Content. Community. Action.

ContentCommunityAction.  In that order.

Those three words may not seem like much, but they are the key ingredients to any new media, social marketing, or other web 2.0 activity.

Here’s what I mean:

It’s been said over and over (and over and over): Content is king.  Always has been, always will be.  But that’s nothing new.  When you look at it in terms of any new media activity, however, it puts a whole new spin on things.

Content is the foundation for everything else that you do in the new media space.  Thinking about starting a blog or a podcast?  The first step is to have a grasp on what you’d like to talk about.  This can be either original content or collected content (or a combination of both).  However you come about it, the content absolutely must be there.  Otherwise, the rest is wasted effort.

But good content cannot exist in a bubble.  That’s where community comes in.

Whether you call it a community, an audience, friends, fans or followers, the second piece of the puzzle is to build a community around that content.  This could be the audience that subscribes to your podcast or blog.  The friends and fans that interact on your Facebook group or discussion board.  Those who are following your updates on Twitter.

That community, however it happens to take shape, has an interest in your content.  How, here’s where things get turned upside down.

It’s not about you and your content.  It’s about them.  The community.

The community has expressed an interest in your content.  They’ve volunteered information about themselves and their interests.  They’ve taken the first step in establishing a relationship with you and your content.  But, like any good relationship, it requires action from both sides.  You, in turn, have an obligation to the community to continue providing that content that the community is interested in.  Think of it this way: Mass marketing is a numbers game – a game of reach and frequency.  The goal is to reach as many people as possible, as often as possible, in hopes that your message will resonate with a percentage of that audience who is interested in the message.  Looking at the situation from a new media standpoint, the “interested audience” steps forward and identifies themselves from the get-go.  Instead of talking to 10,000 to try and reach 100, those same 100 can come forward on their own accord and say, “Hi, I’m interested. I want to know more.”

Now, here’s another consideration.  In virtually all cases, your community doesn’t need the content that you’re providing.  They want the content that you’re providing.  Your responsibility, then, is making sure that the community gets more of what it wants.

Again, the key idea to keep in mind is that a community must be built around the content, and from a relationship point of view, it’s all about the community and continuing to meet their wants.

Once the foundation has been laid with the content, and the community has been established, then – and only then – can you take some sort of action.  Try to take action without first establishing a community and your efforts will be wasted.  Try to take action without good, quality content and the community will see that there’s no value in the content, therefore the content doesn’t meet their wants, and your efforts will be wasted.

However, with good content and an active, receptive community, you have the ability to take any number of measurable actions.  This could be asking something specific of the audience, such as providing feedback or completing a survey.  It could be an offer or incentive available exclusively to your community.  From a business standpoint, this is the key to success in the new media world.

Now, there are those who might think that I’ve simplified this concept entirely too much, and they could be right.  In the abstract world that is new media and web 2.0, I tend to believe that the simple explanation is usually the best, not to mention the easiest to understand.

Questions? Comments? Please, feel free to let me know.