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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Talking notes (what I will say) using teleprompter Supporting visuals

Mark Schaefer is a best-selling author of five marketing books including

1. Return On Influence (2012),

2. The Tao of Twitter (2012),

3. Social Media Explained (2014),

4. Born to Blog (2013), and

5. Known (2017).

Some of these books can be found in more than seven hundred global libraries and twelve languages.

The Content Code (2015) is one of his most widely known books. INC magazine named it as a top five best-selling marketing book worldwide.

Apart from his texts, Schaefer also presents his ideas through his blog, Grow ( The globally acclaimed blog is one of the most visited marketing blogs.

His clients range from global brands (such as Dell, Addidas, J&J, and AT&T), governments (such as the UK government and Air Force), to start-ups. He also contributes to The Harvard Business Review regularly.

Short facts about Mark Schaefer

• He is a fifty-seven-year-old award-winning business writer.

• An internationally acclaimed author and blogger.

• Known for his insightful, thought-provoking, and original business views.

• Has received seven international patents for his innovative ideas.

In The Content Code Schaefer explores and outlines the six factors that will help you break through the overwhelming wall of information that your consumers and clients face to give you marketing wins.

The path-finding book is written with the goal of helping marketers break through the wall of overwhelming information density, beyond web traffic, social media and Search Engine Optimization.

As a successful business consultant who has lived through the experience of cultivating a community, the insights given by Schaefer in the book are practical approaches and not hypothetical theories.

Mark introduces the myth that is blocking the progress of most businesses – that of content being the king.

The modern online marketers have been stuck in a foregone ideology that producing epic content that is filled with keywords and decorated with great graphics and videos will make them successful.

The modern world in filled with too much information that is flooding the audience computer and seeking for attention. The role of the content marketer is to break through this information overload or noise.

The content code starts where your current marketing plan ends and provides the launch code for next level success.

It dives deeply into the steps the companies need to undertake so that they can achieve measurable results and the true value of social media marketing.

As a pioneering book in this field, Schaefer offers insights into the psychology of sharing and practical ideas that can be useful to organizations of any budget or size.

In this film we will dive deeply into the true value of social media marketing and steps you need to enable to achieve measurable success.

We will look at the psychology of sharing, the connection between brand and content transmission, focus on finding an audience that will move your content.

Identify practical steps to build in shareability into all your content and examine the new role of promotion, distribution and SEO in a very competitive world.

So let's dive into the six digital secrets of the content code.

The question at the heart of the Content Code is -

As a professional marketer I am working harder than ever, producing great content on multiple platforms, engaging on social media, but it's getting me nowhere? Why not? What am I doing wrong? Qte onscreen

As a professional marketer I am working harder than ever, producing great content on multiple platforms, engaging on social media, but it's getting me nowhere? Why not? What am I doing wrong?

Well sadly the idea that just producing great content is the winning scenario is outdated

Everyone now is a content producer from teenage girls with makeup tutorials, to food recipe videos, to Instagram stories.

According to the author Mark there isn't a bigger trend that will impact your marketing than the overwhelming and unstoppable force of the tsunami of content being produced - across the board, everywhere, all the time.


Now it's true we have adjusted our habits to accommodate some of this.

The use of a second screen, as

we tweet whilst we watch events on TV, or grabbing a coffee break and checking social media at the same time. But the supply has reached such a point that we can no longer simply “find more time”. It's overwhelming and .Mark calls this “Content Shock”.

The channels you use are also struggling. Facebook has altered its algorithms to cope with this fire hose of data and so now you no longer see every post just a handful that it's magical algorithm selects for you -

 It's just getting harder... Facebook related clip

The real power comes to those who can create content that connects, engages and moves through the network through social sharing…

The author recognizes the need for good quality content to succeed in marketing but highlights its insignificance when there is no engagement or reach to the target audience.

The focus needs to shift away from creating the content (because that is a given) - and towards the idea of building a community, developing strategies to distribute the content and marketing to promote every piece.

As a result, the book is authored to provide the marketer with a means to connect with the audience through the use of content ignition.

What we've talked about so far -

● Business results on the web don't come from content itself ; they come from content that moves.

● Even if your content is great, there's no guarantee it will rise to the top in an increasingly competitive world.

● Exploding information density effectively negates many traditional marketing strategies and increases the cost to remain competitive.

And the main pitch of the book is that the Content Code will give your content the best chance to cut through the noise and be heard.

So what is the Content Code?

The highlights of the book include the in-depth explorations on the content transmission and brand connections, the focus on the audience, and how the marketer can build “shareability” among other issues.

Furthermore, Schaefer provides ideas for the promotion, distribution and SEO of content in the increasingly competitive digital world.

