Adrian Baniak has written an article (3 Ways to Engage with Today’s Empowered Consumer) about how brands can “cut through the clutter” and communicate with their customers and prospect. He states one of the key ways to do this is “Write Your Own Tale, Or Someone Else Will Do It First”.
This mantra was originally made by Lisa Shalett, a partner at Goldman Sachs, and the global head of brand marketing and digital strategy. She said:
“Before it had established its official Goldman Sachs YouTube channel, their staff searched YouTube for “Goldman Sachs.” What they found were more than 34,000 videos already uploaded to the web—none of which were their own.
This was clearly a source of immense risk, because it meant that people were saying anything they wanted about the financial giant without any regulation.”
This need to eliminate much of the risk, and control and manage your own brand and online reputation, extends to your user and technical documentation.
If you don’t have your user documentation online, it’s likely someone else will post it up anyway – on websites and in forums. This means you lose control of which version of the content your customer sees – you don’t control whether they see the most up-to-date version or not.
Your organisation may be spending a lot of time and effort getting its message across, telling and owning its story, before the sale only to lose control of it after the sale. If the customer can only find one manual online, even if it’s out-of-date, they’re still likely to use it – and still likely to sue you if anything goes wrong.
People are attracted to the most useful and interesting content. This means if you just post a series of PDF manuals online, you’re still at risk. Some users will create their own content themselves. For example: procedures on one individual task posted on blogs and forums, and walkthroughs on YouTube. If their content is more attractive to users and prospects, or is the only content available, this is what your customers will see and hear. You no longer own your story.
If anything, Google favours information-rich content such as user documentation over marketing copy, so owning your story there could be even more important.
Should you need assistance in doing this, Cherryleaf can help.
(Flickr image: Ron Plower)