How to use Content Marketing & Curation for Business with CC Chapman

CC Chapman joins the show to discuss his latest book Content Rules!

During the show we chat about:

  • Why businesses should be shifting their mindsets to start thinking like publishers
  • How to leverage content creation and where to start
  • and how curation can be a powerful tool in the content marketing tool belt

Transcript

David:             Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode Number 14 of Inbound Now. Today I have a very special guest with me, Mr. C.C. Chapman.

C.C.:                What’s up, man?

David:             C.C. is the co-author of “Content Rules” with Ann Handley. He’s the founder of a site called Digital Dads. He’s a consultant, he’s a speaker, and he’s a professional creative. He puts out a lot of interesting ideas about content marketing and just a lot of great stuff. I’m really happy to have you on the show here today.

C.C.:                Psyched to be here, man. Thanks for having me.

David:             Cool, cool, yeah. I wanted to get you on the show to talk a little bit about the concepts in your book, “Content Rules.”

C.C.:                Okay.

David:             I’m really going to just dive into all things content marketing.

C.C.:                We can do that.

David:             Cool, so, yeah. There’s this shift happening, right, where companies need to rethink how they’re marketing to their prospective customers and what have you, where they need to think of themselves more as content publishers. That’s kind of the key concept around your book, right? What would be some of the key ingredients for some of these companies to think about when creating a successful content strategy?

C.C.:                Yeah. So, in the book, “Content Rules,” we laid out 11, what we called the rules. We say rules kind of funny, because we’re like none of this is hard and fast. It changes. It evolves. They’re more guidelines. But content guidelines doesn’t make for a sexy book title. So, we said, all right, “Content Rules,” that’s what we’ll call it.

One of the first ones we laid was you need to embrace that you’re a publisher. It always freaks people out, but it’s not that you’re printing a magazine. It’s not that we’re saying your website’s the most important thing in the world. We’re saying it’s a mindset. Publishers think about what next month’s magazine is going to have in it. They think about what the cover story is going to be. They know the next three months usually.

That’s a mindset we want people to get into. We laid out, there are 11 of the rules, but there are things like be human. We want people to have a legitimate voice. We want them to be talking like we’re talking here. Not freaking out and making sure every word’s perfect or sales or whatnot. We talk about the concept of share or solve, don’t shill, which is really good people in this space that content they create actually helps their customers, right? Or it solves a problem for them or it shares how to do something rather than just buy me, buy me, buy me, buy me.

We lay these all out because we really think anybody . . . and when we say customers too, I always give this preface as the fact that when we say customers and we say company, it also applies to non-profits and donors, rock bands and fans, any group of people that want more people to come to their group.

We believe, firmly, that content has to be part of what they’re doing online, because most people don’t have the budget to do big media spends. Because, let’s face it, print, radio, and television still does work. There’s a place for them, but it’s expensive. Content is something that anybody can do. It’s just doing it really well and doing it in an engaging enough level for your customers is the hard part that people seem to get stuck on.

We wrote the book kind of hoping, well, here read this and hopefully it will give you some both inspiration but also tell you what to do. Well, not only do you get inspired, but here we’re going to give you some stuff, go do it right now. Hopefully, that’s what people are getting out it.

David:             Right, yeah, in the book there are tons of lists, – the 24 things of how to source relevant content. I think that’s a really awesome part of the book. Then at the end, there are also case studies, kind of how people actually did it. I think it’s a very practical book and it was a great read. I really enjoyed it.

C.C.:                Thanks, man, thanks.

David:             So, you know, back to that concept of making your company more human, the content that you’re creating more human. A lot of these companies, basically their website is just a brochure. They have the cookie cutter mission statement and what have you. Do you see that kind of falling by the wayside in lieu of this content that helps out their market?

