Content as a Path to Business Growth

Laying in bed a couple of nights ago, my wife texted me a warning she had just received from one of her friends (the fact that we text each other while we are both home is a theme for some other post 😉 ) It seems there is a fad going around that involves watching a web movie called “Marble Hornets” on YouTube.  The warning involved the fact that school age children are discussing it and sharing it with other children and kids are being affected by the movie, pretty seriously in some cases. First, a description of what it is:

Concept – It’s a movie about some friends filming a movie for art school or something. Suddenly the guy who was producing it decides he will not continue the movie and abandons the project. One of his friends (Jay) that helped film the movie goes to visit him and finds him looking like hell and can’t get anything out of him as to why. The producer just gives Jay the movie and tells him to figure it out himself but asks that he never bring it back to him or discusses it with him ever again. His friend starts watching what they had recorded and things go VERY wrong from there!! Just the online descriptions and details of the actual Youtube movie were enough to scare me and make me not want to actually watch it. WARNING it is VERY scary and it has caused certain people to have serious reactions that can last for days or weeks!

So why do I bring this up on my New Marketing Blog?

THE DELIVERY PLATFORM AND MODE! – What the guys that produced the project did was absolute genius. They decided to build their project directly on a social platform (YouTube) and then using it and Twitter marketed the movie and then watched viral behavior spread their product like a napalm fueled dry brush fire.

What’s the fuel and the secret sauce that drove this phenomenon? First, it stimulates both the visual and audible senses and its delivery mode is extremely creative, they made it seem VERY real by uploading the movie in bits and pieces in an ongoing fashion. They are still uploading more “video journal” entries (content) today. They further heighten the experience by involving a user (totheark) that comments on the video postings in the comments section and he is flat out creepy!  He even has a Twitter account where he takes the project into further levels of creepiness.

Great Content   +   imaginative delivery  +  evangelical consumers  + Careful brand monitoring  = Success

These guys are now the talk of Hollywood and will now be making $$$$$$. They created great content, figured a way to freely distribute it in a continuing fashion and have virally grown their user base. These are the basic concepts of new digital marketing.

Today I want to start a new topic dealing with a very important topic which is “Content Creation” and how this is THE KEY to new marketing. The new marketing paradigm requires that you build relationships with your customers and content is what will draw them to you to begin with. Content creation is a deep subject but basically the lifecycle of content reads as follows:

Initial Hook–>Educate/Entertain–>Set Impression

Initial Hook – Probably the most important consideration when you set out to create content. The initial hook is that which compulses the user to engage with your content. This could be an image, words or even a sound. You want to create a doorway to your content that is attractive and draws the user to click on your link and descend into your message, article, video or any form of media that you wish to provide that provides value.

Educate/Entertain – The next consideration is what your content will be. Depending on the business you are in, you have to decide the kind of content to create.  You have to think of your targeted market and the problem your product solves, then you craft your material discussing the problem in different ways that provides a service or networking of those experiencing “the problem” etc. In short you want to become an advocate/mentor/expert that is there to help and THEN your built relationships lead to the purchase of product that you “so happen” to sell.

Set Impression – the last consideration you should have is “what do I want to leave as the remaining impression when the user is done”. This takeaway is a combination of the hook and the content. You wish to leave the user with a feeling that they have been exposed to something they want more of, leading to bookmark, follow, like or some other form of recording you for future reference. Once this happens you have just begun a relationship with this person and it should be viewed and valued as such. How much value do you think a sales person would put in having a new contact? $$$$$ …CORRECT!

WARNING!: I mention this A LOT in my postings, DO NOT use these methods to push your message on others. That is old marketing and really does not work at all anymore. People don’t want to see what you are selling without them asking for it. There is growing frustration with old school marketers that are venturing into social media still using intrusive out dated methods to push product onto people. You and your company instantly get labeled “spammers” and that reputation will also spread like wildfire. JUST DON’T DO IT!

THE HOOK

I find that users are making decisions very quickly now on what they wish to engage with. Typically you have less than 3 seconds to grab somebody’s attention and cause an attraction reaction. That means that that you need a good image/picture as a lead-in to your content if you hope to stand a chance at drawing attention. The visual sense is a very powerful one, and is the one I will focus the rest of this post on.

The problem is that most social platforms don’t lend themselves to using images very well………….until recently!

The newest arrivals into the socialverse are sites like Pinterest and Clipix.  Finally, social platforms that have been developed with IMAGING as the prime delivery vehicle. These companies have developed  products that allow you to “Hook” with IMAGES! There is no longer a need of having to place images somewhere and then going to a platform like Twitter and link to them etc. I will use Pinterest as my example platform as Clipix is very new and though in my opinion has a better product than Pinterest it has nowhere near the users that Pinterest does as of now.

With Pinterest not only can you “Pin” images to draw eyes to your content but you can “pin” images of your products on your sales “boards” and by just adding the text “$100” to your picture description AUTOMATICALLY create a diagonal banner on the upper left corner of your image with $100 in it just like my image above. A full Pinterest “board” with shoe “Pins” would look like the image below (by the way the yellow shoes in the center are cute!).

I have found Pinterest to be the most business friendly social platform yet (again I think Clipix is better but new) and that probably explains why over 12 million people are regularly using Pinterest every month. It is now only behind Facebook and Twitter in number of users and monthly traffic. The stratospheric growth has leveled off in the last couple of months and could be due to some growing pains. These happened to Twitter as well in its early days and look at it now.

I showed you the image of a “product Board” on Pinterest just to show how easy it is to create a web based store front with this platform.  AGAIN, the product board should never be linked in a cold call/push  fashion anywhere or for any reason! You need another “board” on your profile that actually provides value and a reason for users to engage with you. In the shoe store example I would be tempted to have a board with “pins” (hyperlinked images) that lead to a blog that discusses shoe trends of the rich and famous (the influentials I have discussed so often). On that board you could encourage the discussion of who is wearing what and how AWESOME or HORRIFIC they look.

Once you have relationships you can gently drop the OCCASIONAL link to shoes that you sell that would “help their look”. Chances are you won’t ever have to do that as people you draw to your content  board will naturally explore the other boards on your profile. Following my own advice I am adding my blog content to my personal Pinterest profile so that a few brave souls may venture away from my blog content and get to know me better by viewing some of the work created by my artsy side. More than that its just an example of what a Pinterest site looks like and that my Social Marketing Board would allow people to drift and open my other boards.

http://pinterest.com/dwayneholst/

One of the things that I like very much, is that Pinterest organizes all my blog posts into discrete “pins” with their associated images which makes it easy to click on a post of your choice. Click around on my pins and explore my content and of course I appreciate re-pins if you have a Pinterest profile!

Summary: The hook is the most important consideration when creating content on the web. You need to catch peoples attention and you only have an instant to do that. Make sure your hook is on a platform that already has momentum and then follow it up with meaningful content that provides real value to those you wish to engage with. Last, once you are in a relationship with people exercise patience and do not push your product, they will come to you.

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