Why content curators will grow their influence in 2015 and beyond

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As the digital content tsunami continues to crash down on us all, drowning us in news, information, opinions and insight (not to mention zany cat videos!), it won’t be long before we all go goggle-eyed – if we’re not already!

But we’re only experiencing the tip of the content iceberg.

It’s still early days as far as content marketing is concerned but as the business world starts cottoning on to the power of publishing original content as a marketing strategy, watch for the explosion of company-generated blogs, podcasts, video, infographics, mobile apps, whitepapers, photography and ebooks. KABOOOM!

But let’s not forget the increasing number of individual content creators – bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers and the like (in 2007 according to Forrester Research, just 13 per cent of people in the US using social technologies were creating content; four years later this figure had jumped to 24 per cent. It would be safe to say this figure would be higher still today in 2015).

Of course we have the traditional media outlets that are now fully digital and pumping out content in a big way.

And rounding out the mix is the growing trend of entrepreneurial, agile ‘hybrid’ media outfits often run by former journalists who have taken a blog and raised the stakes somewhat, building big audiences along the way. Some examples of hybrid media include Mumbrella, Broadsheet etc; I’d even put Huffington Post in this category.

So with increased levels of content being published by individuals, ‘hybrid’ and traditional media, plus businesses themselves, the result will be more content. A lot more content!

This, of course, leads to …

INFORMATION OVERLOAD

content_shock

Blogger and author Mark Schaefer foreshadowed this trend in early 2014 with his theory on ‘content shock’.

Schaefer describes content shock as “the emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it”.

He says that by 2020, the amount of web-based information (most of it consumer-driven) is expected to increase by 600 per cent.

So we’re satisfied that increased levels of content is going to lead to terminal information overload. This then leads us to another ‘trend’, and that is the growth of …

CRAP CONTENT

With so much content being published, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that a fair bit of it is going to err of the side of dreck. That’s another way of saying it will be crap.

As you’d expect, traditional and hybrid media are probably going to produce the most professional content. Some bloggers, particularly passionate subject matter experts, also can be adept at publishing quality content, but it can still be hit and miss.

And we’re likely to get a real mish-mash from brands.

We only need to look at social media to provide us a guide on that score. Remember a few years back when social media started to take off and businesses of all sizes jumped on-board the bandwagon with little purpose or strategy other than ‘having to be on it’? They didn’t take the time or effort to try and understand the medium, and therefore used social to blast their message out (many businesses still do!).

So the quality of content we get from brands will vary greatly, from absolute dross to highly polished, very professional output (and everything in between).

Which brings us to the issue we’re all going to face:

In a world of ‘informational abundance’, where much of the world’s content is of low quality, how are we going to cut through the dross and find the content gems worth reading, watching and/or listening to.

ENTER THE EXPERT CONTENT CURATOR.

A good content curator makes sense of the mountain of information that’s out there.

They identify, select, review, filter and add value to the content, releasing publicly only those articles, videos, podcasts and images that are, in their humble opinion, worthwhile distributing to their audience.

According to Joe Pulizzi,founder of Content Marketing Institute, content curation is organising and presenting external, valuable content in a particular niche and presenting that to a defined user base in a compelling way. (Here is a list featuring 18 more definitions of content curation).

Find the right curator in your profession or industry or niche that you follow and they will not only save you considerable time wading through a heap of guff to find the gems, but you will be all the more informed for the experience.

On the flipside, why don’t you (or your company) become the curator?

At the very least this could be as simple as judiciously sharing on the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn links to blog posts you think others – your followers and connections – might be interested in.

Even producing, say, one blog post a week that features links to the articles, videos etc that caught your eye during the week is a good start.

Or you could become more committed and strategic in your efforts.

We’re starting to see some excellent curated feeds bobbing up, but the more popular ones have been doing it for a while. Sometimes they’re feeds of information curated by dedicated and passionate individuals; others are part of publishing outfits.

Whatever the circumstance – whether individual, publishing company or business, we’re going to see the rise and rise of niche-focused curated news and information feeds – valuable services that weed out the gold from the crap, the diamonds in the rough.

And we’re all going to benefit from their efforts!

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Here are some examples of curators (individual and company) that have build strong global audiences:

IN SUMMARY:

By becoming a content curator today, what will you be doing?

