Creating Content Makes You More Visible – A 21st Century Communications Strategy
Listen to a podcast of Steve’s presentation on this strategy from the New Jersey Bankers Association 2013 Marketing Conference.
Woody Allen once remarked that “90 percent of success is just showing up.” Online, 90 percent of success is great content.
We help our clients get people to visit their websites by developing a comprehensive communications strategy we call “Being the Media.”
It starts with a website that works for you actively, not just a brochure in cyberspace.
We do this by first evaluating and — if necessary — creating a robust new website publishing platform for your business. We will install and manage this web presence for you. We already do it for these great clients:
- Jewish Sacred Aging: A website devoted to the spiritual side of aging and eldercare issues, with content from a world-renowned lecturer, author, and counselor in issues of sacred aging, Rabbi Richard Address.
- St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Mount Holly, NJ: An Episcopal Church conducting outreach in the Burlington County, NJ area.
- The New Jersey Press Photographers Association: A professional organization of news photographers in New Jersey, affiliated with the National Press Photographers Association.
- SmartSearch Recruiters: An executive search firm specializing in positions for managers and leaders in the moving and storage industry.
- Our own site, Lubetkin Global Communications: We publish content several times a week, highlighting the work we produce for our clients. It’s newsworthy stuff, and interesting to learn about. It’s a great way of showcasing our capabilities without talking about us all the time. Besides, we wouldn’t have much credibility if we didn’t use this strategy for our own business, right?
There are a few things you need to consider if you are thinking about creating a new online presence for your business.
Let’s debunk some of the misconceptions you might have about what you need.
1. It’s a content publishing strategy, NOT a social media strategy
First, stop thinking that what you need is a social media strategy.
Getting people to “like” your cute animal photos on Facebook or “follow” you on Twitter doesn’t mean anything if all you have to say is stupid stuff. And that will frustrate you while doing nothing for your business.
What you have to understand is that social media tools enable people to have conversations, and if you are a useful contributor of helpful information to the conversation, you will gain trust and credibility – and positive word of mouth.
To get to that stage, where people are retweeting you or sharing your posts, you have to have something to say.
Prepare to become a media mogul – you are going to have to take your news media outreach into your own hands. Forget about getting a story in your local paper or on the 6 pm local news. There’s no room for you there.
The mainstream news media is in a steep decline. There are fewer reporters and less space in broadcast newscasts.
The simple fact is that small and medium businesses and nonprofit organizations cannot promote their services by sending out a press release announcing a new product.
Unless there is blood on the floor of your showroom or a member of your management team being led out in handcuffs, Eyewitness News is not coming out to watch your employees packing gift baskets or greeting people with lollipops at the new branch office.
On top of this, customers and prospects no longer depend on traditional sources to find businesses that can solve their problems. People under 35 rarely look at a print newspaper, and yet companies continue to spend thousands of dollars on print advertisements that demographic will never see.
Most people find solutions to their problems online today. And they mainly do it through Google. If your business does not show up in the first page or two of Google search results, you will not be in the running to get the business.
To get to the first page or two of Google, you might try buying Ad Words, but for popular words, that can be very expensive. You might also hire someone who bills themselves as a “search engine optimization” expert. Just remember that Google hires Ph.D. computer scientists and mathematicians by the boatload. Do you really think you can fool the system those experts are tweaking every day?
The only really reliable way to get on the top pages of a Google search is to create content that Google indexes. Today, Google gives a much higher score to pages that are updated frequently and contain “rich media,” meaning photos, audio, and video.
2. Your website is your broadcast transmitter and your printing press.
Before the Internet age, if you wanted to distribute a TV show, you needed either a broadcaster to transmit the show, or you needed to duplicate hundreds of videotapes (and later, DVDs) and ship them to people.
Today, your website is your broadcast tower. You can distribute your video and audio content globally at little cost by configuring your website as a publishing platform.
