Second Step: Understand and Use Web Formats, Standards, Practices…

Use Google, Amazon or other sources to find popular and new books
Use Google, Amazon or other sources to find popular and new books

This is the second step in the methodology of creating and managing content marketing operations. This step assumes some domain expertise. If you read the last post, than you have some idea on how to approach marketing content. You may choose to use one or more marketing concepts such as positioning or sales channel support. In that case, you have a strategy and an approach to create your content. A positioning approach will have elements such as product comparison, elements of branding, features and benefits points, product use examples, or a number of other techniques. This background preparation will help you put a plan on paper. You could also define all the specifics of style, tone, content, topics of discussion, and other key elements. Eventually I will put together lists and worksheets with examples on how to organize your thoughts and communicate them to others. There is also value to this background work if you are going to be just one content creator and work solo.

Internet (Web) standards are not just the technical ones: HTTP, HTML/CSS, PHP/MySQL. These are the technical standards, which are useful to know. Standards in style, usability, content tips (how people read web material), promotion, look and feel, and other high level elements are just as important. If you don’t write, design, promote, or edit in a way people generally are reading, your work will be ignored. Notice, unlike other publication formats (paper, digital CD/DVD, video/TV/cable) in the internet it is easier to ignore content than in other activity, it’s a matter of clicking the back button or clicking on a different link in a search result. This is one of the most pressing reason to create great content for a focused target audience.

Top Level Use, Formats, Style, Elements…

When approaching content marketing at the top level, you write, edit, and design (style) as a newspaper editor, TV producer, even a movie script writer. You approach the work with thinking of what the audience sees as the final format with the content in place. A site, blog, social media page (i.e. Twitter), or rich media channel (i.e. Sound Cloud) will all have their specific attributes. They will look differently and will need a style (graphic design, page layout) for each format. Each specific web format (or channel, it depends how you use it) will also have different writing, graphics, audio or video style and format. A rock guitar blog will be very different than a retirement financial planning site. A corporate product like IT software will be different than a military or government targeted site (i.e. military or police drone).

Writing, Graphics, Video, or Audio Core Content

Another approach is to focus strictly on the core content. That includes writing and editing, graphics and photos, videos or audio clips, or any other type of core content. This approach fits if you are not going to worry about the top level elements. You can choose this core content approach either if you are leaving the top level approach for later work, farming it out to specific skill experts (graphic designers, SEO specialist, PPC service), or you simply decide not to do it until your content operation is in place. There is value here since many people starting out simply fear the element of creation and promotion. Here, you still need to pick specific topics (headlines, writing content), writing style, writing or graphic format, periodicity (how often)of  publication, writing resources, bought or freely used graphics or videos, and any other specific attribute which will make the content unique. With all the examples available for free, there is not much you need to learn. Here you can also analyze and come up with your own plan. There are many resources with skill building and examples on how to approach writing and graphics. Style guides from Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft are traditional corporate standards. If you need more traditional style guides, take a look at the writing standards like Elements of Style, or the NY Times Style Guide. One key point: writing, editing, photographing, recording, or any other form of creative work is not hard. Yet you need to do it just as a teacher, executive, or government bureaucrat would be doing as a normal task in everyday life. You may fear not measuring up to experienced or highly skilled colleague. Yet, you need to start somewhere if you are going to learn, practice, and finally master the skill.

Managing, Coordinating, Outsourcing, and Investing or Acquisition in Content

There is a less hands-on approach to content: management or acquisition. This role is actually common in corporate, government, and even professional sectors. Managing or buying content still requires detail understanding. There is also the element of research and competitive analysis, as well as the coordination of resources and final editing and posting (where the articles will go). While the number of managers and purchasers is smaller than content creators, their skill set is just as crucial. Just as in newspapers and movies the editor or director are key to the final quality of the product, the same goes with internet content. I have seen many times where the site manager was not able to create or maintain a site with high level of quality, low energy level, or simply not enough content. In some sites which are visible to the world the same situations are visible. While marketing efforts in other areas are not always correlated with success, on the internet, quality, quantity, and skill level are almost always reflected in the outcome. Poorly managed sites also tend to reflect on the ability of the company or the quality of the product. In the massive shift from paper and TV based content, to digital internet content, many companies will fail and some will thrive. Management of large sites and acquisition of content will play a key role in the success or failure of businesses.

Another business model in the management and acquisition of content is site owners. Today there are businesses which “buy” complete sites with massive amount of content. Some sites are familiar and act as online shops or catalogs (see Ikea US site), while others are niche sites like stock investment or gaming and gambling sites (see Stock Pair binary options). There is a whole category of site “providers” which sell either their core technology (stock trading, game playing, gadget shops) while the site owner adds content and markets the site. In many cases, a company with core technology sells rights to it’s technology to site owners in countries where the original developer is unable or not interested in running an operation. These business models open up many opportunities to content developers and managers. Here as in other content management models, high skill level and professional capability will determine the sites success or failure.

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