He does this through bringing out six strategies:

1. Brand development

2. Audience and Influencers

3. Distribution, Advertising, promotion and SEO

4. Authority

5. Shareability in each piece of content

6. Social proof and social signals


Let us dive into the first one and most important, which  is Brand Development

Great content is necessary, but it is not the end. There is the need for content ignition.

The content marketer needs to go beyond content creation with strategies to overcome the sheer volumes of competition, user passivity, and websites with better traffic.

The development of a brand in content marketing will help the consumers develop a positive attitude and ideas towards the content in the long-term.

The modern consumer is increasingly focusing on the person who writes the content, which makes the ideology of branding to be more critical in the present times than it was in the past.

The person or brand creating the content is increasingly becoming a more valuable source of the ignition in the contemporary times.

Therefore, it is paramount for the business owner or content marketer to align themselves to their organizational brand and ensure that the output matches that brand.

The content on the internet is being taken over by heroic brands.

The consumers are highly focusing on the person who writes the content, which makes the ideology of branding to be more critical in the present times than it was in the past.

The way the things move around the internet or how they shared is no longer dependent on the content alone.

In the past, the use of strong keywords and adept knowledge of SEO tools could have catapulted the content to the top searches for the consumer to find.

However, content accessibility is changing in the modern world of information overload.

The author explores the experiences of people like Gary Vaynerchuk, Brogan and Baer to show how critical brand development is to content marketing.

Each individual has their personal brands, but the likes of Chris Brogan have developed heroic brands.

These are people whose brand has grown beyond the conventional SEO, beyond the content they share, and beyond the social media.

The development of a brand means that an individual has to develop an emotional connection with the audience.

The people will no longer share the content because of what is in it. They will share it because of the emotional connection that they have developed with the content developer.

They audience develops an attachment with the developer or love the brand so much that the content they are sharing does not matter anymore.

Schaefer provides a seven-step plan for building a heroic brand.

What we have talked about so far:

• Branding is the first and critical step in content marketing.

• Development of a brand gives an edge over those who depend on SEO or other conventional marketing tools.

• The content marketer needs to develop a brand that is unique and appealing to the audience.

• The consumers will share the content of the brand that they love or have much familiarity.

The second strategy is Audience and Influencers

The greatest concept here is the idea of building, developing and nurturing an exclusive “Alpha audience.”

The alpha audience includes the small percentage of consumers who share the content of the website and are surrounded by an active community.

They become the best brand ambassadors for the website and the content.

The Alpha audience only represents less than five percent of the consumers but has the greatest capacity to ignite the content and take it to the next levels.

Schaefer notes that the numbers of the audience are not as significant as the engagement with them and their impact.

The marketer should lay more emphasis on tapping into the alpha audience.

Targeting the alpha audience and nurturing a relationship with them is vital to the success of content marketing and ignition.

There is no need to have numerous followers who do not convert to actual contribution of the content through purchasing or sharing.

It is better to start with a small community of active participants who will grow gradually than a large number of dormant followers.

The development of the alpha audience needs to be followed by continuous interaction with them to ensure that they can promote the contents of the website.

Some brands may lack significant audience leave alone the alpha audience. Here is where the idea of using influencers becomes critical.

The content marketers can tap into the audience of these influencers to create the foundations of developing their own alpha audiences. This can be done through influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing involves finding strong social users who have high number of followers and potential affinity to your industry, product, brand, or service and using them to market your content to their audience.

The influencers can be paid or organic, or a mix of both.

Influencers can result in “borrowed trust” for your website.

The use of influencers to develop borrowed trust can lead to awareness, development of an alpha audience, giving services and products faster traction, social proof (validation of the content through the association with the influencer), and access to new markets or channels among others.

Influencers can have a big stimulus in helping build the audience of a website.

Poor choice of influencers for the content may not necessarily result in the generation of numbers or influence the followers to take action.

Nevertheless, the influencers can move the audiences to visit the website and combined with the other factors, can result in more views of the content.

What we have learnt on audience and influencers is that:

• It is better to have a few and active members who share the content that many followers who are not interested.

• These few followers, who are called the Alpha audience, should be held in high esteem. You should connect with them and grow them slowly to have an active community.

• Influencers can help those without an alpha audience by sharing their audience to consume the content.

• It is important to find influencers whose audience can align with the contents being developed by the content marketer.

The next concept is that of Distribution, Advertising, Promotion and SEO

The digital marketing is evolving rapidly and the apps, tools, and technologies that were indispensable a few years ago are now obsolete.

There is also a massive increase in the amount of information competing for the attention of the audience. The audience, on the other hand, has limited time to consume this information.

As a result, there is need to develop a viable method to ensure that your information is distributed to the right audience that wants to consume it.

Social distribution is the method of organic sharing the content through the channels of the blog or website. It includes reaching to the audience who access the content regularly.

The distribution channels are increasingly becoming difficult to use with the increase in quality content on the internet and large number of websites offering similar information.

