Anyone who has blogged for a while will have noticed that some topics are more popular than others. And that it really matters whether you have succeeded in making your content relevant and even useful to your readers.
Content marketing really equals content + marketing…
As far as I can see the point of content marketing is:
Measure the results of everything you do, and adjust your content accordingly.
This sounds like common sense marketing tactics – so much so that I find myself wondering whether any other kind of content marketing deserves the ‘marketing’ tag.
Content marketing for a lone blogger
For a blogger there are limits to what you can do with the results you measure. You may have tried a different topic as a one-off for the festive season and found it really popular – but that doesn’t mean you feel comfortable or passionate enough to scratch the things that didn’t work in favor of your ‘most popular’ topic.
What you can do is:
- find out if it really was the topic that sparked the sudden rise in interest,
- or whether you added a different kind of title, style, way of addressing your readers, or even a different kind of image.
- If no-one bothered to comment you’ll have to go through your popular post(s) and try to find out what makes them ‘ring’.
- Then, list your results and experiment with them in your new posts.
Moving from content marketing to co-creation could make sense – for some
Rather than painstakingly follow a trial-and-error method to zoom in on what works for your audience as well as yourself, you could (simply put) ask your readers what they would be interested to read/hear about. But this doesn’t always work:
- The average one-time two-minute visitor doesn’t know you. So the chance that anyone is inclined to reply is remote, and if they do their input may well lead you off the track altogether. General tips, yes – co-creation, I don’t think so.
- “Just ask” isn’t really half enough. You might end up alienating your fans if you ask them for ideas every time you’re stumped for inspiration. Writing a post about a requested topic is nice, but unless it’s a topic on which you can really deliver big time you’re bound to disappoint some readers.
Co-creation is not about getting others to do most of your work, or about squeezing casual remarks from readers for quotes.
I feel that commitment from both sides should balance out. This means bloggers like me, who spend a limited amount of time on their blogs, should not expect a level of commitment from our readers/fans that we can’t match. If you’re a professional blogger things may be different.
What steps could help you on your way to co-creation?
What you can do:
- Building up a community around your blog/brand. This takes time, especially if you’re just starting out. If you have a company, your customers and suppliers are stakeholders – you may expect them to have an interest in what you do.
- Find your fans. Fans are only a (small) part of all the people in your community. If you don’t have the time or resources to build up a big, open community of your own, you’ll need to access existing communities and hand-pick potential fans yourself. The alternative is to wait for them to find you, or to buy a list of people in your segment (marketing again).
- Next you need to ask your fans to get involved. This means getting them onto a platform of your own (like a Disqus community for the readers of your blog, or a secure wiki).
- Wait: before you do anything, you need to be clear on what you expect from your fans – and what they may expect from you. Because there can be no hiding on your part in a small community with your name on it.
Co-creation: are we there yet?
If you’re a blogger these steps may be the bigger part of what you need to do: getting structural input from people in a certain business will help you get your facts straight.
The moment co-creation needs to lead to complex products you’re looking at involving your fans and colleagues in long-term, in-depth matters. That takes commitment from both sides and a lot more work from you.
I’m indebted to Steven van Belleghem for the subject of this post. Reading “The Conversation Company” unavoidably influenced my thoughts.
If you’re still here… thanks for reading my post 🙂 If you’re not exhausted yet, please leave your thoughts on content marketing, co-creation and blogging in a comment!