Harness the content butterfly effect

Posted by on Oct 20, 2011
Harness the content butterfly effect

The Butterfly EffectIn the “old” days of digital (as in just a year or two ago), I advised clients to use their website as the backstop to all their advertising, both traditional and digital. The idea was to use your website as the payoff for campaigns and as a source for deeper product information. The website was the ultimate “source of truth” about your brand.

Then came social media, and the level of direct control over brand messaging has diminished. Now smartphone penetration, along with the rapid rise of tablets, has finally achieved significant, meaningful numbers, and social media is evolving into social commerce, moving influential content closer and closer to the moment of purchase.

The result is a pretty jumbled content cloud where messages about your brand and your offerings could be anywhere at any moment, waiting to be accessed by your customers at a critical moment.

Or is it as chaotic as we think it is?

I like to think about content in terms of the butterfly effect. Yes, it’s a movie with Ashton Kutcher, but the term originates in mathematics and comes from chaos theory. It refers to an outcome that is highly sensitive to initial conditions. The proverbial story behind the name is that under the right set of circumstances, the flap of a butterfly’s wings could ultimately result in a hurricane.

How does this apply to online content and your website?

Regardless of where it appears, your online content ultimately stems from your products and services, and your website is the only place where you have direct control over the messaging. Your content, just like the butterfly, has ripple effects beyond your website and influences the conversations about your products and services on Facebook, Twitter, the blogosphere and more. You may not be able to control conversations outside your website, but you can certainly influence them.

If your website is difficult to navigate, contains layers of outdated or hard to reach information, the butterfly effect on conversations outside your direct control could be ineffectual at best and could create a hurricane at worst.

Accordingly, the first three steps in executing a successful social media or social commerce strategy are:

  1. Establish a good content strategy for your website
  2. Make sure your content is relevant, useful and shareable
  3. Place your content in a structure that is easy to access and navigate

Doing so will also have a positive impact on your SEO/SEM efforts.

So even though it may seem “old school,” any aggressive moves online start with making sure your website, especially its content, is in order. It may no longer be the ultimate “source of truth” about your brand, but it’s where the ripples start.