A few years back, homemade videos were the most consumed content on YouTube.

Organic content on sites such as Facebook could also reach large number of users without having to pay to boost the viewership.

The situation is rapidly changing with the big brands taking over these social websites. The internet is increasingly becoming a venue for “pay to play”

The slickly produced content from big brands is highly consumed on YouTube these days compared to the past, which has opened the doors to the world where one has to pay to play.

The increase in content on Facebook has also led to a fall in the organic reach for most pages.

There is need to amplify the content to penetrate these increasing barriers in the internet.

Amplification involves use of organic or paid exposure to increase the exposure of the content to the target audience.

When done correctly. Content amplification can increase social signals, build the brand, improve SEO, and strengthen the brand awareness.

To penetrate this information overload wall, most organizations have resorted to paid advertisements.

The paid channels can include paid social sponsored placements, PPC campaigns, or other types of paid promotional activities for the content.

Advertising is one of the methods to amplify the content. However, the situation becomes favorable to companies with big pockets. These companies can pay for their contents to be delivered to larger audiences using these paid channels.

Schaefer gives some insights on the options for paid distribution that can work well in the transmitting of the content to the target audience as well as some tips for promoting it.

However, he notes that the organic amplification (such as SEO) and paid ads are no longer enough. There is need to build content with inbuilt ignition and amplification.

Some of the strategies the content marketer can employ to boost the distribution of their contents include:

• The use of influencers (organic and paid) and other high-ranking websites.

• The development of good quality content. There is an interconnection between SEO and good quality content.

• Harnessing the Alpha audience. The marketer needs to connect with the existing alpha audience or develop new ones because they are the ones who can help the content to be distributed widely.

• The use of social proof and social signals. The audience will share or consume content that they see others sharing or consuming.

The social media is critical in the amplification of the content. It can also be used to establish thought leadership, and all online marketers need to master the art of social sharing.

The alpha audience plays a critical role in the social media sharing.

Friends' updates on social media are more likely to influence the choices of the consumers. Additionally, it increases the trust and the confidence in the brand.

The concept, which Schaefer describes as the psychology of sharing, is based on the fact that people will readily trust content that they feel other people have already trusted.

What we have talked about so far:

• Distribution of the content is critical to gain economic value.

• The distribution channels can be organic or paid.

• The paid advertisements give the companies with deep pockets undue advantage.

• It is critical for the digital marketer to develop content that has in-built ignition and amplification.

• The use of the alpha audience can be beneficial in content amplification.

The next concept is on authority

Developing a strong website authority can be a difficult, elusive and subtle content transmission method.

There is too much content available on the internet while the audience has very little time to consume it. It has led to content shock for the consumer.

There are also numerous websites that have better traffic and more content.

The goal of content marketing is ensuring that the audience will consume the produced content through overcoming the increased availability of information on the online platforms.

The marketer should be focused on developing content that stands out from this increased competition.

An important tool for overcoming this challenge is through the creation of a strong website that appears at the top of the search engines.

Developing a strong and recognizable website has been the hallmark of the SEO industry for some time now.

The consumer is more likely to access the information at or near the top of their Google searches. These websites are considered to be trustworthy and reliable in the provision of the content that the audience seeks.

It is critical to ensure that the content of the website is found near these zones to increase the chances of the consumers accessing it.

Alternatively, the marketer can utilize these websites to promote their contents and increase the traffic to their website as it grows in strength.

Moz's Domain Authority and Google's page rank are some of the critical tools that can be used to measure the website's authority.

Other significant tools include social media hashtags and keywords share buttons, efficient imagery, removing opt-in blocks, well-crafted headlines, and a connection with influencers.

The content marketer needs to be a master of the Google search operators to help them identify the means of unmasking the websites that feature on top searches and learning from them.

Identification of appropriate influencers through platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter can also be a means to increase traffic to a website, and improve its authority.

It is paramount to develop a website with high authority, which increases its chances of showing up at the (or near) top of the search engines.

It amplifies the use of SEO, and increases the likelihood of the audience to access the content on the site.

What we have seen under this topic

• The development of strong website authority is a difficult, elusive and subtle content transmission method.

• The use of the Google tools can help the content developer to increase the chances of improving their content and the website authority.

• It is critical to use all possible tools that can increase the strength and authority of a website, which can improve its SEO.

• Appropriate influencers and top websites can be used to increase the traffic to a website, which increases its authority.

The next concept is Shareability embedded into each content piece.

What are some of the reasons that people share a particular content and not another?

Schaefer notes that ego, emotion, self-fulfillment, and insight are critical in the sharing of contents.

People will share content for the intrinsic and emotional reasons.

Self-identity, care for others, and the regard for the content creators are some of the intimate and emotional aspects that push the audience to share the content of a website.

The significance of the audience sharing the content with their active community cannot be understated.

