The Future of Content, Part 3

I feel refreshed today.

No, it’s not because I got to the pool today after along day on the road at a conference. 😉

It’s because, for all the journalists who don’t get it, like I mentioned in my last post, there’s one who takes a good, long look and sees it like it is. And by “like it is,” I mean “the customer now dictates what constitutes content.”

The Twitter phenomenon epitimizes the kinds of technology-enabled shifts seen in the ways consumers communicate and seek information over the past few years.

And yet again, I emphasize that the opportunity is there for marketers — we have as big a role in the future of content as journalists do. Bring people together with the content they want, and you are their trusted source. It’s news they want? Tweet from a show floor (like I’ve been doing all day at this conference), an event, a concert, a press conference. Expert analysis? Create a path to experts — a CEO blog, a unique Twitter solution like ExecTweets, or a mashup of content. Personal viewpoints or reality reporting? Build a community where people can identify and network, like Facebook or Sermo in the healthcare space. The list goes on.

The beauty of Twitter is its simplicity. Of course, that’s also what some dislike about it. But that simplicity, in all it’s brevity, makes for one whole boatload of content when you add up a few hundred followers, whether it’s your sister, five cousins and grandma or it’s Ashton Kutcher, Kathy Ireland and Sanjay Gupta. When you charge ahead with your particular solution, it may end up being as simple as Twitter or it may be much more complex.

Just make sure it delivers the content your customers want and you’re golden.

Advertisements

The Future of Content, Part 2

In a recent post, I discussed how marketers have a role in the future of content. Sitting here on yet another JetBlue flight, I came across two articles that highlight this position even further.

I’m reading an issue of Medical Marketing & Media — it’s actually a recent issue for a change, typically I’m catching up on magazines two or three months later. The first article touches on the launch of FacetoFace Health, an online community that lets patients find other patients based on similar conditions or medications. Many times, this is exactly the kind of content people want — not second-hand knowledge pieced together through interviews and research. Interviews that people can now do first-hand via Facebook, Twitter and other social networking communities. And research, mind you, that people can do themselves online via robust tools like Wikipedia. The FacetoFace site, like many social media sites, provides first-hand interaction with people based on experience, interests, likeness or non-likeness, or anything else. Your agenda…not someone else’s. It’s a real-time, ever-changing window into a give-and-take world of content. If you’re a marketer, talk to your customers, find out what they need to know or who they want to know, and build a community that delivers it. Welcome to the future of content.

The other article is written by a PhD and entitled “Healthcare journalism needs a recovery plan.” My impression (no evidence whether it’s accurate since I’m on a plane and can’t research it) is that this person isn’t an active participant in social media, and thereby not destined to be an active part of the future of content. A few pearls of wisdom from the article center on a new survey of healthcare journalists. 65% say the quality of health coverage is fair or poor, 48% think health journalism is heading in the wrong direction, 43% say training opportunities have declined. Really? The training opportunities have declined? When whole new communities like FacetoFace spring up overnight? Are they thinking about social media as an opportunity to get “trained” every day on meeting customer wants? Obviously not.

I can see why they feel journalism is headed in the wrong direction — because customers are now in control of content and where they get it. As I said in my earlier post, they want different types of content from different types of content providers. Time and again it sounds like journalists don’t see that journalism, in it’s traditional form, isn’t as tethered to the future of content as it once was. But the opportunity is there to them to take a good, long look and evolve and be part of it, just like it does for marketers.

Because comments like this one in the article sure aren’t the way to charge ahead into the future of content:

I’m going to hope that we’ll see demand for health and science reporting increase as we continue to shake off some of the anti-intellectualism that has bogged us down.

HUH? I guess I’m not an intellectual, because unlike those who think journalism is just going to bounce back, I’m with all the other marketers who are helping building solutions to meet customer demands in the future of content.

Wake up and maybe we’ll see you there.

Steps to Improve Your Social Network

This may be preaching to the choir, but clearly I am not against that in this blog. You know this.

Marketers are, by and large, good networkers. This is probably due to the fact that, like I said in a recent post, we are in sales as much as we are in marketing. We’re accustomed to seeking and finding customers on an hourly basis, so seeking and finding others like ourselves either comes naturally or comes through experience. And as part of Brand Y-O-U, your personal brand, networking is critically important to the vitality of your career.

