Dramatic changes in online publishing technologies, and the decreasing cost of content development, are making it possible for marketers to become publishers and distributors of timely and relevant content in their own right. They can establish their own media networks in the social space, resulting in improved SEO as well as development of thought-leader positioning, demand generation and ongoing brand preference.
There's also the value derived from those who comment on and add to the content. This interactivity, if managed properly, creates a bond between the members of the community and the host, with the opportunity to deliver and reinforce a true brand experience in an ongoing fashion.
Here are some thoughts on how b-to-b marketers can seize this self-publishing opportunity.
- Establish the right media mix. Marketers can increase engagement by using such rich assets such as video, podcasts and copy-light editorial, then incorporating such involvement-inducing activities as polls and surveys. These elements, as sources of fresh and relevant content, can really draw in community members. If you want to tell the “whole story,” link to deeper content elsewhere on your website.
- Uncover content in your backyard. Look for content throughout your organization, including stories told to salespeople, research done in engineering and responses to content posted elsewhere. Done right, community members also can become a source of content.
- Create broadcasters. Use your community members as broadcasters by providing them with topical and relevant content to share with friends, co-workers and colleagues. This can create links that can dramatically improve your SEO and draw new members into your community through the power of endorsement.
- Establish an authoritative voice. This is your opportunity to become a trusted adviser and counselor, scanning, culling and publishing content that is meaningful to your community. Providing thoughtful commentary to questions and content will also enhance your position as expert and thought leader.
- Integrate other media. E-digests and updates, Facebook and Twitter postings—and even print advertising—can work to keep your channel top-of-mind, encouraging potential audience members to sample your content and keeping existing community members coming back.
- Track and measure. Obviously, traffic to your content pages will be the top-level measure of success, but even better measures are engagement metrics, such as number of comments, thumbs-ups or links. The number of returning readers also will give you an idea of your overall success.
Registrations, surveys, polling and other demographic and firmographic data collection tools can provide insights into audience profiles and give you a clearer picture of your readership and the types of content your prime targets prefer.
This represents a tremendous opportunity for b-to-b marketers. By creating owned media channels, marketers are providing a valuable service to both clients and prospects that can translate into valuable, long-term relationships.