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Is Content Now a Commodity - New Rules for Building Your Brand Online

Digital Marketing

Is Content Now a Commodity - New Rules for Building Your Brand Online

Eric Cook by Eric Cook

Chief Digital Strategist

Contact author Full biography

Full biography

Eric considers himself a “recovering banker” of 15 years, who for the past eleven years has focused his efforts as a digital strategist, helping his clients (mostly community banks) better understand and leverage the power of the Internet as a strategic business tool. An award-winning web designer with WSI, the world’s largest digital agency network, Eric is a two-time contributing author to the best-selling book Digital Minds – 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. Consistently rated in the top five digital marketing books on Amazon, the book is in its second edition and available in three languages.

A sought-after, nationally-recognized speaker in the financial services industry, Eric is a member of the National Speakers Association and loves sharing his knowledge to help educate and inspire others. He is the co-creator of a weekly webinar show called Free Webinar Wednesdays, founder of the Banker Education Series webinar series, and serves as a faculty member at several banking schools around the country where he teaches bankers about digital strategy, online marketing and social media. He is a WSI Certified LinkedIn Professional and holds undergraduate degrees in business administration and psychology. While working full-time as a community banker, Eric earned his MBA and completed the three-year Graduate School of Banking program in Madison, WI in 2003.

Professionally, Eric helps his clients in all areas of digital marketing, which includes mobile-responsive web development, search engine marketing and optimization, social media strategies, e-mail communication, and “big-picture” digital strategic planning. He’s the co-founder of DigitalRCP.com, a service created to help businesses understand their risk when it comes to operating in today’s digital world. When he’s not helping his clients succeed online, he can typically be found on one of his many bicycles training for his next mountain bike/triathlon race or spending time with his wife and two (very spoiled) golden retrievers.

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Summary:

As a digital marketer, I've operated by the principle of "Content is King…” for a long time. The information that you create (content) is critical to building your reputation online, establishing your brand voice, and influencing search engines to help with your organic (SEO) rankings.
 

But content by itself is not enough. The second part of that statement is  “…but engagement is Queen, and she holds the keys to the castle". While content may draw in your readers initially, you won’t get them to stick around or come back without providing engagement. 

This adage is paraphrased from someone I deeply respect and have had the opportunity to see present several times, Mari Smith. In this blog post, I explore the idea of content becoming a commodity in the age of AI. We’ll dig into the role of content today, the recent rise of AI in the content creation process, and how to build your brand online in today's evolving online marketplace.

The Role of Content in Building Credibility and SEO building blocks for credibility

Historically, content has played a vital role in building credibility, and boosting organic SEO visibility, and has been a required element for websites to rank high in search engine results. Search engines rely heavily on content to understand a site's relevance and authority. Part of a robust SEO strategy, content is a powerful tool for educating audiences to attract and produce consistent website traffic. 

Content serves as a signal for search engines, indicating trustworthy, valuable content. That designates it as worthy of showing up as the answer to organic search queries and phrases potential customers enter. Content combined with targeted keywords and phrases improves SEO rankings, and a welcome result of improved ranking is improved site and brand credibility.

But today, quality content creation is evolving thanks to the growing power of AI and content-generating services. While it’s still not advisable to take copy directly from a platform like ChatGPT, Jasper, or Claude, you can use these platforms to get a pretty good first draft that will accelerate the content creation process. 

While you still need to make sure that you’re putting your own spin on it (or working with a partner who knows your industry and can help do that for you), the effort of creating content is easier than ever. So, if you rely only on AI-generated content to differentiate yourself online, you may need to rethink that strategy. 

Personal Branding is the New Content MAI Book Cover

In preparation for his appearance as our special guest for our monthly mastermind over at The LinkedBanker, I recently talked with Mike Kaput, one of the co-authors of Marketing Artificial Intelligence and the chief content officer for the Marketing AI Institute. He said something that made me think about the “value” of content and the growing importance of personal branding. 

During one of our discussion points, he said, “Content is becoming a commodity.” With the advent of AI content tools, creating a 2000-word article that reads well and provides value is no longer as difficult, and will become increasingly easier over time.

