Copywriting & content marketing for B2B & technology companies

Keeping it real: content marketing the hiphop way


Hiphop and content marketing have much in common. Need a little clarity? Check the similarity.

I love hiphop music. The combination of a witty, originical lyric with a tight beat that involuntarily makes your head nod like a chicken on speed, just does it for me. Ever since the days of Fab Five Freddy announcing the newest jams on Yo MTV Raps, I have been hooked to this music.

Just like many other art forms, hiphop has an entire subculture attached to it. Since I am more a fan of the music itself than of the subculture as a whole, I am not so much into breakdancing, graffiti or whatever fashion that is related to hiphop. One thing I know though, is something that the true defenders of the hiphop genre are always insisting on. It’s about ‘keeping it real’. If you are listening to classic hiphop songs every once in a while, that’s the phrase that will keep popping up.

So, what does ’Keeping it real’ mean exactly? The phrase really refers to being true to yourself and representing yourself in an authentic way. Now here’s a nice similarity with content marketing. If there’s one simple adage to adhere to in hiphop and in content marketing, it must be to keep it real. See how I tied this together nicely?

For you no way: not keeping it real in content marketing

The opposite of keeping it real is being a fake. Unfortunately, there’s many ways of being a fake, in hiphop ánd in content marketing.

  • In hiphop circles, being fake means presenting yourself to others as someone richer, or better in certain ways. In content marketing, if your audience suspects that you are not true to your company identity, they will see through the bling-bling and drop you like a stone. How to be true to your identity, you have to figure out yourself. One thing is certain, though. Buying social followers is not staying true to yourself. Paying reviewers to spread the gospel for you is not staying true to yourself. I’m sure some savvy internet marketers know a gazillion other ways not to stay true to yourself.
  • Copying someone is a serious offense in hiphop culture. Stealing lyrics from another MC is simply not done, and hiphop artists truly guard their rhymes like a pot of gold. Also in content marketing, copying is the worst thing you can do. Face it, there’s only one Apple. Don’t try to be the next Apple, try to be yourself. Originality is something that is highly valued in content marketing.  That’s why you need to claim your own territory, your own niche.As a Belgian beer lover, I can easily give some examples of Belgian beer brands that have done their homework in that respect. Jupiler, to name the most important one, has successfully claimed the theme of soccer. The brand was able to gain massive exposure thanks to a successful campaign for the Red Devil Belgian national soccer team. Maes beer, a humble challenger of Jupiler, successfully claimed the music theme by organizing free concerts with an undisclosed band all over the country. Grimbergen, a Belgian abbey beer brand, partnered up with Belgian writers to develop a thriller novel based on the theme of the ancient Grimbergen abbey. Crazy, but nice!
  • Keeping it real also means coming back down to earth and thinking sensibly. Hiphop is very much an ego game. But when the ego is greater than the performance, the audience will let the artist down before he knows it. Lately, there’s much ado about the sense and sustainability of the content marketing model. As for me, I still believe that quality and relevance will separate the wheat from the chaff. But in the end, if you suspect that your content does nothing for you, you need to come off of your content cloud and use some metrics to check the performance of your content program. In fact, the article by Jay Baer “The 4 Types of Content Metrics That Matter” really nails it and I think you should read it.
  • Staying true to your commitments is another aspect of keeping it real. Ever witnessed a hiphop battle? Bragging, boasting and even insults have always been part of hiphop lyrics, but in a rap battle, MCs are spitting those lyrics out live, in real time. So, whenever you decide to step into that game, you’d better be able to deliver the goods. Same goes for content marketing. If you promise your audience to deliver quality and relevant content with good frequence, be sure that you are able to keep that promise. Be sure to plan ahead. An editorial calendar can help. Persistence will help as well. It might be a good idea not to overpromise too.

In hiphop, fake-ass rappers get dissed. Don’t let that happen to you. Try to keep it real instead.

Peace out. Word to your mother.