  1. Providing a valuable service by delivering useful and relevant content to your audience.
  2. Empowering your audience with knowledge whilst saving them time.
  3. Growing the level of influence you have within your niche/industry/profession (become the go-to resource).
  4. Building an email subscriber list of people who have opted in to receive information from you.

Pretty compelling reasons to take content curation seriously I reckon!

 

Why building a platform is critical for the success of your personal brand

platform

If you’re going to build your personal profile and reputation as an authority in your particular field, then you’ll need a platform from which to help you increase your visibility and deepen the connection you have with your audience. 

In this article (‘Why Building Authority is Vital to the Success of Your Reputation and Business’), I look at the differences between an expert and an authority.

In short: an expert knows a lot about a particular topic, and there’s no shortage of them; an authority on the other hand is someone people listen to, take notice of, recommend to others and buy more readily from. There are not as many of them because it takes time and considerable effort to build authority in the marketplace.

In days gone by your platform would have consisted of one more a combination of the following: a stage (e.g. professional speaking circuit), radio show, newspaper column or a regular spot on a TV.

These are still important channels today but have always been quite difficult to achieve because somewhere along the line you’ve needed a ‘gatekeeper’ – an individual or committee of people to give you the imprimatur, or ‘green light’: to deem you worthy of being involved. Nowadays, however, you can bypass the gatekeeper altogether and create your own platform.

So, what is a platform?

I define ‘platform’ as a person’s combined and integrated presence across the web – their blog (or podcast or online video series) along with their following on social networks – plus any regular offline exposure, a regular magazine column for example. The result of this presence is a growing audience.

Think of these elements as the ‘planks’ of your platform. The more planks you have, the stronger and more solid your platform (as long as you don’t stretch yourself too thinly).

One example might be this:

You have a blog (your content hub), a YouTube channel, Facebook brand page and Twitter account. These channels, along with your growing base of readers, YouTube viewers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers – your collective ‘planks’ – make up your platform.

By way of illustration, the cornerstone of my platform is my PR Warrior blog from which I develop and share ideas, interview experts (and authorities!) in the PR, social media and content marketing space, ruminate on trends and issues facing not just the PR industry but marketing generally, and provide case studies and examples of brands I think are leading the way in terms of new marketing thinking. I also produce and host a podcast called Reputation Revolution.

Nowadays… you can bypass the gatekeeper altogether and create your own platform.

Add into the mix the fact I have growing networks on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; I contribute regularly to several online news sites and blogs, including Smart Company and Firebrand Talent’s Ideas Ignition blog. plus I speak extensively to audiences around the country. These channels – anchored by my blog – are planks that collectively form the basis of my platform and from which I spread my message to, and connect with, an audience of thousands.

Best time to start is NOW!

If you want to become an authority in your field, yes, you need the necessary skills and knowledge, but you also need to start thinking about building your platform, and the best time to start is NOW! Plan by all means, but don’t overthink it – as they say, don’t let perfection get in the way of excellence.

Develop that blog or kickstart the video or podcast series you’ve been threatening to launch over the years! Integrate your social networking channels and start actively participating online, adding value without the expectation of getting anything in return.

Do this over time, with passion, purpose and strategic intent, and you will be rewarded with a growing reputation as an authority who’s recognised, trusted and respected by the marketplace.

P.S. The concept of building a platform works just as effectively for a business as it does an individual.

And my word for 2015 is …

ARTThis time of year I usually pick three words to guide me for the ensuing 12 months. In 2015, however, I’m sticking with just the one word…it’s ART.

Not ‘art’ as in Picasso (although it would be awesome to create like he did) – but ART as in how Seth Godin sees it i.e. (a) “Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.” (b) “Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.” 

I’ve spent so long in the consulting game, to be honest it’s what I default to.

And I enjoy it. I enjoy advising companies and organisations on how to:

  • improve (and generate impact from) their social media and content marketing efforts;
  • add value through the original content they produce;
  • become more connected with the industry or community in which they operate.

In recent years, I’ve also spent a fair bit of time mentoring too. I really enjoy helping individuals and in-house marketing communications teams to not only plan their social media and content marketing activity but also implement it as well, with passion, purpose and strategic intent. This side of what I do obviously brings out the teacher in me :)

So I’ll continue to consult and mentor this year. These are things I want to continue doing in 2015.

