content production

You are currently browsing articles tagged content production.

Can’t figure out where to start a “social media” marketing program?  Why don’t you start with a content strategy.  Frankly, I don’t think most social media programs should be done without a content production component, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s your starting point. It’s pretty hard to have a social media program without having content to put out.  One way to get that is by pushing out other peoples’ content. But the best way - for obvious reasons - is usually to push out your own content.  See below.
  2. It gives you credibility in your industry and backs up your product or service. By putting out your own content, people (end-users, customers, partners) see that you know what you’re talking about, and that you have internal knowledge on whatever space you’re in.  This content and credibility also justifies your product/service as a solution when it comes to making a decision.
  3. It’s your brand. By branding your content, and developing a sense of expertise in your industry, you increase your brand image and your brand awareness, and you’re ideally able to reach a lot more people if your content is valuable enough to pass along.
  4. It’s easy. This is the part that a lot of companies don’t recognize.  You already have all of this content inside your doors.  If you think about it, your company exists because it’s got at least some level of knowledge that’s directly applicable to the solution you’re offering.  You may have internal marketing documents, business plans, strategy meeting notes, or product write-ups that can easily be repurposed into content.  Not to mention the wealth of knowledge you and your coworkers have in their heads.  I’ve never actually seen a company that doesn’t have scores of content opportunities inside their walls.

It doesn’t have to be formal.  Instead of dedicating the amount of time it might take to write a white paper, why not try a few blog posts, or a one-pager on the subject?

So if you’re considering getting your feet wet in social media, think seriously about how you can add your own content to that.

What success have you seen with content production in your organization?  Do you have any examples of identifying creative content opportunities?

If you’re interested, you can get more information on how we can help you with your content production strategies.

I was just catching up on some podcasts, and listened to Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation Episode #184 with Jason Falls from last week.  I was listening intently - more intently than I normally do to Six Pixels - because not only am I huge fan of Mitch, but I’m also a really big fan of Jason, who blogs over at Social Media Explorer, and I like both of them for roughly the same reason.

They create awesomely high-quality content on a very regular basis.

So I was delighted when they touched on this topic briefly in their discussion:

We’re finding that some of the people who are really standing out may be producing lower quantity content, but it’s of way higher quality.

[Note: That was my summary, not quite verbatim].

Coming from these two, this was spot on.  Focus on creating quality content. As many of you know, I pass on a lot of content through various outlets.  Jason and Mitch are definitely in my Top 10 of “People Who’s Content I Pass Along” because it’s always great.

However, it got me thinking about how this plays out in the client-agency relationship.  As an agency or consultancy, most of the clients we’ve worked with so far have at least some level of timidity/hesitancy about instituting a social media plan, and, as a result, often need some hand holding during the process.

This means that frameworks and guidelines are put into place, along with calendars and expectations.  When it comes to content, there’s also that part of the pitch that says “MUST UPDATE FREQUENTLY!” So you inevitably need to put process behind it, which your clients buy into.

So, while the idea of having a strategy that focuses on quality content - which can often feel intangible in the business world - sounds like the best way to go (aright, it IS the best way to go), it doesn’t necessarily jive with the realities of an agency-driven social media marketing program.

We all know that value takes time. And for our purposes time costs money, usually a predetermined amount.

Let’s use a simple example. Let’s say a client social media program has blogging at it’s center, so it’s where most of the content will be produced.  As the agency, we work with an internal team of people who are the “bloggers-to-be” of the company, but we’re starting out with the bulk of the content production.   We put a “calendar” in place for posts, and here are our choices for conversations:

  • “For this retainer, we’ll either give you Level One blog posts - our lowest level of value (but trust us it’ll still work) - at three times a week, Level Two posts at twice a week, or Level One - our most valuable content - at once a week. It’s your choice.”
  • “Well, we like to take the value in one super valuable post and break it into three posts, each with 1/3 the value, so if you do the math, it’s kinda like having one super valuable post but you get more pieces of content up, which we told you was important.”
  • “Oh, you’re wondering why we didn’t put up our first two posts this week? Well, we’re really trying to feel the vibes over here and wait for the moment when the value just pours out.  So we’ve lit some incense and we’re really feeling good that it’s going to come for Friday’s post. High-intensity value.”

Hmmm, I’m thinking these aren’t conversations that will keep us employed for very long.

So then, if we’ve decided that quality is better (which we’ve long ago decided), and Mitch and Jason have hinted at a shift towards perhaps less quantity and more quality - something that sounds like it could also be less scheduled and planned out, but we’re also bound to calendars and we’re communicating with clients who really might not wholly embrace a slightly more ambiguous quality-focused strategy, rather than a little more structured strategy.

We all get this concept, and have gotten it for a while, but our a lot of our clients may not have.

