Bridging the Content Gap


800px-Venezia-ponte_dei_sospiri

I'm a writer. I enjoy the creation process through this medium, even though — and you probably wouldn't know — posts just don't come out of me fully formed. I spend considerable time reviewing what I compose, researching information for it, and asking myself the "why" question.

Because being consistent and useful at the same time is a balancing act of output and outcomes. One is information you share, the other is feedback you receive — to varying degrees of articulate and helpful. Both are affected by motivation.

A strategy helps you get motivated to make a plan, and stay motivated to execute it.

You should have a blog is not a strategy

What happens when everyone is getting the advice they should have blogs and online outposts stuffed with keywords? What happens when people who don't know the first thing about digital media follow advice that gets them into shady link building tactics?

By the way, you have no idea how many people have Google Alerts on "link building". The spam I got after writing that post was unprecedented. When has automation replaced thinking? I must have missed the memo.

You should be ashamed of yourself if that's the advice you provide. And it is your job to help the people you advise understand what you mean and show them what to do, if your defense is they misinterpreted. Otherwise, why pass yourself as a professional services provider?

Is automating all this content from others onto their free sites going to make them an outstanding "go to" member of the local community, for example? Maybe their content strategy is doing something worthy of notice with the community center, instead.

Just because it's free, it doesn't mean it's for you

The other misconception is that because many of these tools are free, it's all upside. That all you need is set up a few sites and get traffic coming your way. Follow the advice for the implementation above and you could end up hurting your reputation.

You can raise your profile more steadily by spending time writing original content or commenting on community happenings than by setting up a Posterous account, Blogger, and WordPress site to pick up the feeds of others and then tweeting the links to your own sites.

The sites may be free, the outcomes are still the result of your thought and work. And when you put heart and passion into what you do, it shows. That's what attracts people and opportunity.

Online doesn't change what makes humans human.

How do you bridge the content gap?

You could be curating information for your community, for example. Showing trends, sharing resources, becoming the platform for all the services in your neighborhood for newcomers and long timers alike. People go online to find resources, how about building links to several in your area?

Being self-serving works in your favor. Say you're in real estate, how about creating a welcome page with links to local veterinary, SPA, hairdresser and barbers, general family medicine practitioners, home repair stores, plumbers, electricians, etc.? Profile your business friends every week.

The local accountant, insurance agent, the lady who gives violin lessons. Be creative. How about where one could go to find local produce? Quilting shows? Whatever floats the boat of your customer base and helps you connect with other business owners who may be recommending you in the area.

It sure would be more fun, and buzz-worthy, than a site stuffed with keywords that may or may not look legitimate.

A sidebar on online etiquette

If you need to review copyright laws and Creative Commons guidelines, please do. Jonathan Bailey talked about those issues in our conversation on plagiarism today, which is the name of his blog.

Before you make your next online move, take that extra step to double check your content. Here are some specific suggestions for you to think about:

  • Refrain from reblogging other people's ideas without adding value
  • Attribute sources and respect their wishes regarding copyright 
  • Before linking to a piece, ask yourself if its publisher is also its true author
  • Strive to produce original content worthy of linking by other people and finding
  • Ask yourself, "would I find this valuable?"

There are more ways to bridge the content gap. The tools serve the plan, not the other way around.

[image of ponte dei sospiri, Venezia, Wikimedia commons]

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