It’s been more than 20 years since Bill Gates coined the now-ubiquitous phrase, “content is king,” in an essay about the rise of the Internet. It was the early days of the Internet, years before the dot-com bubble would burst, when companies and individuals were still trying to make sense of the budding interactive network.
Gates predicted that while the Internet would spawn or prop up a host of industries—web development, ISPs, domain providers, data centers, server manufacturing—the long-term winners would be the content creators and owners.
“The broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate,” Gates wrote.
Fast forward to 2016 and Gates looks like the genius he is. Today’s tech giants and media darlings are almost exclusively content-focused, from Facebook to Google to Twitter to Netflix. And content marketing is the buzzword in corporate marketing departments and at creative agencies.
Fortune 500 companies are sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into content creation and content marketing campaigns. Why? Because content is more authentic than advertising. It can position a company as a thought leader and vital resource. It plays nice with social media sites and search engines. And, most importantly, it’s educational; it provides real value to the potential customer.
As a real estate professional, content should be a key component of your branding and marketing strategies. Blogs, video, how-to articles, white papers, testimonials, webinars, podcasts, seminars—these media vehicles are platforms by which you can transform the brand of YOU from “real estate professional” to “go-to real estate expert.” They will influence potential clients to reach out to you, not your competition, because you are the knowledge leader, the trusted source. They will increase the probability of your website landing on page one of a Google search (the Holy Grail of online marketing). Finally, they will help you stand out in a crowded marketplace, both online and in your local markets.
But one word of caution: If you are going to invest the time and resources to create content—your brand as a knowledge leader—make sure you own it.
In today’s “Freemium” economy, there are a host of free and increasingly robust content publishing and hosting tools: Blogger, Medium, Tumblr, to name a few. LinkedIn’s Pulse blog is the hot new thought-leadership platform. Facebook is also getting into the long-form content game, with its Instant Articles technology. And who doesn’t love watching videos on YouTube?
These are powerful tools with impressive networks and traffic. So why pay for a custom website, blogging platform, or domain name when you can get it for free?
Here’s the issue: By using these free services, you’re relinquishing ownership of your content. If you don’t own it, you don’t control it. These third-party platforms control the traffic to your content. They dictate the look and feel of the site and how your content is presented. They may, one day, insert advertising around your content. Some platforms have terms of service agreements that give the host full rights over the content.
For these reasons, and a host of others, make sure you own and control your content. Here are a few simple ways to become the sole owner of your content:
Buy a domain. For a few dollars a year, you can purchase your plot of land on the Web. Here are some helpful tips.
Launch a website. Once you own and control your domain name, it’s time to create your website. Winning Agent offers several great WordPress Themes geared for real estate professionals.
Create a custom URL shortener. Custom URLs are a great way to share and brand your content on social media platforms.
In the coming weeks, we will delve into the art and science of content creation and marketing. We’ll provide a roadmap for developing a content strategy, best practices for blogging, and tips for maximizing SEO and social media to spread your knowledge. Until then, make sure you’re the king of your content!