C.C.:                I don’t know if it goes away. I mean, we firmly believe that you have to have a website. One of our rules is to create wings and roots, and the roots part is having a home base of operations. I think the days of only having a brochure site . . . I remember when the Web really blew up, the first bubble. Before that, everything was just brochure ware. I think the days of that are gone for sure, because people want more. They’re not going to find you by going to their homepage. They’re going to go to Google or Bing or whatever search engine comes along. They’re going to type it in or friends are going to tell them. The days of where people would randomly see an ad and go type in your URL completely are gone.

I think you have to supplement it with other stuff and content is that. The brochure ware is part of the content. I define it as everything that you create and share to tell your story. The brochure is a piece of that, but it can’t be the only thing and it can’t be the lead thing, because let’s face, people get to your site they want the information as fast as possible that they’re looking for. If it’s some 10 second Flash intro, nobody wants that anymore. Thankfully that trends dying down slowly, not quick enough.

I think you have to mix content in because people want that. They want to see who you are that they’re going to do business with, because that old small town mentality of doing business with the people you know still holds true today whenever possible. I mean, if I have two companies and they have the same product and the price is similar and I know one even on a little bit level, like they’re creating maybe video content or they wrote something or I met them at a conference, I’m going to buy from that person over the other one. That’s true for pretty much every . . . it’s human nature, right?

If you have any connection, any connection with a company, you’re going to buy from them over the other.

David:             Yeah, totally. I mean, creating that content is a great way to keep people engaged and really making your website into more of a hub . . .

C.C.:                Exactly.

David:             . . . rather than just, just that five page brochure site. Having a blog, creating content that’s helping out your market, either do their job better or what have you. I mean, that’s the whole point, right?

C.C.:                Yeah, because nobody comes back to see that brochure ware again. Oh, it’s Saturday morning, I’ve got to go see that again. Nobody does that. But, oh, let me go see what Company X. Oh, did they write something? Oh, cool, they wrote a new post. That’s going to keep people coming back and engaging with the brand and people . . . the other thing that most companies need to realize is that maybe they’re not going to engage with you necessarily on your site to start.

I might see somebody on Twitter say something. Oh, let me go read that. Or friend on Facebook, there are all these other pieces, like you said, your site is you hub, which it has to be. But people are going to come in from all sorts of directions now. It’s not that and nobody ever goes back to look at the brochure more than once, ever.

David:             Right, got you, cool. So, yeah, so with all these different kinds of content that you can create, e-books, white papers, FAQs, videos, podcasts, case studies, tools, and in the book you say, oh, puppet shows, kind of as a joke, I thought that was funny.

C.C.:                Yeah, but, but, as a joke, it’s funny you mention that because we had to update our slide deck because about a month ago, Ann, got a note from someone saying, “Hey, look we did a puppet show!” I want to say it’s called, Agilent Technologies, I’m blanking. But they make industrial, they sell vats of chemicals to engineers and biochemists and stuff, and they made a puppet show. Ann was so, that was, that was like a totally throw away joke in the book, but we now have an example of a puppet show. These are scientists doing a puppet show, and it’s just like, we just bowed down and said, “Thank you very much.” It’s not just a throwaway. You can do puppet shows. Now it’s been done, so you’ve got to think of something else.

David:             So that’s a viable piece of content you can create now. Interesting.

C.C.:                It can be a whole new . . . I’m sure right now someone’s watching and coming up with a startup idea, and they’re going to get stupid amounts of funding for PuppetShows.me or something. You heard it here first.

David:             I’m going to register that right after this.

C.C.:                Yeah, go get it. Yeah, steal it.

David:             Creating all this content is hard work, right? So, what advice would you give B2B companies as a jumping off point, kind of getting all this stuff in order and starting out?

C.C.:                The hardest thing is you really need to figure out what you want to create. Because let’s face it, content is a beast. Once you start doing it, to do it right, this is not a one and done thing. This isn’t, oh, we’re going to set up the website and then forget about it. This is something that has to become part of your core DNA, that you keep doing on a regular basis.

If you’re just starting out, what I always tell people is one of our rules is play to your strengths. Figure out what you’re good at or what you enjoy doing. Me, I do not enjoy editing video. So I don’t do a lot of video, or when I do do video, it’s very raw, straight to the camera, what’s up, da-da-da, type of video.

