The easiest, by far the most natural (and for many people) the most effective way to succeed in social media marketing is by creating and distributing great content. Be it a viral content campaign, social media outreach or social media contests, content comes first.

Content is the driving force behind any successful website or social media marketing.

It is almost always easy to tell great content from a mediocre article – but how much do you really know about *great* content? Here’s the three R’s of the great content I have come to understand:

Let it Go1. Reduce

… or Get Focused

Let’s face it, *really* great content is something that happens very seldom – even for the best of us. You can write often and be very good at it – but let’s face it, it is hard to surprise anyone with good content today.

The Web is over-saturated with good content (as well as with the bad content, of course). If you are really willing to stand out, you need to brainstorm something different, unique and, well, unseen (which obviously takes enormous amount of time, inspiration and work)

I don’t mean to say that you only need to create *great* content – don’t get me wrong! Unless you write often and experiment with different styles and approaches, you are not going to learn to produce something really awesome.

You should definitely write a lot, try different ways to promote what you write and listen to what people are talking back – but invest a lot of time, effort and money only in really *great* content because it happens once in a lifetime and *great* content is what will make a difference.

So just accept it: you (may) write well but not every piece of yours is “worth” to be promoted: wait for the real one. Let it be your best bet. Get focused.

Get Focused2. Release

… or Let it Go

The Golden rule of *great* content that I have come to understand (which was not easy to do by the way) is:

If you love it, let it go.

You can spend days and months wrecking your head over how you can stop scrapers from stealing your articles, how you can prevent thieves from copying-pasting your content and how to keep random reckless surfers from downloading your images, reports or tools and sharing it further without giving you any credit.

You can focus all your efforts on protecting your content from being stolen… and you will still fail. If your content is good, it is most likely to be popular. If it is popular, more and more people will be stealing it from you (either recklessly or deliberately) – and you will never be able to control that. This is how the (social) Web works – you can’t control that.

If you can’t prevent people from stealing your content, benefit from them reusing it. Make your content easy to embed and re-blog and promote your brand through embedded content.

Let people download, share and exchange your content. Let them “steal” the best parts of it and embed it to their sites and social media profiles. Let people know you by that content.

Instead of trying to stop people from spreading your content, encourage them to use your content but on your own terms:

re-purpose3. Re-package

… Or Give it a Second Life

Great content doesn’t have to live only once. Instead, you can expand its reach and popularity even further by re-packaging it and letting people re-craft it multiple times.

  • Does your article outline a detailed step-by-step tutorial? -> Create a flow chart and let people download it for further reference.
  • Does your article include a lot of numbers, rules or tips? -> Create a cheatsheet and let people print it to always have it by hand.
  • Does your article include a lot of beautiful images or photos? -> Create a slideshow and let people download it and enjoy whenever they are offline.

Think about the huge benefits content re-packaging opens up for you:

  • Every piece of downloadable content encourages people to take your “brand” with them whenever they go offline, travel or go on vacation;
  • All alternative types of content can be further promoted via high-traffic content-based social media networks (which will bring you additional links, traffic and exposure):
    • Promote your cheatsheets at Scribd;
    • Promote your slideshows at SlideShare;
    • Promote your videos on Youtube;
    • Promote your images on Flickr, etc, etc.
  • Downloadable content (like a whitepaper or an eBook) prompts users to share your content (via email) with co-workers and friends.

Examples

In conclusion, let’s take a look at a couple of inspiring examples. What do some smart people do to make the most of their great content?

SiteGeek is a great example of re-packaging their research and stats into infographics and curating them via their own Pinterest board. What a great way of making the most of complex data!

SiteGeek

Allison Boyer did a very smart thing: she created The 12 Days of Blogging 2010 series writing one post a day featuring tips from some of the best bloggers around the world. Each day was dedicated to one particular topic like “guest blogging”, “tweeting for bloggers”, “podcasting”, etc. When the 12 days were all done, she created an awesome eBook, again, with the idea behind it: each page of the eBook is dedicated to one prominent blogger with the citation from his article and Allison’s comment below it.

The eBook looks neat and in the end makes a very interesting and refreshing read – and obviously makes a perfect example of smart content re-purposing:

Ebook based on the series

You can do something similar or simply print the book out and send to select social media influencers to spread the word. If you are not ready to self-publish a book yet, go with a simpler option (like using an affordable and simple custom printing service like this one)

Are you making the most of your great content? Share your tips!

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