Yet for young marketers, those who’ve been in a particular job or field for a long time, those who are not either natural or trained networkers, or those executives who are not in marketing, you need to take a good, long look at your social network and get up-to-speed quickly with the power of social networking. And specifically, building the power of your own social network — the generalities and statistics and cool factor about social networking are great, but the ROI in social networking needs to include some tangible benefits for you and your personal brand, right?

Make no mistake — investing some of your time in establishing a strong social network for yourself is just as important as investing time to understand the social networking tools you use to engage and acquire customers. And it’s important to invest this time when you’re:

  • At an experienced career level, in the growth stages of your career, or just starting out
  • In a strong employment position, rather than just when you’re looking for a job
  • That’s because when you’re out of a job, of course you’re reaching out to people — and it’s perceived that way. You’re out of your comfort zone — and if you’re not a regular networker, you’re viewed as putting on a persona that’s not normally you.

    So, now that we’ve got the reasoning for networking out of the way, here’s the whole purpose of this post. A brief list of things you can do to be a marketer with a strong social network:

  • Build a power profile on LinkedIn — Keep it updated to-the-minute with all your experience, connect to people you work with and know, and ask people to recommend you. Sure, it may be a little cliche now, yet it’s the easiest and first thing to do, and it’s recognized by all. Make your profile a place you can send people to easily learn about your credentials. (Use my profile as a reference)
  • Read and comment on blogs — You need to read blogs for their valuable perspective and insights, so comment on them to put your thoughts on record, build a search-engine friendly way to find you, and establish your expertise. If you don’t have your own website or blog (which, if you’re considering starting a blog, ask yourself these questions first), link back to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Reach out to other professionals who are like you — Create relationships with people you can learn from, bounce ideas off of, and share insights with. They may work for your company, your vendors, other companies in your industry, or even your competitors. That’s right — competitors. Fostering a strong social network and empowering a give-and-take of knowledge is more beneficial than erecting barriers that diminish your network’s reach. Find these people on LinkedIn, at industry events, on blogs, on blog comments, on Twitter, on Google, on company websites, and via other colleagues in your social network. Reach out to them with an invitation to share expertise and discuss issues.
  • Stay in touch with your network — Don’t meet people and then just let the relationships wilt. Stay in touch with your network, where they are, what they do, and more importantly what and who they know. Find relevant reasons to communicate — share ideas, forward data and articles, set up meetings, propose partnerships.
  • These are the basics. There are other things you can do — start a blog, seek speaking opportunities, and more. If you’re new to being a social networker, start slow. Build a good foundation for your network before you charge ahead into the world of blogging and advanced social media.

    You’ve invested the time, money and effort in being a good marketer — don’t let it go to waste because you didn’t invest in your social network and Brand Y-O-U.

    Little Details

    They are many things to marketers.

    They are both a reward and a penalty. A necessity and a necessary evil. The best thing ever and the bane of our existence.

    However, of all the things those damn little details can be, there’s one thing you don’t want them to be when someone takes a good, long look for them: absent.

    Yet, that’s what they were when I received a direct mail piece for a big trade show this week. It was a simple, brand-oriented self-mailer — high on style, great layout, great call-to-action. “If you do this by this date, you get a free pass to this big show.” Yet, in all the shiny art and sexy words, the show dates and location were absent on the piece.

    At first I thought it might be by design. But then I realized why would you move on the call-to-action and get a free pass to a show if you don’t even know you could make it? No, it was missing for sure, and by fault, not by design. And it’s easy for customers to notice.

    In a prior job, one month we published an issue of a magazine that had a full page ad in it from a major promotion agency. The ad was all white space, except for once sentence of copy, a brand logo, and a URL. The sentence read something like “We Build Your Brands.” Except “Build” was spelled “Buid.” Someone at the agency lost a job over it.

    Just goes to show that no matter what level of strategy goes into the concept, an equal level of hands-on attention-to-detail must go into project management and execution before you charge ahead. No matter where you are on your career learning curve, don’t forget that.