Create Demand for Your Content

OnlineContent Discovery

When you think about your content as product, you create a business asset. You can then start on the path to moving from a cost to a profit center. People who are starting to produce online content often ask these or similar questions:

  • how do I get found? 
  • how do I become a thought leader?
  • how do I make people spread my content?

Sometimes in a different order or words. My answer continues to be work on treating content as a product by thinking about its value to the people who you are trying to attract. Worry first about the "it" and then discover how.

Maybe it will be helpful to take a look at tools and networks and where they fit at a high level in helping with content discovery.

How we got here

Creating demand for your content has everything to do with understanding what your customers need and where they go online. How did we get to using the tools/networks we use today? As a very quick roundup.

Five years ago, when I started Conversation Agent, after the launch and heavy use of portals as the online one-stop place to find things, in some instances tied to a free email account, being online and establishing an identity was tied mainly to having a blog.

Sure, some of the current hot social networks were active as well. However, with Twitter just starting off (2006), and Facebook (2004) still being discussed within the realms of personal relationships, a blog was the way to show up and say "I'm here and here's what I do".

Bloggers found ways to connect with readers and build an audience also by promiscuous linking to their sources of ideas and other content. They were very active in commenting on other blogs as well. In general, it was about seeking and supporting the work of other content creators and peers online. A byproduct and outcome of all this engagement was building an audience.

Here's the spot where you get to think about why, and the goals of building that audience.

  • do you want to become a thought leader in a specific field?
  • are you catering to a very specific group of people?
  • is your intention to become the go-to place for information and news on a specific topic, solving a certain problem?
  • do you plan to offer products and services for purchase directly?

The answers to these and more questions must drive how you organize your content production, publication, and dissemination.

Social-izing content

Then Facebook and Twitter started gaining traction by touting their ease of use and leveraging their growing base as a way to attract more sign ups. It's no secret that people go to where other people are hanging out and talking — especially when those places make it easier to post opinions and updates.

And by easy, I mean quick. Short form interactions may suck you in and distract you all day. On the surface though, they feel like they're less effort.

Today, there are dozens of different sites you can use for content creation and many ways to share and distribute that content. Savvy content producers know that changing your content mix based upon how people use technologies and tools, where you get your best results, gives your content a better shot at discovery.

Evolution of online interactions

Within the space of two decades, we have gone from portals, to content-based destination sites, blogs, and other publication RSS feeds, to social voting. Then we had more personalized social streams with related recommendations based upon what you searched for in the past.

And right into our phones with mobile apps. There is a demand for more customized experiences that are high value. You will need to experiment a little with different combination to get to the right mix for the people you're trying to attract — and for your bottom line.

Certainly, while destination sites are fewer — and I haven't even touched mainstream media in this post — opportunities to connect and convert through content are higher online. Search is your friend. Yet, you should not rely on search alone.

The risk with search, as many pointed out in discussions that go back more than four years on Conversation Agent, is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents become limiting, that we seek only what we already know, or want to buy, and forget that more opportunity may come via serendipitous discovery.

Will AI agents become Conversation Agents? Can Artificial Intelligence agents be discovery channels?

The answer is to treat your content as a product and create demand for it.


This is part of a series of posts I'm writing in preparation for my keynote at Confab2011. If you have specific questions about the session that you'd like me to over as part of the topic, feel free to post them here as comments.

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[image inspired by the evolution of online content discovery]

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0 responses to “Create Demand for Your Content”

  1. Hi Valeria. 🙂
    I like what you have to say here. It’s an angle I hadn’t considered with regard to Gearbox Magazine (which is sort of ironic, given the name, there). There’s a lot of talk out there about using the blog to build an audience, in order to monetize that audience by hawking products.
    But what if the product is the blog? What if the product is information and an invitation to convert that information to knowledge? The product – in our case – is high performance machines & lives. That’s what I want to give away. For free.
    How random is that? How often do we offer something small as a free bonus with major purchase? This post got me thinking, I’d like to do the opposite.
    Here’s a new car – free of charge. Would you like to buy an air freshener or perhaps car care kit to go with it? 🙂

  2. when you start treating content as a business asset, now all of a sudden you’re thinking about value in a completely different way. Given the “noise” out there, your best chance to make connections with content are those that show you true engagement. And no, comments are not the Holy Grail of engagement, nor is volume. Conversion is.

  3. Earning the attention of your audience is the hardest part of creating content. You need to create value, credibility and respect – let alone the awareness that you’re there. I know there’s much more information I would love to consume if I had the time. But then I also don’t have the time to put it all into action so need to prioritize where my attention goes.
    Same with our customers, who are busy running their businesses. Why should they take time to read our stuff? Only if it helps them do their jobs or run their businesses better. Otherwise it’s just more noise.
    I’ve been talking internally to our teams about how content is an asset we’re building – and need to build – but that it takes time / commitment / focus. As much as many wish they can shout louder from the hilltop to look at their content/product/service, it doesn’t work. In fact it does the opposite.
    You’ve articulated the challenge and importance so well here.

  4. I’m thinking more and more about the attention part. To me it’s about generating interest. The problem with attention-getting thinking is that inevitably you get to talk about gimmicky creative that sometimes are of little value. The other thought I have around content is that as buyers (it’s better in B2B) we’re not that sophisticated, so we tune in to stories than resonate with us, with the story we like to tell or show about ourselves, if that makes sense.
    Excellent conversation with your team on commitment and focus. Because when they are total, they can provide results quite rapidly. Sustaining those results is the next conversation around time. Thank you for stopping in, Patrick. I know you have plenty on your plate.

  5. Content marketing is an extremely important part of the mix, especially for B2B. You need to prove to your audience that you know your stuff. There’s a lot of noise when it comes to content, so it’s important to stand out from the crowd. This can be done by creating quality content that is unique on a consistent basis.

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