Great content trumps everything, right?
That’s the thesis of an article I was reading in a blog called SocialMouths entitled Questioning All Advice, Rules And Best Practices For Social Media Success.
The author’s thesis is as follows: you can break all of the so-called “social media rules” and still be extremely successful, so long as your content resonates with people. To illustrate his point, the author talked about internet marketing guru Marie Forleo, who engages in several no-no’s like auto-posting Tweets to Facebook and scheduling posts in HootSuite. Francisco Rosales writes:
Marie is focused on one thing, she has developed a brand, a message, a program, a platform and a user experience that makes people fall madly in love with her in a split second. As simple as that. She has built a world-class brand and a community of hardcore fans that are exactly the target prospect she aims to.
It doesn’t matter if she uses a third-party app, if she’s on Facebook or Google+ or how long her videos are. People are looking forward to whatever she puts out there next.
This got my goat a little bit because as much as I wish content was everything, as much as I come from a content-first place, I know none of the above actually holds much water from a practical point of view.
Marie Forleo does publish great content, it’s true…but what powers her success is not just great content, it’s strategy, and money.
I guess I’ve had this on my mind because I was approached earlier in the week by an old school chum who had an idea for a blog that I thought was awesome and interesting.
Of course I urged her to create interesting material founded in her own personal point of view. But I also wanted her to understand a hard truth about attaining prominence on the internet: The first mistake people make is thinking that if you write great content, readers will flock to you.
Listen, I have been watching Marie Forleo’s recent product launch quite closely (as it was a successful and engaging launch) and I can tell you what she’s doing right beside pumping out great content:
Video: Francisco Rosales writes that “it doesn’t matter” how long Marie makes her videos, but if you want an education in how really smart people leverage strategy in using video for marketing, then watch how Marie’s videos developed over time into the polished gems they are today. If content really were king, she’d still be shooting with her Mac webcam. She’s not. That should tell you something.
Personal presentation and charisma: Marie’s an attractive, charismatic lady and she knows it and she leverages that advantage to its fullest. I don’t believe for a second that if Marie looked like a wizened troll and published her great content as blog posts from a remote cabin somewhere she’d have nearly the following she does now.
Affiliate marketing: If you are like me and happen to be part of a number of internet marketing “tribes” then I’m sure that like me, you have received emails from Danielle LaPorte, Jonathan Fields, Lewis Howes et al touting Marie’s launch. Call it “getting by with a little help from my friends” or good old affiliate marketing, this is strategy, plain and simple.
Design: People are visual creatures, and when you visit Marie’s site you can see that a lot of care (and money) has been applied to wrapping all of that great content in great design. This was a choice with a budget and plan behind it, not an accident or organic side effect of her great content.
Email marketing: last but not least, I would say Marie Forleo represents a return to old-school email marketing as a particularly effective way of converting sales online. In contrast to Rosales’s assertion, I would wager that this is not a case of someone who is “just as effective” by breaking all of the social media rules, but someone who made the calculated decision to spend their efforts and time in the place where they would get the highest yield in terms of sales. Other marketers, like Derek Halpern, have said that they prefer to spend their time building their list rather than Tweeting and Facebooking.
We have no way of knowing how successful Marie Forleo would have been in social if she followed the best practices (though I suspect she could blow her current performance out of the water). But what we can discern from how she “breaks the rules” is that corner-cutting on Facebook is OK with her. I’ll take that at face value, and assume that of all the channels she’s leveraging to make sales, it’s not the highest on her priority list.
Why you should care about these distinctions:
When you are just starting out, you have a limited amount of time (and money, likely). For you to look at a fairly well-funded and well-connected success story like Marie Forleo and think, I can be just like her if I just create awesome content will likely lead you down a path of disappointment.
Better lessons from Marie Forleo include:
- Leverage your best assets
- Spend money and time where it matters most
- Hook up with powerful friends
- Ignore the things that don’t mean revenue for you (if that’s a major priority)
And in that way, you can be like her, if you recognize the great strategy behind the success.