Taking A Closer Look At How Your Content Is Being Discovered, Consumed

I escorted a loved one onto the World Wide Web over the holidays. It truly was my pleasure and honor, after years of his enduring my stories about Websites, RSS feed-reading, analytics, apps and podcasts. He—a brilliant guy and voracious newsreader who haunts the libraries but was able to spend only limited time on their desktops—finally could be online at home via his own 3G iPad and I was eager to help him.

Well, I had romanticized the Training Day. When the time for instruction came, followed by telephone calls and follow-up tutorials, I realized how much I’ve taken for granted about how different online content consumption is and how customization transforms the experience. Not to mention how frustrating the information exchange can be, for both parties involved.

It’s taken me a while to recover (yes, I think I’ll blame the trauma for the delay in publishing a Rock The Boat Marketing blog post in 2012) but I want to share with you some thinking that emerged from it.

The online content consumer has so many awesome options. That’s what I wanted to demonstrate to my newbie. The biggest difference? The ability to arrange for content he cares about to come to him, as opposed to him scouring paper publications looking for something interesting.

The flipside—what these content gathering and filtering options imply for the content producer—is what I take a stab at in the table that follows.

Reality Check

Before the mainstream use of social media and apps and RSS feed readers, etc., brands could focus on their own messages and their own delivery and promotion devices, control it all and do just fine. But given how content is discovered, followed and subscribed to today, a reality check is in order.

Brands, including mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) companies, need to consider how waves of online content consumers are being exposed to pieces of their work first and to the brand second, if at all. Realizing that content is found more often by topic, keyword or via endorsers necessarily forces a brand to be more gregarious and less set in its own ways. (On a related topic, see my July 1, 2009 post “Mind The Keywords—’Unfortunate Market Anomaly’ Won’t Help Search Traffic Find You.”)

I understand that my unregulated, unrestricted use of the social media and the Web is different from your experience as a corporate marketer blocked from accessing many, many sites. But I see too few of your firms’ content in the mix, where I go online and in the tools and services I use to extract industry-relevant content.

In this still new year, I urge you to consider the multiple ways people will encounter your content. I think there's more for you to do to leverage your content, available content insights and your relationships with those who value your content.

What firm doesn’t crave content loyalists (the first row in the table)? But think of the others—those who wind their way around to you via a piece of your content (the subsequent rows in the table)—as prospective content converts. They represent your business’ potential for growth. Their path to you via your content deserves your close attention.

There’s nothing profound about this table and it’s not meant to be comprehensive. It’s just a simplified approach to thinking through some ways in which content is discovered and consumed and to what effect. I submit it for your review and comment, those of you who can. As always, if you’re not authorized to comment online, send me an email if you have a thought.