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lorem ipsumIBM recently published research showing that about 80 percent of those who begin a corporate blog never post more than five entries. And that's just blogging. The Internet is littered with near-tweetless Twitter accounts, expressionless Facebook pages, no-one-home YouTube channels. In the rush to adopt social media as a tactic, too many marketers leave strategy in the dust.

Increasingly, marketing isn't about buying media, the advertising model. Media is cheap -- or often even free. But rolling your own media brings with it a new set of challenges: coming up with enough content to fill all those blank pages, blog posts, profiles and such....and doing so on a regular basis, not just in a one-off burst of Week 1 enthusiam.

In short, brands are media. Marketers are editors, or at least need to start thinking like editors and producers if they don't want to come up short-handed. So herewith, 12 steps toward editor-think to help marketers get beyond that accusatory Blank White Page and start thinking like an editor.

1. Know your audience

Couldn't be simpler or more self-evident, but the importance of knowing who you're producing content for cannot be overstated. Customers? Prospects? Fans? Industry peers? Colleagues? The media? Some or all of the above? Selecting topics and tailoring messaging is a whole lot easier when you know who's on the receiving end.

2. Define key themes and messages

Now that you know who you're addressing, what is it, broadly speaking, you want to communicate to them? Don't just focus on your product, service or business here, but do some thinking as to how it relates to an audience's real-world concerns. If you're a local business, you may want to weave broader local themes into your content. If you're hawking something with a high consideration curve, education and learning may be part of your messaging. Use your knowledge of your audience, your tone-of-voice, and the broader informational environment in which you reside to inform themes and messaging.

3. Establish a frequency framework

Half the journalists I know say the write for periodicals because they need deadlines in order to produce. In the trade, it's called feeding the beast. You may not need to blog, or write, or tweet, or status-update every day, but once per month is probably not enough...and you risk the whole endeavor tipping off the cliff. Create a schedule for content updates and adhere to it. Map out potential stories, features, or other content in advance so that when the deadline looms, you'll have a sense of what's due. Falling into a rythm beats falling out of visibility altogether.

4. Create an editorial calendar

An editorial calendar plugs directly into the frequency framework. Just as your local newspaper has a fod and dining feature on Wednesdays, an expanded entertainment section on Friday, and home and gardening on Thursdays, mapping a type of content to your frequency framework is a great step forward in terms of making relevant content happen on a reasonably frequent schedule.

5. Develop regular features and rubrics

Creating a few regularly-appearing content elements is one of the oldest editorial tricks in the book. Comics, horoscopes, weather and film listings all help round off a newspaper's offerings and keep readers coming back for more. Moreover, once you've got these regular features, they're all but auto-populating. Highlights of the week, links out to other relevant content, a quote of the day are just a few down-and-dirty ideas to keep the flow of content coming.

6. Interview

Interviews probably belong up in item #5, but are notable enough to warrant discussion on their own. Are your own ideas drying up? Talk to someone else! Experts in your field, enthusiatic users, people in your company. Make a list of potential interview subjects, and consider making interviews a regular content feature.

7. Go multimedia

Content isn't limited to text alone, of course. Images, photos, video and audio all expand and enhance your content offerings. Blogging? Posts accompanied by a graphic image draw attention to themselves. Don't take my word for it, give it a shot -- web metrics bear this one out.

8. Enlist contributors and provide them with guidelines

You don't have to go it alone. Look around at your coworkers, colleagues, professional network. There are lots of potential content contributors out there. Often, all you have to do is ask, either for one-off contributions or regular features. User-generated content is, of course, a whole new route to ensuring content is created for you, be it comments, ratings and reviews, or contests. With clearly defined guidelines and expectations, and a little bit of polite asking, you may be surprised at how much content is created for you rather than by you.

9. Opine and editorialize

A frequent stumbling block to content creation is when the creators think they're obligated to be first to break a piece of news. It's a big internet out there and news is traveling at the speed of fiber optic cable. This is a losing game. Leave it to the pros. Divest yourself of the notion that you're a reporter and instead become an expert observer and interpreter of what news means to your audience. Establish youself, your company or your brand as a thought leader, not a deadline reporter.

