If you were to compare the content marketing of yesterday to the content marketing of today, it would feel like asking a rock to come to life.
You see, yesterday's content just sat there…except for the occasional share on social media.
Today's content is a living, breathing entity that is reactive to engagement, responsive to feedback, helpful in real time, and more profit-generative than any content to date.
This doesn't mean articles, emails and blogs are dead. What it does mean is that these tools need to take on the life of the brand they represent—to interactively guide and engage your ideal customers so they'll invest in your business. Content can no longer just lie there. It must have laser-focussed purpose, as well as targeted goals and specific strategies for achieving them.
All of this can be accomplished with Interest Networks, where your ideal customers gather to learn more about their passions, their problems, their interests. Content will start conversations, enhance interactions, answer questions and motivate; however, it will no longer be the nucleus of your online operations.
Content Marketing with Interest Networks
For now, interest networking is a dark area for many brands. Many are not sure how to create an interest network, how to market it or how to create profit with it. Plus, lots of brand builders are confusing interest networks with social networks.
It can be helpful to remember that social networks are groups of friends, whilst interest networks are groups of people who might not have anything in common except for the interest (i.e. problem, pain, hobby, passion) that brought them there.
Let's talk about what makes an interest network profitable, and then how to create one.
The Best Interest Networks, and How They're Created
Here are some things that outstanding interest networks have in common:
- They are highly specific. Not simply about "music" for example, but about music composition for piano.
- They are created for people, not about people. In other words, the members of any interest network will continue to participate because they're getting something highly relevant and immediately useful to themselves.
- They hold lots of value. In the past, the value was in the content. With interest networking, the value is in the interaction with others in the group. That means the more topic-focussed and productive the network's members are, the more value every member enjoys.
- They offer engagement tiers. Not every member of your interest network will be at the same point in their journeys. For this reason, the best interest networks aren't simply a one-spot, one-stop membership shop. There's everything from casual, free learning to passionate, paid involvement.
- They are spontaneous. Compared to the content marketing of the past, interest networks respond and engage based on real-time need (i.e. questions, requests, sharing). This adds an element of impulsiveness for all members, and therefore results in more organic, honest engagement.
- They are mobile-friendly. By using the power of mobile apps and social media, you can build a network fully accessible by mobile devices, which is necessary in this day and age. Five years ago, people were willing to squint to read your blog on their phones. Now, it's just not happening. They're choosing to interact on mobile apps.
Now that you have a better idea of how interest networks are changing content marketing strategies, let's talk about how you can get your own started:
- Use your existing list to determine what will interest your ideal customers (and will align with your brand's vision, mission and values). This can be accomplished by interacting with your connections, by reviewing past conversations, and by asking for participation in a social media or other online poll/survey.
- Determine what technologies your ideal customers are using. Learn how to use each one of them and integrate them into your content marketing and interest networking strategies.
- Develop a maximum number of ways for your network's members to be heard and to get involved. Allow them to comment on blog posts. Ask them questions and encourage conversation on social media. Develop an interactive app. Utilise collaborative technologies like live video and internet conferencing.
- Create an email campaign with choices. Bombarding your audience with "informational" emails is no longer cool. They're going to lose interest or worse, unsubscribe and cut all ties with your brand. Instead, appear less often in their inboxes…and with more opportunities for them to make choices about the direction they wish to take with your brand (e.g. various links leading to places they choose).
- Customise the content they see. Not every one of your ideal customers will be at the same place in their journey. Some are just looking for general information. Others have spent years with the topic, and want more targeted, high-level data. Utilise technologies that will determine user behaviour and give them what they want right now, rather than asking each one to start from the beginning.
- Get involved with an internet site that offers interest categories. Interest networking sites are popping up all over the place. Conduct a search for your niche, look for significant followings, and pitch your brand (i.e. interest) to the administration. Then, get in there and provide content that will lead your ideal customers to your brand through their own interest (without blatant selling).
- Use social media groups to promote interaction among members. Not every platform your brand uses will host groups of people; however, your interest network must have a few places in which members can meet and interact with one another. This usually happens in social media groups (both free and paid), where varying tiers of service are offered and members can freely communicate.
Again, I am not suggesting that content is dead. What I am proposing is that you maintain a rich bank of content to support conversations that happen organically within the interest network you're about to create.
Still not sure how you should be proceeding? Or even how to get started? That's understandable, and How to Build a Brand is here to help on a number of levels. Simply visit our website and check out all the offerings under the Start Up Resources and Brand Building Resources tabs. And as always, feel free to contact us with questions or to ask for our support in your brand building mission.