Once upon a time, it was enough in the communications world to simply distribute information.
Yes, as PR folks we did write up our client’s stories in press releases. But then, our job was simply to distribute them to the media in as compelling a way as possible. The ultimate goal was further distribution of those stories via the media.
That old model is, well, just that … old. In today’s social-media enabled world, simple distribution is not nearly enough. Think about it. What is it that we should be distributing on Facebook and Twitter? Promotional materials telling folks how great our companies are? That’s a fail from the start.
No. Instead, we need to start with the creation of compelling content. Content that tells a story. Content that shares real information. Content that captures the attention. In short, content with value.
So, tied up in the idea of using social media is the concept that we must be willing to give content away. If it’s something so good that we might be able to charge for it, it makes an even better free giveaway. It’s not a choice. It’s the currency of social media. The cost of admission. If we’re not willing to share valuable content for free, we might as well not be there. But since our customers are there, we need to be. The math is simple.
What kind of content should we create? There are a lot of choices in a number of different mediums. Here are some ideas:
- Audio. This can be podcasts — my personal favorite — simple one-off interviews or conference calls. Anything you can think of that can be recorded and that adds value.
- Video. In the era of YouTube, this is a no-brainer. Video can literally take you there. Show off products. Introduce potential customers to your team. It’s super compelling and worth a look.
- Screencasts. If your company has an on-line product or service, screencasts are an obvious choice. You simply show people how to use what you want them to buy.
- Blog posts. Just like this one. Lots of folks simply enjoy reading a well-written post and, frankly, they’re pretty easy to produce. Just come up with a good idea and you’re off.
- Reports and white papers. Everyone loves free research. If you’ve got the kind of business that produces data, why not share it with the world? It’s rich in value and demonstrates your expertise.
- Photographs. Don’t overlook the power of the camera. Still photos can show your physical products off to great benefit. It’s hard to really want to buy something you’ve never seen.
There are certainly more content types out there and many, many additional applications for those listed above. My point is simply to note that as marketers and PR folks, we’ve got to start thinking like content creators. To not do so is to risk being left behind in the social media game, and that could easily spell disaster.