There was this Tamil stage play that was very popular in the 80s. It involved a wannabe Tamil film maker and script writer traveling back in time when they, by mistake, eat the time traveling tablets invented by the film maker’s uncle. They travel all over time and meet a lot of known historical figures, and one of them happens to be King Shahjahan (of Taj Mahal fame!).
Our time traveling duo try to explain to Shahjahan what cinema means and one of his pertinent query is, “Would the whole world be able to see your cinema”?. The film maker retorts, ‘For the entire world to see, ours is not Enter The Dragon! We make cinema for the southern state of India, called Tamil Nadu and it would be a miracle if even a few people from that state come to watch our film!’.
Funny discussion, that.
The reason I bring that here is simply this – brands can get excited and go ga-ga over they becoming media vehicles themselves…just because they have the power to take their thoughts directly to end users. But here’s the big deal – just because they take it directly to people, they do not become the New York Times. New York Times is New York Times because of two things – its content and its reach.
Content is obvious – I have always argued that content is King, Emperor and Sultan all rolled into one. But the King needs a queen and that queen is promotion.
Time and again I see clients who have a proposal from another agency in hand that recommends creating a blog, a Facebook page or a Twitter profile. Fair enough – if those agencies have the right rationale for the client to do these, good enough…smart work, congrats. Where the client seems to have been left stranded is on the content promotion part. Just because the client has a blog post online, it doesn’t automatically mean that the world will rush to see what the post is about.
In these days of severe attention deficiency and information overload, I’d argue that it is not just enough to promote the overall blog, but to promote individual blog posts, in specific contexts.
It is the same strategy like the Facebook page, really. A client starts a Facebook page and ot make it discoverable, there are a series of steps that they need to undertake. Facebook ads is just one of them – the paid media approach. There are other organic ways like including the Facebook URL in email signatures of all employees, on print ads of the company, in the corporate website of the company and so on. The same thing applies to any kind of content created by the company elsewhere.
Again, this is nothing new in the PR world. One of the most used content vehicles in PR is the good (bad) ‘ol press release. The press release is not injected into a media stream for it to spread. It is sent/shared with relevant journalists by adding the context on why it is appropriate for them and reminded about it again and again, much to the annoyance of people in the media.
It is ironical that even a fraction of that promotional effort is not undertaken when other forms of content is painstakingly created for clients in the social media space.
So, how can such content be promoted? Take a blog, for instance. Each blog post is a piece of content that needs specific promotion to specific target audiences.
The simplest method involves RSS. Do you have consistent, reliable RSS feeds for all your posts? And, are your posts and post titles search optimized?
If you have popular outposts (on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn etc. – as Chris Brogan explains in this post), use those outposts to spread the word about your new post. Creating a new Twitter stream and adding a link to your post is tweeting to a vacuum.
Are there people/discussion boards/communities online that may be interested in your new blog post? You may know this only if you do the most basic tasks of all social media activities – listening! Listening must be done from Day Zero and should continue all through the time your company is in business. So, if you listened carefully enough, you’d be easily able to gather a list of people…or groups online that may be interested in your blog post under some relevant context.
The next step is to figure out the best way to reach out to them. Merely emailing your blog link to them or posting the link the online group is a silly move – you’d in fact be seen as a spammer. You should figure out why your post may appeal to them and set the context before emailing it in person. For groups, if you are new to them, the best way is to go through the group moderator or a popular group member and convince him, within context, to share your blog link with the larger group.
Other organic methods include getting your employees to spread the word about the post (again, in context) using their personal online vehicles. It may not be a bad idea to even share relevant posts with partners, vendors and customers via any method, like email or a newsletter.
The other thing is to use paid push! Yes, paying your way to gain visibility. There are many ways to do it anyway – Ads via Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter…banner ads, video ads and so on. It may seem odd to promote one blog post from your blog…something that most agencies may have swore to the client that a blog is free and low cost. But trust me – your blog is not ‘Enter The Dragon’ that the entire world is interested to read (watch!). Word of mouth is not something that builds on its own even if the content is super, duper good. It needs to be at least seeded with the right initial influencers for it go viral.
Earlier, search came to the rescue – a corporate blog post or a video was uploaded online because it may show up when people are searching for something related. Now, the competition is intense and even Google values something that is linked/liked by more people. So, the key is to ensure that every single post is promoted using organic and inorganic modes depending on how popular you want your content to be. This is particularly important for brands that are looking to gain a thought leader status with their content.
So, content is most definitely the king, but people need to know the king exists. Without promotion, your content (king) would be mighty lonely and make your social media effort pointless.
Sad king’s pic courtesy, this Elfwood thread.