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)
In the movie business, we used to anticipate the value of content (movies) we were interested in financing and producing by looking at “comps” (or comparables). These were movies of the same genre and budget range as the movie we were considering financing that were released in the previous ten years. We averaged out their budgets, domestic and international box office revenue, and TV syndication revenues in order to determine the potential value of that movie throughout a twenty-year life cycle. This also helped us determine the value of our fund’s movie library and, ultimately, the value of the company.
TV networks and publishers, I imagine, have similar modeling systems but that include assumptions for subscriptions and advertising revenue. I also imagine that the more content that that a company produces, the more difficult it is to valuate the individual piece of content vs. a library of content. For example, how difficult would it be for The New York Times to valuate a single article when it’s churning out tons of content every day. Context also matters. For example: news is real-time, so how valuable is news content a week, a day, even an hour after the news has broken?
Add the commoditization of content – spear-headed by low production costs, and the democratization of distribution (anyone can now produce and distribute content through today’s social web) and the rise of aggregation (publisher’s like The Huffington Post and Business Insider often offer two paragraphs and a link referring to another publisher’s content as a piece of new content) – and we now produce as much information/content in two days as was produced from the dawn of civilization through 2003.
How can we update the revenue model, so that today’s publishers and brands can appropriately price content? The answer, I imagine, will be through social curation. I’m going to investigate this further.
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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