Internet frozen? Emails down? No signal on the cell? Social media, digital media, mobile media; it boggles the mind. It is impossible to imagine how business could ever have been done before the dawn of the digital age.
Digital media has now taken the place of many functions that were once relegated to a living, breathing human. Pitching stories via email means rarely needing to pick up a phone. Social media, online businesses, and secure online banking means it is possible to ‘go to work’ or buy just about anything without even changing out of pyjamas. Managing digital content by utilising another author’s existing material means never having to put an original thought down on paper (or screen).
However, let us be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, in the process.
Ever heard that content is king? Probably a thousand times, especially since 2011 as Google changed and continuously improved its existing search results ranking logarithm. Google Panda, Google Penguin, and who knows which wild animal will be next, but suddenly value-added content really was king.
But what happened to consumer in the process? When did content overthrow the customer? We are now bombarded with spam; a constant stream of messages, on our phones, our emails, our social media pages, and suddenly everyone is an expert. Rank highest in the search engines, sell more products, build your brand, and maybe at the bottom of the list, if at all, is build a trusting strong relationship with the very people who are interested in your service, as though it was an afterthought.
But good content is far more important than SEO rankings. It is engaging with consumers, as though on a one-to-one basis. Press releases, opinion pieces, business blog, podcast, video (you do have a YouTube site, right?), mobile, digital, other bloggers, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Google+, Pinterest), newsletters, emailers, website copy, contributions and comments on other posts, linking back to your page, and so on. Exhausting, and all the while in the back of your mind, you know that without compelling content, your competitors are taking full advantage.
How do you write great content in a way that adds value to your followers? What types of content? Where to distribute? When to distribute?
Take a minute, take step back, and take a deep breath. This is not an inconvenience, adding to your work load. It is an absolute blessing in this digital world. It is a blessing in a world that is overrun by social media, Smart phones, iPads, internet dating, and any other form of digital relations which takes away the fear that comes from direct connectedness.
Our time saving, money-making devices have created a world where transactions are done instantaneously and from faraway places. Overseas and in back rooms, buyers and sellers need rarely come face to face. The days of chatting one on one (if not in a chat room) seem to have fallen by the wayside.
Do not mistake content for contact – human contact; create the content in order to connect.
Create content not for improving search engine optimisation or your brand, but as a chance to take a step back and get to know your customers; both past, present, and potential consumers. Get to know who they are, as individuals. What are their issues? Get to know the very people with whom you conduct business, whatever business that may be. Offer value added services in the way of informative newsletters and FAQs on your webpage to get to know who is interested in your services, as a way of giving something back, not as a way of gaining more.
Think of it as the owner of a sidewalk café chatting to his customers. The geography has changed, but human nature has not.
It is not a burden, it is the lifeline of your business.
Claire Winson is the founder of Ohana Public Relations Services. Connect on Twitter @Ohana_PR / www.facebook.com/OhanaPR / www.ohanapr.com
IMAGE: Wikimedia Creative Commons
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