To those not in the know, this headline could be misleading. Let me clarify: content is still king, but content is also the byproduct of communication.
If you had a simple ability to connect members of your audience, would you actively block it? Would you close the comments section of your blog? If you had an active audience crying out for forums, would you deny them?
Executives with years of one-way marketing experience sometimes impose this hurdle. Before the internet, brand control was job number one. Now, entrepreneurs and executives must accept that people are discussing their brands in public forums.
They obsess over negative brand perception in a company-managed space. “This is my website, dagnabbit, and I’ll be dagnabbed if I’ll let dagnabbers speak ill of my company here.” (That’s how I imagine executives in my head.)
There’s a simple and absolutely critical policy that businesses should adopt immediately or risk failure. Stop trying to control the brand and start controlling the conversation.
If someone has something negative to say, they’re going to say it. Don’t you want the opportunity to respond? While I think this is the key selling point, there’s a ton more to it than just that.
Opening public communication channels like ‘comments’ sections or forums offers you benefits like:
- FREE content: Yep, you heard it here, folks. Let people chat in a public forum and you gain a raging stream of free content. That means better search visibility, more new and return visitors and less time spent building content on your end.
- Reduced support workload: How much time do you spend answering questions about your business and/or product? How often do you have to answer the same questions over email? Think of how much time you can save if the answers lived in one spot. Not to mention, other members of the community jump at the chance to answer questions. Don’t buy it? Ask Autodesk.
- A searchable knowledge base: Beyond support, your content (in a blog or other social media channel) might open up to a wider discussion relevant to everyone in your market. That’s the point of your content marketing in the first place: to draw in leads with valuable content. Let your audience interact and they’ll support the cause.
- Greater brand loyalty: Empower your followers with a voice and they’ll thank you. If they’re deriving value from your content and making useful connections, they stand a much better chance of becoming brand advocates.
A marketer could spend his or her entire day policing your brand across various venues online. Make your website a place to share and discuss, and you can get a better handle on brand perception.