Marketing in the 21st century has become much more complicated and sophisticated than it was before the Internet era. Back in 2000, when I was working with Israeli social portal Tapuz, we realized pretty quickly that our regular visitors had developed a “blind spot” to banner ads. They just got used to not looking at the places where the ads were, which made the ads less effective and caused us to constantly chase up new and improved systems to present ads, and to keep our advertisers happy.
Later on, during my PR years with Helicon Records, I supported the label’s decision to stop advertising new albums with ads, and instead to concentrate all efforts in pushing with PR. We realized that a single article that describes an artist as human, accessible and cute sells many more records than a paid campaign does. That was when I developed my strong belief in marketing through content. It’s the idea that your potential average customer doesn’t want you to “sell him” your product. Instead, he wants you to give him something that will make him want to feel a connection with you, which eventually will lead to buying your product. In times where everyone is constantly feeding off social media, making a connection and giving a service is the key to successful marketing of your idea. Social media allows us to create a community in which we, the vendors, are eye-level participants in a circle of people who share the same interests.
One example of an organization I’m working with using editorial marketing is the San Francisco-based A Wider Bridge. When I was approached by A Wider Bridge back in 2010, it was then a new organization that aspired to influence the LGBT community, and especially the LGBT-Jewish community, to build connections with Israel. With less than 200 likes on Facebook and a little over 100 followers on Twitter, the organization’s website had only a few visits per day. Together with Executive Director Arthur Slepian, who explained to me what the goals of the organization are, I built a content-based online marketing program that would help expose the organization and its work to many more people. And here we are, five years later, with over 24.5 thousand people who like the organization on Facebook, and dozes of comments and shares per day, over 3,000 followers on Twitter, and hundreds of visits to the website on a daily basis – all through what I have come to name “Editorial Marketing.”
How did we do this? I’m about to explain.
A Wider Bridge is a pro-Israel organization that builds bridges between Israelis and LGBTQ North Americans and allies. The organization focuses on programming that builds personal connections, providing individuals and organizations, both in Israel and America, with opportunities for engagement, education and experience.
How can we market that? The idea in this case was that the website of A Wider Bridge should serve as a bridge between the Israeli and the North American Jewish LGBT communities, which means serving Israelis all the LGBT-Jewish-American stories from around the web, and serving Jewish-Americans stories from the LGBT community in Israel, overcoming the Hebrew language barrier. We came up with an online service that A Wider Bridge gives to the social media community: A Wider Bridge highlights the work of Jewish LGBT people around the world through an “online magazine,” exploring the intersections of Jewish and LGBTQ life: the latest news, provocative opinions, information on arts and culture. The organization promotes and encourages media to write about the community by driving traffic to the websites that write about these issues.
Now that we have a service to give to the community, there’s also a reason to post meaningful posts on social media (as opposed to just advertising the organization), interesting stories that our community would want to share and like. And then, when they click on the story, they go through our website. This allows them to be exposed to all the great work A Wider Bridge does.
The following step was adding original articles that can enrich the knowledge of our community. As part of the service, A Wider Bridge includes frequent opinion pieces by Mr. Slepian on current events that are related to the community, interviews and stories about Israelis who are doing remarkable work to promote the LGBT agenda, and LGBT Americans who show support to Israel. All of this enriches the organization’s website up to the point where people who are interested in Jewish/LGBT life don’t need to search for it on the internet anymore. They just go to the News page and can get a feed of all of the stories on this subject from around the web- including the exclusive features that we offer. They can find out where the next event or program that is LGBT/Israel will occur, and so on.
With A Wider Bridge I didn’t leave out any social media outlet in order to tell the story of the organization and support the official website: the organization Pinterest account lists all of the LGBT Jewish personalities in various areas. On Instagram we post photos that are related to the stories and the programs A Wider Bridge features in its online magazine. On Tumblr we highlight the most important story of the day, and so on.
I’m a huge believer in marketing through content, and of giving a substantial service to the community you’d like to reach. And with the special plan we built for A Wider Bridge I’m pretty sure the organization will continue its online growth within the next few years,which hopefully will bring out its message louder and clearer.
A plan to create a larger online community through editorial marketing can be done with any organization, using the unique qualities, people and areas of expertise the organization has to offer. While there are many other ways to reach a large audience, there is a special relationship that can be created when an organization offers real value, which makes the connection not only effective, but also long-lasting.