Thursday, May 24, 2012

The right content distributed in the right way

The challenge for businesses is to understand their client’s choices and to communicate with them using the methods and channels they prefer.

There’s no point having good content and services, if they’re not distributed in the right way. The solution is to build networks based on ideas, themes and issues. Through these trusted networks content will find its audience, based on its value.  

Unlike targeted campaigns based on assumed interest, which are unlikey to intersect with the point at which a recipient is truly engaged with the subject. That is more to do with coincidence than coordination.

Sometimes, cohorts and communities converge to be one and the same. That’s when the interests of users match an assumed distribution model for information. These opportunities to simplify the production and distribution of information are few. They should be seen as a bonus, not as an excuse to carry on as is.

Until organisations embrace the disruptive nature of networked communications, they are going to rely on luck and convergence of interest. That is not a sound strategy at any point, least of all now.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Syndication, serialisation and atomisation

People consume content one piece at a time online, and they don’t necessarily care where the information comes from as long as they trust the source that referred it. For B2B in particular, this means they cannot rely on just brand image or size to reach their target audience.

Instead they must change the way they distribute their information; to stop aggregating content and instead split it into discrete parts so users can get more out of it, more easily.

This is best done by breaking information into its separate components and publishing it in multiple formats, via multiple channels, to the widest possible audience – a process called atomisation which breaks content into its constituent parts:

1.      So each piece can be found.
2.      So each piece can be shared.
3.      So each piece can start a dialogue.
4.      So each piece builds into a greater whole.

What needs to change?
To reach more digital consumers, businesses have to accept the way they publish information currently is flawed, outdated, inefficient and wasteful.
They need new models for commissioning, producing and distributing content, internally and externally. And they need a clear, multi-channel strategy to produce the right content and distribute it in the right way.
· Content must be created which can easily distributed among personal networks - The amount of information available means clients are not loyal. They’re guided by which sources best answer their needs, and which they trust.
· Content must be easier to find in searches - Google controls around 90% of business search traffic. It’ll be a major factor in deciding whether content reaches its target audience, and so in deciding success.
· Large pieces of content covering various topics into must be split into, individual, focused, topical pieces - Searchers look for a single answer to a single question. The type of content is less important, than getting the right answer.
· Content must be produced in the widest variety of media as possible - Video and audio products are almost as easy to create, edit and distribute as print documents.
· Content must produced in a suitable format for mobiles - More people now access the internet using mobile devices than PCs. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

From communities to cohorts

Social networks are profoundly changing the nature of communications, dialogue and trust between clients and organisations. However businesses are failing to adapt to the disruptive nature of these developments, due to a continuing adherence to the recently adopted embracing of online communities.

Nowadays, people are much less likely to create distinctions between their social and professional contacts. As individuals, we no longer discriminate exclusively between them, and we’ll happily call on either if they’re useful.

As such, the exchange of information between the individuals within any specific personal network (cohort) is regarded as more trustworthy or actionable. If one person is recommended to do something by another in their network (even if it’s just, read this article) it’s more likely to happen than if the request comes from the source itself.

This change doesn’t sit well with existing ways of doing business, which rely on structure and organisation to work efficiently. Traditionally, it makes sense to split the marketplace into distinct areas (communities) and target them through marketing, business development and sales activity.

But targeting these structured groups matches less and less with the ways people choose to find, consume and interact with content. It makes no sense to continue targeting content at clients based on such a narrow definition of their interests on it is almost inevitably going to fail. Secondly, as we now pull information as and when it is pertinent, the push model of “pay-attention” marketing is invariably mistimed.

As digital consumers, we now choose both our sources of information and where and when we choose to interact with them. Therefore two people connected through a cohort, even indirectly, are more likely to respond to the recommendations or referrals they get through that network at their own behest.

Businesses have to understand this shift and change how they do things because the information they distribute is vital for business decisions. They need to distribute their information through cohorts rather than to communities.

This is the first of three lead articles on the topic.