Content is king -- again and still. While content has always been the foundation of the online ecosystem, it has taken on a profound new importance over the past few years. As businesses shift their marketing dollars from offline to online, the need for relevant content to share with prospects and customers has become critical. Offline marketing tactics simply will not work on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other sites that are 100 percent content centric. Online consumers demand interesting and relevant content wherever they are or they will go somewhere else. Businesses now know that content is king in the world of online and social media marketing. But how do you get or create it?
Creating content used to be relegated to "publishers" who made the stuff with the sole purpose of monetizing it through adverting. Things have changed. Businesses now know they need to be in the content business if they want to engage with the prospects and customers who are spending an exurbanite amount of time online and on social media outlets. They are also discovering that creating great content is not as easy as it might sound. Forward-thinking businesses are hiring folks to blog, tweet, and create content appropriate for furthering their online marketing efforts. However, it is expensive and time consuming, and many smaller companies cannot afford the investment.
What to do? Before deciding how to get the content needed for successful online marketing, you must determine what is relevant and engaging in the first place.
- Determine and truly target your audience: Who are they? What interests them? What influences them? How can you solve their problems?
- Become a subject matter expert. Work with the goal of becoming a trusted and reliable go-to resource.
Once you have determined the type of content needed, here are five ways to get the content you need for great online marketing:
Creating and owning impactful content is great if you can afford to do it. The upside here is when you share your own content, it links back to your site, drives traffic, is aligned with your marketing messages, and helps further SEO efforts.
There is an emerging ecosystem of companies ready and willing to create content for you. Many online agencies offer content creation as well as tweeting, posting, blogging, etc. on your behalf. It can be a bit pricey if you want to post content daily or even weekly, but it offers most of the advantages of in-house content creation. Scripped.com is a great example.
Share and link it
This is by far the most common way to deliver content to your audience, yet has serious drawbacks. When you tweet, post, or link to someone else's content, you are sending your prospect or customer away from your site and into an environment where you cannot measure ROI or effectiveness. While very popular, be wary of any content strategy that you cannot measure and which sends prospects to potentially competitive sites.
Until now, this has simply not been a viable option. New platforms and technologies have emerged that allow you to quickly and easily find, share, and publish to your site quality professional content from leading online publishers. This cost-effective approach enables markers to easily discover great content, drive traffic to their own sites, and leverage the credibility of independent, established brands.
This is more popular than you might think. Many don't realize that copying content from any third-party site without permission is illegal. If you are taking content without expressed permission, make sure you understand the laws of "Fair Use" and be warned that many new technologies are out there specifically searching for copyright infringement.
Content marketing needs to be a component of any effective online marketing strategy. Most online marketers will use a combination of the strategies listed above (except No. 5, hopefully), depending on budgets and resources, with the ultimate goal of making your site a more engaging place to visit with deeper, richer content. Testing different types of content creation and licensing is the best way to discover the mix that works best for you and your organization. The key to longevity is discovering the sweet spot of how to make it easy to publish to your site and social pages. If you're fortunate enough to get it right, you will have discovered the way to the palace.
Gregg Freishtat is CEO of Vertical Acuity and Scribit.
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