Yesterday, I discussed content as a platform. Today, I’m going to provide tips for building your content platform.
The 90-9-1 Rule
The 90-9-1 Rule is more of a benchmark, but it states that 1% of the online population is highly participatory (producing original content), 9% participates some of the time (usually curating content – taking an action with the content from the 1% such as commenting, sharing, reposting etc.) and 90% “lurk and learn” or do not participate (they consume the content, but they don’t take an action with it).
It stands to reason then that the 1% are the most influential people on the web, followed by the 9%. But, what about those that produce original content AND curate? They reach influence at scale.
Some brand publishers are already doing this; I touched briefly on the subject in my post, “The Valuation of Content”. The Huffington Post sets the bar with a mix of original content from its editorial staff, curated content where they write two paragraphs and link to another publisher’s content and content from third party bloggers. But, this alone, isn’t enough. They have treated content as a platform, using a social layer to encourage their audience to participate.
Optimization for Participation
One quick look at The Huffington Post homepage, and you can see they’re serving up, not just the latest content, but the most popular, the most discussed, “Hot on Facebook” and “Hot on Twitter”. Dive into an article, and you’ll find it’s easy to comment on posts and share the content through social media.
What does this mean? The Huffington Post are experts at getting their audience to participate, and effectively making content go viral. Their content gets engaged with, curated and broadly syndicated by its own audience because The Huffington Post makes it easy for their audience to find great content and engage/curate/syndicate.
How Can Brands Build a Content Platform?
Ten Tips for Building a Content Platform
- Don’t be a used car salesman (i.e. a good content strategy focuses on building a relationship and trust with the audience)
- Identify what kind of content your target audience finds valuable
- Is there a reoccurring complaint about your product/service? Offer up a piece of content that helps them troubleshoot the problem.
- Are they looking for guidance regarding a topic in which you’re company has domain expertise? Offer up content that can help them (e.g. tips for managing personal finances, a guide to eco-friendly living, considerations when selecting a safe car for your teenager, etc.).
- In what format do they like to consume that content (e.g. video, text, photos, slide presentations)?
- Where do they like to consume that content (e.g. YouTube, blogs, Instagram, Slideshare, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.)?
- Select a product/platform on which to build your hub (WordPress, Facebook, Google)
- Add a social layer (commenting and sharing functionality), if it doesn’t already exist. A great tool to incorporate here is Disqus, which is a comments community, serving as the comments engine for over 1MM sites and has almost 60MM users.
- Produce original content that meets your audience’s needs.
- Curate content that adds value to your original content and to your audience
- Engage with your audience, as they comment and share on your content
- Listen and improve
The image below represents the type and amount of content you should produce against the 90-9-1 rule. In the end, you want to product content that instigates your audience to take an action, including creating more content for you. As a brand, you likely won’t be able to produce enough good content yourself, in-house. And, it’s not your job to either. But, if you use content as a platform for your advocates to create more content about your brand, then you’re reaching scale both in volume of content and syndication of your content.
- AOL Buys The Huffington Post (sixestate.com)
- Content As A Platform (reciprocitytheory.com)
- A Case for Social TV (reciprocitytheory.com)
- Unpaid Bloggers Uprising: The AOL / Huffington Post Lawsuit (sixestate.com)
- The Valuation of Content (reciprocitytheory.com)
- Top Eight Reasons B2B Marketers Use Content Curation (e1evation.com)
- 3 Ways Content “Curation” Can Boost Content “Creation” (logicamp.wordpress.com)
- Top Eight Reasons B2B Marketers Use Content Curation (mktg2bizexecs.wordpress.com)
- A Marketer’s Guide to Content Curation (hubspot.com)
Most advertisers see content as a product – something they can produce and release to an audience without third party iteration. Advertisers often pay six to seven figures to produce that content. And, in traditional media, that’s OK because you can pay for X number of impressions (i.e. X number of people that might have seen your content) to validate the high cost of production.
But, if you want to capture earned media through social media (there’s a distinction between the two, which I explain here), then you must think of content as a platform. A platform is a technology platform upon which additional technology (such as applications) can be built. Your iPhone or iPad or Android are built on platformed OS (operating systems), upon which third parties can build applications (or “apps”). Both Apple and Android have robust app ecosystems that are much of the draw for buying their products in the first place.
Any social media technology company worth its salt is platformed. Facebook is a platform, which enabled the unprecedented growth of a little gaming company called Zynga. Twitter is a platform. Companies like TwitPic and TweetDeck (now acquired by Twitter) were built on Twitter’s platform. YouTube is a platform – quite literally for content.
Why build a platform? Because Steve Jobs only comes once in a lifetime, if that often. Steve Jobs had an uncanny ability to predict what the consumer would want in the future and be the first to offer it to them. He built products people didn’t know they wanted. But, most people aren’t Steve Jobs.
The companies that build platforms understand that there is power in the crowd. Opening up your platform through APIs, enables the company to harness the passion and power of third parties to build upon and improve your technology. Steve Yegge explains this brilliantly here.
Content shares the same DNA. There are few people/companies/teams that can produce create content. Even in Hollywood, content created by the most premium content producers and powerful distributors doesn’t always make it. We see it every weekend at the box office and every fall and spring when TV networks release new shows. This is even more apparent with the top print and digital publishers that are competing for pageviews, video views and engagement. And, these are all content producers that produce with the audience in mind. Advertisers, on the other hand, produce with the brand in mind. With content, as with platforms, the power is in the crowd.
The ease content creation and distribution on the social web has empowered individuals to rival even the most respected premium publishers. The mid-long tail of content publishers is vast as well. And, even the just the socially active individual has a network (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) through which to create, engage with and syndicate content.
Treating content as a platform through which you can instigate participation, conversation, engagement, curation (i.e. the creation and syndication of more content) will enable publishers to reach scale
Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the 90-9-1 rule and offer up 10 tips for building a content platform.
- A Case for Social TV (reciprocitytheory.com)
- 8 Tips for Leveraging Platforms for Marketing [@InboundNow #37] (hubspot.com)
- Socialtype™ Launches Gaming Player Acquisition and Rewards Platform across Social Networks (prnewswire.com)
- Occupy Wall Street Provides Showcase for the Best Free Citizen Journalism Tools (savings.com)
- Become a Content King with Ideas from the Ultimate Content Creator (creativeconsiderations.wordpress.com)
- Indian Government Pressure Facebook, Google, Twitter to Censor Content (searchenginewatch.com)
David Fossas began his career in the movie business, working at International Creative Management, Endeavor Agency (now WME Entertainment) and Intrepid Pictures. He left traditional media for social media and joined Big Fuel Communications in 2010 where he focused on content strategy, engagement and emerging platforms. He's currently Senior Manager, Interactive at WeissComm Group, focusing on engagement and innovation.
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