there’s no shortage of digital and content marketing news out there, which is a good thing when you’re playing things fast and loose with your weekly podcast and don’t plan out discussion points in advance.

despite the quickly assembled material in this week’s episode, jeff “data hawk” baker and the self-described “creative beacon for all,” francis ma, dig in and touch upon some pretty compelling points that should impress even the strongest above the fold critics (that’d be you, ben124567).

what’s empathy’s role in content creation?

if you want digressions, boy are you going to like this first bit. it’s jam-packed with asides about taco kings, content czars, data alchemists and penguinologists. once the boys move past their classic jeff and fran banter, they dive into the topic of empathy and how it informs a brand’s voice.

both agree that empathy is a pretty crucial ingredient in an effective style and tone, especially if you want your copy to read like it was written by an actual person and not come across like some kind of humorless corporate shill.

that being said, there’s a fine line to walk here, and they recognize the risk of going overboard on the personality front and potentially offending and alienating a portion of your audience while trying to endear yourself to another segment.

the takeaway: be human, but don’t be edgy for the sake of being edgy.

of course, finding the right tone for your brand takes some soul searching. you can’t land on a voice for your brand without first understanding at a fundamental level who you are as a company.

is collaboration inherently good?

fair warning: jeff has some pretty harsh words for qr codes in this section, so if you’re a big believer in that kind of stuff, skip to the 21-minute mark or pull out your finest fainting couch in advance.

collaboration is one of those concepts that people take at face value to be a fundamentally good thing. heck, we talk a lot about it on this very blog page and how cross-departmental collaboration drives content creation and strategy development.

but is there such a thing as too much collaboration?

jeff argues yes, there are times when having too many opinions – or, more specifically, poorly formed opinions – leadsto bad decision-making. a bad idea is a bad idea, after all, and time spent giving those thoughts honest consideration just drags your organization down.

that being said, when everyone plays (and sticks to) a specific role and brings something unique to the table, collaborative discussions and brainstorming sessions can be good for all involved.

will seo revenue dry up?

jeff does a little name-dropping in this portion, dishing about the time he met and talked shop with moz co-founder rand fishkin. cool story, bro.

although the data hawk could probably spend an entire podcast talking about fishkin’s sartorial choices, the topic at hand is the eye-popping amount of revenue that seo companies and platforms are bringing in:80 billion across the entire industry, to be exact.

sounds like a pretty good time to get in on the seo game, right?

well, the article the guys reference here ends on a somewhat dour note, predicting that google will eventually limit – if not cut off entirely – third-party access to its search ranking numbers.

obviously, that would be absolutely disastrous for the seo and content marketing industries, and the boys indulge in some existential handwringing as they consider a world without google (at least the iteration of google we know and love today). for the record, jeff would probably become a reclusive, wood-chopping hermit, while francis would likely pursue a career in voiceovers.

leave it to jeff and francis to close out the podcast by giving everyone an seo scare. it is almost halloween, after all.

context-free quote of the week:

“we’re all stuck in an independent movie, waiting for steve carrell to show up and show us the way.”

do you agree with the guys? is the seo industry living on borrowed time? let us know in the comments below!

jeff keleher is a writer and editor at brafton. a man of simple tastes, he enjoys playing guitar, playing video games and playing with his dog - sometimes all at once. he still hasn't gotten over illinois' loss in the 2005 ncaa national championship game, and he probably never will.