How do we have this conversation? Is it simply a matter of charging more for services? Do we as an industry simply start demanding highest-quality from our content producers (thereby offering highest-quality to our clients), no matter what? Or do we need to start having different conversations with our clients and those we’re trying to educate?And if so, how do we do that in a way that inexperienced people can still feel like there’s something concrete to grasp onto?

Sami Ben Gharbia passed along a good link on Twitter about how you can never have too many graphics in your data representations.  The CNN article focuses on government and organizational data, which, to date, has been considered highly useful, but pretty boring.  Where is this trend going?

“A booming interest in data visualization, which can transform boring stats into compelling graphical presentations explaining our world.”

This concept obviously translates into any environment, and I couldn’t agree more.

You know how important first impressions are?  How wearing your best suit matters in a business meeting?  Same goes for your content.  The more visually appealing, the more digestible it is.

This is especially important when you’re offering publicly available data for the masses, whether from a governmental standpoint or a corporate standpoint.  With the increased focus on content production, and making large amounts of free content for the masses, if you want to be effective in your overall strategy (often this means to drive readers back to your brand in some way), you’ve got to make that content accessible in more ways than just words.

“Pretty” graphics indicate the following (at least to me):

  • You’ve spent time on your overall presentation
  • You’ve thought about how to most effectively present your data
  • You remember that, in many cases, a picture is worth a thousand words - you get one shot at the picture part
  • You’ve invested in “buttoning your data up”
  • You’ve taken into account your audience, and that some people may not understand your numbers - and therefore your presentation of those numbers - as well as you do
  • You care about how well people can interact with, play with and learn more about your data

PR agencies, consultants, industry experts and your board of directors are all talking about it. Thought leadership! The latest industry buzzword, the serious business’s way of talking about social media and a more stoic way of saying “we’re gonna make you a star!”

What B2B company CEO doesn’t want to be considered a thought leader? Who doesn’t want the rest of their niche industry flocking to them for visionary ideas and insightful analysis of trends? In reality, most companies and CEOs have been striving for this for years. The marketing team didn’t invent a new concept, they’ve just re-packaged it and sold it based on the use of new tools and techniques to (try) to accomplish it.

But not every thought leadership program is a success, in fact there are probably a lot more failures than successes, and I think that’s because a lot of people don’t understand what it really means and what it’s really going to take in order to achieve “leadership” status. So here are a few things I argue need to be taken into account before you go down the thought leadership path:

1) You are going to have to stick your neck out.

Being a thought LEADER means you’re ahead of the pack. In many cases, that means making bold statements about the future, disagreeing with other major industry voices, and having a strong and consistent point of view that is DIFFERENT from everything else around you. A lot of people feel like they want to get involved in the industry conversation, but they don’t want to ruffle any feathers (and there are a lot of feathers to ruffle… customers, clients, partners, analysts, reporters, employees, the board, etc.) If you’re not willing to stick your neck out, then you’re going to be seen as a leader, you’re just another voice saying the same things already being said in other circles. Boring. No one is going to listen.

2) You can’t be an expert on everything.

You probably can’t even be an expert on everything your company does, unless you only have one product and it’s very niche. Sure, you have a business intelligence software company. But there are a lot of BI experts. Niche out. Pick a particular aspect of BI that is new, on the forefront, or that your company and you yourself are particularly good at and knowledgeable about. You can link your thoughts on this niche back to the whole, but the point it, if you’re a generalist, then you’re not an expert. You’ll spread yourself too thin.

3) You can’t use your boardroom voice.

Please. Don’t do it. Don’t decide you’re going to start creating content and positioning yourself as a thought leader, and then insist on a buttoned-up suit and tie voice and attitude. Relax. Let your passion, frustration and knowledge show through. In any situation in which you are positioning yourself as a thought leader, being the boardroom voice is not the way to go. Just think about the last conference you attended. Who was the best speaker there? Chances are, it was the guy who talked off his corporate powerpoint the whole time and never cracked a smile or got fired up.

4) You can’t be lazy.

You’re not lazy, I know. But establishing yourself as a thought leader can be a full time job, so it takes a lot of commitment. You need to constantly stay up to date on industry news and trends, and you need to adhere to a strict schedule of producing content and communicating with your audience. You also need to stick to these things even if at first you’re not seeing huge results. Building a program like this takes time, so you need to make sure you’re in it for the long haul… before your start.

5) You need to share the love.

Everybody wants a voice. So if you’ve got a platform, invite them to share their voice on your territory. This can apply in any number of situations, including asking a customer to contribute, or a partner, or a board member. Encourage an ongoing discussion where you become a leader AND a facilitator. Share the pulpit, and you’ll widen your reach and expand your list of loyal supporters.

Make sure you consider these factors before investing time, money and energy into a full-blown thought leadership program. Not every company is cut out to be THE leader, sometimes it’s best to focus on offering a great core product and communicate well with customers and potential customers, not striving to become the go-to industry guru.

Bad Behavior has blocked 175 access attempts in the last 7 days.