Whether and how much you focus energy on search or social or referral or email or affiliate should be a function of what you want to accomplish and whether or not you can win there.
What is winning in content?
Up to you. But define it.
Do you want to limit complexity and increase profit or get to scale? Just happy to increase your traffic or rate of subscriptions by some amount consistently over time. What does achieving your goals look like?
Channels should help guide that process
Channels matter because in the content landscape they highlight gaps between your current approach to content and your goals.
Your audience determines the channels.
If you can’t anticipate the landscape, demand, and competition across channels, then you’ll approach or ignore channels from a place of doubt instead of from a place of confidence.
You’re going to try things, not see traction, get discouraged, and revert back to what you know.
Can you commit three to five years to becoming a top three resource in your subject matter? Is it within your means in that time?
A top three resource just means you carry one of the top three slots in terms of online visibility on your content. There is a clear divide between the top three subject matter experts on a topic and everyone else.
When you see the same name come up time and time again, those are the experts that have reached content saturation. If it doesn’t look that way, it’s because they’ve established dominance in a dimension and broadened from that point out.
If you can make the commitment and have existing traction, layer paying attention to search into your content strategy.
If not, or you’re low on traction, consider focusing more on social and affiliate channels. Build relationships with other SMEs and position yourself as a complimentary, credible resource.
What internal and external threats exist to getting you there?
Internally, how much uncertainty exists in your approach to content?
Change is hard. It’s easy to do what you’ve always done. If uncertainty is your problem, you will not change. I know this better than most. High doubt people don’t make big smart audacious moves. You probably need more help than you’re getting left to your own devices.
A new, fast growing social site can provide an opportunity, but only if you’re syphoning that traffic off into email subscriptions. The newer the platform, the higher risk it is long term. Think EzineArticles, Digg, Periscope, Vine.
If you’re past directional questions and already have a subject matter direction you’re not going to change, then it’s more a matter of where to focus your energy, because naturally it’s going to be split between:
- creating content for new audiences (searchable, guest posting)
- co-creating content (podcast interviews, affiliate launches)
- creating content for your existing audience (emails to list members)
Where do people actually hang out online? Do you know what content format and channel gaps exist?
Consider each bullet here carefully – are you at least aware of the most popular:
- Facebook Groups
- Slack channels
- Online publications that allow guest posting
- Existing courses on large course marketplaces?
Review the above same sub-bullets again with the following in mind: do you know along which your market can be found where they aren’t being sufficiently serviced?
Content format gaps
What content format gaps exist that need to be serviced in a way that requires some leadership? Online groups – if these are missing, can you organize one?
- Slack channels
- Facebook groups
- Youtube channels
Look for overlap to maximize the effects of your content efforts
Where does the most potential synergy exist?
Let’s say you know you need stronger relationships with adjacent SMEs now and you want a better search presence long term. You see a gap in a good podcast. Your market listens to podcasts but not the one you want to make.
In that case an interview podcast format would provide a good excuse to develop those relationships, offer something of value to other SMEs.
Those relationships and access to knowledge can benefit you now, become good fodder for content, and then down the line, be a valuable resource for links, or collaboration on projects for search purposes.
If everything is incredibly saturated online, then going offline in a way that will improve your online footprint is a good use of time. If you spend money on ads, consider the difference in the rapid rise of online ad click costs and the relatively fixed costs of direct mail. If not, look at meetups, events, seminars.
Getting to influential content
The thing that’s easy to forget is that to become the best at something, you have to know what the best is now, what’s missing, and where you can maximize impact.
Without that, you don’t have a grasp on what’s required to get there. So:
- define what winning in content looks like for you
- understand the context of your audience
- make informed decisions about how to better serve your audience by meeting them where they are in a way you can sustain for years