When businesses think about content, they usually focus on the marketing and communications materials they produce. There is also a wealth of user generated content, which are various kinds of raw media produced by end-users in the public domain, that could be mined and organized.
Are people talking about your industry? Even better, are there groups or individuals who are passionate about your brand or your service?
In that case, part of your content strategy with curating information should acknowledge and recognize their contributions. Brands like Apple, IKEA, and Ducati, to name a couple, do have a passionate core of customers who are evangelists or advocates on behalf of the brand.
This is not about being a Ducati or a Ferrari brand, it's about learning what to listen for and how to harness that energy on behalf of the total content your business organizes and shares.
Start with a question
The question you need to ask is not whether your business does or doesn't have supporters — if you are still in business, you do have customers. After you figure out whetehr they are active creating, and conversing, the question is really do your customers know you care about what they think?
This is more how much is your brand worth to a fan? where we discussed understanding:
- what your product or service is allowing them to do — in the case of IKEA, for example, it's the material that allows an individual to build something. There are expressions of that in rich content, take for example IKEA hacks, which was recognized and included in the IKEA Fan Community
- how they experience and express your company's loyalty to them — it's easy to see this in the opposite form, long time customers who find it upsetting that prospects receive better rates and deals to sign up with similar plans
- when you encourage the passion of fans, your build social capital — and content, online and offline. We looked at the example of the Ducati Facebook fan pages; Coca-Cola's Facebook page was created by two fans, then adopted by the beverage company
- showing connection with your fans — if you think this is just for consumer goods, think again. Businesses that cater to other businesses have an easier job identifying and attracting fans. See for example how engineers connect with Indium Corp.
- allowing your fans to brag about your business and brand — Maker's Mark creates contact cards for their ambassadors, that's recognition. A Trader Joe's fan is creating all kinds of good content for like others, sharing recipes and featuring products
It's a yes or no answer, by the way. If your fans are getting a cease and desist letter in the mail, it's a clear no to them, even if you think your business has legitimate concerns about liability. A better option, if that is the case, is choosing a softer approach to let them down gently.
Persuasive vs. credible
It doesn't need to be either/or, it can be and/and — persuasive and credible may be the result of mashing up or combining the content you produce, with call to action and incentive, as well as the content your customers and fans produce, which makes your brand more credible in the eyes of their peers.
Of course, not all fans are content creators. Some could simply be joiners or spectators. Which is why having a company blog helps you identify and attract fans, too.
How do you find out if you have fans? Run searches for keywords that are important to your business, like Indium Corp. did. Or simply listen for mentions of your brand(s) online.
Does your business have any fans? Are they content creators or joiners? How many fans do you think you need?
[image from Kevin Kelly's post, 1,000 true fans]