The Conundrum of Content-What is your Content Strategy?

I’ve been somewhat neglecting the blog over the last few months but I have a good excuse er… reason.  Others are getting my good content.  Or maybe I should just say they are getting my content, whether it’s good or not, well that’s in the eyes of the reader now isn’t it?

Being a content producer is brutal, it’s hard and it never ends.  And yea,  it sometimes it sucks.  Why?  Because content, in and of itself, is constantly being redefined and producing it is constantly a challenge.   Content for the consumer, is like Crack, the more one gets, the more one wants.  Good content keeps raising the bar for all content producers.  Why?  Because we all have to strive and push out something that will a) trump what was pushed out before, b) be consumed on a large scale and c) in a sense, hopefully will go viral.  Let’s use an Olympic analogy.  Once you score a 10, you’re expected to score another one.  When you don’t, we maybe wait and see if you can repeat and when you don’t, we maybe ask why and then, we look elsewhere.

The flip side? Like Crack, a users expectations are raised.  The tolerance levels rise. The need for more and better increase.  No longer is average content acceptable.  What make’s this further frustrating is that, as the producer of content, you no longer can control the quality.  It’s no longer up to you. You might think it’s good, but it’s really not up to you.  It’s up to them.

Thus,  just like the old adage or statement that “we’re going to create a viral video” is equal parts foolish and unattainable, thinking your next piece of content is going to rock them, well, it’s out of your control.

At the end of every business day on the web, the bottom line is that content churns the machine.  It’s what keeps companies and organizations in the public eye.  Sometimes though,  the content that keeps you in the public eye, isn’t produced by you, and isn’t necessarily how you wanted to be in the public eye.  That’s the dark side. Content is everyone’s friend and everyone’s enemy.  Why? Because  good content isn’t always about the positive.  Content, the good stuff, the reason why we fire up the computer every day, can be all about the bad stuff.

And…content is not abating, it’s not subsiding, and  it’s not morphing into something we can control, not even close and not any time soon. It’s not like there’s this rhythmic beat to the content that’s created and the content that is consumed.  Why? Pretty soon, (in  less than five years) everyone will have a smart phone AND a tablet device.  The desktop as we know it, will be dead soon.  Which means what?

Multiply the ability to consume what is created times two or maybe three.  As device proliferation increases, so does demand for sites, apps, content curators and content creators.  Like rabbits and mice, demand and creation will explode exponentially.

So I’m telling you right now, creating, collecting and curating content is damn hard. Additionally, just because you have resources and access to Google or Bing or Yahoo or whatever, it doesn’t mean that you know what will work for your company or a company when it comes to compelling content that will drive eyeballs and sales.  You can test, but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, if you sell soap for example-What content are you going to create that is going to increase the sales of soap?

Here are a few questions you need to ask:

  1. Can the intern help you with good content?  Initially, probably not.  But if you can nurture them into the position of “content beast,” that would be great but it takes time.  This of course would mean that you understand what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Can’t we just automate the process? So that means you’re just going to pull in everyone’s RSS feeds? Or does that mean you’re just going to scrape good content from others? Either choice is not a good one.  Though I’m a proponent of supplementing one’s own content with perhaps a national feed, it’s not a good idea to push the content of others.  Why? Well, where’s the value? Where’s the reason to come back every day?
  3. How well do you know what your customers want? Why? It takes knowledge and an understanding of your customers, what your customers search for and why exactly, are they your customers in the first place.  Once you conquer that, then you start to understand the difference between search and intent.
  4. Does it matter if your brick and mortar customers are online? It certainly helps.  Remember, that the first entry point for most people is not through the browser bar but generally through search and invariably through Google-which then heightens three things: one, is the quality of your content, two is the quality of your SEO and three is  your “socialness.”  Invariably though, your customers may start online before they walk in the door.
  5. Does it matter that your customers are social? It helps but what do you think?  If your customers are social that might mean they are digitally savvy and digitally demanding.  Don’t deliver and suffer the consequences.
  6. What will it take to create and curate compelling content? In a nutshell, you have to test what works and what doesn’t.  This is where a solid analytics package comes into play.  You have to know what drives traffic and what get’s clicked on and what doesn’t.
  7. Can we outsource it?  You can but you risk putting what you’ve known and what you’ve built into someone’s hands who doesn’t really know you, your product or your customers.  You may get lucky and find someone who plays in the same space but it takes some vetting to find that company or person.

So what’t the over-arching theme or point here?  As we hurdle towards 2013 and beyond, the proliferation of devices and platforms means that consumers are going to continue to demand content that “fits” them.  As well, that content not only needs to fit their niches and demands but it also needs to be accessed at anytime and anywhere. If it doesn’t, they are gone.  Which means, if you’re not delivering the optimum digital experience, then you lose.  It will start and end with the content you create and curate every day and every night.  If you don’t get it right, chances are that your competition will.

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Internal Social Networks Versus Social Networks-Where Should You Spend Your Time?