But I also want to create more art.

In 2007 I started writing this blog. This is art. It will continue.

In 2013 I released my first book through the global publishing house, Wiley. Producing a book is art. By and large I enjoyed the process, and I want to go through it again.

But whether I shoot for a fully-blown traditionally published book or take my chances in the self-publishing arena remains to be seen, but at this point I’m thinking self-publishing via Amazon Kindle a series of smaller more focused books versus the production of one major physical release.

I’m also working on an online personal branding course. This is going to take some effort, but I’m really pumped to ‘ship it’, as Seth Godin would say. Thus, it makes my ‘art list’ (gosh, this is going to come back to haunt me, isn’t it?).

The books and e-course are, of course, art in their own right.

And if the signature educational event I’m super-keen to stage actually gets off the ground, well that’s ART too. Ditto creating signature keynote presentations for conferences and business events, plus the series of educational workshops I run (I’m looking to do more of these in 2015 too). I might as well lump in Reputation Revolution, the podcast I started last year!

So all in all it looks like I’m going to be busy in 2015 with my consulting and mentoring, plus my art (books, online courses, public speaking, workshops, blog and podcast and, fingers crossed, a signature event of sorts).

How is your year shaping up? What’s your word for 2015?

 

Three marketing books from 2014 that will help you smash it in 2015!

I read a stack of business books this year – some were released through traditional publishing houses while others were self-published for Kindle and usually focused tightly on a particular niche and thus tended to be shorter.

But three stuck out in my mind that collectively covered social media and content marketing, leadership, PR, marketing and sales. If you read just these three books, you’ll get a good grasp as to what’s required from a marketing leadership perspective in 2015.

Here they are:

THE NEW RULES OF SALES AND SERVICE – David Meerman Scott

TAGLINE: How to use agile selling, real-time customer engagement, big data, content, and storytelling to grow your business

the-new-rules-of-sales-and-service‘New Rules of Sales’ sees David Meerman Scott in a fighting mood – it’s a high-spirited romp through today’s hyper-connected commercial landscape in which some companies are cleverly leveraging social technologies to better serve their customers, while many others are hopelessly falling behind, preferring to rely on techniques that worked a decade ago but not so well today. David holds nothing back relaying stories of the dumb things some brands do that annoy savvy connected customers; never fear though, he more than balances the ledger by providing plenty of shining examples of companies that are doing things right and winning business as a result (e.g. Nobis Hotels, Quark Expeditions, OPEN Cycle).

‘New Rules of Sales’ is not just for marketing and PR people but small business operators, customer service executives, and C-Suite leaders of major organisations. It paints a vivid picture of an ever-evolving digital backdrop that is causing angst for some brands and opportunities for others.

Buyers are in charge!

David contends: “Today, buyers are in charge. But most companies run their sales and customer service organizations as if it were still 1989.”

‘New Rules of Sales’ sees David going back to basics (after the left-field ‘Marketing The Moon’ in which he and co-author Richard Jurek tell the story of one of the most successful marketing and public relations campaigns in history: the selling of the Apollo program) – indeed, it serves as an excellent ‘bookend’ to David’s seminal work The New Rules of Marketing & PR which is in its fourth edition and continues to sell by the truckload.

I’ve been an unabashed David Meerman Scott fan since 2007 when I first picked up The New Rules of Marketing & PR. His style is easy-going, non-hype and jargon-free (as jargon-free as you can get in a technology-fuelled marketing world). If you like your business books practical, easy to read and packed with examples, then you could do worse than pick up a copy of The New Rules of Sales and Service.

SPIN SUCKS – Gini Dietrich

TAGLINE: Communication and reputation management in the digital age

Spin Sucks is also the name of Gini’s hugely popular PR blog. If you read the blog and like it, you’ll love the book. And vice-versa.

Like David Meerman Scott, Gini writes in fluff-free, economical style; she has been on the leading edge of PR for years now and while many of her contemporaries are probably still struggling to come to grips with blogging and Twitter, Gini has scooted ahead of the pack and has become a bona fide ‘go-to’ resource in her industry.

Gini hates the ‘spin doctor’ connotations that come with PR (pretty obvious from the book’s title, heh) and is a tireless promoter of PR being more than just media relations – she writes “there are many other tactics in a cohesive strategy: content, email marketing, social media, crisis and reputation management, events, social advertising, investor relations, lobbying and regulatory work, and more”.