I much prefer to write or take photos. Figure out what you’re into, because you don’t have to do it all. I mean, everybody thinks they have to jump into video and blog writing right away. But let’s face it, you can pick something that you’re really into. Start there and get really, really good at, is the first thing I would suggest.

Also, on the flip side of that, is look at where are your customers? Especially if you’re a B2B company, you know what you’re customers are doing. You know whether they sit at their desks all day, if they’re a mobile group. I mean it depends on what you’re selling. But figure out where they are, what are they consuming, right? That may be hard to know. Send out a quick survey, if you need to. Hey, we’re thinking about . . . do you read your content, watch it, or listen to it?

Nothing hurts, because then who knows what kind of feedback you might get. You might be shocked what they’re doing. Figure out how they’re consuming. Because if you’re making a ton of video content and you’re selling to people who are on the go all the time and maybe they can’t watch video, that quickly is going a way as a concern because you can watch a video everywhere.

But really figure out where they are and then start and realize that your first few pieces of content are probably not going to be that great. Everybody starts off with like, oh, god, especially if you’re in something like video, you work out the kinks. You figure that out. But just start, it’s funny because I know, I just wrote an article that’s going live at some point here in the near future. I call it the “Lunch Hour Content Strategy” where I’m like, here’s what you can do every day. Here’s an hour to start. Anybody can start. It’s not . . . far too many people wait for perfection. It’s like I’ve got to get this just right before it goes, and then they never do, because they keep tweaking it and tweaking it. Just put it out there. Publicize privately if you need to. There are plenty of ways you can do this without sharing it with the world at first. Then when you’re ready, let it go. You’ll be okay. It will hurt a little bit, but you’ll be okay.

David:             I mean, yeah, striving for perfection when you’re just starting off is kind of like you’ll never ship anything. You’re just going to get stuck in that circular, ah, it’s not quite right.

C.C.:                Right, and we all do that. I mean, we’ve all done it. There are certain things we really want to get just right. You’re right, I mean, Seth Godin talks about that all the time. You must be shipping all the time. It’s true and it always feels better. It always makes me laugh when I see people slaving over a blog post. I’m just like, put it out there. You’ve got it 99% of the way. If you have a mistake or something, you’ll fix it. It’s okay. Far too many people get stuck, and we all get there sometimes. I’m not saying that we don’t, but just do it, get it out there.

David:             Even those imperfections though, it can kind of show that you’re a B2B company. There are humans behind there and humans make mistakes.

C.C.:                Exactly and we all do it, right? I mean, some of the funniest things. I mean I remember one time I made a huge grammatical mistake because my grammar is not very good and I know that. But it was funny, because it sparked a conversation in the comments. People were focusing . . . and then it all came, I was like, oh, I’m an idiot.

But exactly that, we’re human. There’s nothing wrong with having some fun, talking conversationally. Yet, companies forget about that. Especially, because one of the things we did B2B, we have a whole chapter in the book dedicated to B2B, and our publisher kind of laughed at us and said why are you doing that? We said because wherever we go and speak, people are always, “Well, how does this apply to B2B?” I love that the first paragraph of that chapter says – because it’s chapter ten – and it says the first nine chapters completely apply to you too.

But we kind of wanted to make it, we wanted to answer all . . . look, we respect B2B companies. We know that they are different, but they’re not that different when it comes to content. It’s crazy.

David:             Yeah. I thought that chapter, you named it, like, “Attention B2B Marketers – This Chapter’s For You.” I thought that was kind of clever. If someone were to open it up in a bookstore, like, oh, hey, look at that.

C.C.:                We had to have fun with it. But it is true, every time I get on the stage, someone says, “Well, what about B2B? We’re different.” Ann and I, Ann works for Marketing Profs, they’re a B2B company and so she always like, “I work for one, come on.” So, we just wanted to put that in and really clearly spell out, look, this is for everybody, it’s not just B2C, because far too many people think that.

