The Content Code follows best sellers – Tao of twitter and Social Media Explained (reviewed by my colleagues Amith Prabhu and Radhika Nandwani respectively) by Mark Schaefer
Mark is a renowned social media expert who brings experiences from counselling a variety of brands on the subject. Mark has synthesized those and an exceptional lot of other researched case studies into this book to address the most fundamental question that content creators will have:
“I am a professional marketer working as hard as I can. I am producing content, engaging on social media, and spinning right along with the revolving door of every digital marketing innovation and new platform. Why is my business not getting anywhere?”
The book finds the answer in the B.A.D.A.S.S model, studying where your brand lies on it, and perfecting every wing of it to “Ignite Content” and overcome “Content Shock”.
Good quality content alone is insufficient to attract, influence and retain audiences nowadays, owning to the information highway overpopulated with content – content shock. What takes it to the next level is finding the right factors and impulses that makes your content break that barrier – content ignition. So far as that is concerned, Mark has written a great guide for practitioners to isolate and ignite the right kind of content. The guide addresses the barrier with an incredible list of (22) practical tools to achieve content ignition – one the things that makes it a must read for communications professionals.
The six elements of The Content Code – B.A.D.A.S.S stand for:
Content ignition is as much a factor of the quality of content as the brand that creates it. Mark explains how a “Hero Brand” can put your ignition on autopilot. He illustrates how any brand can transition into this category, outlining seven steps that can make it happen.
Alpha Audience is perhaps the single most influential idea discussed in this book. Mark describes how this group is often the biggest source of a brand’s power, through their mammoth display of support, reliance and trust. It is imperative for brands to identify and nurture this group, and see what makes an Alpha Audience. Mark goes to concise lessons from 14 experts including himself on how to build your Alpha Audience, and an uncommon study of overlap of online and offline relationships – how to build and effectively leverage them. The value of customers go beyond purchasing to advocacy, and this book tells us how we can inspire readers to become your mouth pieces.
Content may not “rise to the top” on account of its greatness itself, and may have to be bumped there. Mark lists 12 powerful tips that can help you expand the breadth and depth of your content distribution. Instead of delving into tactics that may get outdated, he gives a strategic sight to distribution that can be adopted. He also cautions against ignoring the contribution that “dark social channels” to ignite your content, and how to leverage them.
The journey of growing authority on the web includes understanding and manoeuvring SEO. This maybe one of the few elements of the code that your brand will take time to build, and will have to rely on exogenous factors in that while. To circumvent this barrier, the book also outlines methods to rephrase your problem statement and reach your audience directly.
This code is built through a thorough study of why people share content, the impulses and psychology behind the act. It helps you find that inner remarkability because of which those connected or disconnected with you will share your content. He lists 22 sharp steps that you can take to promote your social currency.
Mark breaks down the value of social proof ‘offline’ circumstances to illustrate how it can work online. Whether we like it or not, evidence of existing support for content makes some audiences support it further almost automatically. He describes 10 strategies that brands can follow to build social proof. Though he also warns against the temptation to build content to score well on these social proofs, rather than content that is inherently great.
The book can be laid out into a matrix of best practices inspired by case studies of successes, and how each can be retrofitted in some way for your brand’s ecosystem, something that makes it very handy and readily applicable. It establishes power of your community which comes not from it talking to you, but your community members talking to each other. Being a facilitator of such conversations is what makes an influencer.
I would call The Content Code a rare read that inspires content creators to continue to have faith in the power of content. Mark explains how to convert everything around you, every source of idea into a source of content, and maintain a healthy pipeline of content. It also busts a myth of the life span of your content, which can stay alive on the shelf longer than you may think and the right impulse can (re)ignite it into freshness. Content interacts with brand along its life cycle and “by providing a drip, drip, drip of communications, you let people know that you’re there, you care and you’re working on something new”
It really boils down to the philosophy – “create great content, love on your audience, rest will take care of itself”.