After months of discussion and preparation, Slingshot SEO’s new evolutionary path was shared with the entire company earlier this week. Our founders, CEO, staff and industry partners spent six months crafting a mission that would help us, as our co-founder and Vice President of Strategy Kevin Bailey said, “share badass ideas that connect brands to their audiences.” By broadening the scope of our services beyond SEO, we’re positioning ourselves to become thought leaders in inbound marketing and content marketing.
It’s a somewhat intimidating goal, but the people who make up this company are up to the challenge. I lead Slingshot’s owned media team, and I’ve watched our content department’s ability to create quality content evolve at warp speed—thanks to our leadership and our staff’s talent for adapting well to change. It’s the only constant in the search media industry, and it’s an accurate representation of the Internet’s ecosystem as a whole: In an environment that gives billions of users the power to reach out to the world, it’s natural that advertising and public relations have become integral elements of its social sphere. That’s why facilitating digital relevance for deserving brands is still at the core of what we do.
But the Internet does more than connect people and brands. It also gives users the power to shape—and even create—the content they want. With everything from music to Internet television shows, niche content is gaining a foothold through social media. And it’s doing more than finding audiences: it’s finding advertisers, too.
Although word of mouth and a group of hardcore fans supported its first few seasons, the gamer web series The Guild grew from a crowd-sourced shoestring budget to an award-winning feature by gaining millions of viewers on YouTube, Xbox Live Marketplace and MSN Video. And Amazon has done its part to give independent authors a platform with their Kindle Direct Publishing program, with authors finding and entertaining audiences of thousands.
The future is finally here, and anyone with a laptop, Wi-Fi and a kick-ass idea can help create it. From entertainment to politics, from advertising to education, quality content now stands on its own merits. Individuals and small groups are now creating content that targets, cultivates and maintains devoted audiences—all without significant financial backing.
In an era of corporate multimedia giants, prepackaged superstars and blockbuster summer sequels, this is more than a paradigm shift … it’s a completely new business and distribution model. This means that content isn’t just king, it’s a kingmaker: only worthwhile content gets liked, shared or tweeted. And if you can’t produce stuff that people love—and love enough to share—you’re not worth a mouse click. As we’ve learned recently, tactics like interruption marketing—you know, like the commercial you have to watch before you can view that YouTube video that a friend sent to you—doesn’t work. Forcing users to consume content doesn’t work—but engaging them with great content does. The biggest and best brands have been hip to this game for a while, but there’s still room for even more brands to find and curate their audiences.
So, what does this new focus on content mean for search media, and for Slingshot SEO? For us, it means taking a step back from the day-to-day and looking at the big picture, the vast reach of the Internet, and the people who live and work in its virtual neighborhoods.
As a company, our commitment begins with a laser focus on helping our clients create and facilitate the kind of content that people want. And as good Internet citizens, our commitment continues to drive us to make our little world a better place to live. For Slingshot SEO, this is just the beginning—and we’re ready to see where our shared vision takes us next.