Jim Gibson - Publishing Partner, Online Media Today
By Jim Gibson - Publishing Partner, Online Media Today

If you’ve been reading a lot of online marketing blogs, you’ve no doubt heard many espouse the benefits of generating lots of content to help bolster your SEO efforts.  The phrase “Content is King!” is being discussed as the cornerstone of any online marketing effort but the reality is content, in and of itself, will not guarantee success in your internet marketing endeavors.  Rather, marketers should place more emphasis in the context and value of your content to ensure your message resonates with established audiences across the web.

Guerilla Marketing
By the same token, businesses engaged in guerilla marketing should pay heed to the reasoning behind context over content.  Guerilla marketing is not a new advertising technique but it’s quickly gaining popularity among more savvy internet marketers. 

The basis of this marketing approach is rooted in the ability to leverage existing online communities in order to cost effectively distribute your message “en masse”.    Although not as targeted as other forms of online marketing, the goal of guerilla marketing is to get your message in front of as many eyeballs as possible with the hope that incremental conversions (e.g., sales, sign ups, etc.) will result. 

The problem with this approach is that, without a keen understanding of what the community is primarily purposed with, much of the message content is overlooked or dismissed entirely.  Worse yet, marketers who take this approach risk being filtered out as internet noise and, in the process, being ostracized from the community as a whole.

To understand the reasoning behind context over content is to look no further than the real life interactions you face each day.  Let’s say you happen upon a small social gathering at a party and they are discussing the recent Oscar winners.  You join in on the conversation and immediately begin to talk about your new business opportunity.  What do you think will happen?  The likely answer is that you will be observed as an intrusion on the group and your comments will be considered completely inappropriate.   The more obvious indicator of your unwanted contribution will be the group disbanding and later moving to another area to continue their conversation in private. 

Social media is also about managing turf.  Social media enthusiasts spend a great deal of time creating special interest groups to share common interests with like minded people.  Encroaching on other people’s turf with off topic messages is like telling people at a friend’s party that your party next door is a lot more interesting than the one they are enjoying (I cite, for example, TV sitcom Frasier’s party protest with upstairs neighbor Cam Winston).  Unless your party offers a lot more of what they are looking for (for some of my friends a full keg would do it), then you'll assuredly fail at enticing people away from the current party.

Interactions through social media are really no different.

Social media has evolved precipitously over the past few years.  It used to be that online engagement was all about self, however, recently the focus on “me” has shifted dramatically to an emphasis on “we”.  The social web is dominated by member communities that exhibit specific behaviors.  Without a doubt, content is a priority in most social interactions but without context, the content has no real value. 

That’s the real point here - Value in Context.  For the most part, people no longer consider social media the novelty it once was.  Although social media is still used to a great extent as a tool to maintain connections or to get back in touch with old acquaintances, the fact is there is a great deal of importance placed on the value of online exchanges.  Yes, there are still those out there who share everything under the sun (Do we really want to hear about your bad day at work?) but still those same people are talking about the great movie they saw, car they just bought, restaurant they dined or cell phone app they just downloaded.  Within each of these messages lies a context that others may feel compelled to engage and interact with in order to derive some intrinsic value. 

The only way to connect with and really have an opportunity to influence these online conversations is by adding more value in the context of the existing dialogue.  The bottom line is a content strategy that doesn’t bring a certain amount of value to the table is doomed to suffer the same fate as our dear old Frasier – a party with no guests.  

About the Author:

Jim Gibson is a certified search engine marketing professional and serial entrepreneur.  In addition to Online Media Today, Jim is a principal at GibSEM Group (http://www.gibsem.com) and has founded several internet properties including online B2C directory, Service Omni, Inc. (
http://www.serviceomni.com) and QuakeDog, Inc. (www.quakedog.com), a network marketing company focused on the sale of personal survival gear.  You can reach Jim at: jgibson@gibsem.com or follow him @GibSEM.
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3/9/2010 09:10:00 am

Great article and I loved the little bit of humor. I agree completely. I hate it when someone comes in to an online group with their blatant ads. It's very rude and it is "internet noise" and people need to be discouraged from doing it.

3/11/2010 01:44:09 am

I really like the oscar talk metaphor. It clearly illustrates two negative consequences of “content without context”:
- a high bounce rate: people will know you are here but you won’t be able to catch their attention and convert them into long-term visitors
- a brand reputation deterioration : people will know who you are and for that, will try to avoid you

3/11/2010 02:41:56 am

Marcus: thanks for your feedback on the article! I think, in terms of discouraging this type of behavior, that it will ultimately work itself out of favor naturally. Like a personal interaction, repeated unwanted content (out of context) usually ends up with the person not being heard at all. Once that happens enough, the culprit will learn to engage in more meaningful (and mutually beneficial) ways.

Pauline: thank you for taking the time to respond. You bring up two very good points about the end result of content out of context. These are truly the essence of the end results.

Thanks again for great comments!


3/28/2011 04:28:09 pm

You write good articles, I will always be concerned about

9/19/2012 03:16:00 am

Where can I find out when this was posted?


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