What if we told you about an ultra powerful, infinitely flexible social media tool that allowed you to publish business-building content — text, audio, or video — without holding you to any arbitrary rules?
It’s a tool that fixes everything that’s broken about the existing social media sites, new and old.
It gives you an astonishing degree of freedom — to say what you want, the way you want to say it, and in the format that works best for you.
With this tool, no one can ever tell you your content is “overly commercial” or flag an image as “possibly inappropriate.” As long as you aren’t breaking the law, the rules are totally up to you.
You have 100% control over the look and functionality of your page. You can keep it simple, or trick it out with hundreds of bells and whistles.
You have 100% control over what others can do on your page. The tool gives you the power to delete (or even modify) comments, block users, and report comments as spam so other users don’t have to deal with these pests.
You have 100% control over how commercial you want your page to be.
You have 100% control over how much content you post. In fact, what we’re calling your “page” could actually be 1000 pages, or 10,000, or more.
The tool includes powerful mechanisms for social connecting and sharing, so you can foster conversation and keep an eye on what your audience finds interesting.
And it’s simple to connect to an email list, so you can capture leads for deeper engagement.
Oh yeah, and it’s free
At least, in its basic version it is.
(It works about a million times better when you host it on your own domain, so you’ll be spending a couple of dollars on your domain registration, and you’ll need hosting, which you can do on a tiny budget when you’re starting out.)
This is starting to sound like one of those infomercials for a knife that “slices, dices, and juliennes baby vegetables.”
By now you might have guessed it … this “hot new” social media tool that corrects so many existing problems is nothing other than the self-hosted WordPress site.
In other words, what most of us call a blog.
Wait, I thought social media was Facebook and Twitter?
Social media is simply technology that’s … social. It’s technology that allows for dialogue, interaction, and listening.
You’ll hold conversations on your blog, just like you do in your favorite social media hangout.
It’s a bit like interacting with friends at a dinner party in your home versus meeting them at a restaurant. They’re both opportunities for interaction, and often the more private locale encourages a deeper level of communication.
And while networking sites like Twitter and Facebook can be useful places to broaden your audience, they can never be the foundation of an enduring content platform.
Even blogs that don’t allow comments have a social component. The definition of great content is content that’s shared, that’s talked about, that’s passed along … content that is, to borrow Seth’s word, remarkable.
Most blogs capitalize on this by welcoming comments (and reading them carefully to see what’s going on with the audience), as well as facilitating social sharing over whatever the flavor-of-the-year site happens to be.
(That’s one of the reasons, of course, why you can’t build an enduring content platform on someone else’s real estate. Social networking sites get stale faster than Adam Carolla’s jokes.)
Your site is your centerpiece
Chris Brogan calls it a home base, or you can think of it as a hub.
Your own content-rich site, on a domain you own, managed with good content management software, is where you’ll put about 80% of your content marketing time and energy.
A site like this becomes a valuable business asset. Over time, it develops a reputation — both with human readers and with search engines.
It’s where you develop the ideas that will become your unique selling proposition.
It’s where you’ll foster the customer conversations that spark new product ideas.
It’s where you’ll optimize your content for both search engines and potential customers.
You know, you don’t have to call it a blog
You might be sort of
appalled surprised by how many people think they “don’t have the software” to read blogs.
Some types of people read blogs, and some don’t.
If your potential customers don’t read blogs, there’s no reason in the world you have to call your content-rich, social-sharing-friendly web site a blog.
Call it a resource center, or a content library, or a radio show. Call it an Interactive Directory of Awesomeness for all I care.
Labels are important — so if you don’t want to call your self-hosted WordPress site a blog, think of something that will resonate better with your audience.
I promise, I won’t tell.
A few specifics
There are a lot of good reasons why 22% of all new sites are built on WordPress, the most popular content management system on the Internet. It’s extremely user-friendly, making it easy to keep your site updated and timely. It’s amazingly flexible. It allows you to start very simply, and then develop the site as your needs evolve. It’s friendly to the shoestring budget.
Security matters, so make sure you have a really good web host (this becomes increasingly important as you start to get more traffic) and keep WordPress, your theme, and all plugins updated.
Normally, a business site will want to go with a premium WordPress theme for SEO-friendly code, solid security, and professional design.
And don’t be tempted to start your blog on anything other than your own domain. The few simple hoops you’ll jump through will amply pay off down the line. (If you’re intimidated by the technical aspects, Copyblogger contributor Pam Wilson has a nice resource for getting started with WordPress.)
Drive all of your traffic to your content hub
Spending time engaging with prospects on Google+ or Twitter?
That’s great … just make sure you’re sending them back to your blog.
Publishing a special report you’re hoping will go viral?
Excellent strategy — be sure it’s loaded with plenty of links to great material on your blog.
Putting out a traditionally published book — the kind made out of dead trees?
Include links to landing pages on your blog designed to create lasting relationships with those readers.
If you focus your time and energy on driving traffic to your blog (and then on to your email list, so you can continue the conversation with your readers), you’ll be building an increasingly valuable asset, instead of the goofing off that too many so-called social media marketers fall prey to.
How about you?
Do you have a content hub — a centerpiece for your content marketing? Do you call it a blog? Is it where you’re spending most of your time and attention … or do you get seduced into spending your days at the lastest shiny social hangout?
Let us know in the comments how you’re using your content centerpiece.