The Content Machine: 5 Easy Rules for Effective Content Production to Power Your Marketing

By William Flanagan
Modified July 22, 2021, Posted in ,

Content production.

Let’s be honest, it can be a slog. Content production is hard. It is time-consuming.

Yet, we all have to do it. Social Media Marketing depends on effective content production. We all have to tackle it. We all grapple with how to do it effectively.

This is where the Content Machine comes in.

What is the Content Machine?

In a nutshell, the Content Machine is a collection of processes.

The Content Machine is an epic that builds a repeatable, scalable system to produce content. It focuses on building deep content. Then, it modifies that content to distribute through social media.

With a Content Machine, you generate buzz and create coverage. You drive traffic, visibility, and awareness of you and your brand. And, it allows you to your increase your authority. Within your tribe, in your market.

The Content Machine is what we call in project management an “Epic”. An epic is a collection of processes, essentially a process is a process made of other processes. Instead of defining one process, you define reusable “parts” that are mixed together to do things.

Then, you continually improve individual processes, which increases the throughput of the system.

The Content Machine is an adaptable system that learns over time. How to do things better. More efficiently. Less time-consuming. More digestible nuggets. More interesting content.

More. Better. Faster. Easier.

Below I have listed five easy rules on what to keep in mind when you set up your Content Machine. If you take these rules to heart, the Content Machine will power your social media marketing.

The first rule of the Content Machine: How to do things is a commodity. How do transform is not.

If you want your content to stand out, don’t produce a how-to piece. Why? Because information is a commodity.

Think about it. You can go to Google and search for anything under the sun… and beyond. You can go to YouTube and watch videos on everything from shearing sheep to how to dance the salsa. You can do the same on TikTok. Pinterest is full of how-to guides. Let’s face it, even the best information is a commodity. It is easy to find, and easy to be copied.

So, what should you do? You should aim higher, or more precisely, deeper in your content production.

The key is not to inform. It’s to transform. If your message can transform people on how they think and what they believe, that is how you affect real changes in people’s lives. That is how you can really engage with your perfect buyer. And, ideally, build a long-term marketing relationship.

How do you turn how-to into transformation?. Show the transformation yourself.

Remember the Jungian archetypes and how they can inform your communication and engagement with your perfect buyer? Tell them stories. Talk about your successes, your failures. Talk about your struggles and fears. Motivate them. And help them with a plan to get from where they are now, to where they want to be.

Your content should not only teach. It should also empower them to transform and change their life.

The Second Rule of Content Machine: Produce less content. Better content. And, do lots of remixing.

Honestly, it took me a while to realize that more is not necessarily better. But, Google rewards higher quality content. Higher quality refers to the size of the content, its share, and its staying power. In addition, social media networks reward ‘showing up’. Meaning that you are present, engaging, and contributing.

So, combining these two strategies, you can first, build content that is worth promoting, and second, show up in social media networks to promote it.

Underlying these two strategies is the belief that the Content Machine rests on 3 primary thoughts:

  1. Produce less content, with higher quality (aka the “slow content” movement). This is deep content. Content with real, new thinking that’s detailed and helps society and industries advance. And in keep in mind, that the more you publish about about a core topic, the more you establish topical relevancy.
  2. Nugget it. Take each high quality piece, and break it into a series of smaller high value nuggets. These nugget pieces are suitable for distribution. You also engage with related content. And, through this availability, presence, and engagement, you attract interested parties to your business.
  1. Take collections of high quality content, and convert them into a singular larger piece of content. Think a guide or book. We call this upcycling. This book or guide you created becomes a long term authority-building element for you and your business. And, the promotion of this book creates another opportunity to engage and provide value on similar content. This creation and engagement increases your visibility and authority among your tribe and in your market.

And through this, marketing becomes its own asset and business value.

The Third Rule of Content Machine: Re-mixable content has more value than standalone content.

Let’s take a little step back from how to create your content machine to discuss content. What is “content?”

