Introducing Content 3.0 – The Rise of the Content Community

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Over the last decade or so content has evolved from a piece of static written information to something more like a verb.

How we use it has changed, what we demand of it has changed, and certainly how it’s delivered and consumed has changed.

As information has become an increasingly important element in how we buy – what we are willing to give up in order to get it has changed as well.

And that’s what I want to address today.

Let me start with a brief history of how content and lead capture have evolved along somewhat parallel paths.

Content 1.0, if you will, was something along the lines of – hey, you found my website, sign my guest book. Seriously, people did this too. If you’re under 30 or so I imagine this seems really odd. “I’m going to give you my email address and I get nothing?”

Eventually, people demanded more and the ezine was born. Again, the under 30 reader may not recognize that term but that’s what people called what we now refer to as a newsletter sent via email.

As people started to realize the awesome marketing power contained in a large and responsive email list content 2.0 showed up.

Eventually, email spam and fatigue made consumers unwilling to give their email address over for free. They wanted useful information and that became the price.

You know the drill. You create a killer piece of content, maybe a checklist or an eBook, and offer it in exchange for a site visitor’s email address. As the “bait” approach became prevalent, markers started upping the bar a bit and including more aggressive content funnels as part of every product launch using things like landing pages, squeeze pages and pop over boxes all aimed at getting the email address as the primary objective.

While content 2.0 methods still work to a large degree, today I’m seeing a move towards what I believe will be the next important trend in content marketing.

This shift, and for consistency sake I’ll call it content 3.0, is a move toward what I would call “content communities.”

The idea behind a content community is that people don’t give you their email address to get a one-off piece of content, they determine that they want to join your community to gain access to an entire existing and future set of content that addresses their needs.

Now, there certainly are folks offering content by way of membership programs and courses, but I believe the move towards building and nurturing a content community as the price of admission will become the most powerful way to build both an email list and a community.

For a great example of this approach in action look no further than Copyblogger. Copyblogger has long pushed the edge of free content beyond where most are ready to go and Brian and team are leading the way in content 3.0 as well.

A content community play invites “members” to come in and consume an entire library of free content with the promise of new and updated forms of content as a perk of “membership.”

Obviously, this approaches means you must create lots of useful content in the form of ebooks, checklists or videos and you must make plans to add new content on a consistent basis.

The payoff, however, is that sign-ups for your community offer will far outstrip any one piece of bait offer and the member positioning invites an ongoing relationship mindset rather than a sales funnel mindset.

From a technology standpoint, you are simply creating a membership community where each member gets a login to access and return to the library. WordPress is made to handle this approach, as there are many membership plugins that allow you to sign up members and protect the community content as a “members only” perk. Copyblogger’s own Rainmaker platform has this functionality built right in.

You may even see fit to add a forum or private Facebook group for your members to interact, although this takes another level of engagement on your part to make it go.

Content will continue to mold a great deal of how marketing is done over the foreseeable future and smart marketers will continue to embrace and optimize the ever-changing role that content play.

Oh, and for those wondering – yes Duct Tape Marketing will embrace this concept in a few short weeks!

7 Steps to Optimize Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

I’m a content manager; my background is in public relations with a little bit of marketing strategy and graphic design. I’m sitting here thinking, “What do I know about online optimization!?” I’m not a web design guru; I’m no software engineer or web developer.

And then it occurs to me, if I can get the basics done, like keyword research, I can easily optimize those blog posts I write by using a simple tool that is built into our WordPress dashboard, Yoast. I’m sure there are other SEO plugins that do similar things, but Yoast is the one I know so Yoast is the way it goes.

Now that you know my secret tool, here is a step-by-step guide to optimizing your blog posts:

Step 1:

Identify the keywords you’d like to optimize for. This process starts with a basic idea of what your organization (or your client’s) covers, and then you can dig down into the specific relevant phrases that people are using to search for your organization’s product or services.

Step 2:

Pick a focus. Don’t try to optimize one post for all of the keywords you’ve identified. Pick a few that correlate and make sense and then delegate the rest into groups of similar terms as well (those can be for your next post, and then the one after that.)

Step 3:

Write your post. Try to use the exact phrases that you’ve identified in your keyword search, without sounding forced. You don’t want optimizing your blog post to make it unreadable. For example, did you notice I have used a version of the word “optimize” four times already?

Step 4:

Proofread. This isn’t really necessary to optimize your blog post, but a personal preference that you ensure what you’re publishing makes sense. (Thanks!)

Step 5:

Tell the web what your post is! This is where Yoast comes in.

  1. Enter your focus keyword into the spot that says “Focus keyword.” This is the specific keyword or phrase that you used the most throughout the post.
  2. Write your SEO title. You might have an awesomely clever title, but if it doesn’t say what your post is about, your SEO won’t be as strong for your blog post. Use this space to write a title that is enticing and clear, and preferably that includes the focus keyword. This is what will show up in search results when someone does an online search for your keyword.
  3. Develop the meta description. This should have your focus keyword in it, and be in complete sentences. Typically, I like to copy a sentence or two that includes my keyword straight from the post. This is what will show up under your SEO title to give online searchers more information about your post. It should be short, sweet and to the point.

Step 6:

yoast seoMake sure you get the “green light” on your SEO check provided by Yoast. If you don’t, go back and identify the places that can be improved.
The plug-in will show you if your keyword is being used in each of these places for maximum optimization:

  • Article heading
  • Page Title
  • Page URL
  • Content
  • Meta Description

If you’ve included your keyword in all of these places, you’ll get an SEO green light.

Green light means go!

Step 7:

Publish and share!

Bonus:

Here are some bonus tips to ensure your blog post is optimized to its max potential:

  • Use your target keyword more than once.
  • Incorporate your target keyword into your URL.
  • Include an image that has your target keyword in the “alt text.”
  • Pin that image as the “featured image.”
  • Link to other blog posts on your site and/or link to other influencers’ content (they will get a pingback to notify them that their content is being shared).
  • Apply relevant tags and categories to your post.
  • If you can, use your target keyword in a heading somewhere in your post.

So I’m not an SEO expert or web development guru, but with a little research and help from a plug-in, I can optimize my blog posts with the big guns. Do you have any other tips or best practices to share for optimizing posts?

IMG_2750Kala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels and tweeting about marketing, coffee, and cats @tadasunshine.

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