Many businesses created their websites in the early 1990s when they served mainly as “brochures in cyberspace.” Today, a robust website designed using a content management system (CMS) enables you to publish new content rapidly – and in a format that Google recognizes and indexes quickly. The most popular CMS software is WordPress. Others are Drupal and Joomla, but for most companies, WordPress is ideal.
And yet, even companies that have adopted the CMS approach to web publishing often do it wrong.
The default setting for many CMS installations puts the live, fresh content into the category “Blog” and buries it on a subsidiary page of the website. The front page of the website continues to be the boring, useless “Welcome to our website” static page, and that loses you visibility in a Google search.
The correct configuration is to think of your CMS as a newspaper publishing tool, and forget about the “Blog” category. If you want to blog, great, but the main use of that blog post tool should be to post short news items about your company’s activities. Each news item can be assigned to multiple categories, but all of them can appear on the FRONT page of your website, and be updated with new content daily, or at least several times a week. This creates a website experience that brings people back repeatedly and builds good will by telling them stories that engage them.
3. Don’t put your content on social media channels — put it on the website you control.
Don’t send people somewhere else to see your content.
Too many companies post their fresh, quality content on a Facebook page, and people never have to visit your website to read it. Post it on your site and then announce on your Facebook page that it’s there for people to read.
The same thing is true about YouTube. It’s a great platform to post your videos, but learn how to embed the videos on your website so that people aren’t distracted from your content by the suggested videos that YouTube offers. Some might be from your competitors, others might offend your clients. You don’t want to run that risk. You don’t need to advertise a YouTube channel if you can embed videos on your site effectively.
And don’t set up a “Videos” page.
Embed the videos on posts and pages relevant to products they talk about. If it’s a video about your company’s new line of wall panels, it belongs among the pages that discuss wall panels.
4. Promote your content on social media
The correct use of social media is to let people know you are producing content that discusses topics they might be interested in hearing about. Tell them about your white papers, your videos about community activities, your audio podcasts from seminars and conferences you’ve held. But drive the traffic to links on your website, where the white paper, the photos, and the audio from the event are all within easy reach on a single news post.
5. Keep producing more content
Placing audio or video content on your website is not a “one and done” activity. A single video that merely welcomes visitors to your website is not going to have any effect on your efforts to get new customers.
No one watches web videos that look like commercials. They watch videos that inform and educate them about how they might solve a business or consumer problem they are facing.
If you have the solution to that problem, you need to make videos that show how you help people solve that problem. Don’t sell to your prospective customers, talk to them.
6. This is not about creating “viral” videos.
The dream of most small businesses is to have a video that “goes viral,” or becomes wildly popular around the world.
Viral videos are not much help to your business. They are usually funny, or cute, but trying to predict what content will “go viral” is like trying to pick lottery numbers. You might get it once in a million tries, but it’s not something you can easily repeat on a regular basis.
But you can repeat telling successful stories about your business and how it helps customers. That’s what is so good about this strategy. This is a strategy to help you take control of how your business’s story gets told. And telling your story in this way gets Google’s attention.
But it means you have to change how you think about news.
It means you don’t wait for a reporter to read a press release.
You don’t hope someone from the newspaper wants to come and interview your management team.
You become the media and prepare the stories yourself – with our help. We create engaging written, audio, video, and photographic content for your business that gets published on your own website – and then we use the social media channels of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others to get people’s attention, and make them come back to your site to learn more about your company.
Levels of Service
We have several levels of “Being the Media” service tailored to different budgets.
Bronze: We develop and manage your website. We train your team in a half-day workshop how to create and publish content on the site, including basic photography and videography skills so you can make your own photos and videos. We teach your team how to upload video to YouTube and how to promote your web content on social media.
Silver: Everything in the Bronze service level plus we help with video production for a specified number of short educational videos each month.
Gold: Everything in the Silver and Bronze level service, plus more advanced photography, audio and video editing and production from us, including animated graphics and documentary style longer videos, plus content creation for internal use like employee training programs.
Editor’s Note: A version of this commentary appeared in the June 2013 issue of the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce’s Communicator newsletter. You can download a PDF of that article here: Becoming the Media – BCCOCCommunicatorJune2013