This is crazy, he said. I could see the frustration on his face, that one thick vein which pulsated especially when he was stressed – How do we keep generating so much content, how do we make sure we’re on top of Google searches, how do we ensure that our content is relevant and is reaching the right audiences? Oh! One other thing, how do we ensure that this content marketing is done globally at low or no cost? He finally breathed after that really long non-stop barrage of questions…
The problem with content marketing is real and getting bigger by the day
There was 1 website in 1991 online and today we’re close to a billion. Note: This is just the number of websites not the content. The Indexed Web contains at least 3.32 billion pages (Thursday, 10 July, 2014).
There is upwards of 1.5 Billion pieces of content created on Facebook daily, Million plus videos added on YouTube daily.
Social media doesn’t make it easier
If you have a Facebook page you’ve got some interesting challenges less than 3% of your content is visible to people who have liked your page (3 percent reach is still better than nothing) and we know how difficult it is to create content which people like.
Summary of the content marketing problem
1. Create loads of relevant content
2. Ensure the content is found
3. Ensure that the content is relevant
4. Ensure it is reaching the right audiences
5. Deliver it at a low or no cost?
Is there a magic bullet?
You want it don’t you. Well, yes and no. It’s a technique which was in use from cave man times and is relevant even today. But it’s not a magic bullet, one shot doesn’t solve it. You need to work at it. If you’re willing? All the above five problems are easily solvable.
Yes that includes the low or no cost.
Brand advocates are your passionate customers. They are passionate about your brand and it’s products. They typically have a deep commitment to helping others, voluntarily sharing their passion.
Prepare to be amazed at what they can do for you.
Here is an example from Microsoft
Figure 1 Source Microsoft MVP Awards Program
The above is just a small snapshot of content created at low or no cost.
Do they do more?
What else do the brand advocates do?
– Help improve your products – by participating as early adopters and sharing feedback.
– Organizing community events around your products (Nearly 200 MVPs ran almost 10,000 events on SQL Server 2008 and virtualization around the world.)
– Online Promotion and Virtual events – Proving the popularity of social media, U.S. MVPs used new social media spaces such as Facebook and Twitter to deliver 22 virtual sessions reaching thousands of people. In a tough economy, MVPs created an online, global version of PDC (Professional Developer Conference), enabling more people to attend virtually.
– Customer Support – Together, they answer more than 10 million questions a year!
A variety of forms of relevant content
From content for offline events in terms of presentations, demos, to online events, across social media and directly reaching out and providing answers to other customer problems. Millions of pieces of content are being created by brand advocates.
It’s not just written content. It’s presentations, videos, demos, all possible types of content.
The best part is that the content usually has extremely high relevance. Most brand advocates create content about your product about areas that they might have expertise in, or on areas they find other customers are struggling with etc.
Reaching relevant audiences – The perfect referral engine
The most important advantage of working with your brand advocates is the reach they provide. They’re already your customers and they are reaching out via their activities to other customers. It’s the perfect referral engine.
It’s not dependent on Google, or the ways it changes its search algorithms.
It’s not wasteful advertising.
Multiply your reach – The Network Effect
Each brand advocate who engages with you has their own independent network of connections and followers.
Each brand advocate you add to your network, multiples the reach of your content.
When you involve brand advocates in creating content for you or sharing your content, you have potential access to their networks.
The advantage is that their audiences are typically relevant and share the same interest as that of the brand advocate and helps increases your reach to relevant audiences.
Well these are big brand tactics it’s not relevant for the small biz, or is it?
Brand advocates are leveraged by not just big corporations but even small ones. You don’t have to have thousands of brand advocates, begin with one. Yes I’m serious, that’s how most of these large corporate brand advocacy programs began.
They didn’t at the outset have 1000s of brand advocates. For e.g. I remember when Microsoft started their Cloud offering of Azure, they initially had less than 50 brand advocates who were interested in it.
You could begin with just one. That one brand advocate can help reach out to their network thereby multiplying your reach tremendously.
What about the cost?
The benefits of content created and promoted by brand advocates far outweighs the costs of managing a brand advocacy program. As the above examples showed, brand advocate contributions benefit the organization in a lot of ways – Content creation, helping it reach relevant customers, helping support other customers etc. The low cost high benefit of having a brand advocacy program is just phenomenal.
The stress on his brow had reduced. He could now see how leveraging brand advocates could help in his content marketing goals. He smiled and was breathing easily, he did have more questions… about how to setup a brand advocacy program etc. (That might just be another article).
Content marketing is tough, you need to create a lot of content and ensure it reaches relevant audiences and this can be expensive. Brand advocates, your most passionate customers are the best way to enhance your content marketing efforts at low or no cost.