For many of you this will be the key chapter in this book. My message is simple. You are the media. Use your content to give value and to promote yourself and what you do. When I say “you” here I mean you as an individual, as a business, as a non profit as anything that has any kind of online presence. When i say content do not be scared off. There are ways to curate content if you lack the ability to create a high level and volume of it yourself.
The 3rd Pillar of your online success is getting liked. Getting attraction. Nowadays when it comes to comparing two job applicants on paper and making a decision, the job often goes to the person who serves up creative, engaging content that has strong connections in the professional community.
Wow so we are all expected to be content producers? Yes. You now control the information age. TIME magazine actually told us this in 2006 but it is taking a while to sink in! You have the power to influence and attract by the quality and consistency of your content. Newspaper, magazines and television channels traditionally paid for the content and controlled it. The days of paying for and anyone but us the people controlling content are all but over. Hence the term “social” media.
In 2014 we all have the ability to quickly make social networking profiles, websites, pages and more for free. As every day goes by people are skilling up on tools, creating infographics, video and a wide range of content. Sharing and creating are becoming increasingly easy and more effective by various tools. All of us are getting bigger or more close-knit networks. So everyone is on an even footing in the new marketing and media paradigm. If you are not skilled at creating then curate other people’s. They will love you for it. Some of you will share this and change my title slightly or add a different picture. This is curation and there are many great free tools available to do this with now. They are discussed in Pillar 2 and Pillar 6. You will find detailed explanations about how they work in The Web Tools Wiki.
How do you brand yourself most effectively? How do you get your name shared around everywhere in a positive way. How do you give value for free? By creating or curating a constant flow of insanely great content. Many people have established their whole brand from the quality of their content. Think for instance of bloggers. Think of Red Bull. Love or hate their product their marketing by daredevil videos and photographs is sensational.
Look at SomeCards. How many times are the hilarious images they have created shared on social media each day? Tens of millions? Unless you are a massive celebrity or have a real “star” personality and are highly engaging and supportive you are going to need to produce content to gain attraction. Those types of attraction last only a short time. You are only as good as your last day. Good content lasts forever.
As you are now highly visible you need to be careful about what you create, curate and share. Keep to the 2 or 3 words you decided to go with from Pillar 1. You should not need to tell people what you do or what you sell or where you live. Your content will do that for you. Make some of it about you or about the people at your company or non profit. People want to see you are real. If Richard Branson posts some personal related content on his personal Facebook business page do you think he will get as much attention as if he posts an announcement about a new Virgin airline route? Build trust and rapport with your content. There will be much more about this in the chapter about Pillar 5.
Are you beginning to see how each of these pillars are intertwined and how not having one established means that the whole of your online presence is weakened by that gap? Content is indeed king. How are you using this kind of marketing? Content that was previously highly guarded and sold is now free everywhere. Marketers realise that they should give away their best stuff and keep the second tier content to sell. Or give up trying to sell content altogether.
So how to go about it? I suggest a content marketing strategy for the week. Make a calendar plan of what you are going to create, curate and share on all your social media places this week. Make a balance of video, photo and written content. With the new Facebook news feed changes today people will choose which kinds of posts they will view. You need to have a presence in all the categories.
Mark Davidson takes it further “Have a modular plan that extends well beyond 7 days. Take a plugin approach. Start with a framework that you can drop content into. Eliminate all randomness by having a framework in place but that is flexible in a way that allows you to drop content pieces into the system in the right places, in the right syntax, with the right cadence.”
As I said above be a little bit careful about what you create, curate and share as people will associate that with your brand and you can easily send confusing messages. You can “dilute” your brand. This can occur especially when you are reshared as your name and the nature of the content being promoted is even more powerfully branded when it is done by someone else. Content that is fun, is inspirational and is educational about social media and technology is a good fit for any brand and this mixed with something educational about their niche is the perfect way to promote yourself.
Later in the book when I discuss how each “sector” can use the 7 pillars I will show example weekly content marketing strategies for each industry or pursuit. Commit to spending a certain amount of time to content. You are able to schedule a lot of it and I will discuss strategies for this in the next chapter Pillar 4. This is the age of sharing and the term “shareism” may well be the word of 2013. In 2014 there will be twice as much sharing as in 2012 which will be for times as much as in 2011.
So it is not enough just to create and curate content. You need to get it shared. Do you have a strategy for this? I will look at this in Pillar 6. I suggest occasionally branding your content with your name initially. Not as always as people will see you as overly self-promotional and maybe reluctant to share. As you get more liked you can step up the promotion.
When most of us think of content we think of blogging. After nearly 4 years of successful blogging here are 15 “takeouts” from my experience that you will benefit from. The beauty of blogging is that is so personalised.
There is a whole separate section of this book curated mainly by Brian Hawkins which will deal with tools for your blog but firstly here are some insights.
