"What type of content should my company produce?" This question gets asked frequently.
Before you can come up with an answer, three things need to happen within the organization.
1. Marketing and publishing. The company must accept that it is no longer just a marketer. In a world where consumers expect to find content, companies must proceed like those that create top-quality content—not marketers, but publishers.
Study publishing. Understand what types of content sell. Create a publishing culture within your organization. Understand how journalists, editors and producers nurture a story, and what codes of conduct they use to build credibility. (More on that here: Get More Media Savvy.)
2. Drive it through strategy. Without a strategy, all is lost. It's not about a content strategy (a crucial component for success), but about a corporate strategy. Figure out what your overall business objectives are, and build your marketing and content strategy around them.
Don't do something because your competitors are doing it or because it's the latest and greatest bright, shiny object. Know the direction of your business, and build your strategy around it. There's no point in doing anything in marketing or publishing if it doesn't add to your company's economic value.
3. Follow your passion. Know and play to your strengths and passions, be they text, images, audio or video, or some combination. Your passion for creating a certain type of content correlates to its success. If your strategy dictates a media format beyond your organization's comfort zone, hire people who have that passion.
So, what type of content really works?
It can be best summed up in this phrase: value-based content.
Too often, the people who run brands will say: "We have to be publishing content," or "We need to get more content out there." Publishing content for its own sake delivers little, if any, value.
What makes content valuable?
1. Who benefits? Content has to be valuable to your consumers, not to you. All too often, content produced at the corporate level is self-serving at best and thinly veiled advertising at worst.
2. Unique perspective. Though there is a ton of content based on extant content, no one can bring your unique perspective to it. As Oscar Wilde once said, "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."
3. Shareable. Value-based content gets shared. Make sure it provides worth not just to one consumer, but to that consumer's associates, as well. Easy widgets don't get content shared, relevance does.
4. Findable. Value-based content gets found on search engines, online social networks and offline. Valuable content gets linked to, talked about and shared, making it that much more findable to those who are looking for it—and for those who will just stumble across it.
5. Curate content. Add to your own value-based content by using others' value-based content. Curate material that's important to your audience. There's a wealth of information being published, so any organization that can aggregate it and organize it will provide a tremendous service. I've seen great curation efforts on blogs, in podcasts and in e-newsletters.
6. Value that I can count on. Now that any individual can publish his or her thoughts in text, images, audio and video instantly (and for free), it's hard to distinguish between truth and opinion and, ultimately, what has value. Any organization that creates content must be trustworthy, nonpartisan and credible.
Before publishing any content, ask yourself: "How credible will my organization be perceived once we hit the publish button?"
Mitch Joel is president of Twist Image, an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. In 2008, Mitch was named Canada's Most Influential Male in Social Media, one of the top 100 online marketers in the world, and was awarded the highly prestigious Canada's Top 40 Under 40. His first book, “Six Pixels of Separation” (published by Grand Central Publishing - Hachette Book Group), named after his successful blog and podcast, is a business and marketing best-seller.
This post originally ran on his blog, http://www.twistimage.com/blog