Author Noah Brier explains that, “Traditionally, brands have been quite good at creating stock content in the form of ads and some of the more forward-thinking ones have found really interesting ways to translate that capability to beautiful web video and interactive experiences. While that’s great for short bursts, creating a sustained messaging strategy requires a combination of both stock and flow: longer-form, higher-quality content coupled with the quick-hit links to other interesting and relevant content on the web.”
Brier’s bang on. The biggest challenge brands have with flow content – the curated, quick-hit stuff – relates to a continued reluctance to share other people’s work and be curators. This, despite the proliferation of Cluetrain-wielding, social media ninjas who spout garbage that doesn’t drive business. So, while I have never subscribed to arbitrary, Brogan-esque guidelines about how much a brand or human should be tweeting other people’s stuff versus their own, firms that suck at balancing stock and flow content might need to put such measures in place (i.e. “For every 1 tweet about us, we tweet 5 times about other, related things that are not directly about us”).
There’s another problem. Flow content establishes “thought-leadership,” an elusive concept everyone claims to want, but something that takes oodles of time to build, and even more to effect the bottom line.
But it’s worth a try, because flow content keeps you front and centre, and means people think of you when they think about your industry. In effect, done right, it changes the classic AIDA purchasing funnel.
So who’s getting the balance between stock and flow right?
Mark Ragan, of Lawrence Ragan Communications, does it better than almost anybody. OK, I write for PR Daily (which bridges both the stock and the flow sides) and, yes, Ragan Communications is very well-schooled in the creation of stock content. But there’s no doubt, Mark is a superb curator. He uses tools like Dynamic Tweets masterfully to always be “out there,” and responds personally despite the obvious challenge of tens of thousands of followers. Bottom line: in the PR services industry, Ragan Communications is a go-to place for pretty well everyone I know because Mark’s a content marketing master.
Flow content, as Noah Brier suggests, is probably a problem for you or your clients. The first step is to get over yourself and realize it is OK to talk about stuff other people made or are up to. Think like a buyer at the top of the traditional funnel. Think “industry”, not “us.” Then explain to the naysayers how doing this can actually benefit the company if you get it right for long enough.
Thoughts my friends?