1. I have learned mainly that people like a personal touch occasionally. They want to know a bit behind the face behind the words. Many of my most popular posts have contained a personal touch.
2. People also like a mixture of news, views and analysis. Rotate a mix of these ingredients.
3. Supporting other bloggers means that they will support you. This has been organised for us by Triberr but just being a member of triberr is not enough. It pays to network with other bloggers in your niche on Facebook, Twitter and other places and build an increasingly strong relationship. Not many get this and plug away on their own. Bloggers are generally giving away all they know for free so are by instinct great sharers and will coach and mentor you! Just ask.
4. I have learned that I am a total and utter amateur when it comes to technical matters and acknowledge the support of the people who have helped keep this thing running. I have learned not to be afraid to ask for help.
5. Stick to a niche. Mine is social media. People will know what to expect then and also recommend you. I have a wide range of interests and expertise in such things as holistic health, the law, Japan and environmental issues. Ever seen me blogging about them on here?
6. I have learned to keep posts short, simple and positive. I have never criticised anyone or anything. Many bloggers do this and get readers seeking controversy but what kind of people are they attracting? My philosophy is that if you do not have something good to say it do not say it. I may lose many potential reader numbers because of this but the quality and supportive nature of the ones that I do get is going to be far far higher.
7. Guest bloggers are great and I intend to step up my collaboration with them as I move towards a regular two posts a day.
8. Give your posts a name. Use the edit function in WordPress to this. This way they will be retweetable from all all URL shorteners and you will also remember the names as well and will be able to add your posts to conversation threads when they are on topic.
9. Building a community on such places as Stumble Upon, Empire Avenue, Pinterest, Google+, Facebook and Twitter will also get your posts shared.
10. I have learned that my blog is the glue and the center of my online presence. Previously I just wrote Facebook notes. They have their place but do not have nearly as powerful a brand building effect.
11. Great headlines are vital. Keep them short and if possible include a question mark and the word “you”. Make them compelling. Also some word that relates to your niche will continually brand your blog.
12. Be regular. Daily is best and the closer to that the better. If you really need to be “off the radar” for a while prepare and schedule some posts and/or seek out guest bloggers to fill the void.
13. Be shareable. The sliding buttons dowwn the side here are great for example. Do not be afraid to ask to be shared in the occasional post. Keep calls to action to one per post though. If people have had great value for free they will usually be prepared to take a minute or so to do one thing in return.. Do not be scared to seek promotion and shares. If you believe that what you have written is valuable then promote it and ask for promotion. Do not keep your great thoughts and knowledge a secret.
14. Use SEO. From now on I will take some action on this front as I take things to a new level. Tagging, back and forward linking, keywords, paragraphing, analytics all this kind of stuff awaits me.
15. When people take the trouble to comment on your posts thank and engage with them and connect with them in other places. These people are gold and you have attracted them with your content and you can keep a relationship with them forever.
Hope you have had a good takeout that you can put to use from at least one of these points.
The most powerful form of blogging however is via video.
Whenever I put out some video content I get a lot of praise. I am sure that I connect with people than by just putting some thoughts down on a page. It really does not take so much time to do it and it is something we all should aim at at doing once a week at least.
People want to know the real you. Where you live. The sound of your voice, your accent. Whether that profile pic on Facebook is airbrushed or taken 3 years ago! They will know and remember you once they have seen you on video. Even once. If you do it from your home a few times they may even think you have hosted them there. It really is that powerful. This is the age of content marketing and a time where broadband access is growing. You Tube is now a social network where your videos will get seen and shared more and more and more by your friends and their friends.
So how to do it? Plus a bit more on why. Please watch!
Look forward to seeing your videos. Do not seek perfection. Be you and share your knowledge and thoughts in the most powerful way out there.You never know you may be shared everywhere and really what is the worst thing that can happen! By far my most successful video was a random thing I shot while waiting to meet a friend in downtown Tokyo. For reasons completely unknown to me it has attracted over 20,000 views and qualified my channel to be a “You Tube” partner. Make money from advertising and display full length films and more. If I had never shot and uploaded it all this would never have happened so you just never know.It might only take some celebrity or other influencer to tweet a link and bang off it goes getting shared worldwide. You have to have your line in the water to catch a fish.
This book and everything about the whole resource encompassed within it will stand or fall on the strength of the content in it. The same will almost always be true for you.
So now our base is getting strong so we can confidently go out and have fun. Chapter 4 is all about socializing.
Here are some actions to take to build and strengthen your 3rd Pillars.
1. Work on creating some sort of content each day for every social media platform you use. This may be a tweet, a Facebook update, a photo on Instagram
2. Make a weekly content calendar. This may be mostly curated content and not necessarily original. Review each week.
3. Constantly watch how others are using content to brand themselves.
4. Decide on your own personal branding hashtag and use it from time to time with your content. I use #ToYourOnlineSuccess for example
5. Work slowly but steadily on an ebook or a book. Write something that will amplify your brand