At the “Cocktails and Content” event recently hosted by SF IABC, SV IABC and Text100, the banner read, Content is King But Distribution is Queen And She Wears The Pants. Custom cocktails accompanied a lively panel discussion among LinkedIn’s Ryan Batty, Cisco‘s John Earnhardt, Flipboard’s Christel van der Boom, and Republic Publishing‘s Jeppe Christensen, on the role of distribution strategy in effective content marketing.

All agreed great content marketing requires a fine-tuned balance between messaging, content type, and audience targeting vs. simply carpeting mass content across social media platforms at lightning speed. As I pondered the conversation, what struck me is that while online content and social media have dramatically changed the rules of business communication in the last decade, a few Golden Rules still apply and are worth remembering for great content marketing:

  1. Tell a good story: The latest neuroscience research tells us that the more absorbed people are in a story, the more the story changes them. It’s the most powerful way to communicate a message — in any context. Watch Ted Talk by Jonathan Gotschall, author of “The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human.”
  2. Listen to your customer: Social media is all about conversation, but sometimes there’s so much talking, we forget to listen. “The audience defines what’s interesting,” said LinkedIn’s Batty. Indeed – and gleaning what’s interesting to customers is precisely how we develop loyalty.
  3. Be authentic: People trust us when we’re genuine, not when we’re trying to imitate someone else. But beware, there’s more to it – read The Authenticity Paradox in Harvard Business Review.