Can you name the last time you stopped to look at a spider’s web? Chances are, if you hate spiders, it was not recently. But there is much to be learned from these intricately designed feats of art and engineering.
Every part of the web is connected, making it both complex and powerful. If any part is weakened or disconnected, the overall value and strength of the web is severely compromised.
I started mulling over this idea after an AirPR data scientist came to me with a visualization of a subset of our content marketing strategy, which happened to look exactly like a spider’s web: expansive, intricate and continuously interconnected.
The overarching goal of any savvy content marketing strategy should be to build relationships and establish trust and credibility, while often filling gaps in “conversation” when media coverage is slow.
There is now ample opportunity to publish content on owned media channels, contribute to conversations, and participate in thought leadership circles. All of these actions fall under the greater PR umbrella and are powerful avenues that can boost a company’s digital presence/street cred while keeping momentum going during traditional PR lulls.
But what exactly is the best way to go about doing this?
Our data shows that content filled with “high quality” (note: not vapid, link-bating) information will exponentially increase the possibility of your ideas spreading. The reason is simple: readers and colleagues will value your writing as authoritative and will share and reference you in tweets, blogs, and other various content.
Simply put, the power to connect and strengthen the existing connections between owned and earned outlets is within reach. Can you morph last month’s authoritative editorial into a blog post by piggy backing on the existing narrative, adding a stimulating new conversation angle, and presenting it to your audience? The answer, hell yeah!
Digital is the most consistent and powerful channel available and a content marketing is a huge part of today’s PR puzzle. So, what is the recipe for success? To be truly effective, a content creator must consider 3 key elements:
1. Provide ideas and information in a charismatic way that doesn’t just push the brand’s own agenda
Content doesn’t always have to be the booming voice of authority stating “what you need to know” and “why company X is great”. Campaigns can also be an opportunity to acknowledge a struggle, face uncertainty, or spark a dialogue. Nothing screams engagement like inviting for feedback, thought, and input.
2. Include links to those who inspired your content, gave credence to your arguments, and advanced the overall conversation.
By inviting folks into the web, you’ll be giving them props for their ideas and encouraging them to participate in the existing narrative. Talk about cultivating relationships!
3. Employ thoughtful precision through a wide lens when it comes to selecting the authority sources included in content.
YES! Don’t always pull from the same 5 sources. There’s a lot out there to spur inspiration. Try not to get struck in a rut.
When you give “shout outs”, the likelihood of others linking back to you and referencing you in future articles increases exponentially. By weaving webs, businesses build rapport and become a part of the conversation with other companies in their space. This in turn boosts digital visibility online and elevates the profile of the brand or company.
Conversely, when you opt to not think through a solid reference strategy or a partner publication isn’t willing to run links back to you, your web becomes less expansive and less impactful.
Case in point:
Compare the two side by side…and think about this visualization next time you set out to build a content marketing campaign.
Expansive Web A:
Not so expansive Web B:
Education is also key to building your “web”, so be sure partners see the potential synergies. Provide them links that support their proposed story angle or simply make sure YOU build a follow-on article to the final piece.
Another welcomed benefit of expanding and reinforcing your web’s threads is the increased likelihood of a potential customer getting “stuck” in the web. The more touch points leading towards the center aka your website the more apt a visitor is to land on your page and potentially turn into a customer.
To sum it up, I will leave you with a great quote from content marketing authority Ann Handley, “Content shouldn’t be created as one-off pieces, or even as a campaign. Rather each piece should become part of an ecosystem. The overall ecosystem produces a customer experience that dovetails back to the brand.”
Well said, Ann. Those pesky little spiders may just be onto something after all.