“C” is for content, that’s good enough for me
I’ve been working with the team at Zapier to help them refine their brand identity. As I work my way through the sprawling expanse of the pages and screens on their destination site and pitch in on marketing ideas, I’ve witnessed an incredible discipline they have as a company for generating new content that finds its way to numerous outlets including social media networks, multiple company and personal blogs, guest posts, and community sites like Hacker News and Reddit.
While it makes me incredibly jealous as a solo founder to see the power of having co-founders and employees, I’ve been learning a lot about how combining forces to generate content can keep a company visible, relevant, and growing. Here are 3 ideas you can use to become a content monster like Zapier.
Everyone Must Publish
Every team member is expected to generate content. Since blogging and posting to social media are common activities for every role at a startup (developer, designer, biz dev, marketing, customer support…), this mandate doesn’t feel like an unwelcome burden; my impression has been that everyone appreciates the opportunity to improve at writing, sharing, and engaging with an audience. The joint effort contributes to a sense of momentum and a large body of content that puts less pressure on individual contributions to gain attention.
I’ve seen a number of stategies they use to generate content including requiring posts that announce new features you build or updates to the service you helped make, sharing a lesson learned in your work, helping customers learn through text and video tutorials, and passing along takeaway insights from conferences attended.
A bit of good-spirited competition can also keep generating content fun. That can manifest as a scoreboard of engagement on posts by author or number of referrals generated by content published across all channels. You could use tracking codes on the URLs shared to track such metrics. I don’t have access to Zapier’s marketing or admin dashboards, so I can only speculate on what they’ve actually built, but I get the sense that they at least recreationally use this sort of competition as motivation for creating content that people want to share and take action on.
Add Value For Customers
The guys at Zapier have a natural ability to identify topics that prove helpful to their audience while simultaneously promoting their product. One reason this occurs is because they write about their own topics of interest and concerns, and since their audience resembles them, the content maps well onto the audience.
Also, Zapier is one of those fortunate products where the value for the company itself and the customers are aligned. You only use Zapier if it offers you value, and the more you use it, the more value you get out of the service, and the more value the company gains from you as a customer. This cyclical relationship means that content that helps customers also encourages use, which leads to revenue, which keeps the company alive.
If people don’t see you, you are invisible to them. If your content doesn’t happen to be in the stream a person is consuming or results they are searching for, you’re left speaking only to those explicitly following you, and even they might miss your content. This is the fate content marketing seeks to avoid, and it’s a never-ending battle to be seen in a sea of tweets, blog posts, pins, status updates, emails… Your only hope is to be relentlessly prolific. If you go it alone, you carry a heavy weight.
Every team member at Zapier individually publishes often, but combined together, they become a content monster that churns out seeming endless actionable quality content. Since I’ve been working with them, they’ve landed on the HN frontpage more times than I can recall (granted, that’s not necessarily their optimal customer demographic, but I’m sure it generates some engagement and awareness), and been republished or mentioned by notable partner services when sharing content related to that service.
Visibility isn’t limited only to chance real-time consumption. Another thing Zapier is amazing at is SEO. Google has made it hard for you to fake relevancy, but if you genuinely craft your content well, you can appear more often in search results, which can at best be a huge source of leads, and at a minimum help with make a favorable brand impression on potential customers.
You also want to be visible to potential new employees, so content marketing is most certainly a recruitment strategy. People want to join a flourishing, active company, not a sinking ship. When startups go silent, it often means something is amiss or there’s an impending acquihire/acquisition/shutter approaching. As a potential hire, you have to be able to imagine yourself in the world the company projects to the outside world. It’s the fodder for the daydreams you have at your existing job or situation. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have press and other people (investors, notable spokespeople…) helping keep you visible, but it’s far wiser to take control of your image and make choices as to how to appear as desireable to the people you want to attract.
Thanks for reading and if you want to see a content montser in action, here are some of the places Zapier publishes to: