Gini Dietrich

Community Building, Content Marketing and Charles Arment

By: Gini Dietrich | November 21, 2012 | 

Last night I spoke at Wine and Web, a monthly event the Orbit Media team does here in Chicago.

Typically it’s a very tactical event. They have pizza and wine and Andy Crestodina, co-founder, strategic director, and oft guest blogger her, puts everyone in a room and shows them how to do things such as Google authorship, using keyword research for content development, or how to use your content in multiple locations.

First of all, if you’re in Chicago or have reason to be here, I highly recommend you attend this event.

What we did last night, though, was a little bit different. They had a video screen at the front and played video of a crackling fire. The fire actually had someone poking it and adding new wood every once in a while that, as a speaker, is rather entertaining.

And Andy and I sat at the front on very cool orange barstools and chatted about community, content marketing, and the story of Charles Arment.

What is Community?

One of the first questions he asked me was, “What is community?”

A few years ago, I read a blog post by Mitch Joel. In it (and I’m paraphrasing here), he said community is not about people commenting on your blog or Facebook wall or on your content.

The magic of community is when people start talking to one another, without the benefit of the brand, organization, or author participating in the conversation.

He asked me how I create such an environment on Spin Sucks and I answered glibly that I know how to push many of your buttons so I throw a bomb at you and watch everyone clamor to talk about it.

But, while I do do that, I think it’s more than that. I ask a lot of open-ended questions in the comments. Sometimes I’ll start a thought and not finish it. And other times I’ll tag someone else to join the conversation.

Whatever it happens to be, I encourage conversation between all of you and I love watching you follow one another around the web.

You are community.

Where Does Content Belong?

Then we talked about content marketing. Andy asked me where I think content belongs.

Look, I’m a communications pro by trade. I would love it if content belonged to us.

You see, we’re natural storytellers. We know how to write. We know how to research a story. We know how to put together cohesive thoughts. We know how to pitch media (well, some of us do), which translates really well to blogger relations.

But if we do not figure out – and quickly – how to translate those skills to conversational and engaging writing, content won’t belong to us.

Instead, it will belong to those who love to write, know how to write content that is great for humans and robots, and how to use social to distribute said content in a way that is meaningful and valuable to them.

It will cross disciplines and no one will own it.

Of course, my crystal ball might already be on Thanksgiving holiday. What do you think?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • BrandonWaselnuk

    @belllindsay it’s like winning all the things! @spinsucks

  • belllindsay

    If when you say “us” you’re referring to the “royal US” and not my fellow colleagues, I would have to disagree with one statement you’ve made @ginidietrich . I don’t believe that the “royal US” are natural story tellers. I think, in fact, it’s a skill sorely lacking in a lot of businesses, and even lacking in the creative teams said businesses have actively creating their content. Story telling is really difficult. And while content belongs to everyone…..some might say ‘everyone else’ if ones sole goal is to create content for marketing purposes, I know personally when I’m creating content, I am invested in the ‘marketing’ side of it (obviously, as that’s my job) but I also am deeply invested in creating something that a whole boatload of people would love to read or share, might get enjoyment out of or learn something from. I’m not thinking *only* about key demographics, if you see what I mean. And I think if more orgs looked at content the same way, that’s when they are really going to start to see increased reach, visibility and (hopefully) lead gen. Great content organically reaches more people – and some of the people you reach “accidentally” just might be your future clients/customers.

    • @belllindsay I’m talking about the PR industry…not the royal US. And you kind of made my point. You’re not a communications pro by trade. But you’re an excellent storyteller. So to say it belongs to PR, as much as I would really like to say it does, I’m not sure I can make that blanket statement.

      • belllindsay

        @ginidietrich Sigh. Am I fired *again*….???

        • @belllindsay No, no. There is only one reason you’ll be fired. And you know what it is.

    • @belllindsay  @ginidietrich I suck at it. So what do I know? 😉

      • belllindsay

        @jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich Getting fired..? You’ve been pretty good at it lately. *boom*

        • @belllindsay  @ginidietrich Zip it, Maritimer.

        • belllindsay

          @jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich Like I can talk. 😉

  • rdopping

    I had a sneaking suspicion about Charles. Is he from New Brunswick too? Ask @belllindsay she knows.
    Great story. Being good at social is nite an easy thing. That is the value in places like this. I learn so much here every time I drop in. Cheers.

    • @rdopping  @belllindsay You know, I never thought about where he’s from. Let’s make it New Brunswick!

      • belllindsay

        @ginidietrich  @rdopping YAY!!!

  • crestodina

    It was an honor to have you! I loved that @kyleakerman asked you the story about Charles Arment and the conversation about the future of content marketing was excellent. If you ever write anything about the pros / cons of various communications pros offering content marketing, I’d love to read it!
    Thank again (so much) for coming. You’re welcome to sit by our digital fire anytime. 🙂

    • @crestodina  I had a blast! Thank you for the invitation. OK, let’s be real. I’d pretty much do anything for you…including write that blog post you just recommended.

      • @ginidietrich  @crestodina Great time and great forum by both of you! I don’t attend our own Wine & Web event often enough. Last night seemed like a very engaged audience. Thank you Gini for being part of it!

    • KyleAkerman

      @crestodina It definitely was great to get @ginidietrich ‘s perspective on content marketing and other things.  
      I was a little apprehensive about bringing up the Charles Arment story.  But it’s such a great story I felt everyone at the event could benefit from hearing it.  It’s such a perfect example of the creativity and guts that @ginidietrich puts into a lot of the content here on Spin Sucks.

      • @KyleAkerman  I didn’t mind one bit! I’m glad you did bring it up. I never think to tell that story.

  • Really great food for thought. We’re amping up our content for 2013 – more than just the podcasts! – and I always learn so much from you. I could only hope to have a fraction of the community you have here @ginidietrich . 🙂  Hope you have a great holiday!
    PS Did you buy Jack Bauer’s turkey yet?

    • @katskrieger No turkey yet. Hopefully they’ll still have some when I get to the store tonight. I NEVER do anything last minute. This is stressing me out!

      • @ginidietrich  @katskrieger C’mon over!

        • @jasonkonopinski  @katskrieger I’ve made progress! I now have my grocery list complete.

        • @ginidietrich  @katskrieger But have you put on pants?

        • @jasonkonopinski  @katskrieger I had a phone call at 4:30 this morning that put a client crisis in motion. So I have not gotten out of my PJs yet. But I am preparing to get to pilates in a few minutes and then Whole Foods. So I’ll at least be wearing yoga pants. Soon.

        • @ginidietrich  @katskrieger Zoinks! I’d say you’ve earned your wine.

  • Great points @ginidietrich , liked the ‘community’ part especially. Just today I asked a leading brand about engagement on their page and where they are bringing the ‘community’ aspect. They were clueless to say the least. I believe brands should at least initiate the discussion with some good questions and pitch in at appropriate times to drive the community!

    • @MalharBarai Totally agree! We do this on our Facebook page and have lots of fun with it. @yvettepistorio asks silly – and serious  – questions to engage people, but also to make sure they’re having fun.

  • Mitch and I talked about this a bit when we recorded the podcast on Monday, including our mutual admiration of all things GD.  “Community” is definitely one of those words that we’ve slapped sloppy definitions on and overused in this space.

    • @jasonkonopinski Yeah…and I think people think “Oh, people are commenting. We have community!” When that’s not the case at all.

      • @ginidietrich You’ll like this episode a lot. I’m stilling processing the awesomeness.

        • @ginidietrich Also? I apparently can’t type worth a flip today. Jeeeeeeez.

      • @ginidietrich  @jasonkonopinski Uh oh, community definition smackdown coming soon to a blog near you.

        • @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes  @jasonkonopinski This scares me.

  • AnneReuss

    Oh I need to wine and web with y’all! I’ll bring your crystal ball, it’s on vacation with me. 
    I love this community – it will always be a role model. You guys..:)

    • @AnneReuss You are too funny! Bring me back my crystal ball in one piece!

  • Hey Gini … I was just thinking about that the other day. How one community can evolve and morph into sub-communities around the web. And about the difference between commenting and conversing. We talk about engagement but that’s not the total picture in building a community. I suppose you could just toss the ball into play and watch. And I suppose this could work for community building but it would miss something. it would be a hollow community without heart. Whether you realize it fully or not (and I suspect you do) you’re the heart that reaches far outside your physical boundaries. 
    Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe you’re just a lucky recipient of the intelligence (and heart) that surrounds you here. 😉

    • @Carmelo I think it’s a combination, Carmelo. Sure, people come here to see what craziness I might stir up, but I think that’s a very small percentage of why they stay. It certainly isn’t why they come back multiple times a day to comment and engage with one another. But it does have to be done with passion and with heart. Those who create content and don’t have community likely aren’t encouraging conversation, even if it’s outside of the typical business/work stuff.

      • @ginidietrich  speaking of “outside the typical work stuff” what’s the latest on Jay Cutler? Is he ready to come back? Maybe you talked about this already but is he missed that badly? (considering their performance Monday night.) Or, was it something else?

