Why Your Message Is the MediumBy Mike Elgan | Posted 2015-09-01 Print
Forget trying to go viral, obsessing over platforms, gaming SEO and narrowly targeting audience. Just write valuable content and the right people will find you.
Are you a so-called content creator? If not, you're missing a huge opportunity to enhance your career, make professional contacts, learn and grow—and possibly market your company's products or services. Actively creating blog posts, podcasts, videos or other content is a great way—possibly the best way—to grow professionally and succeed.
The trouble is that marketers, business bloggers and others who want to influence public opinion in the direction of their products or services spend way too much time and energy worrying about the wrong things.
This applies to companies, individual business bloggers and social media users alike. The volumes of advice tend to cloud the issue and cause too many people to overcomplicate their messaging around product, service, business or industry. For example, just about everyone in the business messaging industry is obsessed with creating viral content: videos, articles or ads that spread rapidly across social media and get everybody talking.
But chasing "virality" is a sucker's game. It's hard to do, unlikely to get the results you want, expensive and, worst of all, ephemeral. Viral content gains eyeballs quickly, but loses them just as quickly.
In order to be viral, you have to essentially change the subject and direct attention to something wildly entertaining. The problem is that it's probably entertaining for people other than your target audience. That’s not a sustainable or viable strategy.
Companies and business professionals also fret too much about platform. Should we go big on Facebook? What about Medium? Should we launch a blog? What's the ROI on Snapchat? Maybe we should get active on Twitter. Or maybe Pinterest is the best place to drive sales.
What about SEO? What are the best practices now? How can we drive traffic with metadata? Do we need an SEO audit?
Also: What's our strategy for targeting our intended audience? How do we reach purchase decision-makers who will be upgrading next year?
Viral content, platform, SEO and audience targeting are all valid. But far too often, there's an outsized focus on these actions and a conspicuous lack of focus on the basics: What are you saying? What needs to be said?
What you need to know is that with the right content, most of these things take care of themselves. It's far better to create enduring, insightful, valuable content than to come out with a goofy video that everybody talks about for a week and then vanishes from everyone’s mind.
Make Sure Your Platform Is Indexed
Even platform isn't as important as most people think it is. The reason is that people use search engines to find what they're looking for, and when they find it, they tend to share it.
You want to make sure your platform is indexed by the search engines and feels right to you: You have to enjoy being there, and that enjoyment factor will improve your content and engagement.
Beyond that, platform isn't as important as content. When it comes to developing a following, it’s all about your message—not your platform.
The best SEO is relevant content, with a descriptive header, that's original and delivers on its promise. The best SEO strategy is to write well in an original voice about valuable topics.
The best audience acquisition strategy ever is the search engine. When you provide value in your content—which can include answering questions, providing expertise and offer actionable insights—the right people will find you. More than that, they'll reference you, share you and even reach out to you.
Generating quality content isn't easy. It takes a lot of practice, as well as research and engagement with others. And that's exactly why quality content is where the emphasis should always be.
Which raises the following question:
What Is Quality Content, Anyway?
That's easier to start answering by addressing what low-quality content is. Low quality content is any content that fails to serve your intended audience.
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