James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @jamescooper
In the beginning, there were brands. Some of these brands were in the media business but the vast majority were not. Many of those in the majority relied on media companies to help them connect with their customers. That was then.
Now many brands are the media. What do I mean by this? I’ll start by pointing out that it’s nothing new for brands to be content producers—many have been doing it for a long time. What’s changed since we’ve entered the social digital era, however, is that brands have ever-increasing control over the content they produce and how they use it to connect with their customers.
Recently, as Amy Vernon of PBS MediaShift points out, there has been a lot of buzz about how “We’re all publishers now”, almost to the extent of becoming a cliché. This applies not only to individual bloggers and social network users but also to brands, especially those with deep pockets.
In his Silicon Valley Watcher post, Tom Foremski describes the mounting flood of brand media as a “media tsunami”. To avoid getting washed away in a total wipe out, it’s important for brands to stay at the crest of this media tidal wave.
How can brands ride the wave?
Brands need to focus on creating content that provides real value to their customers.
Ted McConnell, in his recent AdAge post, recommends that, instead of constantly trying to persuade customers to buy around every corner, brands should distribute content that gives advice, support and guidance to “help customers get where they want to go”.
In essence, brands can achieve this by making content that is informative, entertaining and/or instructional.
What options do brand marketers have for providing customers with
- Do it yourself. In order to produce value-rich content like a media company, you need to think like a media company. Understand and use media industry best practices to create and distribute content that makes customers trust and like your brand, and come back for more.
- Collaborate with publishers and bloggers. Identify content creators with influence in your market and acquire their relevant content for branding and sharing with your customers. How this content is “acquired” can range from direct purchase to in-kind compensation with products and services.
- Partner with a digital agency. Work with a digital agency that understands the social and digital environment and has a proven track record of scaling content and producing results. The agency should help you create new content, and mine and repurpose existing content of value.
- Curate content. Creating new content is demanding and daunting for many companies. Content curation will help you find the best content related to your brand, enabling you to organize and package it in a way that adds a whole new level of value.
In closing, allow me to return to Foremski’s idea of an impending “media tsunami” by asking, have you turned your brand’s bow to steam headlong to the crest of the wave? Or is your brand sitting in a life raft while you hope and pray it will somehow surface on the other side?
It’s easy to get caught by the wave of content that you mentioned. It’s imperative to generate unique, creative and insightful content in order to build your brand. Curating content is a great way to do that as well. find content from influential members of the community who are aligned with you and reblog their content. This also helps you build a relationship with them.
One of the ways we encourage our users is to tell them to identify a targeted tribe they would like to identify with in the community, explore the conversations and pick up keywords and topics to write on using our expression explorer.
Arthur, thank you for sharing your insights. I completely agree with you!
Content curation presents a very practical approach for many businesses needing to continuously provide their communities with new and interesting content.