David:             Yeah. So back to your point of starting with one thing and getting really good at that, I totally agree. So once you do that and you kind of get, whether it’s podcasting, video, pictures, blogging, whatever it is, one of the chapters in the book is talking about reimagining your content and repurposing it for other stuff. So, can you talk a little bit about that?

C.C.:                Yeah. So one of our rules is reimagine, don’t recycle. What we’re getting at is, to start, especially when you’re starting out, I guarantee you there’s content you have already. It might be your brochure ware, could be photos from an event, maybe it’s a video of your speaker, your executive speaking or whatnot. What we talk about is, recycling is when you just go, okay, we’re going to throw it out on all the channels. We’re going to throw it out again because everybody missed it. We’re going to retweet ourselves or put it on Facebook.

That’s fine. I mean, when you first do it, you should do that. You should put it on all the channels and make sure people see it. But re-imagining is a mindset that, especially as you go forward, we think will help you greatly. It’s where you’re thinking, all right, I’m going to video tape this event. But what else could I do with it? Could I transcribe it into a blog post? Maybe I’m writing this e-book and I want to . . . maybe you could video tape all the authors so that way after the e-book is out, you could release these videos once a week. Every time you do that, it will generate more interest in the e-book.

It’s a thought process, right. Recently, my favorite example of it happened this past week when Google had Lady Gaga in their office to speak as part of this Authors at Google that they do. What I thought was amazing was, while I love Lady Gaga and I’m free to admit it, it’s all good. But what I loved the most was the minute and a half intro Google did for her. They took data, Google’s old data, and they took all this stuff and they made it into like cool, you know, put Lady Gaga as a soundtrack behind it. But they were like showing here stats like how many searches on Google, how many YouTube parodies, and they just made this really interesting. That was reimagining content that Google already had. It’s data. It’s kind of boring, and made it sexy and made it really relevant.

I’m like that’s . . . and it’s so funny because, literally, I called up Ann. I’m like, “Ann, look what Google’s doing, they’re re-imagining. It’s awesome.” It’s just a cool example where they took this stuff that they already had, but they re-imagined it into something very, very cool. It was like almost like a living info graph. It was really nicely done.

I know people are watching right now going well that doesn’t apply to me. But it can be something as simple as I spoke to a college down in Florida and the photographer, the event photographer was taking a lot of behind the scenes photos in addition to the regular ones. He took the behind the scenes ones and used this free tool called Animoto and made like a slideshow with some of my quotes that I gave during my speech and these behind the scene photos. It was just a cool another way. Then the school used it as a way to promote the webinar to people who missed it because they archived it. I was like what a neat idea. So, there’s lots of ways you can re-imagine. It’s just a way of thinking of what else can I do to generate interest in this product? Usually you have to think about it upfront, especially if you’re using like video or whatnot. You need to think about, well what am I going to do?

So, the next time you’re writing that e-book or your writing your newsletter, flip on a video camera and video tape the people you’re interviewing for those things, because you never know what you can do with that content after the fact.

David:             Right. Video can turn into audio really easily . . .

C.C.:                Exactly.

David:             I mean dead simple. You transcribe the . . . everything that we’re saying here. This show will be transcribed, put up so it’s search engine friendly, you know, so . . .

C.C.:                There’s so many ways, but you have to think about that before you, you know, and that’s not . . . that’s one of the rules that it’s hard to flip a switch on because it’s the more that you do it, you’ll all of a sudden go, “Oh, wait a minute, can’t we do this?” Yes, you can. The more you can think of it, we’re going to holding this event. What can we do with this event to make it have more legs? Maybe we video tape it, maybe we interview people, maybe we have somebody take photos. You start thinking about that, because then after the fact, it’s better than just saying, hey, we had an event. You now have more proof. There’s something more engaging with it. So, people need to start thinking that way.

David:             Right. Yeah, in the book, you say these companies should think about if they have a big idea, they can basically break that into smaller chunks. That’s kind of a way to re-imagine it. Or starting with smaller, maybe blog posts, and kind of putting it in to accomplish . . . so there are different ways to approach it. I don’t think that people should get stuck on I can’t think of anything.