Content that is published but not shared does not have any economic value. Therefore, the most significant attribute in the development of the content is making the audience to share it within their circles.

The marketer needs to develop a strategy around social sharing and transmission.

People will share the content on a website based on trust and connection rather than the identification of the keywords or content of the website.

The only way to stand out in the sea of information on the internet is through developing insightful content that makes the audience look good when they share it.

It includes sharing remarkable and exclusive content, or that which bestows achievement upon the audience.

The primary obstacle for content ignition is the resistance of the consumer to share the content.

The obstacle can be generated by the lack of emotional connections with the audience or even mechanical barriers (such as the lack of a sharing button).

The conflict between the reasons why the audience shares the content and the reasons companies need it to be shared is another obstacle.

Companies rely on economic motives for wanting a given content to be shared or accessed. They spend a lot of money on promotion, advertising and SEO to get more people to click on the content.

However, it is easy to trick the audience to click on the content but more difficult to make them share it.

There is the need for the digital marketers to rethink their sharing strategies for the optimization of the content ignition.

Organizations need to begin focusing on building trust and developing an emotional connection with the audience rather than the traffic increase if they want to have a hope of moving their content.

Schaefer introduces the elements of the contagious framework, which can be critical in influencing the consumers to share the content.

He discusses how the content that contains contagious elements can be ignited using practical strategies, techniques, software, and tools that are readily accessible.

Some of these tools include the basic use of the share buttons, hashtags, efficient imagery, removing opt-in blocks, well-crafted headlines, and a connection with influencers.

First, the marketer needs to develop an emotional connection with the audience and then have a strategy to enable the audience to share the content.

The use of statistical evaluations can give the content marketer better ideas on how to ignite the content.

What we have talked about so far:

• Content that is developed needs to be shared to achieve its economic value.

• Shareability includes the development of content that engages and is easier to be shared by the audience.

• Some tools can help the website to improve the ability of its contents to be shared.

The Final Concept is Social Proof and Social Signals

The fact that the modern world is full of information makes it challenging for the consumer to determine what to believe, who to follow, and the content that will be the most helpful.

Social proof and social signals are critically determined by the Alpha audience, who influence the members of their circle to view a given content.

It is all about numbers and strategy to increase and improve the interactions with the consumers. The more the numbers of interactions, the better the social proof of the content.

Higher numbers of people who share a given content also imply that the website is popular or authoritative, which makes the consumers to be more confident in its products or content.

Social signals are based on the psychology of sharing. It can seem like a shallow way of gauging popularity and authority, but the numbers of people who engage in the content have a great influence on the new audience.

Higher social signals demonstrate a high level of trust, shareability, and authority.

Consumers are more likely to trust what other people have trusted. Consequently, they are also more likely to engage in or share what other consumers have shared.

The real power of content comes when the content marketer can produce content that engages, connects, and moves through social networks.

Engagement makes a consumer who has visited the website for the first time to learn more about the content or want to be included in the process.

There is likelihood that more people are going to see and consume the content when there are increased interactions.

These people might leave their mark as well, which creates the need for a more positive image and feedback.

There is significance in social sharing and blog comments. These factors inspire the marketer's propensity to engage with the consumers and share more content.

Schaefer also provides daily and monthly checklists for the content marketer.

These are the things that a content marketer can perform to improve the strategy of their content ignition.

The daily checklist includes basic activities such as the search of prudent laundry lists of websites that the content marketer can use in the promotion of the content.

Monthly activities, on the other hand, include more articulate undertakings such as offline events, finding new influencers or even meeting the Alpha audience to build stronger relationships.

What we have seen in this topic:

• The levels of engagement in online content provide cues to the audience about the levels of authority, trust and popularity of the website.

• It is highly desirable to create content that engages the consumers and increases the numbers of feedback from them.

Summary and Conclusion

The fundamental premise of the books is that there is an increase in inbound and content marketing, which has made the internet to experience information overload (content shock).

Nevertheless, the content marketer needs to stand out if there is a chance of getting returns for the effort of developing the content.

It is imperative to learn how to ignite the content and make it shareable.

The Content Code provides practical tips, insights, and abundant advice that are of great significance to marketers of any stature.

• The author highlights critical steps and provides new ideas using practical experience and examples to make the reader understand and put into practice its guidelines in content marketing.

• It also provides solutions and pertinent illustrations to problems in advertising, SEO, distribution, promotion, heroic brands, development of an alpha audience, developing website authority, social proof, and social signals among other concepts.

• The introduction of psychological concepts in shareability is significant in solving one of the biggest modern puzzles in marketing.

The book is systematic in introducing the problem and the approach that the author is going to take in addressing the issue of content marketing.

The presentation of numerous case studies, scenarios, and reference to other texts makes the book further comprehensive and appealing to the reader.

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