The term content marketing has been gaining a lot of attention over the last few years and rightfully so. Content is the lifeline in today’s social eco-system so it makes sense. But content marketing means nothing without a strategy. A content strategy enables and positions a brand to tell a very consistent story across the media landscape. It helps draw parallels between what’s important to customers and what the brand stands for. It enables marketing teams to create more relevant content based on what the brand is comfortable talking about and what it’s not comfortable talking about. It allows employees, partners and customer service to also participate and be a part of the story too. Here are 3 things to consider that will up-level your content strategy in 2013.
1. Move past the “content marketing” buzzword
Content marketing is more just SEO. It’s more than tweeting out a cool photo in real-time during the Super Bowl Halftime Show. It’s so much more than an infographic that gets embedded on hundreds of blogs blessing your site with a multitude of backlinks. Content must be emotional, tell a story and aim to change consumer’s behavior, attitude or perception about your brand. And, while search is certainly important, your brand’s story encompasses much more than what you write on your blog or website.
Everything you do in marketing, online and offline, must align with you brand narrative. So, yes, blog content, videos, status updates, tweets, photos and even press releases are important. But so is the story you tell through your employees, customers, and partners as well as through your paid media initiatives. This is why you must develop your content strategy before you start marketing it.
2. Develop the content narrative
Your content narrative is different from your brand narrative. In most cases, the brand narrative cannot change consumer behavior when shared in its pure sense. People reject brand messages. Your content narrative translates the brand narrative in a way that relates to consumers. It should consist of several inputs:
- Brand Pillars/Positioning – this is the brand narrative.
- What are the issues that are important to the brand? (politics, sustainability)
- Media perceptions of the brand – what do they say when they write about the brand?
- Community perceptions of the brand – how does the community react to your current content?
- Fan Interests – what are your fans interested in when they aren’t talking with you?
- Historical content performance – basic performance data on what type of content works and what types that don’t work.
- Search Behavior – what consumers search for when looking for your brand or similar products or services?
- Customer Support Pain Points – what are the support issues that are most concerning to your customers?
The output of these ingredients will mold a content strategy that can scale and give birth to content that changes customer behavior – whether it’s selling more products, re-positioning a company or helping customers change the way they perceive your brand.
3. Think like a media company
This is what Tom Foremski, publisher of tech blog Silicon Valley Watcher has been saying for years now, probably since 2005 or so – that every company is a media company. And while I agree in concept, I also believe that marketers still struggle with it. So maybe every company isn’t a media company, yet. Perhaps it’s an unidentified opportunity that many marketers have yet to grasp. Perhaps saying that they need to evolve into a media company is more accurate. So the question is, how do you do it? In addition to delivering the content strategy, here are six other things to make this transition:
- Establish a centralized editorial team – the core team should consist of marketing, public relations, customer support, IT and product/brand teams. They will be responsible for delivering the content strategy across the organization.
- Assign the roles and responsibilities of your contributors – contributors can include customers, partners and employees. If you work for a large, multinational organization you will have to assign regional editors who will be responsible for approving/editing content submitted by the contributors.
- Build content ideation, creation, approval and distribution workflows – controls should be established to ensure content is being shared externally at the right time, in the right channel and to the right customers.
- Create a real-time listening station – also known as “social business command centers”, these should be used to not only respond and engage with customers but also capitalize on “what’s trending” externally and then deciding if the brand has an opportunity to capitalize on the news cycle.
- Define your converged media – partner with the paid media team and work through various models that can take your organic content and amplify it through paid media (i.e. triggers that will take Facebook posts and turn them into promoted posts)
- Invest in the right technology – there are several technology vendors that can facilitate this evolution into a media company. For planning and ideation, Kapost, Compendium and Contently have capabilities that do this well. For content creation, approval and distribution (i.e. governance) Sprinklr, Spredfast, Expion and Hootsuite Enterprise have built in workflows and approval processes. And, lastly for real-time content optimization, Social Flow is one of the top vendors in this space.