10 Turn on comments and feedback

Whatever digital platform you're creating content for, ensure comments and feedback mechanisms are in place, easy to use, and monitored. This not only creates a platform for participation, it's a gauge of how well you're doing, what excites and interests your audience, and will doubtless feed in ideas for shaping and improving future content.

11 Listen

Listen to what others in your space are saying, and do so outside the parameters of your own comments section. Set up topic alerts for your relevant themes. Get out there and participate in what others are saying within your arena of expertise. It's the social media equivalent of leaving the house.

Rebecca Lieb

Published 10 March, 2010 by Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb oversees Econsultancy's North American operations.

Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

160 more posts from this author

Comments (14)

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Aaron Rubman

Rebecca,

This is a very good list.  I definitely second the importance of setting deadlines and creating an editorial calendar - and do not hesitate to suggest the inclusion of regular features (especially since features like 'word of the day' or 'this day in history' can be researched and scheduled in advance).

- Aaron

over 6 years ago

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seamus walsh

I took the liberty of  turning your 11 items into a poll, I thought it might be fun for your readers to benchmark against each other. 

http://www.salesalignment.com/display_survey.php?survey_id=54

All the best,

Seamus

over 6 years ago

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Kiesha @ WeBlogbetter

These are some helpful steps. If it wasn't for creating an editorial calendar and some recurring features on my blogs, I don't think I'd be able to keep up. I need that type of framework to keep me consistent. Super insightful post.

over 6 years ago

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Rebecca Lieb

Interesting, Seamus - please share the results!

over 6 years ago

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Vanessa Alberts

This is an excellent list. Perhaps someone should start thinking about a waste management system?

over 6 years ago

Emily Hill

Emily Hill, CEO at Write My Site

Great article Rebecca. I'm not at all surprised by the results of IBM's research about blogging (i.e. that 80% of blogs die after just 5 articles). I run a company that manages corporate blogs and we carry out our own research from time to time - our last survey showed that over 70% of businesses that start a blog in-house fail to keep it up to date: http://www.writemysite.co.uk/press/

over 6 years ago

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Frank

Great advice Rebecca. One item I might add to the list is Don't Worry. Or at least Worry Less. I think people freak out a little bit when they have to produce social content, especially for blogs. They worry about saying the wrong thing, or making mistakes or just writing badly. It makes it all the harder to get stuff done. I've abandoned many posts myself (and wasted countless hours) because I was worried they weren't "good enough". I'm not advocating putting any old rubbish out there, but sometimes you've just got to make a leap of faith and publish what you've got.

over 6 years ago

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seamus walsh

Rebecca, the results are automatic, all you have to do is take the survey! I am not a big believer in keeping valuable data hostage. Great list. Thank you!

over 6 years ago

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Dawnaurora

Thanks so much for the list.  I like the editorial calendar.  I do have one, but I fall off every so often.  Your other tips for fillers will help with the gaps.

over 6 years ago

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Adrian Martorana

'editorial policy' ..... I did not want to use 'censorship'  as it sounds terrible.But, your position for or against such a policy needs to be agreed up front in order to have full alignment within the company on how certain matters are treated.

I have seen both internal and external blogs fail (or be closed down) because of fear of what might be said and how it might be interpreted by other audiences e.g. employees, analysts, regulators,press,  general public etc. Its a tricky one but whatever you decide it will keep you on strategy and avoid some 'unpleasantries'. A lot may depend on the industry you are in or whether you are in the midst of some M and A activity - its amazing sometimes what information can be seen in a blog.

The best communication is when it is two way. Feedback on blogs can be great input but not everyone can cope with feedback.  To close down a blog or stop feedback after you have launched defeats the object of the launch in the first place so its best to get some rules clear at the beginning - at least your CEO will thank you....

over 6 years ago

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Jennifer

over 6 years ago

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Robert walker

Great article, but where is the last point?

over 5 years ago

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Shu Kaylo

Rebecca, the effects are guaranteed, every one of you have to do is hold the survey! I am not a big convert in getting precious data hostage. Great list. Appreciate you!

about 4 years ago

Mahnoor Malik

Mahnoor Malik, Contributor at AdClout

nice post thanks for sharing it

over 3 years ago

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