Relevance is a Must for Your Content to Work

Evolution of Online Content

I've been using this graphic successfully to help organizations bridge the generational gap in understanding web content evolution.

This is a gap that exists also between businesses and their customers; we are much more sophisticated in the way we use digital tools to get things done as customers, for a variety of reasons.

As I wrote a couple of days ago, the multitude of tools and magnitude of social networks has brought to the fore the need to fine tune settings and filters: To make sense of relationships and connections *and* to tune up on publishing and consuming content.

Where do you start?

GenYs and early adopters have no trouble starting with apps.

It is the senior teams, the C-Suite and non-tech board members who often prefer to see how we got there. Judging from the very many articles about G+, I'd say early adopters are also taking time to look back, in order to move forward.

Every new tool introduction is compared and contrasted with what is available in the existing system, especially in a saturated market. Do we have enough social networks? The answer is yes for many. Which means we need to make trade offs.

How do you choose?

In an environment rich with choices and scarce with time/attention to dedicate to them all, a natural selection occurs. Call it a selection of the easiest… and most useful network and tool. There are a couple of questions people usually consider early on:

  1. is this novelty going to last and what is it going to gain me?
  2. is my investment in the other network/tool going to be a net loss?

The clues people watch for the first one include:

  • who else is trying it?
  • are my friends and/or customers checking it out/starting to use it?
  • are people talking about it "x" days/weeks out and am I going to be left behind?

Peer pressure is information, too and it provides a good incentive on the timing of discovery.

Businesses need to define what is their acceptable threshold. Because they also don't want to be left behind, organizations are starting to formalize the role of the early tool/technology adopter more frequently than in the past.

We all know how hard it is to let go of an investment of time, effort, and funds. Which is why the saying exists: Throw good money after bad.

Why were you investing there?

Your approach to that question may vary. I like to start with "why" — and to drill down on several of them, like:

  • why where you there?
  • why did you invest in building that social presence or outpost?
  • why were the content and interactions cultivated only in that place and not captured elsewhere?

You see where I'm going, don't you? When you make an investment in assets, especially if it is on digital domains you don't own, you should plan to utilize what you develop and learn to help advance your owned digital hub(s).

Add a scoop of chocolate to plain vanilla

And all of a sudden you have a delicious sundae. Take the content that worked in social networks as plain vanilla and mesh it with other flavors (I'm partial to chocolate) to make it more actionable and relevant for visitors of your website, for example.

Or as a jump off point in a newsletter your customers (and/or employees, partners, etc.) subscribe to because it helps them do their jobs better.  

Relevance is a must for your content to work. I use the chart as a map to orient organizations; a tool that serves as a starting point. If you want people to do something, the way you ask them, how you get them there, needs to make sense for them.

Making sense of things is often based upon goals — what people are trying to do — context — where they are at this time — and situational awareness — how they process information.

Making content relevant

The second monthly issue of Conversation Agent Premium Newsletter, which goes out today in a little over one hour, includes more thoughts on marketing automation software and monitoring tool selections.

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Because it is also my birthday, in partnership with McGraw-Hill Professional, I am giving away 12 copies of Marshall Sponder's upcoming book Social Media Analytics (Amazon affiliate link) for a deeper dive on tools and measurement, on a first come, first served basis*. 

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