Like the other two books recommended here, Gini’s contribution also provides context by painting a picture of the landscape against which we all have to do business today.

Spin-Sucks-the-Book1However, she then forges ahead and outlines PR best practice for today’s social age, explaining how to build a communications program “that can withstand the constant changes at Google, and how working ethically … will deliver more valuable long-lasting results, as well as a spotless reputation”.

In short, Spin Sucks is a no-nonsense look at what PR can (and should) achieve in today’s real-time, hyper-connected world. A ‘must-read’ for any PR practitioner – for sure – but marketers and business owners, managers and leaders will also get value.

I think this para sums it up:

You have an incredible opportunity to build trust through communications, using technology to deliver it to prospective customers who would never before have the chance to buy from you.

Practical, expansive, thoughtful and jam-packed with ideas and examples. Read Spin Sucks (blog and book) and let Gini take you by the hand and guide you into the promised digital land!

A WORLD GONE SOCIAL - Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt

TAGLINE: How companies must adapt to survive

It’s tough writing a straight social media book these days as there have been so many of them published in recent years, it’s difficult to come out with something new.

A-World-Gone-Social-3DSo while many social media books get bogged down in the tools and the technologies, with A World Gone Social the authors Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt have provided a holistic view from a business leadership perspective. Their message is that leadership in today’s ‘Social Age’ is a heck of a lot different than in the previous Industrial Age, and if senior executives don’t grasp that reality and adapt, they’re going to find the going tough at some point in the future.

Section one of A World Gone Social provides an introduction as to how social media technologies have disrupted the business landscape; in section two, Ted and Mark explain how large organisations need to think and act small in order to survive and thrive in the Social Age; section three is a little more ‘how-to’ and takes business leaders through what they need to do in order to start positioning their company as a social business. Section four provides a glimpse into the social future, and touches on the subject of ROI.

Power of community

Ted and Mark explain how the “customer holds all the cards” today, and a company’s own employees are also coming into power thanks to the proliferation of social technologies. They discuss the power of community, and why all brands need more vocal advocates, champions and ambassadors (while at the same time providing advice on how to deal with “drama queens, divas and … pesky trolls”).

I really enjoyed Chapter 10 which talked about the importance of company CEOs to be more social, but how in fact they’re as rare as ‘blue unicorns’ (hat-tip to Jim Claussen, founder of Executive Social Academy).

A theme throughout the book is what the authors call their ‘secret to social’ - More social. Less media. It sums up Ted and Mark’s book, I think, and is in my opinion a great way to look at how businesses need to start thinking in 2015 and beyond.

All in all, a ‘must read’ for business leaders, but I think anyone interested in the social space from an organisational aspect will get value from A World Gone Social. 

Here is an interview I recorded with Ted and Mark for my podcast Reputation Revolution.

DOWNLOAD A SAMPLE CHAPTER.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

The problem with having to select a small number of books to highlight means other great books get overlooked.

In this case, I’m going to give shout-outs to two smart buddies of mine, Dionne Lew and Steve Sammartino, who this year released The Social Executive and The Great Fragmentation respectively.

Dionne’s book – like A World Gone Social - is aimed fairly and squarely at senior executives and business leaders. It combines intellectual depth with practical examples and case studies and, importantly, it manages to paint a broad picture of the ramifications for doing business in today’s ‘connected economy’ without losing sight of the need to provide ‘in-the-trenches’ how-to tips and advice.

The Great Fragmentation is a ‘strategy playbook for the future, a business survival manifesto for the technology revolution’. I consider it to be a one-two punch in the face for outdated corporate business practice; it’s somewhat of a subversive work, and reminds me a bit of the seminal work The Cluetrain Manifesto.

It contains 20 chapters and 20 different ideas; Steve describes it as “non-linear, just like today’s business environment” – he said his goal was to assess the entire landscape we’re living in and provide a philosophy so readers can find the right tactics.

And finally, here are two others!

  • Show Your Work by Austin Kleon – 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered – I LOVED THIS BOOK!
  • Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi – without a doubt, THE bible for content marketing and a must-read for anyone interested in the space!

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What marketing and business books did you read this year that you’d recommend?

