Tech companies have often lead the way in experimenting with new marketing concepts. Businesses built on change and innovation will arguably feel more comfortable exploring new directions than those that operate in more traditional sectors.
So it is not surprising that many tech companies have pioneered the use of content marketing, especially in the United States. Microsoft has a long history of providing content targeted at its customers, as do many companies which have evolved from being largely tech providers into media companies- the most obvious being Aol which now owns The Huffington Post, Engadget and many others. BT in the UK, which runs news, sport and tech channles, is another example.
Other companies began blogs on their corporate sites as long ago as the mid 2000s giving their senior execs the opportunity to share their thoughts about the industry with a wider audience
More recently mobile phone chip maker Qualcomm blazed a trail with its Spark portal which took content marketing in the sphere to a new level. A team of specially recruited tech journalists worked to deliver a website that took an insider eye on the future in the type of way consumer titles like Wired had being doing for years. The key difference is that occasionally the articles would subtly reference work that Qualcomm was developing.
General Electric's GE Reports emerged at similar time and offers readers content in three categories; invocation, perspectives and performance. Articles on exploring the brain's potential - for example an interview with a prominent Icelandic scientist - sits next to a story which highlights how GE has worked with wind farm operators in South America to deliver cheaper electricity. It is one of the most accomplished examples of content marketing online.
Another key trend is the creation of portals for tech companies on existing media sites. Interestingly GE has also worked with major US digital publisher Quartz on a portal that is housed on the Quartz Site. World in Motion is a warehouse for GE's articles, videos, graphics and social media posts from around the globe.
So why do the tech companies value content so highly?
Until fairly recently tech companies, especially in the B2B sphere, tended to keep their expertise to themselves. The growth of content marketing has challenged this assumption. Surely one of the best ways to develop trust and an affinity with customers is to show that you really do know what you are talking about. In an excellent blog post on B2B thought leadership at Imedia Connection Gordon Plutsky argues
‘Those that have are able to rise to the top of consumer and prospect awareness by using once-proprietary knowledge to establish themselves as thought leaders in their field. They don't give away the house, but they share enough valuable insights to pique audience's' interest and prove they're worth their salt.’
There is also the more subtle fact of underlining to readers that the company is very future focused. Blog posts about future trends and interviews with prominent futurologist’s emphasis to the reader that the company, no matter what its heritage, is very much focused on creating, and being a part of tomorrow. Intel’s IQ website is another highly effective portal that majors on future tech and the company’s role in creating it.
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