Content may be king, but delivery is the ace

Finding the best venue for you content and exploiting the different ways of promoting it are critical to delivering your message to the people you want to reach, writes Mark Amtower.

In my last column I discussed the value of content as a lead generator: the better the content, the higher quality the leads. The more you use content as a sharing tool as opposed to a selling tool, the more likely it is that you will get more and better leads. Content that delivers good information in a way that does not put people to sleep is more likely to go viral in niche communities.

Step one is creating the content. Step two is selecting the content delivery tool(s). The final step is making certain the content can be found by those who want and need it.

Traditional methods of delivering content still work. These include print, white papers, speaking at industry events, company websites, association forums and other networking events, and interviews. However, with the advent of the multiple venues of Web 2.0 -- such blogs, podcasts, videos, ebooks, webinars and more -- there are many other ways to reach niche audiences, especially for those well versed in these tools. Most people turn to the Web, usually to Google, when looking for information on any topic. If your content cannot be readily found, you are seriously behind the curve.

Blogs probably have been the most popular, but not all blogs are created equal. The ability to blog well includes not only being relevant and content rich, but being interesting as well. A good blog requires both good writing and a personality. Chris Dorobek’s blog, the Dorobek Insider, is an example of a good blog. Informative, chock full of links to more information, usually covering a single topic, and infused with Chris Dorobek’s personality-- a little flighty but always informative.

Podcasts also require good writing and a speaker that has personality. I think of podcasts as audio white papers, single topic, relatively short, informative, and infused with a little personality. Single topic podcasts are always best. They are also mobile and can be listened to anywhere it is possible to use audio -- when driving, walking or running, or as background when you are working.

YouTube has become one of the top search engines on the web. Why? People love videos and we learn faster visually than any other way. Both Google and Bing use blended search, which offers not simply textual results, but also video, images, news, maps and Twitter results (tweets). Making a good video, one that people will both watch and share, is more art than science. Go to YouTube, search on your keywords, and see what pops up. Then watch a few.

eBooks are like lengthy white papers, and can range from 10 to 50 or more pages. Rather than go through the time-consuming and costly process of producing an actual book, you can opt for an eBook at a fraction of the cost. But it is still a publishing process, complete with editing, layout and design, and promotion. It also requires focus and a strong reason for being published. eBooks should have personality, but most important they should deliver good information. (By the way, eBooks now outsell hardback books.) Webinars are another big part of the information-sharing process.

And again, while anyone can produce a webinar, there are elements that need to be incorporated to ensure the viral component. But a boring presentation rarely goes viral. Many speakers are capable of boring the dead: Their professional presentations may be content rich, but they are delivered in a soporific monotone that puts the listener to sleep. One way to avoid that is to have an interviewer question the expert, rather than let him deliver a lecture. Edit the presentation before it goes “live” and keep it to less than 75 minutes.

To gain your initial exposure, consider using social networking platforms, especially LinkedIn and Twitter. Even if you don’t have hundreds or thousands of Twitter followers, if you can get your content link into the hands of those who do have the right followers in your niche; they may Tweet or re-tweet your posts.

LinkedIn is even better. If you belong to the appropriate groups and become known for sharing good information (other people’s information as well as your own), people will read your posts in groups and click through. You can and should do the same on GovLoop, TFCN and Facebook.

Many readers of my columns find them because of my LinkedIn posts. LinkedIn groups are also a great venue for sharing thoughts and seeking industry input.

Remember, creating good content is indeed step one, and placing it where people can find, use and share it is step two. But step three is getting the word out in a targeted manner. Good content does not find an audience on its own.

Deliver the message where it will do the most good and have the best chance of going viral.