C.C.:                It’s funny, Joe Chernov from Eloqua, the other day he said something that cracked me up. He was like, it’s like you’ve got the watermelon, right. Gallagher has the big watermelon and sets it down. It’s not funny until he smashes it into a bunch of little pieces. That’s a perfect analogy. Because it is, it’s the little pieces that make it funny and whatnot. I can already see people rolling their eyes, going wait a minute. What are we talking about now C.C.? I thought that works. Because it’s like I’ve got this big e-book or this big webinar that I’m setting down. But how can I break it up into littler chunks to make it more attractive to people? It is a mindset, and it takes a little while to wrap your head around it, but it will make Ann very happy that you brought up that question. That’s her favorite rule. She loves it.

David:             Yeah, cool. In the book, another, it’s not really a case study. It’s a story you tell earlier in the book but you talk about Marcus Sheridan. I can’t remember his company’s name right now. But he runs a pool business, right?

C.C.:                Yeah.

David:             He basically turned his business’s site into the online Wikipedia for pool information.

C.C.:                Yeah, exactly, right.

David:             So, he focuses on like long tail keywords and content that answers the questions that his would be buyers are searching for. A lot of companies are using this idea and kind of applying that. But what’s going to happen when the Web starts becoming over-saturated with content? How are companies still going to stand out?

C.C.:                It’s tough. That’s a great story too. Because people, you know, he thought, okay, what are my customers going to ask for questions? Let me answer those questions ahead of time. It’s all keywords. It’s all smart. What’s going to make it a step beyond now and you’ve already seen this in Google, if you’re active online, you’re seeing this already in Google where when I do a search, if somebody I know shared something or liked something, that shows up too.

So, all of a sudden, I’m like, oh, wait a minute, this looks like, if I see a page of results but then I see, I don’t know Jason Falls suggested this, I’m going to click on that one first. I mean, I think that the whole social graph is going to become really, really interesting, because, unfortunately right now, if I have a whole bunch of Twitter followers or I have a whole bunch of Facebook fans or whatever, that kind of dilutes it little bit. When you boil it back to the people that you really, really trust, I think that that’s going to help filter the Web, and you’re seeing things starting to help filter that.

It’s going to be these connections where you haven’t seen this integration yet. But like I like a brand on Facebook or I like them on their website. That’s going to start showing up in search results for my friends. I totally see that happening down the road. So, that constant of clicking that like button is going to be much, much more . . . because right now it’s kind of like, yeah, I like them. But in the future it’s going to be, yeah, I like them and I’m sort of endorsing them. So that likes going to become harder to click on because people are . . . it’s going be an endorsement.

But I think that’s where it’s going to go is that there has to be these filters brought in and you’re going to trust. It’s the same thing. I trust what my . . . if I need someone to mow my lawn and I ask my neighbors, they’re going to tell me. If I’m looking to buy something online, I’m going to go to my online community and ask who they trust.

It’s funny, Chris and Julien’s book, “Trust Agents,” was way ahead of the curve, because what they’re talking about is crucial coming forward, and I think that’s going to help filter things out. Remember in the old days when we used to just randomly surf the Web looking for information? Like, in the morning, oh, let me check out these sites. Now, it’s you go to your reader, or you see what your friends are clicking on or sharing. It totally changed, and I think it’s going to continue to change. We’re not going to go randomly looking for stuff. We’re going to get it through our friends and family.

David:             Right. Yeah, and I think that’s one of things Google’s probably working on, one of the hardest things is building that more and more into their algorithm, where that, it’s more . . . because like you said, right now it’s not really quite there. Another thing that is kind of a trend that I’m seeing is these micro communities where – I think it’s called Path or something – where you can only have 150 friends. It’s like basically limiting you down to those close connections. Because we do start to follow a lot of people, friend people, so it kind of dilutes your network, right.