Content is a deeply researched and authoritative piece of content you publish on your own site. It helps your perfect buyer along their job journey.

This is different from a nugget. A nugget is some element of value from this content that can be digested mostly visually. A nugget allows for easy distribution of your content throughout social media networks. It provides huge value relative to the time it takes to consume it. And, it of course leads back to the content on your site.

For example, let’s say you write “The Ultimate Guide to Snowboarding.” You then remix this content into different formats. You take pictures. Create graphics. Create videos. Build a thread or carousel that distills key insights about how to learn to snowboard. You create inspirational content about learning to board. All of these are nuggets.

Nuggets are then scheduled and distributed on social networks. Other websites, forums, events. Really anywhere you have a good distribution channel. Any place your perfect buyers are present.

Key thoughts

I have added a few key thoughts in list format about content. These key thoughts relate the content machine back to earlier topics on this blog. Check out the links provided to these earlier blog posts.

content stacks content machine

Visual representation of Content Stacks through various social networks

  • Content is how you provide value to your tribe. You do this by helping people make progress on their job journey.
  • Content is separate from its distribution channels. Putting content into a distribution channel isn’t the thing that drives the value—building the content itself is the core value. You’re paying for access through the social media channel with money or time. That’s it.
  • The “medium is the message.” The form the message takes (through the medium) embeds itself onto the message and influences how the message is perceived. You have to nugget every piece to make it fit that channel. This is important: what works for Instagram, will not work for Twitter. Pinterest has different rules of engagement than TikTok, and likely a different audience. Know and understand whom you are trying to reach through what medium.
  • Marketing isn’t about advertising, it’s about building advocacy. And, advocates work for free if you give them the right content.
  • Content becomes “advertising” when someone else notices it and acts on it.
  • Influence = Coverage = Distribution. When you have influence, you can use media channels to discuss promotional campaigns. And, because you have coverage, you don’t have to pay for distribution. So, it pays to be interesting.

The Fourth Rule of Content Machine: Content needs to be optimized for both search AND people to get the best results.

Content should be designed to attract visitors. Visitors come from search and social.

To optimize your content for search, the focus is on the topic and the keywords. By building our content SEO friendly, you stack your deck to help you rank better in search.

To optimize it for social, you optimize it for people.

By referencing others, you gift them authority. By getting their opinions and publishing them, you give them an incentive to publish your content, too. Engagement is key here.

This stacks the deck in search and social. Your content will seem more authoritative. And, it gets more traction. Et voila, the content machine in action.

Your content needs to quote and mention people. Ask for quotes from authorities among your tribe and in your market. Do an interview. Give people a reason, and they’ll help you get results.

An added bonus, it’s also great networking (see rule number 5).

scaling people

The Fifth Rule of Content Machine: Content production, when done right, is a great way to network.

Good content production involves building a network of people interested in promoting it. They become interested in this because it helps improve their own authority about the subject (optimized for people).

But, good, deep content gets even better when you build a network at the same time.

Let’s say you build 2 pieces of content. You publish them. There are 0 new friendships you’ve developed. You have 0 people interested in promoting it.

Instead, take the same 2 pieces of content you built AND reach out to an influencer and get them to give you a contributing quote for the article. Then what happens? You’ve got a cursory familiarity and relationship. You’ve built a friend. And, you’ve got at least 1 external person to promote it. So, you get a link. And, you’ve got a relationship you can build on.

Now, let’s say you add 3 of these contribution pieces instead of 1. And, you write 5 articles.

In the first case, you have 5 pieces of content. 0 links. 0 friends.

In the second case, you’ve got 15 links from different sites and social accounts, and 15 new relationships that can grow.

And, in the second case, that content and promotion are virtually guaranteed to get more uplift.

The same articles have a very different profiles. Taking a collaborative approach makes a difference.

Let the content machine work for you.

10+ years of marketing agency experience. 10+ years (4 exits) of VC-funded startup experience. Dad. Musician. Coffee-lover. E-bike aficionado.
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