Archive for December, 2009

It's Magic?

Thinking about a topic for this week’s blog, once again I came across one quite by accident. Joking about my logo, and the *magic* element of my company name and logo, I was suddenly struck by the fact that what I do for clients is really NOT magic. Creating content as a path to online success that is.

That statement is not mean to diminish its importance. As you have read here and elsewhere, content – for your website, your blog, your E-Newsletter, your social media accounts – is more important than ever. And this is not to say that researching and writing and editing and revising and getting approval is an easy process! But I mean to say, if you make the commitment to share

As mentioned in a recent post, it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself on the Internet with technology. There can only be so many Yahoos or Googles online. You’re either one of the huge fish, or one of the countless minnows. But providing great, insightful content and commentary on your category, whatever it is, can still provide you with a space you can stake out as your own online. You may never be the next eBay, but you CAN be the best St. Louis-based provider of exposition services.

And there really is a blueprint that you can follow to grow your business online, a step-by-step set of instructions to follow for success. That doesn’t mean that the path is exactly the same for every business, or for every category or field. You may have lots of competitors with a head start. You may be in a field with a few entrenched brands, or with many smaller ones. You may be in a niche market, with few natural customers, or an industry that is a little “behind the curve” in a technological sense.

But if you consistently share good information, and spend some time and resources on SEO work and social networking and just plain old word of mouth (how old fashioned of you!) to promote your content, you will find that more and more potential customers will begin to find you.

Now the fact that you need to provide a quality product or service, at a competitive price and with good customer support or client service, to be successful online or anywhere else hopefully goes without saying!

But whatever your business, one thing I can assure you is this: If you make a commitment to create,  share and promote great content – you will eventually build the web presence that you are looking for. I’ve seen it happen. Big time, and multiple times.

And sadly (for the rabbit in my hat, at least), it wasn’t *magic*…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Marketing Trends for 2010 | BTalk Australia

Marketing Trends for 2010 | BTalk Australia: Interview with David Siteman Garland

“One point that would be crux of this would be CONTENT, the democratization of content…”

“Fundamental shift in how we view media…  everything is becoming a NICHE…”

The Evolution from Technology to Content

I recently read an interesting article that explored the histories of two former online titans, AOL and MySpace, web companies that seemed to have the world on a string. Once the leaders of two gigantic categories, Internet Service Providers and Social Network Media, what went so wrong?

While some bad business decisions, such as the disastrous “merger of the century” between Time Warner and AOL, certainly share some of the blame, that isn’t what killed either AOL or MySpace. No, what took these companies to the brink was the outdated technology they offered to consumers.

AOL’s core business in the ’90s was dial-up Internet, which was wildly profitable then. Their groundbreaking platform was many people’s first introduction to the Internet and World Wide Web, including my own. (akl26jimbo, for those of you that have known me long enough to remember) But it seems that very quickly the introduction of Cable Internet and DSL made AOL’s technology obsolete. The tides turned quickly, and the company was too slow to respond.

MySpace had a similar experience. They were the first company to introduce social networking technology to the masses, and grew rapidly at the beginning. But their platform, while groundbreaking and innovative, was also unrefined and limited in scope. Facebook started very simply as a way for a few college campuses to connect through a social network of limited size. But with the superior technology of their basic platform, Facebook Connect and their news feed feature, it didn’t take long for Facebook to grow and then overtake MySpace, and they haven’t looked back since. In fact, Facebook continues to grow its now sizable lead by pushing the boundaries of social media technology.

The interesting thing to me is that both companies essentially conceded defeat on the technology front long ago. MySpace knows that it won’t ever catch Facebook, just as AOL knows that its day in the sun as a leading ISP won’t be coming back again. But once they recognized this, it has freed them to begin their current evolutions into content companies.

The truth is, there can only be a very select few winners in the contest to be the best “technology driven” company online. Yes, the lead can sometimes change hands, just like it did away from AOL and MySpace to the current leaders in their respective fields. But those occurrences are becoming rare, and companies such as Google have gained so much mass, brand equity and momentum that it may be years before they are supplanted in any meaningful way.

No, the way to compete now is by becoming a purveyor of content, to drive traffic by creating and sharing valuable information to your target audiences via your platform or service. Filling niche markets. Finding a group or segment who has unmet needs, and then fulfilling them. And that is what AOL and MySpace have done.

AOL bought the blog network Weblogs, publishers of Engadget, Joystiq and many other popular blogs, and began to expand their online new operations. They now employ more than 3,000 freelance writers and over 150 full time journalists. The AOL portal is still popular, and drives traffic to these many inhouse publications. They even moved their headquarters from Virginia to New York in order to help increase their advertising revenues.

MySpace decided to become a home for music and celebrity content. MySpace is no longer about networking with friends, but focused on entertainment channels such as MySpace Music or MySpace Music Video. Perhaps the biggest sign that they’re refocusing on content, though, is the news that MySpace may soon begin to offer Facebook Connect functionality sometime in early 2010. That certainly would have never happened if MySpace still thought they could beat Facebook in social networking technology!

So these companies, and many others, have realized that that trying to attract audiences with better technology is now a losing proposition, and by creating lots and lots of great content they can still drive traffic to their portals and platforms, and remain relevant. Which is yet another reason that the future for online content creation is so bright.

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