What I love about working for WCG is that we are empowered to build things. If anyone in the company has a good idea that addresses a specific market need, fills a gap or solves a business problem, we are sanctioned to run with it with full support.
This is why I am pleased to showcase a new content model that has been proven and works. I certainly can’t take all the credit because I have had tremendous input from my team here at WCG.
Content as a Service (CaaS) is meant to solve one very specific market need – content. Not just the challenge of creating relevant content but also the publishing, distribution, integration and operations of turning content into a storytelling platform that can scale. The goal is to help brands truly become publishers.
Understanding The Content Challenge
As you think about today’s environment, you can agree that it’s very difficult to reach your target audience – consumers, B2B, healthcare, you name it. There are several reasons for this:
There is a content and media surplus. We are overwhelmed with content, daily. Thousands of traditional advertising messages (not to mention “likes”, comments, shares, RT’s, checking to see who’s stalking our LinkedIn profile) are battling for our attention. And the surplus of multiple devices allow us to consume content how we want, when we want and move between our phones, tablets and computers in no particular pattern.
There is an attention deficit. Our brains can only consume a finite amount of information and today’s environment has affected our attentions spans. Some data suggests that we can barely comprehend 285 pieces of content. Perhaps this is why the average Facebook user has 350 friends. It would be impossible to maintain this many relationships and the content that goes with it.
Tunnel vision allows us to focus. 74% of us get frustrated with content when it’s irrelevant to our interests. This is one reason why we filter out all the madness and only focus on what’s important and relevant to us at a very specific moment in time. Quick example. A couple of years ago, I was in the market to buy a new car. I noticed Audi, BMW and Lexus advertisements all over the place. Status updates, tweets and conversations in the office about cars occupied my attention. After I bought the car, all the ads, conversations and status updates when away. Of course they didn’t really go away, the content just became irrelevant. Tunnel vision ensued.
Our behavior is unpredictable. The way we consume content is dynamic and changes daily. First thing in the morning, I may check my Twitter feed, Facebook feed and then messages on LinkedIn, in that specific order. On a different day, I may not be able to check any social media until the afternoon. I can’t even predict my own behavior.
To make matters even more complicated, there are several internal challenges that many brands face with content, according to the 2013 Content Marketing Institute:
From a similar study by the Altimeter Group in 2014, 70% of marketers say they lack a consistent or integrated content strategy. It’s no wonder why marketers are scratching their heads in frustration because they are running out of things to say and their metrics are disappointing.
The Content as a Service (CaaS) model is meant to address both the external challenges of reaching your target audience; and also the barriers you face internally. The model is broken down by four separate (yet related) work streams and supported by an operational framework that’s meant to facilitate integration at key touch points.
Here is a quick summary of the model.
Social Narrative Development
Both a quantitative and qualitative analysis are needed to craft a story that can break through the clutter and reach new audiences. Quantitative data includes a deep analysis of your customers’ interest and affinities, social graphics, an in-depth market conversation analysis, search behavior and customer segmentation data. Qualitative data is studying the various perceptions and general conversations about your brand from various stakeholders (media, analysts, influencers, the community, etc.) purely from a contextual perspective. The output of this exercise is to establish an editorial architecture from which all future content is created. While there are several ways to do this, the best way to think about storytelling is through three different lenses, whereby the brand:
- … is the story (events, campaigns, product/brand focused)
- … is a character in a story (customer stories, 3rd party articles, sponsorships)
- … comments on a story (lifestyle, real-time/agile content)
From there, you can begin to map out content for your brand’s editorial calendar; and align content to specific social and digital channels with some strategic thinking.
Social Channel Strategy
Brands struggle with social media because they are using it to amplify and distribute all content and tell every story in every channel. This approach dilutes the message and just contributes to the content surplus that many people ignore.
A social channel strategy consists of two very important steps. The first requires an in-depth analysis of existing communities/social channels, a competitive content analysis and examining internal resources that manage the content process. This determines what’s working and not working from a content perspective and the analysis will deliver insight as to what needs to change, which channels need consolidating (i.e. multiple Twitter accounts, etc.) or it may even uncover the option of creating new channels.
The second step involves strategically aligning content to specific social/digital channels based on the audience segmentation, platform behavior and documented brand goals.
Social Channel Strategy also involves building converged media models that will integrate brand storytelling across PESO (paid, earned, shared and owned media); and also deploying a real-time content engine using analytics, creative and publishing capabilities.
Data from the Boston Consulting Group tell us that that when it comes to trust and credibility, “people they know”, “consumer opinions online” and “colleagues and friends” rank the highest when people are seeking information about a brand and its products.
Brand storytelling is more than just branded content, native advertising or creative campaigns on Facebook. It also involves mobilizing employees to participate and feed the content engine. And it’s not just employees tweeting or sharing company news in social media. It’s about finding good stories about the brand, its products or employees and using long-form content to tell everyone about it.
This step involves mobilizing and operationalizing a brand’s stakeholders (employees, caregivers, customers, the media, etc.) to “participate” and help tell he brand story through their individual lens.
Content Performance & Analysis
Rather than measuring content (status update, press release, blog post, tweet) at the “social network” level, there is more value measuring content at the content level. We score each piece of content that gets published on a 1 – 100 scale. High performing content ranks higher on the scale.
The algorithm uses two variables to determine the score 1) where that content was published and 2) the engagement level in each platform it was published.
We then use that scoring system to optimize future content, where it’s shared and whether or not to push paid dollars behind it in order to improve reach/engagement.
Content Operational Framework
This is an operational step that spans across each of the four work streams above. It’s a consultative approach that helps our clients structure their teams, assign roles & responsibilities with internal stakeholders and others agency partners, invest in the right technology and build a content supply chain (editorial process that facilitates the movement of content from ideation to distribution) that can scale. Essentially, it’s helping brands build a newsroom organization.
Over the next few months, I will expand on each of these areas and provide case studies on how we are helping clients achieve content greatness.
Until then, enjoy.