The content you publish, distribute and amplify can have a huge impact on the degree of visibility your brand has in the marketplace or community in which you operate.
But you need to be strategic about it.
For inspiration, check out Lee Odden and the crew from Top Rank Marketing, software business Bamboo HR and Mark Masters from the ID Group.
All have earned the strong presence they have in the marketplace largely because of the quality content they have produced over a period of time.
Quality content will find an audience. It gets shared, liked, bookmarked, recommended, commented upon and discussed. Maybe it gets linked to, or even republished. And sometimes it will find its way up the search engine rankings, where it then gets discovered, clicked upon and read/watched/listened to/shared/liked/commented on.
All of this, of course, leads to online visibility.
Now, it goes without saying the more interesting and relevant the content you produce, the greater the chance of the above taking place.
And do you know what the brilliant thing is about a strategic content-first communications program? It’s cumulative. Unlike an advertisement that’s here one minute and gone the next, content (in all its forms) hangs around forever. It’s an asset that has the potential to work for your brand over the long haul.
Brand visibility via content marketing manifests itself in a variety of ways; people click through to your content as a result of:
- Your own organic and/or paid-for distribution efforts – for example, your brand’s website (blog), e-newsletter (that they’ve subscribed to), your social media channels (that they follow), plus any medium you’ve paid to be exposed on i.e. Facebook or Twitter ads, sponsorship or native advertising through a third-party website.
- Organic third-party distribution (earned media) – this could range from members of the general public sharing your content through their networks via Twitter or Facebook, LinkedIn or email (if this sharing is done by an influencer in your industry, that’s a good win! This could take the form of retweeting you or better still, linking to one of your articles from their blog). Also included under this heading is if an online publication or industry blog asks permission to republish your article in its entirely on their site, or if something you wrote resonated with a journalist and they quote you in a story down the track.
- Discoverability through search – the more quality content you publish that gets liked, shared and linked to, the better the chance of it getting discovered via Google. Of course, savvy SEO techniques can play a key role here, but from personal experience, I’ve generated plenty of search engine juice for my blog content over the years without any purposeful SEO.
The above are all powerful ways to build a patchwork quilt of visibility for your brand in the marketplace.
Sure, unless your stuff gets picked up regularly by a TV network or mega-popular publication, you’re not going to have anywhere the reach of a paid-for ad campaign, but the collective exposure – over time, in front of the right audience – can pay dividends for your brand, as many exponents of content marketing will attest.
We – the people – often discover (and then consume) content in non-linear ways.
Sometimes we might be purposeful – i.e. we do a Google search and up pops a post from your company blog that addresses an informational need we might have at the time, or provides ‘colour’ to a research report we might be writing, or better still, we subscribe to your podcast or follow you on Twitter and when you share your content, we spot it and click through.
But quite often, we land on brand-generated content through sheer luck. A video featuring a noted thought leader discussing an industry trend relevant to you is shared by someone you follow on Twitter or connected to on LinkedIn, and up it pops on your feed. Or it’s featured in a story published by an online publication that covers your industry. Or a speaker refers to it at a professional seminar you attend, and you subsequently check it out.
Never underestimate the power of digital serendipity!
START SMALL WITH RESPECTFUL REMINDERS
A quick word about building brand visibility as a result of your content publishing efforts. I’m talking about creating content that people in your desired target audience group/s will find useful, helpful, inspiring, empowering, even entertaining; it’s content that catches their eye and resonates in some way, hopefully to the point where they share it with their networks of friends, peers and connections.
This content might be longer form in nature, for example, video or podcast interviews, 1000-word blog articles, whitepapers, research reports, tutorials or an ebook. However, initially people’s exposure to your brand will often come down to a fleeting micro-moment.
They see your name, or a link to your content, in a tweet.
On a Facebook post or LinkedIn update.
In an Instagram feed.
On YouTube. Or SlideShare.
Linked to in a mainstream media story.
Via a podcast recommendation on iTunes.
They discover you while doing a Google search.
Or someone emails to a friend or colleague an article that’s been published on your website.
I call these micro-moments #RespectfulReminders.
These are not promotional messages that annoyingly interrupt people’s day, but brief content-driven interludes that respect their time and intellect and add value in some way, no matter how minute.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual research report into the state of trust globally, public skepticism and dispersion requires repetition of messaging. On average, two-thirds of people (64 per cent) need to see or hear a company’s message three to five times before they believe it, while 18 per cent need to see/hear a message between six and 10+ times.
If that message is overtly promotional, we’re more likely to tune it out unless it has some special relevance for us at that particular time; for example, we’re looking to secure a new home loan and therefore take more notice of home loan rate messaging from financial institutions at that point in time.
But if it is wrapped up, conveyed and reinforced via credible content – for example, industry commentary that comes across as knowledge leadership – this has the improved ability to lay down foundations of trust.
So while I’m a huge advocate for publishing credible long-form content that digs deep into a topic, I’m also big on dripping out through social channels ‘digital breadcrumbs’ – strategic bite-sized micro-content – informational nuggets – brief #RespectfulReminders that keep you top of mind with potential customers and influencers on an ongoing basis.
In a noisy, always-on digital world, being visible – having a respectful presence (or what I like to call ‘strategic omnipresence’) is critical.
But it requires you to show up often and deliver value. Do this, and you will get on – and hopefully stay on – people’s radars. And hopefully, when someone requires a product or service that you provide, your name is the one that springs to mind.