The tug-o-war for your time when you participate on multiple social networks can be difficult. Who get’s it and who doesn’t?  Who get’s the honor of your participation can also affect your impact because THAT will be where you spend the bulk of your time. Where should you spend your time? On the networks that matter to you or on the networks where you HAVE to participate?

Does it matter if you create content or if you lurk?  It might, though either exercise require an investment of your time. The fact is, the more networks you’re in, the more likely that your content is going to suck in some of them. It’s the law of averages. You’re going to devote more time and effort to the networks that matter. For those that are of less importance, the content you create, should you even bother, will be diluted. So does the internal corporate network win then?

It Depends

You see,time, your precious time, is the primary commodity here regardless of where you spend the bulk of it and what you specifically do with it. The less time you have, the more likely you are to mail in your participation in networks that matter less. Your day is already full and now companies want you to participate in and contribute to these new growing internal networks. But what about your Facebook page, Twitter account and your blog?

If you are part of the 70%  who just read and watch stuff, though your time is still sacrificed, it won’t really move the needle on the quality of your limited contact with others in any network. So who get’s it? The benefit of your quality time that is. For those that are part of  internal corporate networks, it can be an issue. There might be the sense of obligation to participate. Even though the reality might be that you’re just going through the motions of participation, because it’s… work stuff. It really depends on what type of social media consumer or influencer you want to be, how you want to move the needle and who wins in the competition for your attention and time.

It almost seems like in the end, it’s a push and no one’s get the benefit of the best of what you might have to offer.

Can monkey’s tell stories?

How important is content to marketing professionals? Back in October, Coca-Cola’s Jonathan Mildenhall,   The VP of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, was speaking at the Guardian Changing Advertising Summit when he stated:

“All advertisers need a lot more content so that they can keep the engagement with consumers fresh and relevant, because of the 24/7 connectivity. If you’re going to be successful around the world, you have to have fat and fertile ideas at the core.”

Fat and fertile ideas.  The company’s Content 2020 advertising strategy is to “move from creative excellence to content excellence”.

About 4 months ago I was talking with a colleague of mine who was told in so many words by a client that, “content and or the creation of content can be done by a monkey”. Ouch.  He essentially was dismissing the value of creating content and saying that it can be done by anyone-even a monkey.

If Coke, one of the great purveyors of creative excellence thinks that content will be the centerpiece of their marketing strategy going forward, where does that put the status of the monkey?

Maybe the better question for that client is, Really? You really think that?

Content Fatigue and Whatever Happened to the Snake Oil folks in Social Media?

Full Disclosure-Sometimes I have no clue about what I’m going to write about even after I have clicked on, “new post”. How about you? I have content creation fatigue and frankly I’m tired. Are you tired? Tired of creating content? Tired of reading the same content? Tired or stumped on what you might write today or tomorrow? Do you create content for your blog or  for your company blog? For clients?  I do.  I do it for my site and I instruct clients on what to write, how to write, where to write, and when to write and frankly I’m sometimes overcome with social media writers fatigue.

Today was one of those days where I knew I had to write something but wasn’t sure what to write. Funny thing is, I have so many drafts saved here and I have so many ideas scrawled on napkins, pieces of paper and stored on Evernote-that writing or creating that content should be easy right? And yet at the end of the day, in an ironic twist, this post ends up being about not knowing what to write about…It’s like this post is being reincarnated as George Costanza and Jerry’s Seinfeld’s show about nothing.

Everyone writes about the same thing in social media-sort of

The other half of my fatigue revolves around the hopes that I will read the next great post. I wonder every day, “Does anyone have anything new to say today?” Invariably the answer is yes but I do read a lot of crappy, link-baity blog posts that make me feel dirty for actually wasting my time with it. The good news?  There are some good kickass, up and comer, social media bloggers and writers hittin’ the space every day; but I still think that, “Does anyone have anything new to say in this space?” Seriously. I can’t be the only one thinking this out loud. Am I? Maybe it’s that whole I’m livin in the bubble thing goin on. I’m not sure.

Remember the good ole days when we all used to bash the emergence of the snake oil folks-Whatever happened to those posts?  Maybe a better questions is whatever happened to the social media snake oil folks? But those types of posts were easy to write and easy to read.

Home runs and link bait

Snake oil dude aside, I do love how everyday brings the promise of events that will prompt us to read, write, react and share don’t you? The snake oil folks used to do that. It was easy to get all fired up about what they did or didn’t do and then write about it.  Social media #fails are always easy to read and write about too. Look, we all want to hit that home run of a post that gets commented on and shared out the wazoo.  Sometimes I write posts with the hope that it hits that home run, but I admit it, I struggle. I know you do too. We all do. Want to know a clear indicator for me? When I see any top 10 list in the title of the post. I know that person is fishing for eyeballs and may be struggling for content. Hey it’s OK sometimes because I’m a sucker, as we all are for a top ten list, just not all the time.

So will I snap out of my content fatigue? Maybe I have. I usually bank on some Fortune 500 screwing up in social and getting me back on track..