Most businesses don’t appear fully formed, with a huge customer base and a thriving community of followers, and attracting a critical mass of users can be tough.
One of the best ways to attract users to a new online business or forum is by seeding content. What does this mean? Basically, content seeding involves creating articles, reviews, postings, videos – whatever kind of content your site wants to specialize in. The aim is to make site visitors feel like they have found a real community with a vibrant user base. That way, they are more likely to participate themselves.
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Examples of How Seeded Content Has Sparked Online Success
One of the most well-known examples of how to use content seeding is Reddit. Nowadays, Reddit is one of the internet’s most popular (and sometimes controversial) discussion forums, but it had to start somewhere.
The site’s founders had the idea of posting as much self-generated content as they could under different pseudonyms. When people visited the site, they didn’t just find an empty discussion forum. Instead, they found ongoing conversations and characters they could interact with. It took work, but it also created the foundation for a massive online business.
The same kind of techniques are often used by dating sites (also controversially) to give the impression that there are more local singles than there actually are. Marketplaces also sometimes create their own listings to “make” the market. In both cases, customers are unlikely to participate unless they see others doing so.
Strategically Seed Your Content to Reach Key Influencers
To use content seeding successfully, you generally need to write or produce sizable amounts of content. It’s not enough to write a couple of blogs or forum postings. There has to be a conversation or debate going on. The trick is to make sure that influential people find out about that conversation, which is where contacting influencers comes in handy.
Spend some time researching who the relevant experts and social media mavens are in your field. Tools like Twtrland are a good well to find out who has the most followers. These “power users” are the perfect way to inform people about your business. All you need to do is persuade them to contribute an article or a comment, and you’ll see plenty of people joining the conversation on your site.
These contacts are important, so treat them well. If you are seeding videos or articles that are targeted at them, make sure your content is highly relevant. It has to be the kind of content these influencers share to their followers, so research what they tend to share and create something similar.
Mix Blog Postings With Other Forms of Content
When deciding how to construct a content seeding strategy, variety is often a good guiding principle. Don’t post fifty text-heavy blogs for users to wade through. It’s unlikely that they will want to engage with that kind of content on a regular basis. Instead, give them infographics and short, useful articles that they can quickly digest.
You could also style your seeded articles as spontaneous contributions from helpful users. For example, if your site deals in home restoration, you could include some quick how-to ideas from a user about flooring materials or furnishings. The idea is to make visitors think that your site is a source of trusted advice – the kind of place they will return to in order to find out what their fellow users think.
Be Clear About How Users Can Interact With Your Business
With the right content, you can make a great first impression on casual visitors, but what then? The whole purpose of content seeding is to plant seeds that will grow into a harvest of profits. It’s no use if thousands of people visit your site, but nobody makes a purchase.
If your seeded content aims to spark discussion, make sure that you link every page to the actions that you want visitors to take. This could be signing up for a newsletter, buying your eBook or browsing a selection of garden tools.
Whatever your business does, you need to make it accessible to site visitors, without compromising the feel of your content. That means striking a balance. You want the content to seem spontaneous and user generated, so that other people will participate and build a community of contributors. But you also need that content to result in conversions. Don’t lose sight of that fundamental goal.
Plant The Seeds and Reap The Rewards
It might sound far-fetched, but eCommerce startups have a lot in common with agriculture. Fields of wheat don’t happen magically. They need to be prepared and sown, just like profits.
If you use content seeding strategically, you can create the foundations for a business that generates a loyal following. You can allow customers to participate in discussions about your field of expertise, promote your services via social media and bring key influencers into the conversation. All of those benefits make spending time on content seeding well worth the effort.