Should we kill off ‘thought leadership’? A discussion with Sarah Mitchell about thought leaders, innovators, pioneers and trailblazers!

thought leadership

Sarah Mitchell is the head of strategy at Lush Digital Media. She won’t like me saying this, but I consider her a thought leader in the area of content marketing.

Why won’t Sarah be impressed?

Because she recently wrote a blog post entitled ‘Content Marketing: Are You Still Using Thought Leaders’.

I always find Sarah’s posts invigorating. She’s thoughtful, provocative and writes persuasively.

sarah mitchell_@globalcopywriteThis particular article in question pulls no punches; it starts off thus: “Are you a thought leader? Is your content marketing full of thought leadership? It’s time to kill off your thought leaders. Trust me on this. A whole lot of people are going to be very happy if you do.”

She goes on: “Thought leaders and thought leadership have reached their sell-by date. If you’re selling yourself as a thought leader, you’re already losing audience because we’re all worn out by the phrase. We don’t believe you. So if thought leaders are dead (or should be) what does that leave?”

Given I host Reputation Revolution, the podcast dedicated to DIY thought leadership and personal branding, I thought I’d better have a chat with Sarah (left) to see what all the fuss was about. {SUBSCRIBE HERE}

It’s a real smack-’em-up affair. No, not really. Our conversation was very civilised and cordial, sorry :)

But we do dissect the issue, and I see where Sarah’s coming from. I don’t think she’s wrong by the way - I have a love-hate relationship with the term thought leader myself!

In this episode of Reputation Revolution, we cover:

  • Too many people are attempting to produce ‘thought leadership’ content when in reality, it’s the same old stuff.
  • “Innovative” is one of the most over-used of all the gobbledegook words: “If everybody’s an innovator, nobody’s an innovator” says Sarah (here, here!).
  • Just focus on what you know really well and what you know better than anyone else.
  • Consumers are sick of hearing about thought leaders too.
  • If you’re a thought leader, you don’t need to tell anyone you’re a thought leader – others will do that for you (* BOOM! * and that my friends is the crux of the issue I think – too many people banging on about how they’re thought leaders when they’re really not; you’re not a thought leader because you say you are; you’re only a thought leader if others think (and tell the world) that you are. In other words, it’s a status that needs to be earned (MORE).
  • Business doesn’t need more thought leaders, it needs more missionaries.
  • Steve Jobs is “one of the true thought leaders”.
  • The world needs more disruptive trailblazers!
  • There’s nothing wrong with being a subject matter expert or a practitioner with experience.
  • How Xerox canned its thought leadership project because it was just too hard.
  • The importance of having an original voice on social media.

I hope you find the discussion I have with Sarah stimulating and illuminating!

Connect with Sarah:

If you like what you hear, why not subscribe to REPUTATION REVOLUTION on iTunes, or join our LinkedIn Group?

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Thought Leader Minute: Getting the most from the business events you attend

TRANSCRIPTION:

Aspiring thought leaders often attend a lot of industry events such as conferences and seminars. But how do you get the most out of these events, over and above from just attending?

Here are some suggestions.

Cover the event using Twitter. Be in the audience and report on interesting snippets, quotes, and sound bites from the speakers, or comment on things that they are talking about. Take photos of participants, and upload them into your Tweet stream. Ditto with LinkedIn and Facebook. I tend to use Twitter because I get a more timely reaction from my network.

Write a blog post after the event if you thought it was interesting enough, and you feel your readers would derive value from your opinions and observations.

And finally, send LinkedIn invitations to connect with the people who you met at the event. Now you’ve met in real life, continue that conversation and that relationship through LinkedIn.

How entrepreneur Valerie Khoo leverages the power of social media and content marketing to build her brand and her business

content marketing success

Valerie Khoo (pictured) is an author, speaker and multi-passionate entrepreneur with several growing businesses under her belt.

She is a prolific content creator who has steadily built her public profile over a period of years by personally engaging with her online community not to mention adding value in the form of words (blog posts), audio (podcasting) and video (e.g. the 30-day video challenge ‘Vidtember‘).

I regard Valerie as one of the best content marketers in Australia.

Not only that, she also leverages social media brilliantly for her business – the Australian Writers’ Centre – as well as for her personal brand.

