Archive for the ‘Content Strategy’ Category

Is Content on the Web Missing A Soul? – 5 Ways to Get It Back

Are Content Factories Taking The Soul Out of Content?The rise of content factories like Associated Content and now AOL are scaring the crap out of those trying to eke out a living through the written word.  Having been born in 20 BG (Before Google) ,  I sympathize with the angst of journalists forced to write against a paint-by-the-numbers set of keywords to drive SEO.  This feels a bit like selling out to get distribution but really is the equivalent of covering car chases, fires and infidelity to sell papers and drive ratings.  Google has given us a new window into what sells based on keyword popularity so let’s use it.  Rather than thumb our noses at outfits that leverage Google insight to create content, content creators should one up content factories with engaging content directed at a target audience.  Here are five ways  for you to participate in the quest to reclaim content soul on the web.

1.  Write about what you love – Content drones and robots cannot write engaging content.  If you write dry as toast content, no one will want to read it no matter how many great keywords and tags you use to get people there.  This is critical for small business owners.  Your differentiation is you and the more “you” that comes across the better unless of course you’re a jerk.

2. Write often – Kurt no you didn’t just say that with months between blog entries.  Ok so this a bit of a case of do what I say not what I do but it’s true.  The more you write , the more you will emerge in your writings and guess what?  Google likes content depth so you will have an opportunity to develop a content library that will have value to you, your readers and Google.

3.  Make your content multimedia rich – Get a still camera, get a Flip HD video camera and an iPhone.  Visit Flickr for some new images.  Do something new and innovative.  The same text-heavy dead sea scroll length content won’t get it done.  Make your prose come alive.

4.  Study the marketplace and uncover emerging trends before anyone else – Stay ahead of the pack by anticipating what is going to be hot before the embers catch fire.  This will enable you to create authority and expertise in the marketplace through first mover advantage.   When I research trends, I use as many sources as possible.  There is an exhaustive list of tools to use on trendwatching.com that I won’t reproduce in full so here are the top  sources I think are the most valuable:

  • Papers, websites, mags, blogs, books, news, newsletters
  • Alerts, Search Query Volume (Google)
  • Seminars, fairs, trade shows
  • Customers, clients, colleagues, friends, family
  • Competitors, Start ups

If you spot new trends reliably, you will become indispensable to your audience and Google will reward you as well through improved ranking as influential sites begin to link to you.

5.  Study sites and blogs with content soul – My favorite web personality/blogger/content creator example to point to is Gary Vaynerchuk.  He is sometimes a bit over the top but his content has soul and exudes passion.  Take a lesson from Gary – pick you niche and blow it out.  Gary provides great content and is a master of promoting content using social media.  Study his sites winelibrary.tv and garyvaynerchuk.com and apply them to your business.

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Control Your Content – Lesson From the Music Industry

music-value-destruction

Source:  Magna Insights

A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel that explored the future of the music business with some great company:

We discussed the dizzying changes in the music landscape over the past 10 years, illustrated by the chart above.  Napster paved the way for the Apple iPod/iTunes ecosystem which forever changed the retail music landscape.  Much of the damage was created because artists and music companies did not react swiftly enough to advances in distribution technologies, platform and evolution in consumer behavior.

So how does an artist or any music business adapt to this new ecosystem with new retailers (Apple, Amazon, etc), new venues (Pandora, Last.fm) and social network evolution (MySpace, iMeem, Facebook?

Fred Cannon said it best at our panel – 1) Add value for your audience 2) Control your content

Many artists are satisfied with leaving distribution up to someone else while working on his or her craft.  This could include signing with a label, working with marketing and promotions firm to create virtual street teams on the web in MySpace or Facebook.  These are great things to do but it must all start with the artist’s brand.

Rohit Bhargava has a great post on the importance of personal branding that summarizes this quite well that works in this context as well since an artist’s music and the personhood of the artist are inextricably linked.  An artist’s brand exists outside of albums, CDs and mp3s.   Successful music businesses (great music is no longer sufficient to have a great career) must be about a relationship with fans independent of social networking sites, retailers and physical venues.

A digital hub/website that is an extension of the artist and brand that is under the control of the artist is essential to surviving the changes in the music landscape.  This website should have the ability to delight fans through delivery of content, first-look at exclusive merchandise and anything that extends the relationship between fan and artist for mutual benefit.