Wednesday, March 2, 2011

4 Content lies SMB's tell themselves

by Lisa Barone
Content gets hailed a “King” quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean business owners understand its true power or what “creating great content” really means in the year 2011. If content creation is an area that still makes you a little uneasy, it’s time to tackle it. Because on the Web, your content is your brand. And it’s up to you to build a great one.

To help you do that, here are four content myths SMBs often tell themselves and how you can rise above them.

1. They have to write big, or not at all: Mention the world “blog” to a small business owner and it’s not uncommon to see a sudden look of panic cross their face. It’s because while you’re talking about all the cool things they’ll be able to do with their blog, they’re already panicking about how much time it’s going to take to create all that content. It’s the same look of panic I see when I mention things like Twitter or Facebook.

But if social media has taught us anything it’s the power of micro-content. That’s those short updates (sometimes confined to just 140 characters on Twitter) that are designed to share a single thought, a link, a reference, an invitation, a video, a photo, etc. Not every piece of content you produce has to be a novel in length. The quality and frequency of the content you provide is far more important than just its length. There’s no reason to be intimidated by content.

2. Content is printed text: If content isn’t defined by length, it’s certainly not defined by medium, either. In today’s world, content is printed text, it’s a video, it’s a mashup, it’s a podcast, it’s an offer or promotion, and it’s anything else you want to make it. If you’re avoiding the blogging or social media world because writing isn’t your strong suit, you don’t have to wait a day longer to get involved. In today’s social economy you have permission to speak your thoughts, to sing them, or paint them or to get them out in any way that you see fit.

3. They’re not publishers: Are you using any combination of a website, a blog, social media or a wiki to market to your customers and build your business? Then congratulations – you’re a publisher. With that responsibility means now you have to start thinking like a publisher. It’s not enough to run your blog or your content marketing like it’s a hobby – you need to put an editorial calendar in place and plan out what you’re going to say, when and why you’re going to say it. Even if you don’t have a website and you’re running your business from your Facebook page (which you shouldn’t do, BTW), you’re responsible for generating your unique brand message, inspiring fans and sometimes gathering user-generated content. Once you accept that, you being to look at content not as simply something you publish, but as a way of attracting and retaining more clients.
4. The content doesn’t matter if the product is good: I hear this one a lot as an excuse for why many SMBs don’t have a solid content marketing strategy. Problem is, it’s just not true. It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is, if you can’t communicate that to your audience through your content, then you’re handicapping your ability to sell to them. Your content is what conveys your brand message, inspires customers and differentiates you from everyone else. Take it seriously.

Those are some of the big content myths that get my blood boiling. What content mistakes do you see others making? What content fears are still buzzing around in your brain?

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