Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Great Content Angst

It arrives in the early morning well before I am scheduled to rise. It begins with the sweats and quickly moves to feelings of dread.

What is this ailment? It’s a relatively new phenomenon of the social media era: the content terrors.

During a new business presentation an often asked question centers around the demand for content to drive the success of a social media initiative. It’s true. Content that engages, educates and entertains is the foundation of any digital campaign.

Yet, we’ve found the obstacles to be few when it is time to launch a program. The editorial strategy typically flows from the agreed-upon goals and we are often able to repurpose existing content from multiple sources within an organization.

The content angst surfaces a ways down the road once a community of followers is in place. That’s because readers are fickle with their time and their investment with you can be fleeting.

Exceptional content pulls them in, yet also sets an expectation that future posts will be equally (if not more) insightful and inspiring. Fail to deliver and readers will drop you from their RSS reader faster than you can say “Friendster.”

Consider my Strategic Guy blog. Earlier this year I was on a readership roll with interest peaking in late spring at more than 2,000 unique visitors a week after a series of best practices posts. It has been slow drift downward ever since.

Each weekly check of Google Analytics creates a self-induced pressure vice that has lead to my terror-filled nights.

Others are feeling it too. For instance, accomplished blogger and marketer Beth Harte just announced that she is taking a hiatus because of the time and intensity involved in content creation.

So, what is the answer to this content conundrum? Here are a few ideas I am considering:

1. Tap into my relationship eco-system. Microsoft, Monster, British Telecom (BT), BearingPoint, Inmarsat, BroadSoft, GovDelivery…we are fortunate to represent a set of premium brands. Can I partner with their marketing leaders on content? Perhaps a guest post or executive Q&A?

2. Go back…for the future. As new readers sign on, I suspect many will find well-read blog posts from prior months to be of interest. Should I repurpose this content into a “best of” series?

3. Aggregate from credible sources across the Web. For our Open Road to Savings campaign, we have compiled content that provides insight into how companies are saving money in a challenging economic environment. The response from readers has been enthusiastic.

I read through nearly 150 content sources a week, such as business press, trade magazines, blogs and discussion forums. Could a collection of interesting articles help me keep up with the reader demanded pace of content creation?


CathyWebSavyPR said...

One thing to consider is returning to the basics. When you first began blogging, you probably thought about who your target audience was (who do you want to connect with), and what your goals were.

Think back to the start, look at who you visitors are now, and write about what you think they would find valuable. And/or ask them - send out a tweet, or post a post asking for blogging ideas - on what subject would they like to hear your POV?

It may be simplistic, but it might just work too.

Davina K. Brewer said...

Blogging is a commitment, and I do feel the pressure to write something good.

One issue: as it's shiny and new, your blog gets more of your attention, so you produce more content. That fades and the "publish or perish" wears you down.

Cathy is right, we do right for our audiences and I see my audience as being somewhat like me. I'd rather read or follow someone who posts less often but with more to say, than someone who posts tons of filler "what do you think?" filler.

Part of my blog and overall social media strategy is to NOT over do it: too many posts, comments elsewhere, can take away from the benefits of blogging.

That said, you and Cathy have some good ideas here, ones I am sure to use someday.

Marc Hausman said...

Cathy, Davina -- thanks so much for the comments. Interesting insight and a good suggestion to simply ask readers. (Why didn't I think of that?)

Davina, your comment about frequency of publishing is an important one. While I agree completely that content has to be consistently exceptional, we have found that readership declines if we (or a client) posts less often.

David said...

The feedback from both Cathy and Davina is spot on. I especially like the point Davina made about the blog being "shiny and new" therefore getting more of your limited bandwidth.

Important point: The same phenomena holds true for READERS of blogs as well. They are always looking around the corner for something new.