It’s no secret that high quality (or at least that of perceived high quality) does well in the digital sphere through social shares, inbound links and web traffic. It’s the basis on which the SEO community has turned its attention to content marketing for success.
There are a flood of blog posts around writing content, structuring content, and pitching content but all seem to miss a trend that has become more and more impressive in the results it can harness for digital marketers; technology.
To quote Koozai’s Mike Essex:
“The future of Content Marketing is going to be driven by technology, both old and new, being used in clever ways that complement the core story.”
I’ve always got a small notepad around with ideas for content, websites and side projects so I knew the sort of thing I wanted to make. I decided on an idea I had been talking to my girlfriend about around how the English Premier League would look if it was ranked not on points and goal difference, but on twitter followers.
I began to look at how I would get the app up and running and came up with 3 basic steps:
- Create database of teams and corresponding twitter accounts,
- Have database update with live twitter follower counts
- Display database in a simple league table
Sounds pretty simple right?
Getting My Hands Dirty
This all sounds great but the real benefit of using Google Spreadsheets as the backend database is that it is super easy to use, share and collaborate with, and once set up, any changes to the spreadsheet would be auto-saved and be live on your site as soon as a visitor refreshes the page.
Using the example code that Sheetsee.js creator Jessica Lord offers as part of the documentation and a bit of XPath trickery, I was able to have a scraper that would pull off live twitter follower numbers, store that in a Google Spreadsheet and then push that data to a live application.
The Finished Product
In just a few hours of tinkering I was able to put together a basic Twitter based Premier League table that updates every time a user visits or refreshes the page. You can check it out here.
Whilst I was pretty happy with how everything went, this was by no means something I was looking to release as a linkable asset. It’s not the prettiest of pages, it could do with a bit more love in some areas and isn’t mobile friendly at all. Despite this, I shared it with a few friends and my twitter followers to see if I could get some feedback on it.
I got a few comments on the build and a few asking how it was built but nothing really out of the blue. Until I checked my analytics the following day and saw this:
I thought there might have been a problem with my tracking code until I took a look at the referrers. It seems that the page had been picked up by the Metro who liked the angle for a news story. Thinking back in hindsight, it was a perfect time to launch something like this, with so many of the top teams not having a great start to the season it offered an alternative for sports journalists to compare and contrast. Add this to the large number of tweets and shares the article and app got and we are really in business…
I’ll gloss over the news angle element (I have a whole other post on the way about Digital PR for that), but it did amaze me how a fairly generic application can generate such good coverage just because of the way it is uniquely displayed.
So whilst you don’t have to be a coder to understand what is happening, the important thing is that everyone in Content Marketing appreciates that this technology isn’t scary. Anyone in content/digital role should be able to grasp why these pages work the way they do, the tech they run on and the technical issues behind the “features” you are requesting from their developers. Trust me, your web developers will appreciate your efforts.
Are you looking into coding? What are your motivations? How do you think technology will impact on content marketing in the (near) future? Leave a comment below!