Getting the balance right between business brand and personal brand is difficult; indeed, it’s an issue many professionals entrepreneurs face, and grapple with. Another issue professionals face when it comes to ‘putting themselves out there’ on social media is managing one’s professional versus private self on social media.

valerie khoo personal brandingValerie says: “There’s a huge difference between personal, and personality.”

You don’t have to share details about your personal life. But it’s important to show elements of your personality (without necessarily showing elements that are controversial or are going to polarise people).

You’re fully in control, she says.

“I might share we’re having a cake at work but I don’t share the whole business strategy … once you have those boundaries or distinctions in place, then it becomes easy what to share and what not to.”

You don’t have to be on everything. 

When it comes to creating content, pick the one or two things you love doing most … “you’re going to employ it and you’re more likely to do it”.

You also need to understand that just creating your content is not enough, says Valerie.

You need to amplify it!

“When you connect with other people, they are more likely to share that stuff for you and cross-promote you if they’ve got some sort of relationship with you.”

If you’re unsure of what to create content-wise, take a course (or get somebody to review it).

“Don’t be afraid to ask people’s opinions on whether it (your content) has resonated with them or not.”

In this interview on the Reputation Revolution podcast, Valerie chats about:

  • her approach and use of social media and content marketing;
  • the power of podcasting, and why it’s an effective marketing tool;
  • how she manages to find the time to fit in all her social media and content creation commitments.

Cats, dogs and Bon Jovi also get mentioned (but weren’t hurt in the production of the podcast).

 * * * * * * * * * * *

If you like what you hear, why not subscribe to REPUTATION REVOLUTION on iTunes, or join our LinkedIn Group?

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The importance of cultivating a ‘village of support’ for your personal brand

village_of_support

It’s one thing to have a network of professional contacts – friends, peers, and acquaintances that you can call upon for all manner of favours: such as making introductions on your behalf, tipping you in to new business or career opportunities, or simply inviting you to the corporate box to watch your favourite major sporting event!

But it’s another matter entirely to have a vibrant and engaged ‘village of support’ underpinning YOU (and when I say you, I don’t just mean you the person, but Brand You’ and all that comes with it – your reputation and standing within the professional community).

A village of support is much more than an amorphous network of contacts, and goes way beyond the collection of random people you’ve come into contact with at seminars and industry events and with whom you’ve simply swapped business cards – it’s much deeper and more valuable than that.

A person’s village of support represents a groundswell of people with whom you’re not just acquainted with but who know you well (or at least feel like they do), and who like, trust, and respect you.

These are people with whom you have a deeper connection with because you’ve cultivated relationships with them; you’ve contributed value to their lives, relentlessly, over time – without the expectation of getting anything in return.

How have you been able to do that? You have:

  • Shown up and been 100% genuine about everything you’ve done (not only in the flesh but virtually via social networks as well);
  • Connected individuals with one another if you’ve felt there was common ground and both would be better off for the experience of having known each other (whether personally or from a business perspective);
  • Attended events when people have invited you, tweeted proceedings, and highlighted nuggets of gold presented by the speakers (maybe you’ve even given up your time to speak, or be on a panel where you’ve provided insights and learnings based on your knowledge and experience);
  • Contributed or kick-started conversations on and offline, for example participated in hashtag discussions on Twitter, been active in Google+ Communities, provided answers on Quora, or commented on a regular basis on articles shared by your connections on LinkedIn;
  • Invested time and effort creating rich and compelling online content that has struck a chord with people (so much so they’ve shared your stories and ideas with their personal friends and followers via social networks);

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  • Made the effort to instigate coffee catch-ups with people with whom you’ve developed a rapport with online;
  • Sat on community-based committees and working groups and freely shared your experience and your advice;
  • Given your two bobs’ worth to polls or questions people have asked on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn (i.e. “Can anyone recommend a good accountant?”);
  • Publicly via social media shone the spotlight on other people, hat-tipped their work, acknowledged their ideas, and referred them to others where relevant;
  • Collaborated on some really cool projects that created buzz in the community and attracted ‘like minds’.

Again, you’ve done all this without the expectation of getting anything in return.

Anyone can build a ‘village of support’

In the past (not that long ago actually!) to build any meaningful-sized village of support would have taken years and years of strategically attending meetings, networking events, and industry functions, along with the required and unceasing personal follow-up.

