Content is king
Zoe Pedersen - Head of Commercial Services
“Content is king”. We’ve heard that for many many years. We’ve written previous blog articles about it actually. Is it really STILL king, even in 2020?
Marketers love content marketing for its strength in storytelling and ability to engage with audiences. “Content is king” has been a mantra at the heart of SEO and search marketing since the dawn of that particular digital discipline, due to the way Google’s algorithm utilises on-site and off-site technical content in its determination of search results.
Content today is far more than keywords and blogging, and far more about consistent, comprehensive brand building. It requires a holistic, ground-up approach with a commitment to quality.
In 2020, the content rules still apply:
It’s not about You. It’s about Them.
Brands often make the mistake of producing content based on what they think their audiences want to read, hear or watch. Good content, the sort of content that helps in the conversion journey of a target audience, isn’t about You. It’s about what they think, feel and want to know.
The combination of data insights, keyword research, social listening, market research and paying attention to Google search trends, and the on-site behaviour of your audience can help inform a customer-focused content strategy; it also ensures that you are producing content that users won’t just find useful, but content that they are already actively looking for.
Content must be purposeful and valuable.
Why are you writing that blog?
What value is that video going to give to a user?
Is that cat meme really representative of your brand’s culture?
Content has to have a point. There is nothing worse than creating content just for the sake of it. If you don’t have anything useful to say, rather don’t speak. If what you are producing isn’t going to help, inform, educate, entertain or delight your end user, then it’s the wrong sort of content.
And that is a two-way consideration. Content shouldn’t just be of value to the end user, it needs to serve value to the business as well. Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Increase your SERP ranking? Generate leads or outright sales?
Content must always have a purpose, for both the brand and the user. This not only helps with identifying your measurability metrics, but it ensures that your content strategy is tied into your overall business strategy and you can directly correlate an ROI to your content marketing efforts.
Authenticity is critical.
Fake it ‘til you make it? Not in this case.
People can tell when you are faking it and, thanks to the meteoric rise of social media, will be ruthless in calling you out on it.
Enthusiasm counts. Genuine opinion is valued, if informed. Having a true, authentic brand voice in your content is about showing the human side of your brand. Brands today need to be far more than just their logo and a strapline; personality is important.
We can now share and engage with our favourite brands in so many different ways. From written content, blog posts, white papers and press releases to Facebook posts, Tweets, Instagram photos and videos and other visuals - we see, read and hear more from our brands than ever before, and we actively seek out the types of engagement and content that we personally prefer.
Having a consistent, real personality that can communicate across all that content is a powerful tool in delivering messaging that resonates which, in turn, acts to trigger the behaviour we want from our audience.
Content is a journey
Writing blog content is not the entirety of your content marketing – or at least, it shouldn’t be. content plays a role at each stage of a user’s journey.
People like to research before making up their mind. Reading an article or a blog gives them the subtle control they want in order to check their assumptions, and compare and contrast before making a final decision.
When someone has bought into a brand, service or product offering, they often enjoy feeling part of that brand’s tribe or community and will return to Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or your website to get that feeling and affirmation of being part of something. Advocacy content, at the end of the sales funnel, is what can keep a consumer bought into your brand after their initial purchase.
Good content, deployed strategically in a journey method can achieve a whole host of marketing objectives, from Awareness and Interest through to Desire and Action. It not only helps to drive leads and sales, but also moves on to helping a brand develop and maintain the ongoing customer relationship.
But what about content when things go crazy? How is content king amidst and post-Covid-19?
Politics, socio-economics, sports and then came along the pandemic. There are certain issues that the majority of brands either avoid outright, or are not too sure how to handle sensitively and responsibly.
Well, if you have nothing useful to say, say nothing, right? The key thing here is the word ‘useful’.
Covid-19 has presented many brands with an opportunity to up their content marketing as a way of staying connected and engaged during lockdown.
Nike made its subscription to its Nike Training Club app, which offers streaming workouts, free. It also upped content on its running clubs, training modcasts and across all its social channels as a way of keeping its millions of consumers active under lockdown, promoting ways to keep fit indoors.
An American hotel chain, famous for its chocolate chip cookies it serves guests at check-in, released its chocolate chip cookie recipe to the world with the statement: “A warm chocolate chip cookie can’t solve everything, but it can bring a moment of comfort and happiness”. A video containing the recipe has been viewed over 250,000 times!
The minute we can all go on holiday again, guess where many of those video viewers will be booking...
Brands are stepping up to the challenge and finding genuine, helpful ways to remain present for their audiences, and the good ones are doing so without a single sales message. Cultivating that brand empathy will pay its returns as soon as business doors are allowed to reopen.
Covid-19 is not the only crazy or crisis time that brands face. Hot issues flare up all time and it’s up to marketeers and their content teams to determine how best to respond – and whether or not to be present in those topical conversations
What are the content rules during crisis times?
Stop. Listen. Think. Check. Stop again.
You have to spend more time checking, validating and seeking diverse opinions before stepping into a topical area during any sort of crisis period.
Tone deafness is a dangerous but all too easy trap, and brands must be careful to avoid it.
Following common sense and inclusive rules for content review is important, for example:
If you are thinking about taking a stance on a women’s issue, make sure the people writing and approving the content are not all men.
If you want to speak up on a racial Issue, make sure you have diverse ethnicities and cultures in your creative and review process.
The ‘useful’ rule always applies. Content that is likely to engage is oftentimes useful with no strings attached.
Being useful creates the warm and fuzzies with users who remember that when it comes to them making their purchase decision.
Always ask yourself, your team and employees how your brand and business can be useful.
During Covid-19, we have seen many examples of businesses turning to aid in the crisis, from clothing manufacturers dedicating their production lines to making PPE or face masks, to alcohol distilleries (and others) switching their vats and production facilities from making gin to making hand sanitisers.
Your best-performing content may well, usually, be your in-depth, informative white papers or blogs. But remember that people change their content consumption depending on a variety of factors.
For example, many people switch to consuming video content and infographic/visual styles of content when issues become complex. It’s a way to digest differing opinions and access dense information quickly and easily.
Content is certainly still king.
Just follow the rules and ensure you are leveraging your content strategy to be of benefit – not just to your business, but to your audience as well.