At the heart of every exchange online is a piece of content, and within the DNA of that content is a theme that tells a story. With social platforms and new tools to capture and tell a story, there’s no excuse for a brand to rely merely on the tried-and-true mediums of old media. Each new iPhone update alone pushes the evolution of brand as publisher forward. Add to that more powerful devices connecting more people at greater speeds, and the content evolution becomes more clear. With more people who have more access to your story, it’s critical to understand the role of content in the context of the needs of the individual who will consume it.
Content can support several business and marketing goals, including:
- Establish and grow community
- Inform prospects throughout the sales funnel
- Introduce a new product or service
- Establish thought leadership
- Strengthen or establish a search presence
It’s finding the right purpose and focus for your content efforts that help a brand realize the benefits of a deliberate content strategy. Over time, your content strategy can help align disparate programs and ground them around a single purpose. And, for each program, it can help create a market for your message/content over time.
Addressing the Content Burden
Brands have a lot to think about when they establish a presence in social media. How long will it take to grow a community? What kind of conversations will they need to anticipate and be able to address? How do they grow their presence from a one-way monologue into a two-way dialogue with the people who influence the success of their brand?
All of these are important questions to ask and answer. But, few are more important and have greater impact across all of them more than addressing the content burden.
Addressing the burden of content requires a new approach. Thinking strategically about content requires the ability to rethinking the content supply chain – the role, format and context of content – from creative concept through measurement. When we start to think multi-purpose, multi-medium and multi-format, we can begin to align content resources against the content burden. And, we ensue we can create a compelling story for the brand in the shareable, searchable formats of the social web. But, brands are trained and condition to think of content in traditional terms – defined by insertion orders, date lines, traditional news cycles and white space. When we begin to think beyond traditional limits, we can start to put content in other formats. Here are a few of the formats of the new storytelling model.
Creating a Content Culture
Unlocking the benefits of the new content reality is creating a content culture within the business. What may have been the responsibility of the communications team or marketing group now extends to every part of the brand with a story to tell. The magic comes in finding the relevant and compelling content across the business that can be used to tell a cohesive brand story to each of its audiences. But, in order to address the content burden, more groups within the brand should understand the role they play in telling the brand’s story.
Generally, education about the changing role of content includes elements of:
- Getting the brand to think beyond single-purpose content
- Educating the brand on shareability and why to put content in the shareable formats of the social web
- Helping the brand understand that it’s not just a consumer of content but also a publisher
- Introduce the concept of curation and the value of looking at the brand in the context of its industry and being a convener and promoter of the discussion
- Knowing what to measure and looking at content strategically and using likes, shares and views as an indication of the interest in that particular piece of content, but not as an immediate indication of the value of content marketing as a whole (low views should help direct content refinement, not to condemn the strategy)
Being able to tell the entire brand story in multiple places and formats is becoming the new norm. Adapting your brand to capture the benefits of that connected conversation through content will help define the brand in its business context.
It’s for these reasons and others that as we lead our clients, partners, brands from insights through engagement, we focus much of our approach on putting good, relevant — and frequent — content into social media. The challenge for most brands isn’t understanding the role of content in their online strategy. Instead, it’s realizing the burden, having to produce content with the frequency necessary to feed the social machine. Without a consistent stream of good, relevant content, a brand’s social presence becomes stale and ineffective, and the brand becomes irrelevant to both people and the search engines that seek their content.