By Scott Decker

Content Marketing Authenticity Isn’t What You Think It Is


We all know now that Content Marketing is really about storytelling and recent studies show that the authenticity of your stories is key for Millennials and the generation just behind them. Few companies know how to tell a story like Disney and their finest work is often demonstrated in their theme parks. With 3-D space as their palette, Disney is able to design an experience that immerses you in their world by engaging all of your senses. However, while everyone expects recreations of fantasy worlds from their films, many question the authenticity of Disney’s attempts to recreate the Serengeti, the streets of the United Kingdom, or even the state of California at their once-ailing California Adventure Theme Park, which seemed oddly placed in California itself. But there is something for content marketers to learn in that an extra layer they add to manufacture ‘authenticity.’

During a recent trip, I stopped at Aulani, Disney’s answer to a Hawaiian vacation. While it’s hard to argue with the real thing, I’m inclined to call the Disney version “Super-Authentic”. Simply put, they package the experience more efficiently than what you get elsewhere on the islands. Disney did their research to ensure that Hawaiian songs and stories told at their resort were genuine, they added the scents of Hawaii (coconuts, sugar cane, etc.) so their resort is more fragrant, and they even included experiences I didn’t get elsewhere, like pumping whale song into their pools – something I was unlikely to hear in the ocean. Disney made sure I had that experience and it was an amazing moment. It’s what I want in my Content Marketing – engagement, appreciation for the smarts of it, and a little awe.

The effects of Super-Authenticity are powerful. Authenticity is great, but when you can supplement the real thing with well-sourced material and your data-driven research, you can create the ideal version of any kind of content.

Super-Authentic Content Marketing

When we create content, we’re working hard to build the experience we want our readers to have and that should include research if we want to write authoritative material that is useful and interesting. We’re all trying to pump that whale song into the pool because we know that the right citations and sources will help build credibility and trust with audiences. Better yet, you produce content that has been tested and lines up with the specific needs of your audience. However, conducting the necessary research presents challenges these days:

  • How do you make sure your sources are good in a world of crowdsourced Wikipedia entries, repurposed news stories with changed headlines, and just about anyone having the ability to call themselves a media outlet?
  • How do you find research material in a timely manner with all the noise in every category and interest?
  • How do you make sure your subject is relevant in your industry right now?

Drive Super-Authentic Content Marketing with Curation Tools

An ideal way to kill two birds with one stone here is to set yourself up with technology to curate content as a supplement to your original writing. While many original content writers frown on curation, it is well-documented in the industry that curation can be an efficient and important part of building authority and trust with your audience. Third-party validation is important for all brands.

If you only speak from your own perspective, the oft-perceived solitary source of your authenticity, your audience will have a hard time believing everything you say. When an outside party can actually tell them that your product or service is necessary, they are more likely to believe it. Even Joe Pulizzi, the Godfather of Content Marketing himself (and founder of the Content Marketing Institute), notes that curation on social should follow a ‘4-1-1’ rule where brands share four curated pieces of interest to their audience for each one additional update from a related company, and one link to their own content. This way, your social followers see you are providing value to them in the form of useful links in addition to driving them back to your own blog, gated content, or web site. And while this is primarily discussed as an option for social output, you can include curated posts on a website (alongside your commentary) and then include links to that article in an email newsletter so you are driving your subscribers back to your web site regardless of which link they click.

By curating a portion of your output, you can also save time in keeping a regular stream of content flowing, leaving you more time for original content composition. When curating as part of your content marketing, it’s important to include an annotation to ensure that you are adding context and value to what you share so that your audience will still hear your voice.

Better Content Marketing Through Content Intelligence

The bonus here is that when you are set up to curate content, you are also getting the monitoring capabilities to help you with content intelligence that informs your original creation. Rather than going to the open web in hopes of finding good material for your content marketing efforts, your curation tools help you find sources you come to trust that will help make sure your content has the details right, the freshest statistics to quote, and is in line with conversations currently going on within your industry. Your content marketing will truly have a Content Stuffcomprehensive feel and customers will recognize that.

Once you have set up your best sources, you also can find ideas to discuss and supporting articles quicker than before. You can even react to what is currently being discussed on social channels, right up to the minute when you compose. That kind of real-time interaction shows that your finger is on the pulse of your industry. Without a close eye here, you run the risk of writing original material that isn’t truly relevant, has already been covered sufficiently by thought leaders in your space, or simply doesn’t take into account current thinking on your subject. This could cost you credibility and turn off your audience.

Content Marketing Mixology Supports Authenticity

As I sometimes say, this is why we advocate Content Mixology. We believe that the Super-Authenticity you get out of writing content informed by regular monitoring of your industry produces better articles and allows you to do so more often. Set yourself up for success with tools that help you keep an eye on the best content out there and, when you are finding items to curate, you are being more efficiently informed and ready to write your own original material with the most relevant sources to cite and link to in your own articles. I really can’t coin “whale-song-in-the-pool-content” because it’s just too long (I do like #superauthenticity), but you get the picture. You really want your audience to have that kind of hoped-for moment of intrigue when they engage with your content marketing efforts so they keep coming back to you for more.

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By Scott Decker
Scott Decker is the President and Founder of PublishThis. Before PublishThis, he led technology at, Blue Nile, and development solutions for the government. When he’s not running PublishThis, the industry’s most advanced content platform, he’s exploring new technologies, preparing for next Halloween, or watching something with superheroes, dinosaurs, or at least a lot of explosions.