My clients are pretty cool cats, not easily rattled–and yet many of them are deeply, insanely worried about the new media “future” and the apparently all-consuming need to become business blogging/marketing gurus, on top of running their businesses day-to-day.
Between the terrifying predictions (Google+ is the future! No Facebook! Back to blogging!) and marketing-soapbox declarations (This email marketing software is best! This approach to blogging is superior! You’ll become obsolete if you don’t ___!), it’s almost impossible to avoid a paralyzing bout of noise-induced inaction.
So here’s the deal, at least insofar as content is concerned: Yes, I believe content is the future. From blog posts to Facebook updates to user-generated content, to articles to email to…etc.
And I DO believe that sales today can hinge on the trust, information and access that this wealth of content creates for clients and buyers. But I don’t believe you should sweat any of this; it’s not as complex as the “experts” would have you believe. (Remember, you’re a buyer too–you know the behavior and what works.)
Four (clear) facts about the future of content online
- Consistency matters. You do not have to be on every social network, no matter what anyone says. You do not have to blog if you don’t want to (have you asked your other team members, though?). Dispersal is good, but only if the content you’re dispersing is worth reading. It’s better to stick to what you’re good at consistently than to inconsistently be bad at a lot of stuff. “Jack of all trades, master of none.*”
- Being dumb will hurt. Refer to the recent ChapStick hubbub for evidence of this. In the new media environment, your footsteps are public and LOUD. Let the people talk. The people have the money. Also: use common sense. If you wouldn’t like your favorite brand to delete your Facebook comment, don’t delete your fans’ comments either.
- You need to plan whatever your “strategy” is and stick to it. Don’t throw yourself into (or at) something new willy-nilly, whether it’s a new blog, guest blogging, a new social feed, video, whatever. You will either avoid it, hate it, do it badly, or stop doing it. If you can’t help yourself, the next point is for you!
- Content is (still) king, even in the future (John Jantsch says so)–maybe it’s time to hire a writer. The thing is, not everyone’s going to do content right, whether it’s evergreen blog posts, advertorial, or even content for other sites or publishers to hawk a product or expertise. So this provides a way for you to excel, no matter how big or small you are. Most normal small business people are not that good at content yet, probably because they have a business to run. Hire a
content specialistwriter with experience in marketing communications AND blogging who can help you create, if not actually produce most of, your content. Many who do what I do are not that expensive. I could charge more, but I like what I do–and what I mostly do is take people’s great content and make it better. It’s not a matter of “outsourcing” it; I communicate my clients’ messages and missions, in their voice. It’s an act of translation, let’s say. That said, you don’t need a communications department for this either (unless you’re CEO of a large company and can afford it, in which case, go for it). If your business is worth it, so is the (minor) investment. This goes for technical work too.
Having a business that’s partly or fully online today is both powerful and intimidating. But every business is different, and presumably, YOU know yours best.
So be focused, use your common sense, communicate what matters to YOUR customer in a sensible and direct way, and as for the rest? Surround yourself with advisors and people who know more than you. Trust me, it works.