Your own content is a vital part of the media mix, Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at why you might want to take part in the media and get coverage. There have been, we hope, some compelling thoughts. There will be people, however, who will wonder why they have to bother. Their own blogs, LinkedIn posts, Tik Toks, Instagram and reels allow them to contact clients and prospects really easily.
There is an element of truth to this. There are risks, however. Your own media is going to offer your side of the story and nothing else so everyone is going to expect it to be promotional. The trick, we believe, is to offer value without pretending it’s otherwise (we like to think these blogs are a good example: yes of course we want you to buy media training from us as a percentage of you do, so by all means these posts are promotional but we aim to add genuine insight to encourage you to keep reading!)
The aim of this entry, then, is to consider what you might want to put out into the market in terms of your own media. We will make a few assumptions:
- You know what you need to get out of your media and what you want your audience to do next
- You’ve done some basic research on your prospects so, for example, you won’t be aiming to do a Tik Tok if you’re aiming at senior people or a LinkedIn entry for the consumer market.
Those basics should be obvious but they don’t seem to be to everyone!
Own content: what are you good at?
There are many articles and resources online which suggest your social media is not about you, it’s about the client. Well, yes, up to a point and that’s why we kicked off with a couple of questions about your customer. There’s another factor, though.
Actually, the subheading up there is a big clue. You need to ask yourself what you’re actually good at.
For the moment, as we type, Google‘s algorithm (according to our excellent webmasters at Rare Form New Media) favours longer-form blogs that emerge regularly and contain original content. Longer-term followers might have noticed that prior to the website’s complete overhaul, you’d get a quick 300-400 word tip and then we’d end the article; 1250+ is apparently what’s going to be picked up and highlighted on Google now so we’re behaving accordingly.
The thing is, lead trainer and founder Guy writes all of the content at the moment (yes folks, it’s me). And as you might expect from someone who’s been a professional journalist for over 30 years, he’s pretty words-oriented. There he is, posing like a whatsit in front of some books he has no intention of buying.
So this plays very well into exactly what Google seems to want from websites at the moment, lots of fresh content with links outside and inside with an unobtrusive focus on the SEO phrase (in today’s instance you’ll notice “own content” crops up a few times).
Business advisors we’ve had have also suggested we look at other social media. Again, LinkedIn tends to be pretty good for us because it’s wordy. Instagram, however, is fine for “reels” – the short-form films that lend themselves to tips, we just re-use the ones we send to YouTube – but people scanning it for still photos will be out of luck as Guy has the visual sense of a particularly slow hamster. With a blindfold.
This may not be great for business and it drives the advisors up the wall but we do urge you, if you want to generate your own content, to stick to something you’re going to do well. Here is our basic impression of the social media and owned media out there at the moment and how to tell whether they’re right for you.
Your own blog
Obviously, a blog is in your playground, you’re paying for the space so you won’t face sudden controversies as a new owner takes over or the politics take over. You’re not restricted by word length so take advice from web experts – assume the lengths we’ve described above will be out of date if you’re reading this when it’s a year old or more. However, it’s worth considering people’s attention span. You might notice we’ve broken up every long entry not only with pictures but with subheadings. This helps people concentrate and it also helps structure the article; the main heading has subheadings and these in turn have H3 headings underneath them. Google will look out for well-structured content that isn’t duplicated from elsewhere and if Google’s algorithms like it, it’ll perform better when people are searching.
A lot of services have their own company pages on Facebook. This can be a great idea for consumer-facing businesses. In our experience the business community isn’t as excited by a Facebook group so if you’re a business to business supplier then it’s worth looking at LinkedIn. Try to remember people go to Facebook to relax and unwind a little so it’s worth keeping it chatty.
LinkedIn is intended as a business network. Microsoft owns it; the original founders had the idea that you shouldn’t connect with people you didn’t know personally so you could recommend anyone in your network. Somewhere along the line, members jettisoned this idea en masse so connecting with anyone is pretty commonplace.
This has the advantage for business owners in that its audience arrives expecting business content. It also has a newsletter function with which you can reach people who follow you very quickly and in large numbers.
As you’d expect from such a widespread service, however, just about everybody is aware of those services so you’ll find competition for attention is fierce. You can get attention by adding constructive comments and debated to other people’s entries. Be careful though; this is a slow burn, results are not swift. This in turn means it can be quite a drain on your time.
If your following would benefit from how-to videos or other forms of video content then YouTube is a useful resource. Remember everyone can upload videos so it will pay you to take a little more care than most; brush up your editing skills and buy a better webcam and microphone than the ones that came with your laptop. Very few people will look at a video and judge it as good or bad because of the video quality consciously. Many will walk away with a bad impression and not be sure why when the image is off centre, when the sound is muffled.
It’s arguable that YouTube is more the consumer brand and for business to business services you will look more professional with a paid account from competitor Vimeo. Depending on your market you may find a certain polite bewilderment if you even mention them; without any suggestion of this being a good or a bad thing, Google owns YouTube and therefore has a lot of marketing and branding muscle to throw at it.
Insta (as the kids call it) has moved beyond the still-images-only network of years ago. You can now upload short videos (or “reels”) and therefore talk to as well as show things to your target market. Don’t forget to engage afterwards; you really don’t want this to end up looking as if you’re just shouting into the void.
For a long time we wrote Tik Tok off not because it wasn’t going to succeed but because it was primarily a young person’s thing and in the consumer market – so if you’re in those markets it’s going to be good for you. Inevitably the young people from ten years ago are in their twenties and sometimes even thirties and are still watching Til Tok videos; from our point of view we’ve started duplicating our “tip” videos from Instagram and YouTube into Tik Tok just so we have a presence; it looks likely that people will still go to Tik Tok for something more entertaining.
You can of course make your own video series or create your own podcast. This isn’t difficult and in our next blog entry we’ll have a look at how lead trainer Guy puts his Near Futurist podcast together and gets it out there.
Overall it can be worth publishing your own media because it’s inexpensive and you get to tell your own story rather than allow an intermediary like a journalist to handle it. Before you decide to ignore the independent channels, however, remember they offer a sanity check and some legitimisation. You say your business is great to work for, that’s fine. Nobody is cynical enough to suggest you don’t believe it but they will recognise that you have a vested interest. If an independent journalist says you’re a great employer, however, people are more likely to listen.