marketing has an even wider set of specialties and experiences than many other lines of work. Even in the world of organic internet marketing, it’s easy to experience overwhelm considering the many channels; TikTok, SEO, Twitter (X), LinkedIn, Threads, Reddit, etc. While marketing can be extremely fun to work on (and equal parts dizzying and exciting), it still needs a steady business case to keep moving forward.

At times like this, it’s helpful to consider a more timeless approach, a level higher than a channel. Deborah Carver puts forward an approach at The Content Technologist:

A true digital content strategy matches audience needs with business goals (aka $$$$$) at a macro level. Voice and tone, URL slugs, keyword maps, and title tags are small tactical parts of that strategy, but not the whole kit and caboodle…

In a sophisticated audience acquisition strategy, search optimization is a long-term, comprehensive digital effort to attract audiences actively seeking trustworthy information on topics about which your company or brand has authority. It’s organic, meaning that you’re not paying for your audience’s attention; you’re letting them discover your brand through their own efforts…

But a true organic acquisition strategy is about making your content discoverable: on Instagram or TikTok, DuckDuckGo or Naver—wherever your most valuable audience spends their time.

If your business is content, examine whatever role “driving traffic” has in your strategy and replace it with “finding an audience.” The role of organic search, aka SEO, aka how you show up on the most populated places and in the most crucial resources of the internet, is to introduce new audiences to your brand when they are seeking trustworthy information.

It took self-restraint not to excerpt more; the full piece is definitely worth a read. Carver also shares a template to help structure thinking on this:

We know that our audience [digital behavior] to/for [type of content] about [topic]. We can best serve them if they find [content product] when they seek [target topics].

An oddly specific case study here would be Slack iOS app’s release notes in the App Store.

Although it had been on my radar for years—probably since I wrote the Slack copywriting blog post—it recently popped back up on my radar after a screenshot from Michael Riddering went viral at Twitter:

Riddering’s post was just one of many others; here’s a similar earlier post from Dom Blossom at LinkedIn.

Slack is obviously seeing this work, so it’s going to keep doing this. If you were to pitch this to a company that’s not Slack, and still has many people reading its release notes, you may want to try slotting this into Carver’s template so it makes sense to other stakeholders. It might look something like this:

We know that people working in modern teams and enterprises read release notes for information about Slack’s new app updates. [With every update, [insert stat here] people update their Slack apps, and 0.1% of them read the release notes.] We can best serve them if they find moments of levity when they seek information on updating their new app.

Or if we abstract a level higher; perhaps the team’s intention is to create a screenshot-worthy moment, effectively compelling a person observed the content (and liked it) to post a screenshot to social media:

We know that people working in modern teams and enterprises browse social media for entertainment about SaaS companies. We can best serve them if they find a moment of levity when they seek entertainment on social media.

In a professional setting, people need to buy into creativity. That means they need at least a qualitative business case to make sense of why a copywriter will spend a good chunk of their day each week writing and editing release notes. (I’m guessing about the time—don’t quote me.)

I wrote more about Slack’s release notes here. As always, it’s worth remembering that great writing is an extension of the product, and that culture turned outwards is brand.

Some more exhibits:

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