I’m dreaming of a white paper
When thinking of producing a white paper, it’s best to start with a movie reference.
Picture the scene: It’s December. Snow is on the ground and love is all around. It’s like you’re living out a Richard Curtis movie. Your life is all mulled wine and Christmas songs.
You go Christmas shopping, thinking hard about what to get your own Martine McCutcheon/Hugh Grant. Of course you want to get something they want, something valuable to them, something they can use.
But imagine if, come Christmas morning, you decided against handing it over – opting instead to just leave it where no one will find it.
That’s what many companies are doing with their white papers – or research reports, or thought leadership reports, or whatever the latest term is.
Some have claimed the traditional white paper is dead, but that is not correct. Instead, it actually remains a valuable opportunity to position your business as an expert, knowledgeable and ahead of trends.
What’s damaging its effectiveness is the reluctance on the part of many to take the traditional white paper into social.
Take your white papers where your audience is…
Everyone knows the reach we can now achieve through social – identifying where audiences are and how they are accessing content, and being able to deliver only what’s relevant to that audience, to cut through the noise and resonate.
With this in mind, the fact that some white papers still fail to make it past a display stand in a business’s reception area and a PDF on the corporate site is inconceivable.
Ask yourself the following question. Will we reach more of our target audience by socialising our content, or by waiting for people to walk into our reception area or visit our site? Put simply, we live in an era of distribution over destination.
Tearing white papers up on social…
However, socialising your white paper content has to go beyond simply distributing the whole report.
The key to cutting through the noise on social platforms rests with engaging audiences. And this is best done using short, valuable, interesting content – infographics, statistics, quotes – supported by engaging imagery. It’s essential to identify these assets from your reports and repurpose them for social activity.
Content guru Rebecca Lieb famously used a turkey-slicing analogy to define effective content creation and distribution. In short, her theory was that if you start with a piece of thorough, rich, valuable, deep-dive, often research-based, content (your turkey), you can slice that up to distribute the right pieces to relevant audiences.
This, of course, sent many content creators into a spin, as they rushed to create their turkeys.
The beauty of the white paper is that it is your ready-made, ready-cooked turkey, waiting to be sliced into infographics, statistics, opinion pieces, blogs, videos and articles – and distributed through social.
In short, you’ve already done the hard bit. The gift (coming tenuously back to the Christmas analogy) is wrapped and ready to go. All you need to do is deliver it.