Content is Super Important !!! (But Not King)

About a week ago, I was doing a social media briefing and I was talking about the importance of content. I made the comment “content has to be awesome.” I got a response, “does it really need to be awesome?” Heck – yeah !!!

Let me put it to you this way … when you share something with your network, do you ever share something that is just okay? Some people think the term “word of mouth” is over used. Frankly, I totally disagree. Word of mouth is the holy grail of marketing. There is nothing more compelling, more influential than word of mouth to tee up a potential sale. Marketers should do everything to charge and amp the probability of word of mouth.

“Content is not king. Conversation around content is king.” I’ve been known to comment, tweet, and post these two lines at least a few dozen times. I am not so sure about this anymore, and now it is time to change it … “Content is not King. Conversations around content used to be King. Now, sharing content is King.” (Long live the King. :))

If you have seen my A-Path and/or The Social Media Marketing Funnel, you know that I emphasize the importance capturing brand advocates and provide some steps to do so. Advocates are the pinnacle outcome of social media execution. Advocates share content and produce “earned media” as well. Thus, content plays a very important role in producing advocates.

So it all starts with having a great product or service for a target segment. (Always has to start there.) And assuming that is in place, you want everyone talking about your brand. Your content (owned media) is the core. Forget advertising-type of content for social efforts. Think of your content strategy as:

1) telling your story,
2) associating your brand with specific topics and segments,
3) demonstrating subject matter expertise,
4) needing to be entertaining, informative, and/or deliver some quantifiable value, and
5) consisting of mixed media and mixed channels.

If you pull these 5 considerations together, you are really “sponsoring a topic.” What do I mean by this? Well start by thinking of “sponsorship” in a traditional sense. If you are a brand, you define places your target market goes and you sponsor an appropriate event, advertise on specific channels (TV, print, radio, etc) and things of this nature. And from a social media perspective, what topics or areas do you want to be associated with? Technology? Young adult clean fun? Easy, health choices for dinner? Sponsors look to get their brand associated with a topic that is of interest to their target market. Think of your content as supporting and adding value to the topic and thus associating your brand with subject. Use content in social initiatives correctly – do not advertise! (This is not to say paid social is not an important effort … it is a paid media initiative that should be part of an integrated media strategy.)

Awhile back, I gave you “4 Ingredients to a Winning Content Strategy“, but as content is the core of social media, let me give you some execution tips as well …

*** Social media is about building relationships (and ultimately advocates). Have you ever built a relationship with someone you have never met? This is reality in social media and it has ramifications. The fact that there is a good chance you will never meet those that you are socializing with (as a brand), means that you have to have even more emphasis on being human and personable. If you don’t come across this way, you have little hope of building relationships and certainly not advocates.

*** “Program your content.” Social and it’s content need to be a continuous thing, but also programmed. Leverage and use different channels (blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, livestream, podcast, virtual events, etc), different mediums (text, pictures, video, audio, and others), and work their integration and synergies.

*** Have a great copywriter. Social media has reinvigorated the importance of a copywriter. I am talking about a real time copywriter that has command of language to produce compelling content. Real time response and excellent prose are both required.

*** Actively use mixed media. There have been numerous studies and reports on the consumption of video and the importance of pictures and images in posts and tweets. I ran my own little experiment. Twice in the last month I tweeted “Some good advice here on Twitter … Give it some thought http://twitpic.com/64wzbv.” (Twitpic indicates an attached photo.) If you clicked on the URL, you would have seen this picture:

The click through rate on this post was on average 5x greater than simple text URLs both times. Takeaway – post and tweet pictures … not of your brand, but pictures of what you want people to associate your brand with. Pictures of the people in action and playing that are behind your brand. Stuff like this that will foster relationship building.

*** Seed you content in multiple (appropriate) places. You cannot just tweet the article title and URL. You need to find where your audience consumes content and appropriately introduce your content into the discussion there. Find blogs talking about related topics, go to LinkedIn groups that cover the subject. Engage there and over time refer your content as appropriate.

So there you have some food for thought. I want you to have an appreciation that while social media has spawned a need to respond in real time and post relevant content at lightning speed, this does not mean you can simply produce just OK material. If you want to stand out, produce awesome content. All of this is hard work. Social media is not free. But if your brand matters to you, social media matter to you. It is an investment that must be made.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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11 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, content marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

11 responses to “Content is Super Important !!! (But Not King)

  1. Excellent article, thanks! But, what if one is in the unfortunate position of not having the best brand? Sometimes one JUST IS #2 or #5 in crowded markets… Trying to differentiate on something other than price is hard, trust me I’ve tried. There’s timing, history with customers, and I love your point on being personable… That is where we have honed in…it is hard to get personable with Engineers buying telecom equipment though :-) We are working on it! You’ve certainly added some perspective for us to ponder!

  2. Nice piece as always. As I transition my brand– and work for multiple clients with multiple brands, this is a good focus piece.Thanks.

  3. Peregrine

    Steve, I’m reminded of an adage from a mentor who used to say, “Everything is content.” By that, he meant that every single item on the page (or video/broadcast) was relevant. “Remember that you start with a blank page. Then you start putting stuff on it.” That could be pictures, art work, graphics, text, etc. We learned that how people related to that, responded to it or communicated about it told us how good we had been at “telling the story.” After all, the mag or site does not live just for the sake of it. At its most basic, you want to share; at its most commercial, you want to make money in order to continue sharing. So, we learned that what we say is important, but how, when and where we say it will provoke some sort of action (even inaction means something).

    Ultimately, the job does not end when you deliver a page or product. Rather, it’s only just begun. It’s not enough to just “put something out there.” Thanks for so deftly explaining the information cycle.

    • Peregrine – great points. I especially like “everything is content.” Not everyone thinks from this perspective, but it is extremely important. Every time a brand does something it is an opportunity to reinforce their brand position. As a brand leader, I would not want to waste one instance to maximize brand position and perception.

      Best,
      Steve

  4. Good post, Steve. I loved your Twitpic experiment – awesome.

    One thing, though — I’d quibble with your assertion to “Have a great copywriter.” I actually agree with you, but I’d qualify that to read, “Have a great writer!” I don’t know that you need a copywriter — but someone who can think and writer clearly and quickly? Absolutely. So by that definition, a former journalist also fits the bill nicely.

    Thanks again for the great post!

  5. I’m still tweaking the best places to seed my content (primarily Twitter with occasional Facebook updates and postings to relevant LinkedIn groups). However, I definitely agree with the “Word of Mouth” power…that’s how most of us became successful as businesses (via referrals).

    I also enjoyed “Content is not king. Conversation around content is king.”. The kicker is getting the reader to perhaps be the first to start a 2-way conversation in response to what you hope is a thought-provoking blog post. It’s like nobody wants to be the first one showing up at the party…

  6. Brian – great input. Thanks. Glad you joined the conversation here on the blog after so many discussions with you on Twitter. Welcome!

    Best,
    Steve

  7. I agree with you Content always king, it’s too important. Even your point of view, the content only attracts through social sites.. the content always attracted if it’s help a lot of people. The content main aim also help to the people Ok so it’s too important…

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