C.C.:                It’s a weird . . . some interviewer asked me about what I think the future is. I said the future is smaller social networks. It really is. Because someone like me on Facebook, for a while I’d have fans like my podcast friend me. I’d accept them, yeah, sure. Or then fans of the book, yeah, sure. But now it’s like, who are these people? I’m seeing Facebook updates and I’m like I don’t know these people and I don’t like that feeling now.

Twitters one thing, you know, Twitter gave you lists so I could filter who I need to pay attention to or different organizations and groups. But this small, I still want the small tight-knit . . . like I hadn’t heard of Path but I like the idea. Just when you said 150, I’m like . . . because it really focuses you on who do I really want. But what’s interesting is when it comes to business, there’s probably a different group than social, like friends.

It’s really a tough thing. But I was just thinking about Google. I mean, how cool would it be if you did a search for . . . because people always forget that Google owns YouTube. So video is kind of important these days. If you search for something and your friend . . . somehow it knew your friend was in a video. If someone searched for “content” and they knew me, wouldn’t you want this video to come up ahead of everything else because they already knew me? I mean that’s got to get added in the algorithm at some point.

David:             Yeah.

C.C.:                I’m sure, God knows, I’m sure Google’s probably got it already working internally or something, knowing them. Right?

David:             They’re like launching their own social network or something. I don’t know. I haven’t really heard too much about it.

C.C.:                Oh, Hello or whatever, something?

David:             I thought it was like Circles. I don’t know.

C.C.:                Oh, Circles, yeah, you’re right. Hello is something else they have. They have all these little . . . it’s like guys, could you have a few more products while you take over the world? Come on.

David:             Usually, when they dip the foot in the social realm, it falls flat on it’s face, like Wave and Buzz.

C.C.:                It’s funny though. I loved Wave, and I still use Buzz but nobody else does. Buzz is currently my ultra filter for content. I follow a very, very select few people on Buzz. But everything they share, I read religiously because it’s so trusted. It’s like my ultimate filter currently, and I haven’t found anything better yet.

David:             Interesting, okay.

C.C.:                Yeah, but it’s funny, most people think it’s totally dead because it pretty much is, I think, but I use it everyday.

David:             Right. I think it just got hyped up. We have mad love for Google over here at HubSpot. They’re one of our recent investors.

C.C.:                Oh, yeah, so you better.

David:             I love Google. I don’t Bing. Who Bings? Do you Bing?

C.C.:                Nobody, nobody. It’s so funny that I always put that out there because one time I had somebody in the audience go, “What about Bing and these other search engines?” I’m like okay. Google, I’m like, sorry guys, the search war is currently over. I remember when it was all Yahoo. So who knows, someone could be dethrone Google. But right now, why Bing even exists cracks me up. I don’t know.

David:             Totally. All right. So I guess we went a little on a tangent there. Back to the content, let’s talk about content. So in the book, you talk a little bit about content curation and how it can be a great supplemental source for companies to kind of get more stuff on their site, keep people more engaged. Can you talk a little more about content curation?

C.C.:                Yeah. Content curation is a great way, especially for small businesses or companies who don’t think they have the time to create all their own content, to pull together relevant content and share it with your community. So, pick a day, and every Tuesday, you go out and publish the five top stories in your industry. People will start liking that because all of a sudden you’re becoming the filter to your community.

This could be competitor’s information. It could be whatever it is. But these filters, people are looking for this. Like we were just talking about all that content out there, they’re looking for filters. You can become that filter. One of the things we really highly suggest is not to just grab the top five links or top ten, whatever number you want. But also put your thoughts behind it, because then you slowly – I hate the thought leadership tag – but you do, you start, here’s this breaking headline and here’s why I think it’s important for our industry. All of a sudden you’re adding to it and people are going to want that. They’re going to start trusting in you, and it’s a great way to get the information out there, because people want this information, right?

All of a sudden, if you’re the site, if you’re sharing this information, they don’t have to go searching every day. You’ve just made their job easier. So, they’re going to keep coming back to you. This is going to be other competition in your space, going to be potential customers. It’s going to be other people that you want to get in front of. It’s a great way to do without you having to create the content.

