Recently, I attended a breakout session at a conference about how content can help or hurt one’s business. The speaker, an amiable guy and well known in this conference community for his marketer’s perspective and data-driven approach to building web sites, offered up some important points to the mostly business track audience of web designers and developers sitting in the room for thirty minutes. From what I could gather, those in attendance were new or burgeoning business owners, or veteran business owners facing lots of change in this growing industry and in social media. They seemed to be wearing all of the hats in their businesses, too, a lot of them doing all of the work themselves, including marketing. Writing good content to improve their business profiles and increase their respective audiences and conversions were not their strong points. How do I know? When asked by the speaker if there were any writers in the room, I was the only one who raised her hand.
So writing content isn’t new to me, but it was for them, and they sat for this breakout session in order to learn how to write not just good content, but “superb” content. Our speaker articulated that “consumption habits [of the reader/audience] have changed,” and that “‘good’ content will never be good enough” anymore. He mentioned that “ugly” content lacks goals, has no purpose, is boring and repetitive. And he continued, saying that “superb” content is helpful, relates to readers, educates, increases conversions and more. His tips to getting to “superb” include knowing your audience and your limitations, measuring everything, being prepared to fail, keeping a running list of content ideas, reviewing, refining and repeating. And don’t forget: Business owners have to publish.
What was helpful to me as a writer and marketer was to hear the questions coming from non-writers, the business owners or employees who were really just tapping into reshaping the faces of their businesses. And it is always good to check into our own business practices to see if we’re on the ball. At Rumspeed, you’ve heard us say time and again to pick a topic for writing about your business; that repetition in writing and publishing for your business will ease the pain; to publish on your web site and to syndicate everywhere; and to rinse and repeat. The goal is not to be perfect: As the speaker said, “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” The goal is to speak on behalf of your own business in a way that only can come from writing about it. Be the reader, your audience. Craft word-by-word what is important about what you do, what you want to share, why you want to share it, letting your audience know what you want them to do with this information. It does take time to massage, but after awhile you will become not just an expert at your business, but an expert at writing about your business.
As we sat through the session and listened to the questions and implied concerns of these business owners, I realized that there is an important aspect of his discussion that I felt our speaker failed to emphasize, and that is the actual reader “consumption” of content: It isn’t just about the great content they are reading, but the the platform they use to read it. You have to know your audience, but you also have to shape the presentation of that content to engage them via their social media channel of choice. It is the bridge between knowing your audience and measuring everything. Added to your array of hats as business owner, designer, developer and marketer, you need to become a statistician and gauge where your audience is reading your killer content. This will ensure that you truly know your audience and their consumption habits. Superb content and awareness of the various listening platforms of your audience will lead you on a path of growing your audience and increasing conversions.
This could seem overwhelming, so it is important to remember to pick a platform and begin there. Set a goal, make a plan, measure the results. In other words, choose a topic and practice writing your superb blog post about a product, service or area of expertise or bit of education that you would like to discuss. Choose a forum or venue — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit or your newsletter — that is familiar to you or might already host a large portion of your audience. Research helpful ways to post on your chosen platform, familiarizing yourself with their various nuances, and always choose an image to showcase what you are discussing. Publish your work, then measure the results after a specified period of time, such as for two or three days. Look for patterns. What type of photos work best? What time of day are they viewing your syndications? What posts are they sharing/liking? Are they commenting? Pay attention to the results, respond accordingly and adjust your plan to meet your goal.
After a while, choose another platform, publish to each one until you are comfortable with the process, then repeat it. By comparing the results from social media venues, you’ll be able to identify which ones work best, and where you may be wasting your time. Perhaps you will end up only using one or two platforms to showcase your business, or you might find surprises somewhere new. Soon, as you become better at being the voice for your own business, you can utilize tools that will help you publish and syndicate everywhere all at once, tweaking each respective platform, making the marketing even easier.
So, yes, consumption habits of audiences have changed, and it is important to know your audience, but it is just as important to know how and from where they hear you — not just for their sake, but for yours. Maximize your time, efforts and energies by writing well and effectively, and by knowing where and when to publish. You will develop better relationships with your listeners if you do.