Key Elements for Building a Content Strategy

Creating a Content Strategy can be confusing. People often get confused between Content Strategy V/S Content Marketing

Altimeter Group’s recent Research report on “Key Elements for Building a Content Strategy” is an interesting read. However, I felt that a little more detailing would help.

I’ve created a graphic below to explain the key elements in more detail.

Creating a Content Strategy requires 4 elements

  1. Content Vision
  2. Content Strategy
  3. Content Development
  4. Content Marketing

Key Elements for Building a Content Strategy

Failing at Social Business? This could be why

Top 3 Social Media Mistakes

Mistake #1: Content Creation

Yes I know it sounds strange. However, it is so easy to create content on social media that people just dive in and create lots of content. They have a content calendar and various kinds of content, but sadly no ROI.

Mistake #2: Confusing Content Strategy with Content Marketing

Content Strategy vs Content Marketing

Strategy is about figuring out what to do, rather than the act of doing(creating) which is distinctly different from the act of marketing the content you have created.

Mistake #3: Social Media Measurement i.e. Measuring the wrong things v/s Key Performance Indicators

We get excited looking at the number of comments, on a post, excited about engagement and even driving engagement at the cost of achieving business objectives. This happens because one mixes up Social media metrics and business metrics (KPI).

Succeeding at Social Media: The three key elements

The first element in a winning Social, Digital marketing strategy is defining the business objectives.

The second element is to know how to create the right strategy to meet those business objectives

  • Who are you targeting?
  • Start with the end in mind.

The third element is monitoring KPIs(Key Performance Indicators) to know that you’re on track to achieve the business objectives.

After the above 3 things elements are figured out, you then go about the actual job of doing/creating – content, defining campaigns, engagement strategy, influencer, advocate, community engagement etc.

Wanna Succeed at the Above? Get the Report on Succeeding at Social Business

How to build your brand advocacy program?

Can you imagine constructing a 20 storey building without a blueprint?

Who needs a blueprint

Obviously not! However, most people go off building a brand advocacy program which might involve thousands of brand advocates just like that!

What is a framework?

The basic structure of something : a set of ideas or facts that provide support for something

The RIDE Framework

The RIDE framework helps you define a brand advocacy program that is unique to your organization. It contains a set of ideas which will help provide the necessary support for your brand advocacy initiative.

It provides a systematic approach to to creating a brand advocacy program.

Why use the RIDE framework?

Most organizations have their own ways of doing things and culture. The RIDE framework provides a  system that you can use and is flexible allowing you you to prioritize based on your situation and company.

What are the Components of the R.I.D.E framework?

It helps you think about the essential pieces which are needed for any successful brand advocacy program.

  • Rewards and Recognition – What’s in it for the brand advocates how are you going to provide them recognition
  • Impact Measurement – What’s the program doing for you, is it helping the organization
  • Discovery – Where and how do you find and discover your brand advocates
  • The 3 E’s – How to Evangelize, Empower and Engage your brand advocates

The hidden step 1 – Define your business objective?

There is a first step in creating your brand advocacy program. It’s about determining why you need it, how it’s going to help the organization. This is often the most critical part. Having a clear business objective ensures long term success of the advocacy program.

RIDE - The Brand Advocacy Framework

Is there a step 0?

Yes. Listening. Often the best way to think about your program, is to start by first listening to the conversations, and examining the content put out by your brand advocates.

More often that not this will help you to get important nuggets proving the necessity of the program. It gives great insight into the needs and issues faced by your customer and helps you see how your brand advocates are filling in gaps which you might not be addressing correctly.

Just like you can’t go about constructing a 20 storey building without a blueprint, the RIDE framework helps you to think through the essential elements necessary for a successful brand advocacy program.

Get started now

Video: How to build a brand advocacy program – Video covers the RIDE framework
Book: Brand Advocacy Book

How to reduce customer support costs the easy way: Brand Advocates

How to leverage brand advocates to reduce your customer support costs?

Customer Support

Within 48 hours of the Windows 10 launch, he provided about 712 answers regarding the launch and adoption of Windows 10 – he was not an employee of Microsoft, he was a passionate brand advocate part of Microsoft’s Brand Advocacy program. (Source).

It’s mind boggling when you think in terms of the customer support cost savings due to just one of these passionate brand advocates. Microsoft currently has approximately 3000 such brand advocates in just one of their advocacy programs. They have many such brand advocacy programs.

Customer Support

Traditionally it used to be the call center where people dial-in and ask their questions, that’s how customer support was provided. It is still the same way many organizations operate.

To reduce the cost of customer support one needs to really embrace the self-service era.

The Self-Service Era

In the Internet/Digital era, people access online support forums, read blogs, attend webcasts, chat with experts maybe over Twitter, raise questions on community sites or via Q&A sites like Quora etc.

Content to Support Customers

In order to meet the needs of this digital era audience one would need to do some or all of the below items:

  • Create tons of content in a variety of formats (Blogs, Presentations, Podcasts, Webcasts…)
  • Establish Support Forums, User Groups/ Communities
  • Enable interactions with Experts

The hard way

The difficult way of going about creating these interactions is by creating all the content yourself.

The easy way

The easy way is to leverage the power of already existing passionate brand advocates in addition to your corporate initiatives. In fact creating a brand advocacy program which fuels these brand advocates should be a corporate initiative.


When Microsoft was planning it’s Windows 10 product, it took the path of involving it’s most passionate customers. It publicly launched an advocacy program inviting thousands of it’s customers to participate –

With the Insider program, we’re inviting our most enthusiastic Windows customers to shape Windows 10 with us. We know they’re a vocal bunch – and we’re looking forward to hearing from them.

