A collection of interesting quotes from social media and content marketing peeps – and we get a mention on page 7.

As some of you may know, we’ve been working on a bit of a rebrand / relaunch over the last few months.

The idea was simply to expand the kinds of projects that we work on – moving up the food chain from content writing on other people’s digital media projects to developing our own.

We could have, of course, kept it all pretty much the same and just added some new services onto the site, but the name Really Practical didn’t seem to fit right with our new focus.

So, after more than a few delays, I can now unveil Own Brand Media.

We’ll still be providing web content writing and web content management but we’ll be adding custom digital publishing to the list (fully-managed online magazines, business blogs and membership sites).

Most excitingly, we’re also developing our own digital publishing projects – some as joint ventures with clients.

For now ReallyPractical will continue to run as always but with a greater focus on the ‘really practical’ aspects of content marketing – particularly for small businesses. My intention is to develop a few cost-concious content marketing services and resources, specifically for small business owners and freelance professionals. (More on that later.)

All in, we’re looking forward to getting stuck into some exciting projects and will make sure to keep you up-to-date.

In the mean time, feel free to have a nosey around OwnBrandMedia.com – but be nice, we haven’t even got the bubble wrap off yet.

Mark

A few months ago, renowned blogger and social media guy Robert Scoble left his previous job at FastCompany TV to start work on a content and social networking community with his new employers Rackspace, the hosting provider.

The new community, Building 43, is described as a site to:

” … bring together thought leaders in a variety of disciplines and organizations, from entrepreneurs to those responsible for the latest technologies. They will share knowledge, experiences and advice on how you can use these cool new tools and apps to make your business more successful.”

Considering that Rackspace are footing the bill for this community, you might assume that the focus would be Rackspace-friendly topics and generally sans competitors.

However, in an interview with TechCrunch, Scoble went on to say that “on Building 43 you won’t just find information about Rackspace. We’re going to help the entire cloud computing industry get more adoption, users, customers. We’ll cover technologies from Rackspace’s competitors like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, GoGrid, IBM, and others.”

So what’s in it for Rackspace?

Without knowing the exact ins and outs of Rackspace’s agreement with Scoble it’d be hard to pin down the exact benefits but there are a few obvious advantages.

  • Association with a Well-known Name: Robert Scoble is a pretty big name in the tech / social media sphere and just about anything he does will attract a reasonable amount of attention – like the TechCrunch article.
  • A Content Asset and Community: As the Building 43 site and community grows (the content is distributed through a variety of social media outlets forming a ‘distributed community’) Rackspace are developing a content asset and community around that content. How they might leverage that community is up to them but even the simple brand association and advertising value will be of benefit.
  • Client Outreach and Community: Again from the Techcrunch interview, “A focus of Building 43 will be visiting and profiling these [clients] and other companies, with a look at how they grow over time.” By promoting the growth of customer businesses, Rackspace not only associates themselves with their success but also adds value to what they deliver – a little publicity alongside your hosting.
  • Expertise: And, of course, Scoble will be able to lend his own expertise to Rackspace’s own social media efforts.
  • Promoting Key Technologies: Cloud computing is an important market for Rackspace; Building 43 will no doubt help promote the adoption of cloud computing – and naturally lead interested parties to check out Rackspace’s offering.

This all makes a lot of sense from a content marketing point of view. Creating this content helps position and raise the profile of Rackspace within the social media community, demonstrate their expertise, build an asset and indirectly promote their services (cloud computing in particular).

Again, without knowing the specifics it’s hard to judge, but it’s a reasonable assessment to say that the total cost of this effort will be outwieghed by the added visibility, goodwill and direct sales generated.

What Are Rackspace Doing Right?

Clearly the idea is sound but what, specifically, are Rackspace doing to make it work?

  • Lightweight branding – There is little overt branding in evidence on the site, too much could potentially put off potential users.
  • A Well-Known Frontman – Scoble lends immediate credibility to the site and ensures media and community interest.
  • A Content Expert – Scoble is expert in creating content and communities around that content.
  • An Open Editorial Policy – Great content does not always fall within corporate communications guidelines. By giving Building 43 the scope to discuss a range of topics – and even include competitors – the content will be seen as intrinsically less biased.
  • Hosting the Conversation – It’s not all about creating content. Building 43 acts as a simple focal point to help organise the conversation and spark debate.

What are your thoughts: How do you see Rackspace benefiting from their association with Scoble and Building 43? What challenges might they face? What should / could they do differently?

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This is more of a question than an answer but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway.

We all know that traditional media companies are struggling to make online content pay. They can attract audiences but generating enough advertising revenue to cover the cost of the endeavour has proven difficult (and in some cases impossible).

The problem would seem to be two-fold: low advertising returns and large cost bases. If this is the case, then it would seem to suggest that digital media publishing should lean towards lower cost models that do not rely (solely) on advertising revenues to succeed.

Just the kind of thing that businesses can do.

Businesses who make digital content the focus of their marketing strategies, generate revenues from the increase in product or service sales their content helps deliver. Volume of traffic is less relevant therefore than quality of traffic – meaning smaller niches are viable.

Similarly, with the focus less on traffic volume, there may be less need for the sheer volume of content that ad-funded sites require and potentially less marketing spend involved in promoting that content too.

This would suggest that businesses are, in some ways, better suited to producing digital media content than ‘pure-play’ media businesses are.

What do you think?

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