The Content Curve

5 minute read

Upland Admin

Marketers have more direct access to buyers than ever before. The Internet and social media enable us to reach buyers through an explosion of new digital channels. And tools have proliferated to help us manage these channels and the content pushed through them.

But the quantity and speed of these changes have left many of us marketers confused around the terminology, channels, and tools. In particular, there’s confusion around the relationship of social media marketing and content marketing, a topic I’ve been writing on for quite a while.

Allow me to introduce then a new concept, the Content Curve, which I think will bring some clarity to this confounding landscape.

The Content Curve by @tobymurdock

Imagine two axes, the vertical representing length of content and the horizontal representing frequency of content (or, better than imagining, see the image below). In the upper left at long length (10,000 words) and low frequency (once a month), we can plot an eBook or a whitepaper. In the bottom right at short length (140 characters) and high frequency (20 times a day), we can plot a tweet.

We can then plot a curve, the Content Curve, showing the range of different assets and content types that exist between the eBook and the tweet on this length/frequency continuum.

Another way to plot these assets is within the marketing funnel, where social posts exist more at the very top of the funnel and longer assets exist further down the funnel.

Fat Tail and Long Tail Content

Looking back at the Content Curve, we can begin to group sections of the curve into two tails: (1) a long tail of high-frequency, short-length posts and (2) a fat tail of low-frequency, high-length assets.

While all of these videos, eBooks, emails, Facebook posts, etc. are all “content,” it’s important to begin to recognize the different processes involved behind the production of content in the “long tail” and the “fat tail.”

Production of long tail content is more real-time and reactive. Social posts need to be responding to the rapid conversation in the social web. Long tail content production is not particularly collaborative, and the objectives of long tail content are building reach and awareness.

Fat tail content and its related processes are quite different, though. Fat tail production is complex and highly collaborative. Dozens of participants need to work together to produce all of the assets in a full fat tail campaign (which we typically refer to as a content pillar campaign). Fat tail production requires long-term planning to coordinate these collaborators and the re-purposing of content into different forms/channels through this content pillar approach. And while short-form assets produce important reach and awareness, fat tail assets—particularly in higher-priced B2B purchases—drive the critical movement of buyers down the funnel, with the objective of yielding leads, opportunities, and revenue.

Tools and the Content Curve

Given the different processes and objectives behind long tail and fat tail content on the Content Curve, different tools have arisen to serve those unique needs.

Long tail tools manage all of the different content types and related social channels for short-form, high-frequency asset types. Given the real-time responsiveness in the long tail, they offer as much listening functionality as they do publishing. Governance is critical to permit different participants the right access to the right channels. And the analytics in these tools focus on tracking and measuring reach and awareness.

Fat tail tools conversely focus on long-form asset types and their related channels. Functionality and workflow focuses on the highly planned, collaborative, and derivative nature of these assets. And analytics here focus on measuring fat tail content objectives: how these assets deliver leads, opportunities, and revenue.

Long and Fat Tail Content Vendors

There are a number of vendors providing platforms for the long tail. Some of the leaders include:

  • Sprinklr
  • Spredfast
  • HootSuite
  • Percolate
  • NewsCred
  • Radian6 BuddyMedia Social Studio
  • Oracle Social Cloud

Kapost—in case you have not guessed yet—is a fat tail content vendor. This is a more recent software sector than the long tail. Other vendors include Oracle Content Marketing (formerly Compendium) and DivvyHQ.

The long tail and the fat tail are not entirely disconnected, of course. Rather, there are many touch points between their processes and, thus, between the tools. For example, when creating a fat tail content campaign of eBooks, videos, blog posts, emails, landing pages, etc., corresponding social posts need to be drafted and pushed into long tail tools for distribution. Kapost facilitates this functionality through integrations like this one with a growing list of long tail vendors.

Winning on All Points of the Content Curve

As modern marketers, we face an unprecedented challenge in distributing a huge array of different content types across a myriad of digital challenges. Our buyers are in control and only through well-produced and distributed content can we earn their attention, their trust, and their business.

The Content Curve provides a framework for understanding the continuum of different assets along the fat tail and the long tail, and the different processes involved for each. Marketers who quickly organize their operations around these elements of the curve will be those who win the digital battle to grow their business through content.

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