        • @Carmelo It doesn’t sound like he’s coming back. This is his sixth concussion and the NFL is concerned (in light of Junior Seau and Jim McMahon) what that does to their future lives. But yes, he’s missed that badly. I think Monday night showed us two things: Our offensive line sucks more than we thought and Cutler is better than we give him credit.

        • @ginidietrich Oh wow, didn’t realize it was that serious. Yes, he’s always been underrated i think. Well, good luck!

        • @Carmelo I realized, after I hit “post comment,” what a dork I sound like. Oy.

        • @ginidietrich  Oh com’on Gini! There are innumerable times when you’ve been far dorkier! 😉

        • @Carmelo HAHHAHAHAHA!

  • What an appropriate blog post to focus on community at the Thanksgiving holiday. Like the turkey and all the fixings it is not simply the content that makes for a great story (meal).  It is in our individual participation in coming to the table offering our special recipes of thanks (meaning) and giving (thoughtful commentary) that transposes an ordinary repast into a feast of riches (community). Otherwise it is just another day at the deli.
    A happy Thanksgiving to all in the Spin Sucks community.

    • @annelizhannan Dang. I wish I’d been creative enough this morning to write the blog post that way. What a brilliant idea!

      • @ginidietrich Your creative acumen will never be in question but I  understand why you may be foggy in the morning with that big baby I often see occupying your bed 😉

  • thanks for inspiring, uplifting, and providing a forum that puts meaning behind the work that we communicators do. communicating isn’t just about getting a message across. it’s about building community and collaborating with others to take conversations to the next level. and of course having fun while we’re at it! 
    keeping up w/ how content is evolving – and continuing to evolve along with it is super important. the good thing is that when we love what we do, it doesn’t feel like work. much of that can be attributed to the whole community thing 😉
    giving thanks to you and the amazingness of the Spin Sucks community. enjoy the holiday!

    • @itsjessicann Who let you in here? 😉

      • @jasonkonopinski slipped in through the cracks. didn’t think anyone would notice 😉

        • @itsjessicann  @jasonkonopinski Konopinski! Be nice!

    • @itsjessicann Ahhh. Thank you! I certainly didn’t expect so a nice comment. And I wholeheartedly agree with you. When we have a great community, it doesn’t feel like work!

      • annnd i totally sound like a dork slash kiss-ass. regardless, @jasonkonopinski needs to learn to play nice. especially w/ the randoms who sneak in  😉

  • Culture_Content

    Thank you for participating @ginidietrich in @crestodina ‘s #WineWeb. You’ve done a great job of fostering community here, and the discussion on the evolution of the role of content in marketing that we had last night hits very close to my heart. It’s an exciting time to be a marketer because nobody has a fool-proof crystal ball for the future (not disparaging your traveling crystal ball.) The part that is most disturbing is that many marketers still resist human communication’s evolution and try to apply traditional models. Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

    • @Culture_Content I want to know more about what you’re doing. We’ll have to catch up after the holidays.

      • Culture_Content

        @ginidietrich  @Culture_Content Would love to catch up next week! Let me know what times work for you. Thanks and I hope you enjoyed the holiday!

  • ryanleecox

    @ginidietrich I never knew the Arment part. Just another way you sandbag our friendship. Sigh. (Great post though)

    • ginidietrich

      @ryanleecox I’ve written about it 1,000 times

      • ryanleecox

        @ginidietrich in all honesty — that’s the first time I’ve ever heard it, read it, thought to ask

      • ryanleecox

        @ginidietrich I have no IDE what I thought it meant

      • ryanleecox

        @ginidietrich idea*

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  • glenn_ferrell

    What a great question (from Andy) — and I love your answer !  I’ve always assumed I knew what “community” is — but this is a great image — when the community begins to have a conversation of its own, separate from the catalyst.  I think I’ll steal that for my next client discussion 🙂

  • Ahh I missed this one on the road! Personally, I LOVE the whole Arment Situation. Of course, I may legally change my name to start cashing in…
    As much as this has become a dirty buzz word, you create community through engaging with us. You respond to our thoughts, but also push back when there is something we have not considered.  You are strong in your opinions, but also responsive to new information the community provides. You aren’t afraid to start some controversy, and don’t back down or pretend that someone misunderstood you when you are called on your statements.  All these things contribute to your peeps feeling like we know who you are as an individual and as a professional. And this leads us, or at least me, to want to be aligned with you, to want to join your tribe.

    • @RebeccaTodd Now I feel like I HAVE to let you start cashing in on Charles. Thank you, my friend. Thank you.

      • @ginidietrich Seriously, I WILL change my name.  I went by Luke for ages, anyway.

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