Building content around people

Media owners often believe it’s their brand, its reputation for quality content and heritage that draw readers and advertisers, but often it’s the people that write for them – the columnists, the experts and product reviewers, that are the main attraction. In specialist consumer and professional b2b markets, the readers themselves are often experts in their subject, and key individuals at suppliers or advertisers are considered worth listening to as well.  In the new world of social media, it’s individuals that have more success on Linked-in, facebook, twitter et al than companies, as their networks are based on personal contacts. Inspired by a great blog post by Ashley Friedlein of econsultancy on tips for successful paid content businesses, which talks about the value of “hijacking” identities online, I have thought about how this can be applied by media owners to rethink how they promote their content. Here are some steps that could help you to build content around people…

1. Identify the experts

You already have experts and gurus on your editorial team – product reviewers or columnists with an existing offline or online fan base. But you may also have amateur experts among your readers whose contributions are equally valued. And some of your longstanding advertisers could be opinion-formers in their own field – particularly so in b2b markets. Start to build a list of advocates and gurus that are associated with your brand.

2. Provide directories to draw in more

Creating online profiles or free directories for readers/ members and also for advertisers/suppliers is a good way to cast the net wider, and identify people with an interesting point of view. These days most “experts”  link up all their online content so it is easy to follow up what else they have written and work out who to add to your list.

3. Help them build content around their profile

For all your in-house experts, readers and advertisers, make it easy for them to add content to their profile or listing on your site, also so that “fans” can check out everything they have contributed. This could be photos, articles, comments, reviews or even video. Pick out the best contributions regularly and promote them on-site.

4. Encourage them to add this to their social media activity

Make it simple for people to link the content they have created on your site to their own social media activity – on linked-in, facebook, twitter or whatever is their favourite platform. Be sure there is a link back to your own site so that people in their own personal networks can easily go back to see the original content – and then discover your media brand!

5. Treat them well so they stay loyal

Many media owners worry if they make their ed team stars then they will leave and set up independently. You may lose a few, but if you treat them well and help them fuel their personal brand, you will keep the majority. Reader experts respond well to status and privileges, such as being invited to be long-term product testers, or meeting the editorial team. Advertiser experts appreciate the PR benefit of building relationships with prospective customers through their specific expertise.

I’d be interested in your experiences of building content around the key people in your target market: do comment below, or join the Specialist Media Network on Linked-in to contribute to discussions on this topic, and others, with other media owners.

Carolyn Morgan’s business consultancy, Penmaen Media, creates practical digital media and marketing strategies, and has particular expertise in the media sector.  If you’d like to discuss how you can build a content strategy around the key people in your market, then please contact us for an initial conversation.