Still Making These 4 Mistakes? You’re Not A Media Company Yet

This week, I’m headed to Baltimore for the 2011 Vocus user summit. I’ll be speaking alongside Scott Stratten, David Meerman Scott,  Gini DietrichAnn Handley, Joe Chernov, Valeria Maltoni and my previous CEO Lee Odden among others. Quite the lineup for a user summit, even better than most conferences.

Hopefully I’ll see some of you there. But as readers here are dispersed globally I thought in advance I would share just a few points from my presentation.

My talk is on the importance of becoming a media company, something subscribers here are very familiar with (and some of you are already embracing). But many still aren’t and I continue to see companies place emphasis at the wrong areas and wonder why they aren’t achieving organic marketing returns.

What are four common problems?

1. Lack of cadence / mismanaged editorial

If this is your brand of media, you aren’t really serious yet about being a publisher – how could you be?

Simply put, if you want to be taken seriously as a media company and build a community, you must have cadence with content. Whether you are publishing a blog, moderating a forum or even maintaining an independent social network users demand fresh content. Without cadence in updates, you can’t possibly build organic momentum or condition readers to share or return. What reason would they have to come back?

Further, without cadence you can’t scale up any KPIs. Nail down consistency before you worry about too much else. Sounds simple enough, right? It is surprising how few get this most basic step right. I have even had debates with people about “if it is even possible” to publish something new even just 2-3 times a week. Uh, of course it is. Modern marketers can (and do!) execute this. If you don’t have this locked down you probably don’t have much farther to look why your own brand of media hasn’t taken off.

2. Only focusing on Facebook and Twitter

Sources of the previous ~1 million or so visits to a site I market. Obvious conclusion: the social web is more than Facebook and Twitter

As I noted in a previous thread on this subject:

A lot of marketers continue an unhealthy obsession with spending time purely in Facebook and Twitter. I see it again and again. And while Facebook and Twitter absolutely should have a place within a larger digital strategy, your marketing does not start and end with them. They’re outposts but not a hub.

What happens when you take a holistic approach and focus opt in at the source? You provide a valuable destination that a community of sites, networks and people can point at.

If you are embracing an owned media strategy, that is where you should be focusing your time: then market holistically across platforms that make sense. Don’t only market in one or two platforms, rather be open minded to tapping lots of communities and building relationships across the web wherever that may be. Absolutely use Facebook and Twitter, but think beyond them too. The web is much larger.

3. Stock or dated design

People make instant decisions about your brand on the web. The absolute first thing that reaches them, even before your content is site design. And yet still many companies are reticent to vest the effort in a high quality, attractive design. It’s absurd because they then spend so much effort on content and trying to attract visitors there. But with a weak design you’re already fighting an uphill battle.

Why would you do this to yourself? In any long term web marketing initiative, you want to vest any effort up front you can to optimize outcomes. Over time this really adds up. Think you need a new website design? Here are some tips to get started. If you already have a decently performing website, think about how you can update it to even better accomplish your objectives.

Specifically if you are embracing owned media because you have limited resources and are interested in a more scalable, strategic form of PR you really need to look the part. Have a third party look at your site and give you honest feedback. Ask yourself seriously: are others, such as professional media, going to share or organically react to this or are your templates so bad they might stop someone? This is a self-imposed roadblock to success.

4. Boring, unreadable or just plain useless content

So we’re still on the content thing. I wish we could move past it but we just can’t yet. There are so many different things companies get wrong with their web content it is far more than a single post or presentation can cover. If you’re still really struggling to make great content the best possible thing you can do is go through the process yourself. After all, modern communications professionals should be executing not just professionally, but personally.

Study the popular sites in your category (other companies, media, bloggers) and consider carefully what makes them successful. Learn your category inside and out and user preference for sharing. Also get out of campaign thinking and instead develop an ongoing narrativeTry things and iterate and don’t overthink it. Gain the executive perspective on content and speak to a specific worldview. Take a stance on issues and stir emotion.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be going through much more Thursday, so hope to see you out. If there are any questions you’d like answered, feel free to leave them in this thread and I’ll compile with questions from my presentation for a follow-up post (or at the very least respond to below).

stock image credits: Shutterstock