Content is a commodity, but it can also be so much more.  When trading content as a commodity, it is often produced in bulk and valued at the lowest possible price. In my conversation with Mike, his assertion that content is becoming a commodity is rooted in the new ways AI makes creating quality content simpler and more accessible. Creating content in bulk to offer to businesses and brands is something humans accomplished before the advent of AI, and now AI will complete bulk content orders faster than ever before.

The ease of creating better-quality content makes personal branding necessary (and even more important) to stand out. There’s an ever-increasing online crowd, and you must differentiate yourself from the competition. One of the things we discussed during our conversation was using real-time engagement strategies and taking the opportunity to be with others with true conversational opportunities.

By that, I mean live webinars, audio events, conferences, one-on-one conversations, networking events, and more so those interacting with you know it’s “really” you. This provides the opportunity to back up any of the content that’s created (AI or otherwise) with real knowledge and confirm that you really do know what you’re talking about (and it’s not just the technology making you sound smart). 

This is one of the reasons I love live events and enjoy the opportunity to do live audio events on LinkedIn through our LinkBanker Happy Hour Live Audio Events. We even extend these “real-world” engagement events to our members-only mastermind sessions within the LinkBanker community. As good as AI gets, it will have a hard time “being real” in the moment and truly being conversational – that’s where you can still stand out.

Leveraging AI and Embracing Personal Branding 

With the advent of AI, including AI-generated video content with likenesses and images representing real people, it’s not unforeseeable that we’ll soon be able to create video content that passes as real human interaction. The challenge is that AI-generated images and video content (often referred to as “deep fakes”) or even recorded video content with real humans don’t provide opportunities for people to get to know each other and build trust on a personal level. On the other hand, if you keep your focus on making personal connections, you can use AI to better effect and point people toward where they can connect with you. While AI doesn’t provide the human touch, you can do so with its assistance.

Personal branding, which involves more than just having a large social media following or driving traffic to your website with high search engine rankings, is more important than ever. Today, personal branding involves leveraging every tool available, including AI, so when potential clients or customers search for answers, they find you, trust you, and keep coming back. personal branding and artificial intelligence

Using live audio or live video events on interactive platforms is imperative to building a personal brand today. That doesn't mean AI won't have a place in the process. Leveraging AI to build a strong personal brand involves using AI tools to find the right industry connections, help define your target audience, and enhance your content creation strategy. AI can save you a lot of time and do so much of the legwork that it would be foolish to disregard it altogether. While content methods and standards may be in flux, a human connection never goes out of style. 

Embracing AI in Personal Branding and Content Creation 

If you’re thinking about building a personal brand and creating relevancy for yourself and the products and services you offer, I don't want you to fear AI. Don’t ignore the power and capabilities it provides, but embrace it in your personal branding efforts. The new rules for building your brand online still include old standbys like authenticity and sharing your genuine experiences, thoughts, and opinions. AI can help you brainstorm, generate ideas, suggest keywords, and even help you edit. But only YOU can add the most vital element: personal connection.   

Always ensure your content offers value through information, helpful tips, or entertaining anecdotes that address your target audience's pain points or interests. Building your personal brand today can also include some powerful AI tools to help you learn more about your audience through AI automation and advanced audience targeting. Using AI for content creation is not going away, but building your personal brand needs to include personal, real-life interactions and your authentic touch on all published content.

So Does Content Still Matter? YES!

Hopefully, the answer to this question seems obvious based on what you’ve read so far. But the type of content is evolving, and making sure that it’s high-value matters today more than ever. 

Content now lives in not just words on a page, but video, audio, and imagery – and needs to be supported by real-world engagement and interaction that provides validation. If I follow you, or your bank, and am impressed but then meet you or visit your bank and my expectations are not met, then we’ve got a problem. But when you do it right, that just takes things to an entirely different level - and that’s the leave you need to be at in the age of AI! 

Here to Help Build Your Relevancy Online

We are here to help your community bank get noticed through custom website solutions and digital marketing services – along with a great content strategy and helping your staff build their personal brand. If you’ve been thinking about ways to embrace the new rules of content creation to help you build your bank's brand online and in your community, contact us today for more information, and let’s chat. 

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