Hardest Thing You Will Ever Do
Imagine the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Riding a bicycle across America in the summer of 2010 was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Martin’s Ride To Cure Cancer raised almost $30,000 for cancer research, was an amazing adventure and one of if not THE hardest thing I’ve attempted.
If I doubled how hard Martin’s Ride was we get close to how difficult creating Content that develops Community and Converts visitors to customers has become. This post is about how to do the hardest thing every Internet marketer must do – win an increasing number of hearts and minds.
The more Internet marketing I create the more one truth becomes clear – the most powerful content on YOUR website or content network is THEIRS not YOURS. There’s a big RUB to that rule. The rub is you can’t get THEIR content unless you’ve shared content with authority, confidence and brilliance.
You content must create more sharing by THEM (your visitors and readers). When your content is shared it creates community. Content creates community or it is a tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear.
Content Marketing’s CATCH-22:
You can’t get THEIR content unless you too create great, highly viral content. You can’t create great content unless you have a large amount of THEIR content.
The second rub is, as the American novelist and screenwriter William Goldman so famously quipped about Hollywood, “Nobody knows nothing”. If you could sit down and riff one block buster movie after another you would be God.
Crating awesome content is enough of a crap shoot the only way to win is to play enough you get GOOD. Creating a lot of content on a regular schedule transforms content marketing. Content marketing turns into a process capable of generating enough feedback you get better. Watching metrics like views, shares and comments you tweak your content in true Darwin-like ways.
Your content marketing’s “Origin of the Content Species” aligns your content creation efforts with the variations that make your content popular. When your content aligns to its audience magic happens. Magically you get MORE connection, User Generated Content (UGC) and shares for less work.
Right around when your content generates “more shares for less work” a tipping point is reached and you can begin to build community. Your content has enough authority now. Your content can and will attract MORE content and User Generated Content (UGC). The combination of YOUR and THEIR content creates community.
If consistently writing social and viral content is hard developing community around that content is harder still. A community built on content has “common” sources such as:
- Social Shares (Facebook likes, shares, Tweets and G+ conversations).
- Comments especially if actively used in some way (curated into the site’s content or responded to).
- Reviews especially with “review the reviewer” and some low-level gamification (social rewards for contributing)
- Rich Snippet Curation – sharing your link and content with “theme” copy and organized like Scoop.it.
- User Generated Content in response to some Call-to-Action (contests or games).
- Response to call for Q&A content.
- Video reviews or testimonials.
- Curation – your use of THEIR content in your content generation engine.
Bet you can think of more ways CUSTOMERS contribute content and those contributions create community. The trickiest concept may be learning how User Generated Content (UGC) is both means and ends. UGC is means because it provides valuable input into your content marketing engine. UGC changes you and your content marketing. By changing you and your content marketing UGC also becomes an “end”, an end that helps create community.
UGC has several advantages including low costs, an ability to create community and UGC can create a self perpetuating content engine. Community is baked in. What do most customers do if you award “FEATURED” or otherwise curate their content as worthy? They share your recognition on their social nets.
When you share THEIR content and THEY push to social nets your community becomes more self-sustaining. You do LESS work to generate more return. Your content is blended with User Generated Content. Your content generates more community faster. Your content is achieving “web scale”.
Content is HARD, Community HARDER AND Conversion HARDEST. When customers give something of value in trade for content and community consumed they “convert”. Conversion is about MONEY (cash or its other expressions such as traffic, time or advocacy). People part with money for a variety of reasons, but no one does so without “value” coming back, or no one does so for long without value back.
Conversion is hardest because content and community must win hearts and minds before a customer is willing to PAY. In a time of infinite choice when we can buy anything from anyone quickly and select from a handful of great choices we buy from those we love. Love rarely happens instantly. Love and trust is earned, earned by the content and community consumed, contributed and shared.
Done right the 3Cs become a “perpetual motion” machine where we lucky few Internet marketers put in less and less and receive more and more.