– Source

They were looking for people who’re vocal in terms of providing feedback to the company. In exchange they provided them early access, this ensured that they got a bunch of motivated experts on the product much before the actual product launch.

What would these experts do? (Besides providing feedback to Microsoft) They would share their expertise with others.

What were the steps they took:

  • Invited people to get early access
  • Took their feedback (Improved their product in the bargain)
  • Got a bunch of motivated experts who naturally evolved to helping solve customer queries

That’s exactly what happened with the person who provided about 712 answers regarding the launch and adoption of Windows 10. He was a passionate brand advocate who was involved with the program, partly due to his passion and interest and because Microsoft created a program and platform enabling him and others like him to participate.

Create a platform for brand advocates to engage with you and your customers

As an organization they provided a platform for brand advocates to actively engage and support other customers.

Here you will find that customer queries are answered by a whole host of enthused brand advocates.

The platform enables Microsoft to highlight the top brand advocates as well, based on other customer feedback.

(Badges are awarded for being an active contributor and awesome community member. Over time, good contributors earn a variety of badges.)

But…Will a third party individual know more about my products than my employed customer support personnel?

Surprisingly yes. More often than not I’ve seen brand advocates who’re passionate about a product sticking around to using that product for a much longer time than the employee sticking around in the company. Their passion and sticking around help them often gain far more mastery of the product than the typical customer support executive.

However, there is an easy fix to this problem, where the community itself helps in regulating inefficient responses which are a reality.

What if these brand advocates provide faulty or incorrect information?

One simple fix to this problem is to allow the customers to rate the responses.

For instance on the Microsoft Community Support site users can rate if they found a response helpful.

Community Indicates Usefulness

Start Small

If you’ve not yet started down this path i.e. you don’t have an advocacy program in place, start small.

Pick one activity which will help you go down the path to providing support to other customers.

Whether it’s inviting your brand advocates to contribute content(blogs, presentations etc.), or inviting them to test a product, or establish a support forum or a group on social media, and enable interactions with brand advocates. (Simultaneously work on creating your own brand advocacy program.)

The small wins will help you get the necessary corporate support to evolve a larger program resulting in much larger cost savings in customer support.

I would love to hear from you if you have stories on how Brand Advocates have helped other customers. Do share in the comments below.

Supercharge your content initiatives the easy way (Co-create with Brand Advocates)

On July 29th 2015, Microsoft launched Windows 10, the new version combining the classic interface of Windows 7 and the new design of Windows 8.

Within 48 hours of the W10 launch, Windows Experience MVP, Aurélio Baboo provided about 712 answers regarding the launch and adoption of Windows 10.

Windows Experience MVP Jamil Lopes, also a Microsoft Regional Director, presented the new features of Windows 10 at Microsoft’s Windows 10 Launch Event which attracted over 600 people.

Though the above are about the popular Windows 10, a much lesser known product Powershell celebrated a different milestone. PowerShell MVP Boe Prox celebrated the one million views mark last month on his blog! 

Why Co-create content with your brand advocates?


Each of these brand advocates extended the reach and increased the credibility of Microsoft in their own unique ways via different kinds of content: Questions & Answers, Presentations, Blogs etc.

Microsoft on it’s part has also supported and evangelized their activities.

Co-creating content or partnering with your brand advocates provides an easy way to super charge your content initiatives and helps in:

  • Increased credibility


92% of consumers trust “recommendations from people I know.” Only 37% trust search engine ads, and just 24% trust online banner ads. (Source: Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey

  • Reduced cost (do I even need to explain this 🙂
    Reduced Costs


  • Motivated Brand Advocates

Motivated Brand Advocates


Your brand advocates love to co-create. They like being a part and are extremely enthusiastic to participate with you. You need to enable it.


  • Word of Mouth Marketing

Word Of Mouth Marketing

Co-creating content with your brand advocates ensures an extremely high level of buy in from them. This leads to them helping you in spreading your content far and wide. It’s a win-win for both.


  • Increase Engagement and better relationships

Co-creation builds relationships

One of the most important benefits of working together and co-creating content with your brand advocates is the deeper relationship you build with them, due to the often high touch engagement with them.

How to co-create content with your brand advocates?

There are a number of ways to co-create content with your brand advocates:

1. Support Forums – Create a support forum where they can answer queries which your other customers might have.

2. Presentations – Invite them to present at your events and support their community events and presentations.

3. Blog – Encourage them to blog, by organizing blog competitions, feature popular bloggers on your digital properties.

Will it slow the process of content creation? Isn’t it tedious?

Yes, and no. If you don’t have a brand advocacy program in place it might seem be slow going, as first you’d need to discover your brand advocates, build a relationship with them and then talk about co-creation. However, you might want to start by approaching those brand advocates who are already out there blogging or providing support by answering customer queries etc.

What if the brand advocate posts something which is not appropriate or misinformation?

Any brand advocacy program would necessarily lay down a few rules of engagement for brand advocates. It would list the do’s and don’ts. Moreover, you would select brand advocates who are appropriate for your brand. You need to purposefully go about creating your Brand Advocacy Program.

When and how should you begin co-creating content with your brand advocates?

Small steps. Begin small, whether it’s asking their help in creating an FAQ which lists the common solutions to how to use your product better or inviting them to share their expertise on your products at a presentation or just blogging. ( You can also grab a copy of 10 ways to get user generated content via your brand advocates on )

Get started Now!


Video: How to build a brand advocacy program

Book: Brand Advocacy Quick Start Guide

Get and Retain More Customers with Low or Shrinking Budgets – via Brand Advocates | Using Digital, Social Media, Communities, Technology and Visual Thinking