There’s a persistent meme on Facebook: The amazing Alaskan Tree Frog freezes during the harsh winter months, thaws in the spring and hops along with life. The meme has existed for several years, and by my observation, it resurfaces in a frenzied social stream every six months or so.
Finally, with a healthy skepticism if not a waste of time, I turned to Google to investigate. The top search results for “Alaskan Tree Frog” was a link on Snopes.com, the internet myth-busting site. Top search results for a similar query, in the form of a question, “can a frog really freeze and come back to life,” include credible-looking sites such as Science Line, Live Science and the Journal News – a Cox Media-owned publication serving Butler County, Ohio.
The Frozen Frog Lesson of Content Marketing
Given that most website traffic comes from organic search, in fact, more than half, this exercise bears several important, if not transcending, lessons in content marketing.
1. Organic search is target marketing
“Search is an explicit expression of need or want,” wrote Lee Odden in his book Optimize. The business model of search engines is based on the ability to deliver relevant content that provides answers in response to inquiries. Traffic from organic search is targeted marketing and few people look beyond page one.
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2. Fleeting moments to provide answers
Both new and existing customers search for answers to their questions. The model of years’ past was to link answers to sales calls – string the inquiry along in an effort to set up an appointment. Today, customers and prospective customers will simply bounce to another site where answers are readily available.
Whether it’s troubleshooting a question on a product owned, or seeking information on a potential product or service site, brands have but a fleeting moment to answer those questions. How many times have you searched for an answer to a product question and wound up on a site other than one owned and managed by the provider?
Embracing those uncomfortable questions is straightforward way to differentiate your content from all the rest.
3. Lots of content, a dearth of answers
One of the easiest and most practical ways to begin, or even advance, a content marketing program is to answer customer questions. Every business has questions it can answer, most merely have a reluctance to answer them. It’s the hard ones, like price transparency, that customers usually find most useful. The businesses that chose to answer such questions stand to gain the first-mover advantages of trust and loyalty of customers and prospects alike.
- The single most valuable post a swimming pool vendor in Richmond, Va. ever published answered questions on pricing.
- A pediatrician in Santa Monica, Ca. went viral with an easy for new parents tip trying to sooth a crying baby.
- A plumber in Montreal, gets a base hit with a Facebook post describing the difference between plungers designed for a sink and those made for a commode.
I’ve always found, that when a particular question makes a business uncomfortable, it’s a good indication that answer, and by extension that content, is going to be pretty hot. Embracing those uncomfortable questions is straightforward way to differentiate your content from all the rest.
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As for the frozen frog, it’s only partially true, according to Snopes:
“The viral photograph displayed above does not show an Alaskan tree frog (since no such animal exists), nor does it show a wood frog. This widely-circulated image appears to be simply a garden ornament that has been covered with frost.”
But there are species, including a wood frog, in the frozen north that can survive partial freezes:
“The tiny amphibians can survive for weeks with an incredible two-thirds of their body water completely frozen — to the point where they are essentially solid frogsicles…Even more incredible is the fact that the wood frogs stop breathing and their hearts stop beating entirely for days to weeks at a time. In fact, during its period of frozen winter hibernation, the frogs’ physical processes — from metabolic activity to waste production — grind to a near halt. What’s more, the frogs are likely to endure multiple freeze/thaw episodes over the course of a winter.”
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Photo credit: Snopes.com