Just make sure, because someone always brings it up, of course, you link to the original. You’re not scraping and pulling it over. You’re linking. You’re giving them credit. You’re hyperlinking. You’re doing all the right things because it’s not your content. Someone always brings up, “Well, isn’t curation stealing?” I’m like, “Not when it’s done right, it’s not. Yeah, you can be scum and do it wrong and scrape it, that’s not right. But if you’re just linking and talking about it, it’s fine.”

David:             Right. I also say to that point, having the human element there, because there’s ways to automate these things and stuff is going to get through that you don’t really want to share. So you need that human curator. You need someone there actually sourcing content, reading through it, making sure that it’s something valuable to share out.

C.C.:                Yeah, and make sure you are reading the content. It’s nothing funnier than someone curates something and all they did was read the sexy headline. I hate that on Twitter. I have watched me tweet out a link and watch it get retweeted. I’m like you didn’t read what I . . . I’ve always wanted to like make a really sensational headline and link it to a graphic that says, “You idiots, read before you retweet.” I just have never done it.

But it’s just, you see that happening. It’s like, guys, you have to be careful about that. Don’t judge based on the headline. Always make sure you actually read, watch, or listen to the content you’re sharing because you’ve got to make sure you know what you’re putting out there. That’s why you need humans and not automated because no one . . . I mean, automated tools can help for sure, but you have to have the human factor definitely.

David:             I think adding your opinion at the end there, like just saying what this is about, why you think it’s important, it just adds to the story. You’re adding value there.

C.C.:                Right and don’t freak out that some people will go, “Well, that’s me endorsing it.” No, it’s not. It’s you telling why you shared this link. That’s all people are looking for. It’s not rocket science. That’s where people get freaked out too. “I’m linking to the New York Times.  How can I critique that?” Well, you’re not critiquing it. You’re saying why you’re sharing it. Focus on that.

If you’re stuck on what to say, answer that question. Why am I sharing this, why is this important? That’s all you have to do. You don’t have to go any deeper than that to start.

David:             Okay, cool. So we have a fan question here from Emily Evalina. I might have messed up her name. I’m very bad at pronunciation. Grammar for you, pronunciation for me. We all have our weaknesses. She asks how to measure content’s value when clients are so hooked on SEO metrics. What are some of the core metrics to keep an eye on in the content game? What are some things to benchmark against?

C.C.:                Yeah. So one of the things that I’m a huge advocate for is upfront and the key part is upfront. Figure out how you’re going to measure success. Why are you going to go down this path? Because let’s face it, yes, you should measure on things like views if you’re doing video, listens for podcasts, subscribers, comments for blog posts. You should measure on those. I’m not saying measurement is bad.

But, at the same time, some of it’s going to be harder to measure. Some of it is that gut feeling of yes, this is helping, and I know people hate that. But I’m sorry, there is the touchy. That’s the social aspect of the Web. You should track shares. How many people share this post into Facebook? Depending on how you set up your site, that’s harder or easier. There’s technology there for you.

But the key part is figuring up front how you’re going to measure. Say, for the next three months, we want to increase . . . one of the things I say is don’t say we want more views. Say we want to increase our viewership by 10,000 or whatever the number is. Pick the number that’s right for you. But then you can look at it and do it short term, look at three months. We want to increase our readership by X. Then you can look and go, “Did we hit it or did we not? How can we ramp it up even more?” “Oh, look we did do this with like no budget. What if we add some budget, what could we do then?”

That’s the way I always suggest approaching it, because especially content, it takes a while to get going. Unless you get lucky, you make some really cool video, you write a post that’s really resonates with people. The truth of the matter is you don’t usually know when those are going to happen. You create a video that people will share all over the place or you write a post that really sparks some conversation. It’s hard to know when that’s going to happen. Granted, sometimes you’re writing it and you’re like, “Oh, this is going to be good.” But you never know if it’s really going to click with people.

