You have to know who your content resonates with.
When you know this, you need to burrow deep and keep delivering. This is why content marketing will continue to struggle for brands. Brands are being sold a false bill of goods. Brands believe that the more content they produce, the more people that it will connect with... and it will grow from there. There's an old adage that took hold in the early days of social media that seems to have been lost on those that have twisted these digital publishing platforms to act like more traditional media. Now, it's all about how many likes, shares and new eyeballs this stuff gets. Back then, it was all about "who" not "how many" people your content was connecting with. If you really want to better understand how social media became a paid channel, that's where to start. Look at the transition in social media from the "who" model to a "how many."
The paradox of growth.
Growth and audience is a drug. Once you have a taste, it becomes an addiction. Chasing that dragon leads many to a place where their work no longer resonates. Trying to appeal to more and more people - in broader and different arenas - usually leads us to a place where trying to appeal to everybody makes it appealing to nobody. The magic of these digital and social channels was that I was (finally) able to uncover, build and connect with an audience that had a specific interest in how brands were going to transform because of technology. When I first started publishing about this intersection (2003-ish), I thought I was one of a very small and nerdy group. As Six Pixels of Separation started to take hold, it became clear that all of us (the creators and the consumers) were finally finding our tribes. Now, a list of the top 20 marketing podcasts can come out, and Six Pixels of Separation won't even make the cut. Does that hurt my feelings? Sure it does. But, it also makes me smile to see just how much this niche has evolved. Every year that I attend HubSpot's Inbound event, I look around and marvel at the tens of thousand of people in attendance. I then think back to how these events used to be held in a small hotel ballroom with a few hundred attendees, not all that long ago.
When you focus on the niche, you can still find a mass audience.
Yesterday, we published episode #25 of Groove - The No Treble podcast. This podcast is about as niche as you can get. Once a month, I do a Six Pixels of Separation Podcast-like long-form conversation with some of the world's most respected bass players. Now entering into its third year, this passion project of mine's goal is to build the largest oral history of electric bass players. While the content is niche, there is still a lot of content about these celebrities available in other media formats. Our content and format is very different, and it's working. Why Groove? Most of the content about these musicians revolves around gear, playing techniques, and more technical chatter. For me, bassists are creative artists with stories to tell... stories that have not been told. It's a small but mighty form of content delivered by audio podcast. It is laser-focused, and it's not looking for a viral hit. Slowly - over time - and through consistently building it, it is gaining in listenership, industry respect and finding a groove of its own.
Finding your groove. Finding your audience.
What makes episode #25 of Groove - The No Treble Podcast so interesting for me, is how this show brings my worlds of brands connecting through technology and this kind of music together. Have you ever heard of Zander Zon? Even if you don't know his music, he should be studied by all business professionals who are thinking about how to make their own content connect. Zander has used YouTube in a very fascinating way. Not just to showcase his draw-dropping talent, but by understanding his audience and delivering against it.
Follow Zander Zon. Make your brand like Zander Zon.
Zander has close to 60,000 subscribers on YouTube. That's impressive for any solo bass player. What's even more impressive is that Zander's videos have generated well over 8 million views. The U.S. born (but London-based) artist has become known for his original bass compositions, but even more better known for his solo bass covers of film soundtracks, video game themes, rock songs, pop tunes and classical compositions. His Star Wars Medley and covers of songs like Adele's 'Someone Like You' and Disney Frozen's 'Let It Go', regularly get close to half-a-million views each. In fact, the Star Wars Medley reached six million views in five days. He leverages the type of content his audience seems to thrive on (unique, fun and quirky covers) to get them to check out his own, original, work. Re-read that last sentence. It's a huge lesson for brands, who tend to do little more than shill their own wares as much as possible. This popularity has allowed Zander to record and release two solo albums - Sonorous (2010) and Saturn Return (2013).
Listen to Zander's, find your brand's groove and dig in deep... Groove - Episode #25 - Zander Zon.