Tis the season for books and I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at another great one by C.C. Chapman and Ann Handley called Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business Since I am a huge believer in using content to spread a message (obviously!), this book really resonated with me. Here are 5 quick questions with C.C. about the book and why “Content Rules”.
CR: Why did you write this book and why do you think focusing on generating content is so important for businesses?
CC: I wanted to write a book that would stand the test of time and not be out of date the minute it hit shelves. This is why I passed on writing some social media books that were offered to me over the past few years. While some of the technologies we mention will change in the coming months, the founding principals of content will not and that is why when my Co-Author Ann Handley approached me about writing the book I jumped at it.
Every individual and organization has a story to tell and the only way they are going to be able to is by creating content and sharing it with the world. I don’t care if you are a small town pizza shop or the world’s largest brand, you must help customers find you and in today’s world everyone goes to the web to get answers to their questions and the only way you’ll show up is by having lots of appropriate and relevant content up there.
The key though is that you can’t just go out and make a bunch of videos, tweet up a storm and blog top 10 lists all day. You’ve got to have a content strategy that is integrated into all of your other marketing and pr efforts. That is when good things start to happen. Any business that treats it as “one of those web things over there” is going to fail. Integrate content creation into everything you do.
CR: One of my favorite chapters is Share or Solve; Don’t Shill. What do you mean by this and why is it so important?
CC: Too often businesses create content that does nothing but try to sell their product and service. Even if I like it, would I ever share it with others? Would I pass it along and tell people, “You’ve got to watch how hard this company is trying to sell me?” Never! (unless maybe I was trashing it…)
Good content doesn’t try to sell. Rather it creates value by positioning you as a reliable and valuable source of information. When we added this to our rules we knew the word “shill” would get attention and it should. Too often a company will create content that excited their C-Suite, but no one else and lets face it, that is going to be a failure.
I love to do an exercise with clients where I ask them to tell me some of the recent things they’ve shared online with friends or told people to check out in conversation. When we look at the list as a whole, almost always none of them are shilling and instead they’ve all been created in a way to invoke some sort of emotion. THAT is what makes people share content.
CR: In terms of tactics, how can using long-tail search terms be a more effective strategy?
CC: Lets face it, everyone uses search. I hope that argument is finally over, but I said it again just in case there are some doubters out there.
We talk a lot in the book about how it is critical for your content to be able to be found by both search engines and the people using them. You do this by tagging them, adding detailed descriptions and keeping keywords in mind when doing both. I’m not an SEO expert, but at a minimum those things must be done.
Not sure that answers your question, but I’m not a fan of basing your whole marketing strategy only on search terms. Sure, you need to think about what people are going to be searching on to find what you create, but relying only on those terms alone is not a strategy I’d ever recommend.
CR: How can you re-imagine content instead of recycling it?
CC: I’m so glad you asked about this because our concept of reimagining is one that we are really proud of.
Right now, every company out there already has some content. Doesn’t matter if it is brochures, trade show schwagg or product photos. Everyone has something. But, this is not just about old content. We want people to always be looking at what they currently have and taking the time instead of just posting it again to another new social platform, to think if there is a creative way to reimagine that content. So those photos from the last trade show could be pulled together into a musical slideshow, the ten most popular blog posts from the previous year turned into an eBook or the speech that your CEO has been giving turned into a webinar to reach new audiences.
We want to see people getting more creative rather than getting lazy. That is the big difference.
CR: What is The Single Biggest Secret to Creating a Compelling Customer Success Story?
CC: Make the customer the hero, not you. People love to see how your company helped someone else, but they want to hear it from the point of the view of the customer since that is who you want to turn on with your success story. By making the customer the hero of course, you in turn look great because of course without your product or service they would have never achieved the success you are profiling.
Also, use what I like to call the miniskirt approach whenever you create content. Make it long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting.
Thanks to C.C. for these great insights. Content Rules is available everywhere now!