Studies tell us content remains king. Apple goes where the money is. Its decision to enter the market with a device explicitly focused on content delivery is just another indication that engaging content presented well will draw consumers.
The blog will continue to be a critical element in marketers’ social media strategies. And with the expected increase in businesses using social media, competition for readers is only going to grow. So what’s a blogger to do?
The Battle for Readers
The battle for readers is going to be won by the bloggers who provide the most useful and entertaining content. Our toolkit now includes video, podcasts, slideshows, and the original medium, text. Using these different media well and combining them effectively is one of the skills bloggers can use now, to improve their readership. Just as competing products can differentiate on ease-of-use, blogs can compete on how effectively and engagingly they present their information.
My guess is that tools like the iPad will encourage authors to integrate video more tightly with text and intermix the various media in more effective ways. Instead of putting a video on your blog, possibly with a text version below it, you can create abbreviated text punctuated with shorter video clips to illustrate the point.
The future holds more, though. For many years, I worked as a senior technical writer at Microsoft. I always had a strong bent towards usability and user experience, though. I was known for blurring the lines between assistance and UI. I see a similar blurring of content and tools, in the near future.
Creating a post with a checklist of SEO steps for websites? Don’t just offer the user a text list. Provide a tool the user can run against their web pages to get an assessment. For each item the user needs to correct, link to video and text instructions. If you also let users save their information to come back to at later time, you’re guaranteed a repeat visitor and another chance to promote yourself.
Blogging about how to develop a measurement plan for social media efforts?Describe the elements of good measurement plan, sure. But go one better. Provide an expert system that asks the user questions about common goals and strategies. Based on the answers, generate an initial strategy outline for them, along with relevant content from your blog post archives. Generate it as a PDF or a Word document they can save—and be sure to include links to your site and ebooks.
Which would you rather have: a video of how to do SEO, or an interactive tool that walks you through the process on your own site?
My Crystal Ball
If this seems far-fetched now, it won’t for long. It’s possible to build this kind of content tool, now. If you blog for a business, you might decide it’s worth hiring a developer or using internal development sources to create these kinds of blog tools. A site providing a good, free tool that solves a common problem for your target audience is a link that’s going to be referenced and shared. Not only will users share it among themselves, but other bloggers are likely to include links to your tool on their blogs, helping your search rankings. It also provides PR opportunities. Content tools can be well-worth the investment to develop them.
If you’re an independent blogger or a small business owner, you probably can’t afford to hire a developer. You’ll have to wait for WordPress and third party developers to build generalized tools and widgets to support this kind of content. Don’t worry. As the competition for readers grows, developers will see the opportunity to make money through innovative content tools. My crystal ball says it won’t be long before even the smallest bloggers can provide interactive content.