Image by Mr. Wright via Flickr
I’ve been thinking a lot about the challenges the companies face with social media and using it for marketing. There are lot to be sure but there’s one in particular that I haven’t heard anyone talk about yet; distributing your content.
In the early days (a few years ago) making people aware that you had a company blog was easy; just start one. 3-4 years ago when a major brand started a blog it was a big deal. Now starting a company blog is about just meeting the bar.
Let’s say your company has a blog (or dozens of them), now what? Apparently corporate blogs suck. But of course yours is the exception to this rule. Let’s go with that for now. Is it enough to produce a high quality company blog that serves your customers valuable information?
The social media *experts* will have you believe that’s all you have to do. If you build it (and it’s good) they will come.
The World doesn’t work this way. The best musicians aren’t the most successful. The greatest movies don’t gross the most, I would even argue that they aren’t even the ones winning the awards. The best TV shows still get canceled. The best, coolest startups, with the best technology don’t always win (heck they probably don’t even usually win).
In the crowded space of content marketing you need a distribution plan. In order to answer the ROI question companies will need to maximize the content (and potential conversations) they create. New media is perfect for creating content once and distributing it a thousand times. (Hopefully you don’t re-purpose it that much because then it’s spam.)
Companies need to be putting just as much planning into the creation of their content as they do the creation of it. I believe this is why so many marketing efforts fail online. Marketers don’t think about the channels they will be using to distribute the content they create.
There need to be 3 parts to your social media distribution plan:
You need to build and tap into your social networks. Your social networks become your focus groups. They’ll tell you directly or indirectly whether your content sucks or not. They will also be the channel that pushes the good content to their networks.
I know this is a loaded word but I couldn’t think of a better one. This is the content and channels that you use sometimes to just raise awareness. It’s usually off message a little (hopefully not too far off message). Usually people think that viral has to be funny or crass. Viral can also be cause oriented. The channels that you use here are often outside your immediate social network and are channels better suited for distribution. YouTube, Digg, even the main stream media.
At the end of the day there are just some channels, even newer online ones, that you can’t get into unless you pay for it. And yes I listed this one last for a reason. Use your paid distribution channels carefully because too much paid media can kill your organic and viral efforts.
Distribution will be the next level of differentiation among vendors.
2009 will see the lines between technology, platform, ad network, agency, media company blur to an indistinguishable level. IMO the platform providers that have built in distribution will gain big ground in the Enterprise.
These are just rough ideas and this is my first stab on the topic. I’ll be writing a lot more on this topic but for now that should get the gears in your mind turning.Please feel free to shoot any holes in my theories here.