Content might be king, but the queen is a better chess piece

If you're still focused on the number of fans or followers as the priority in 2013, you are missing the point. Big numbers are a good thing. But they're not the only thing.

Yet again this week, we've been struck with a highly shared discussion about content and how creating it – no, better – creating more and more and more of it, is what “matters.” Is developing great content important? Absolutely. Is it going to drive the proper amount of ROI your business needs – either immediately or over the long haul? That's hard to say.

Is putting yourself into content overdrive going to make you truly relevant in the marketplace, or as Gary Vaynerchuk says in the above-referenced Forbes piece, “interesting?” I don't think it does, but it might help you raise your Klout score. For every “interesting” person Vaynerchuk refers to on relatively new service Vine, there are probably 500 teens on Instagram who have tens of thousands of followers who like every single selfie they take in the bathroom – but I'd hesitate that most marketers would attempt to “work with” them or consider them truly influential, at a minimum. That might be “interesting,” in some sense of the word, but it doesn't make them relevant. There is a difference.

If you're still focused on the number of fans or followers as the priority in 2013, you are missing the point. They are most definitely important, just as advertising during the Super Bowl is important if you understand the methods behind that machine. Big numbers are, in many cases, a good thing. But they're not the only thing.

I have spoken with too many social media people – notice I didn't say PR people who happen to have social as an expertise – who quote chapter and verse their social-specific results (a la “but so and so celebrity retweeted it”) with zero ability to take it one step further. It's as easy as “so-and-so tweeted about us and it drove 5,000 sign-ups to our mailing list,” “it was our highest grossing day,” or anything even remotely close to that. Unfortunately, that doesn't even appear to be on the radar.

This leads us to “the queen,” so to speak. In this discussion, the queen is all seeing, ever malleable, and, generally speaking, up to the task. The queen is actually having a strategy, not employing a bunch of seemingly random tactics in the interest of winning a popularity contest that has zero bearing on business.

What I can appreciate in Vaynerchuk's idea here is the knowledge that this will, most likely, do a great deal towards clutter-busting, one of the challenges all of us in the marketing disciplines find ourselves working through every single day.

Creating great content and putting it on Vine, with nary a mention of why, is the blind pawn move on the chessboard. Doing it 50 times might get you noticed (the clutter-busting), but it doesn't necessarily mean you are good at anything, are growing your business, or doing anything other than increasing fans, followers, likes, or comments. Those can't be our goals any longer.

Playing the queen's game is leveraging the who, what, where, when, and, most importantly, why of the PR and social media game. Your video might be great, but who cares if zero people you want to bring to your business are paying attention to your YouTube page?

There are some brilliant marketers in this world and Gary Vaynerchuk is someone I've followed – and learned a lot from – over the years through his passion for wine, something for which we share a love. That said, playing the quantity over quality game isn't a strategy we should be espousing for our clients' growth.

Tom Biro is VP of Allison+Partners' Seattle office. His column focuses on how digital media affects and shifts PR. He can be reached at tom@allisonpr.com or on Twitter @tombiro.

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