You have to embrace the fact that this is a long-term approach. It’s going to build organically. There are things you can do to supplement it, sure. But it’s not going to . . . quick hit success is rare and a lot of it’s luck or it’s a big media spin. Most people don’t have the money to do that.

David:             The way that I look at content creation and housing that on your website, it’s like annuity for your business.

C.C.:                Exactly.

David:             It builds and builds and builds, and it’s not going to go away. Whereas PPC, flip a switch, it’s gone.

C.C.:                Right. I had someone the other day said, “Well, C.C., my boss isn’t willing to wait six months for success. He wants it in six days. How do we do that?” I said, “Oh that’s easy.” She looked at me. I said, “Spend a lot of money. Do a big media spin,” because that’s the only option at that point, right? If you need results that fast, it’s a media spend. She got really mad at me. I said, “Well, I’m sorry. That’s the real answer. If anybody tells you anything else, they’re lying to you.”

If you want results that fast, you buy a lot click ads, Facebook, Google. I mean there are ways to do it. Buy a big billboard in Times Square. I mean there are lots of things you can do.

David:             Get Charlie Sheen to be your spokesperson.

C.C.:                Exactly. But all that costs money, and I said most people don’t have the money to just throw it. I said, “You know what? You’re going to throw a bunch of money at it and you’re going to get that wave of people come, but are they ever going to come back?”

We talked after the fact. She was kind of mad I think at me. But I’m like sorry, that’s the truth.

David:             Cool. I guess you kind of already talked about the future of this stuff. In the future, where do you see content marketing and B2B companies moving forward?. What do you see as a trend coming up later in 2011 and further on?

C.C.:                I think what’s really cool is that all the tools to create content are getting quicker and smaller and faster. I can do everything I want on this. I can create every single piece of content I want on my smart phone and not just an iPhone. Pretty much any smart phone these days, you can create content and consume that content just as easily as you can on a computer.

I think we’re going to see that trend go even further where I want to see, I would love to see more companies do, oh, you’re in my store, create something. Whether it’s in the dressing room at a – well that could be bad – trying on clothes at a retailer. Wouldn’t it be cool if Sears all of a sudden had cameras in the store that you could actually create and post content that would actually be a living of wall of content created with a product sitting right there. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for stuff there to happen where the content creation could happen right there on the spot. There’s all the administrative and all that. You always need that stuff. But I think that concept is ripe to happen. You’re seeing things like that starting to trickle out.

I’m really hoping that businesses start embracing the fact that their customers can in fact be fans and advocates for them. They can be some of the most . . . you can’t create all this content, but if you enable your fans and your biggest advocates to create for you and this can be for B2B too. If you have a special connection with a company, you will help them. You will tell other people. I just think that there’s this huge opportunity there. I can already feel people tightening up watching this going, well, we can’t do that. But yeah, you can.

You’ve got to put some trust and, yeah be selective and be smart about it. But I think there’s a huge opportunity, and I think we’re going to see more of that happen, because let’s face it, everybody trusts what another person says that doesn’t work for a company over what someone who works for the company says. There’s nobody on this planet that can’t leverage that. I hope we see more trend towards that.

David:             Cool. Where can people find you online C.C.?

C.C.:                I’m everywhere. The easiest place to find me is CC-Chapman.com is my website. It’s got links to everything. The book can be found at ContentRulesBook.com, and it’s available everywhere that books and e-books are sold, which is cool. I’m CC_Chapman on Twitter. Those are probably the easiest places to find me.

David:             Cool., I definitely recommend to everyone watching, get a copy of “Content Rules.” It’s a great read and there are some really great actionable items in there. Thanks for coming on the show, man.

C.C.:                Thank you, man., I’m glad to be here.

David:             Cool, man. I appreciate you coming on the show.

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About the Author

David is Founder of Inbound Now and a Fanatical WordPress Designer & Developer. He believes that the internet is a magical place where wonderful things can happen. Say hi to him @DavidWells

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