So you think you want to become a media company? Here’s how. #46 #cong14

By John Collins.

Every company is a media company now. So what are the implications of that? 

One approach is content marketing. Get yourself an editorial calendar, write some blog posts related to topical industry or general events (nothing like the Halloween technology tips to generate traffic ;)), tweet out links to said articles three times a day, and sit back as your marketing funnel fills with new leads. 

It’s an oversimplification but it’s also what much of the current advice around content marketing boils down to. Unless you are Nike or Guinness you have no business writing topical news related posts. It’s not sustainable and you’ll end up posting cute cat pictures or their equivalent because your editorial calendar says you are overdue a blog post. 

Over the last three years Intercom has attracted an international audience and reputation thanks to the Inside Intercom blog. We write evergreen articles that are relevant to our customers, potential customers, influencers in our industry etc. That means topics like product management, design, customer success, and producing meaningful case studies of how people are using Intercom. These articles continue to attract traffic and social media comments months and even years after publication (which is why we never put publication dates on our articles).

Producing the blog required a significant investment of time by our co-founder Des Traynor and earlier this year Intercom doubled its bets on content by hiring me. 

What follows is an edited version of the principles I share with the team at Intercom when they write posts for our blog. 

1. Speak with authority

If you know what you are talking about, be confident in your written communications. Although don’t confuse that with arrogance, or patronize your readers. You should have an opinion – preferably a strong, undiluted one.

2. Be yourself

Unless you are an exceptionally good writer, like so good that you should be touting for a book deal, you are not going to sound authentic trying to be someone else. And really what’s the point of that anyway?

The New Yorker cartoon was funny, and quite apt, in 1993. But in this hyper-social, over-sharing, always-on era with a few simple Google searches anyone can find out you are a dog, what kennel you came from, and where you went to dog training.

3. Be clear and concise

Write simply and clearly keeping in mind the audience you are writing for. In the case of Intercom that’s people in the software business, potential customers, potential new colleagues, etc. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Remember your are fighting for people’s attention, and they can be gone with a click, so get to the point.

4. Present your ideas visually

The human brain can process images 60,000 times faster than text. Which goes some way towards explaining why content with relevant images gets 70% more views than text only content.

5. Quality not quantity

Remember 27 million pieces of content are published every day, but 60 to 70% of content goes unused.

6. Write intriguing headlines 

Your readers have limited time and there are competing demands on it – in many cases all they see is the headline before they decide to click through or not.

7. Punctuation matters

Because bad punctuation has the power to make you look really, really silly. In fact all grammar is important, so if you are serious about this buy a style guide like the best-selling AP Stylebook.

8. Engage with your audience

When you start writing a blog or any other public-facing communications, you have to be prepared to get into a conversation. Yes, there are times it will get ugly and messy, but if it doesn’t you’re not speaking with authority.

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie