By Scott Decker

What DC Comics Can Teach Us About Content Marketing


Content Marketing sounds so formal but when I write about it, I like to start with what inspires me personally. So, here you go: superheroes. From the 1970’s Super-Friends cartoon, to the killer work done by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams in the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series or the transformation of Batman from 60’s satire to the original Dark Knight, I’m a big fan of DC and that body of work still inspires me in my content creation and advice to PublishThis customers.

(Editor’s Note: Having just featured a brilliant Marvel Comics-driven article on content formats, our other on-staff geek demanded equal time for DC Comics.)

Content Marketing’s Secret Identity

First and foremost, it’s about story. Everyone has a story to tell. Tales of overcoming adversity, righting wrongs, and accomplishing goals are all strong themes not only in comic books, but in all forms of media — even in 2015.

This is at the heart of content marketing. If you are telling a story that informs, engages, and proves useful to your audience, you can earn trust, bring them back for more, and build the rapport that will encourage them to come to you when they need your product or services.

Content Cyborg: The Perfect Melding of Man and Machine

The second thing I tell my clients about content curation is do not rely solely on automation or aggregation. Like DC hero Cyborg, you must find the right balance of man (editorial) and machine (content platform) for your business. Your content strategy should be a mixture of aggregation, curation, and, of course – original content that is composed with the information you learn from monitoring your industry and curating content. Aggregated content should be a small percentage of your overall output to supplement coverage and act as a newswire for your blog.

You want to always strive for adding your own editorial commentary to content you share so you put it into context for your audience. To simply turn on the spigot and allow unfiltered content to publish on your blog or in your social streams will turn people off because you are offering no value – that’s just adding to the noise.

I’ve always had a hard time with Cyborg. I wanted to like DC Comics’ bionic superhero but something’s always held me back from digging Victor Stone the same way I like, say, The Black Panther or Robin. That started changing this week. Even in superhero fiction where death and resurrection happen often, there’s not as much at stake when you know a character can get refashioned over and over again. Read More at Kotaku

Holy Content Formats, Batman!

DC Comics has had great success with Batman in the Arkham series of video games. This story has been delivered on multiple platforms and the result is not only a larger fan base for their characters, but a strengthening of the bottom line by adding additional revenue streams and licensing possibilities.

The tip here: Franchise your content into different formats. The ideas you have created and curated in an article can be turned into a podcast. Perhaps a deck on hotter-than-Firestorm B2B social network, SlideShare? A YouTube video capturing your best material on the most engaging modern format? The possibilities are endless and the ROI on your efforts will grow with each iteration.

Opera music plays as Batman swings between buildings towards his next objective. The music grows louder as the hero eventually lays eyes on a ghastly sight a man nailed to a cross. Batman begins his investigation by scanning his skin, tissue, and bones for identifiable marks. The victim’s identity appears after scanning all three, and I took one step closer to finding the murderer. Read More at Uproxx

Recirculating Content and Robin, The Boy Wonder

Robin was added to the Batman universe in the early days to, metaphorically and literally, add some primary color to contrast the “Dark Knight”. He’s now being added to the new Superman vs. Batman movie for the same reason but it’s not the original character but an evolved version of him (still in yellow and red tights). The evolution of the Robin character speaks to a technique of recirculating an idea, improving upon it, and creating opportunities for multiple story lines.

The same can be said for content curation and recirculating your own content. Instead of writing a completely new brief about a story you covered in the past, bring back the original story and include it in the new article with your annotation. This will reinforce the idea that you are a thought leader, help you regain the value you put into the content originally, and offer up opportunities to link deeper into your site.

User generated content: Marvel vs DC Fan Made Film

The big promise of the Web 2.0 has always been user-generated content. I remember when Web 2.0 was slowly making its way into every corporate slide deck as traditional marketing and business folks tried to figure out how to turn social into another advertising channel.

That was a long time ago, in internet time, and we have learned a lot since then. You have to add value in order to build an avid fan base. You cannot simply broadcast promotions and sales and expect a significant, long term effect on your bottom line. A perfect example of great user-generated content are the many fan films you can find on YouTube, like this one.

This fan spent months creating the digital animation because of his love for the characters and probably the opportunity to obtain a better job – but the point is, you have to deliver great stories and then you have to be prepared to allow your fans to grow organically.

See More at Youtube

POW! Those Content Marketing Goals

While modern content marketing goals might feel like something only Superman could accomplish, these powerful tips inspired by the four-panel wonders of DC comics, can help you power up your content marketing and get more value out of the work you produce.

Ready to learn more about how PublishThis can help you build better content more often for all of your digital channels?

photo credit: i09 / DC Comics

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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.