In preparation for my hour-long presentation today at Content Marketing World 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio, I thought I’d post some of my thoughts about creating content by leveraging other brands’ audiences in a new media world. I hope you’ll join me at 3:30 PM today for my session.
A Participation Creation Primer
The new media landscape has forever changed the way company’s create and distribute content. Today, every brand has a valuable digital audience, whether it’s fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter or subscribers on YouTube marketers need to begin working together to distribute content across brands to reach new consumers wherever they are. You need to remember that in today’s digital world, no brand is an island.
An Evolution in Distribution
Decades ago most companies created relatively little content. It wasn’t because creating content was hard or too expensive. In fact, creating content might have been just as easy as it is today. Anyone could write a novel, take amazing photos, even shoot a film on old-fashioned videotape but accessing your audience was impossible. There were only two ways to get your content in the hands of consumers: advertising or traditional media channels. Unless you had a large enough budget to buy time on television or radio, or the cash required to purchase space on a billboard, in a magazine or even to print and distribute posters, generating an audience for your content was reserved for companies with the largest advertising budgets.
If your content was good enough, or your talent high-profile enough (like a celebrity CEO,) you might have been able to get your book published, your photography printed, your film distributed or your television show aired. But this happened rarely, if ever, when it came to brand marketers. Twenty years ago, traditional marketing consisted of a solid public relations strategy, an advertising and media buying budget and the occasional hiring of a spokesperson to raise awareness of your products or services.
Leveling The Playing Field
Content creation capabilities have certainly advanced since the early 1990s, but more important than lowering the barriers to content creation, is the extremely low content distribution barrier. Whether you’re a one person consultant or a multi-billion dollar consulting firm you both can harness the very same distribution channels to grow and maintain an audience for the content you create. This is a complete paradigm shift.
Every Brand Has An Audience
Today, brands create more and more of their own media from podcasts to presentations and videos to blog posts big brands are garnering big audiences. You need to start thinking about every brand as if they are a media company with a valuable audience. Think of every brand’s YouTube page as a television network, every company blog as a digital magazine, every corporate podcast as radio program.
Adidas Vs. The NBA Finals
Adidas, the German shoe and sportswear manufacturer, for example, has 11 million consumers on Facebook who’ve subscribed to their content. Adidas publishes a constant stream of videos, imagery and insight designed to reach their most loyal customers using Facebook. They use Facebook just like they used to use mass media. For example, Adidas’ audience is about 3 million viewers larger than the audience that tuned into the most popular 2011 NBA Semi-conference Playoff Game on the ESPN television network. That qualifies Adidas as a media company in my book.
But You’re Not Adidas
I know what you’re thinking. “Yeah, but we’re not Adidas.” You’re right. You may only have one hundred or one thousand fans on Facebook or a hundred blog subscribers, or maybe five hundred e-mail addresses in your distribution list but imagine if you partnered with ten other brands who also target your customers. Let’s assume that those brands only have one hundred, one thousand or even ten thousand subscribers, fans, or followers. What if you developed a coordinated content programming schedule between these brands? Now, you and your partners can reach 1,000, 10,000 or a million consumers a day. That’s a powerful media brand, and you don’t have to bare the burden of creating and distributing all the content alone.
Share YOUR Audience
Every company, consultant, employee and customer has an audience. This, most basic principle, lies beneath the successful execution of a participation creation strategy. Every partner you create content with already has a valuable audience. It’s your goal to build a long term relationship with that audience by associating your branded content with your partner’s audience in the most authentic way possible.
Start thinking about the companies that target the same consumers you do, but don’t think of them as competitors for mind share, think of them as valuable partnership opportunities. This is the beginning of your journey into uncovering the potential of participation creation. Embrace the notion that no brand is an island and every company has an audience.