Our (Other) 10 Favorite Stories of 2014

Considering we published 1,000 stories this year, only picking 10 didn’t seem right. So I’m going to pick another 10. If Joe’s list was full of our blockbusters, then my selections will be more of our indie fare. We always preach the importance of telling good stories, and, in my opinion, these are some of our best:

This Zadie Smith Essay Isn’t a Native Ad for Corona, but What If It Was? (by Amanda Walgrove): This was by far our most interesting piece of the year. Amanda’s cogent hypothetical about why brands should turn to artists to create better content got hijacked by a bunch of marketers, journalists, and anyone else who felt like standing on a pedestal that didn’t really exist. The article sparked a really interesting conversation—a conversation I expect to get louder in the future as brands look for smarter ways to stand out.

Bot Hunters (by Jordan Teicher): This story came to me out of the blue as I was killing time between panels at Advertising Week. The more I researched White Ops, an enterprise cyber-security firm trying to rid the digital world of bot fraud, the more I knew I had to write about them. The technical side of marketing may not be as sexy as the flashy side infused with pop culture, but companies like White Ops are vital to the long-term success of brand publishing, and this particular company happened to be taking on Russian millionaires, bank robbers, and organized crime with a sci-fi twist.

I Explored ‘Interstellar’ Using Oculus Rift. What I Found Was the Future of Storytelling (by Dillon Baker): An experiential look at how content, technology, and marketing are going to intersect is a great example of out-of-the-box storytelling. Dillon’s deep dive is a must-read for anyone who loves gadgets and/or wants to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming Tom Cruise’s character from Minority Report.

Legal Approvals Are Killing Brand Newsrooms. Here’s How to Get Past Them(by John Hazard): One of the biggest problems we are always trying to solve is figuring out how content marketers can publish more efficiently. Be fast, faster, fastest. Many people view lawyers as a roadblock, but I think we’re all starting to get smarter about working with legal, not against them. John’s article was one of our first great primers on the topic.

5 Content Marketing Lessons From Key & Peele (by Shane Snow): Liam Neesons, doe. Enough said.

Why Facebook’s Latest Algorithm Change Is Great News for Content Marketers (by Joe Lazauskas): I have no idea where Joe is in Southeast Asia right now, but it’s possible he’s meditating about the zen of Facebook. We’re constantly looking to uncover the truth about how brands can win with social. It’s not enough to just be involved if you don’t understand how to get value on Facebook. Joe always seems to be ahead of the pack as he discusses how Facebook’s algorithm changes impact brands: “This could be a turning point for the industry, the moment when brands finally get on the right track and build publications, communities, and loyal audiences they own.”

7 Content Marketing Metrics You’re Probably Undervaluing (by Celine Roque): I love stats. My window into analytic affection was sports, but it’s carried over to marketing. How can we make the numbers talk? How can we getter better at measuring value? Celine highlights engaged time, brand lift, return readers, and any other relevant stat that Tony Haile probably dreams about at night.

What’s the Difference Between B2B and B2C Content Marketing? (by Tessa Wegert): Consider it a win any time you can use Jean-Claude Van Damme doing splits to explain B2B marketing. Tessa looks at the nuances of appealing to consumers vs. businesses, which is a crucial distinction many of us should focus on as we think about reaching the right audience.

How Meagan Cignoli Became the Queen of Branded Vines (by Camille Padilla Dalmau): We don’t do a ton of profiles on people, but Cami’s piece on Vine wunderkind Cignoli is just a really cool take on how marketing creativity can be lucrative for the individual, not just the company. Come for the photography, stay for the wisdom: “Social media is just media,” she says. “[Saying that Vine is a fad] is like saying that Fox News is a fad or The New York Times is a fad.”

Verizon’s SugarString Is Dead. Here’s What It Can Teach Us (by Joe Lazauskas): While the content marketing news arena is often an echo chamber of positivity, I think there’s real value in learning from what didn’t work. Instead of stomping on SugarString, Joe took a story about a failed publication and turned it into a case study about how transparency, tone, and business interests really affect our publishing efforts, regardless of our creative intentions.

Image by Andrew Kudacki
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