Every business has the potential to become a unique source of shareable stories and useful content about X topics for X audience. But there's a catch. We must be willing to invest in and sustain our own media platforms – to think and act like publishers (creators) rather than advertisers and promoters with quarterly sales goals.
Why is this important today? The simple answer is so we can attract, convert, empower, and engage stakeholders in highly competitive and increasingly accessible markets.
Mike Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, and I discussed why @SMExaminer has been so successful with their business model and how other organizations can apply a similar strategy. The key to @SMExaminer's success is the content they create and distribute, supported by this approach:
1) Survey existing audience: If you don't have an active blog yet, then ask customers and partners what they want to learn about regarding topics that align with your specialty. Do this surveying annually to share insights with the industry, and gain customer priorities and market intelligence. This intelligence also informs editorial calendars and discussions that, if done right, helps to create a continuous cycle of improvement and alignment. Platforms like SurveyMonkey make audience feedback easy to collect and understand, but don't forget to have face-to-face conversations and dive into other behavioral data from various sources.
2) Do more than one form of media: Blogs and supporting social channels are the baseline. Consider additional media formats like podcasting, even if you initially have only a handful of listeners that show up on a periodic basis. Podcast listeners tend to be your most loyal followers and advocates, often evangelize your point of view, and will provide invaluable feedback. Further, not everyone has time to read the latest whitepaper or blog post but they may tune into podcasts via their smartphones to hear summaries while in a cab or at the airport.
3) Use social sharing: You're creating content that is appealing to an established audience. Make it extremely easy, across desktop and mobile devices, for your audience to consume and share good content via many channels. Solutions like ShareThis make it easy for you to set-up social sharing functionality on websites and you can create more social intelligence based on what content is working and what's not. Social sharing increases site traffic, improves search engine optimization, and helps you build a perpetual system to grow your following and bottom line results.
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