This was very difficult and time-consuming to do and even then probably amounted to someone becoming highly connected versus ‘taking things up a notch’ and having an engaged community of followers, advocates, supporters, and enthusiasts for what it was they did and stood for.

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Here’s the kicker: It’s not a case of being born into the ‘right’ family or going to the ‘right’ school – not any more; today, the combination of social networking technologies and online publishing platforms means that anyone can develop and nurture a meaningful village of support based on trust and mutual respect with scale, in real-time, and virtually for free (personal effort notwithstanding).

Often the relationships you have with supporters will be kick-started online via social media and then strengthened ‘in the flesh’; sometimes however you might not really know the inhabitants of your village if your following gets to a certain size, but they know and are trusting of you and what you stand for, and thus more than happy to promote your work and talk you up positively within their networks. Treat these relationships with the utmost respect – they’re gold!

The secret is you need to give in order to get back.

Leverage the power of social media to give relentlessly, without the expectation of getting anything in return. That will happen, it always does. It’s known as the Law of Reciprocity, and it’s what fuels your village of support.

Start today. Build your village with heart and purpose. It will serve you well over your professional journey.

Why content marketing should be top of mind for owners of professional services firms

content marketing prof firms

Here are a couple of reality checks for owners and managers of professional services firms operating in today’s hyper-connected marketplace.

One, prospective clients are increasingly checking out you and your people online before committing to doing business with you (indeed, before they even put a call in to your office!).

If social media (indeed, the web generally) has done one thing, it has turned us into expert ‘hunters and gatherers’ of information. We’re out there doing our homework, checking you out online, asking questions of our social networks and forming our opinions as to whether or not we should put you on our ‘to-contact’ shortlist.

QUESTION: If we visited your website and social channels, what would we find? Would it add value to our decision-making process, or give us confidence your firm knew what it was talking about?

Secondly, the explosion of digital channels in recent years has brought with it a heck of a lot of noise. Your existing and potential clients are bombarded professionally and personally from every angle, not just from brands but also friends, family and their extended networks across multiple social channels.

Needless to say, many of the traditional communication methods (usually used to broadcast one-way promotional messages, I might add) are increasingly being filtered out by the intended target, rendering them way less effective than, say, five years ago.

QUESTION: Is your firm cutting through the noise with its communications and resonating with potential clients? 

All this suggests that professional services firms need to fundamentally reconsider the way they communicate with the marketplace. And by reconsider, I mean think seriously undertaking a thought leadership-based content marketing program as a way to increase visibility, grow influence and build brand authority.

 This article was written for the Authority Partners blog – READ IT NOW

Content marketing in Australia continues to grow (report)

Sixty-three per cent of Australian marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget during the next 12 months, according to the 3rd annual Content Marketing in Australia: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

However, marketers are still ‘learning the ropes’ when it comes to content marketing, with just under a third of respondents claiming their content efforts are effective.

The report, undertaken with the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA), represents findings from 251 for-profit marketers in Australia who responded to a mid-year survey; these marketers represented business-to-business (136 ), business-to-consumer (40), and 75 both B2B+B2C).

Here is an interview I recorded today with Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute, in which he extrapolates on the findings of the report, and what they mean for the Australian content marketing industry.

Key takeaways from the research:

  • Slightly fewer Australian marketers consider their companies effective at content marketing (33% last year vs. 29% this year). Interestingly, however, is that 44 per cent of those who have a documented content strategy believe their content marketing activity to be effective. (MY TAKE: Marketers who make the effort to develop a strategic plan are more likely to be successful at content marketing).
  • Only 20 per cent say their organisations are successful at tracking ROI of their content marketing. However having a documented content marketing strategy helps (33% of those who have one say they are successful at tracking ROI).
  • Compared with last year’s results, Australian marketers are using fewer content marketing tactics on average – 12 this year vs. 13 last year (MY TAKE: After trialling a number of tools, marketers are probably starting to focus a bit more).
  • As with last year, the top three tactics are social media content (other than blogs), articles on your website, and e-newsletters (MY TAKE: Good to see the ol’ e-newsletter still alive and kicking; articles on website could include a blog or online newsroom!). 
  • 63 per cent of Australian marketers said they plan to increase their content marketing budget during the next 12 months, a slight decrease from 69 per cent last year (interestingly though, 73 per cent of Australian marketers with a documented content marketing strategy plan to increase spending over next 12 months).

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT.

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