Category Archives: Content Strategy

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

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 Learn-PowerShell.net blog! 

Why Co-create content with your brand advocates?

Co-Creation

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

Trust

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 www.sanjayshetty.com )

Get started Now!

Resources:

Video: How to build a brand advocacy program

Book: Brand Advocacy Quick Start Guide

How to solve the content creation and reach problem?

This is crazy, he said. I could see the frustration on his face, that one thick vein which pulsated especially when he was stressed – How do we keep generating so much content, how do we make sure we’re on top of Google searches, how do we ensure that our content is relevant and is reaching the right audiences? Oh! One other thing, how do we ensure that this content marketing is done globally at low or no cost? He finally breathed after that really long non-stop barrage of questions…

The problem with content marketing is real and getting bigger by the day

There was 1 website in 1991 online and today we’re close to a billion. Note: This is just the number of websites not the content. The Indexed Web contains at least 3.32 billion pages (Thursday, 10 July, 2014).

There is upwards of 1.5 Billion pieces of content created on Facebook daily, Million plus videos added on YouTube daily.

Social media doesn’t make it easier

If you have a Facebook page you’ve got some interesting challenges less than 3% of your content is visible to people who have liked your page (3 percent reach is still better than nothing) and we know how difficult it is to create content which people like.

Summary of the content marketing problem

1. Create loads of relevant content

2. Ensure the content is found

3. Ensure that the content is relevant

4. Ensure it is reaching the right audiences

5. Deliver it at a low or no cost?

 

Is there a magic bullet?

You want it don’t you. Well, yes and no. It’s a technique which was in use from cave man times and is relevant even today. But it’s not a magic bullet, one shot doesn’t solve it. You need to work at it. If you’re willing? All the above five problems are easily solvable.

Yes that includes the low or no cost.

Brand Advocates

Brand advocates are your passionate customers. They are passionate about your brand and it’s products. They typically have a deep commitment to helping others, voluntarily sharing their passion.

Prepare to be amazed at what they can do for you.

Here is an example from Microsoft

imageFigure 1 Source Microsoft MVP Awards Program

The above is just a small snapshot of content created at low or no cost.

Do they do more?

What else do the brand advocates do?

Help improve your products – by participating as early adopters and sharing feedback.

Organizing community events around your products (Nearly 200 MVPs ran almost 10,000 events on SQL Server 2008 and virtualization around the world.)

Online Promotion and Virtual events – Proving the popularity of social media, U.S. MVPs used new social media spaces such as Facebook and Twitter to deliver 22 virtual sessions reaching thousands of people. In a tough economy, MVPs created an online, global version of PDC (Professional Developer Conference), enabling more people to attend virtually.

Customer Support – Together, they answer more than 10 million questions a year!

A variety of forms of relevant content

From content for offline events in terms of presentations, demos, to online events, across social media and directly reaching out and providing answers to other customer problems. Millions of pieces of content are being created by brand advocates.

It’s not just written content. It’s presentations, videos, demos, all possible types of content.

The best part is that the content usually has extremely high relevance. Most brand advocates create content about your product about areas that they might have expertise in, or on areas they find other customers are struggling with etc.

Reaching relevant audiences – The perfect referral engine

clip_image002The most important advantage of working with your brand advocates is the reach they provide. They’re already your customers and they are reaching out via their activities to other customers. It’s the perfect referral engine.

It’s not dependent on Google, or the ways it changes its search algorithms.

It’s not wasteful advertising.

 

Multiply your reach – The Network Effect

Leverage brand advocates networks 2

Each brand advocate who engages with you has their own independent network of connections and followers.

Each brand advocate you add to your network, multiples the reach of your content.

When you involve brand advocates in creating content for you or sharing your content, you have potential access to their networks.

The advantage is that their audiences are typically relevant and share the same interest as that of the brand advocate and helps increases your reach to relevant audiences.

Well these are big brand tactics it’s not relevant for the small biz, or is it?

Brand advocates are leveraged by not just big corporations but even small ones. You don’t have to have thousands of brand advocates, begin with one. Yes I’m serious, that’s how most of these large corporate brand advocacy programs began.

They didn’t at the outset have 1000s of brand advocates. For e.g. I remember when Microsoft started their Cloud offering of Azure, they initially had less than 50 brand advocates who were interested in it.

You could begin with just one. That one brand advocate can help reach out to their network thereby multiplying your reach tremendously.

What about the cost?

The benefits of content created and promoted by brand advocates far outweighs the costs of managing a brand advocacy program. As the above examples showed, brand advocate contributions benefit the organization in a lot of ways – Content creation, helping it reach relevant customers, helping support other customers etc. The low cost high benefit of having a brand advocacy program is just phenomenal.

The stress on his brow had reduced. He could now see how leveraging brand advocates could help in his content marketing goals. He smiled and was breathing easily, he did have more questions… about how to setup a brand advocacy program etc. (That might just be another article).

To Summarize

Content marketing is tough, you need to create a lot of content and ensure it reaches relevant audiences and this can be expensive. Brand advocates, your most passionate customers are the best way to enhance your content marketing efforts at low or no cost.

3 core concepts for a successful Digital content strategy

Have you ever sat on a chair with 2 legs, it’s going to be a quick crash boom landing if anything. Three legs is a minimum and ideal is four.

Your successful digital content strategy similarly depends on 3 crucial concepts, four if you consider the business objective.

Concept 1: The Customer Journey

Customers go through three different journeys with you. Attraction, Conversion and Consumption. And your content needs to address the customer needs in these stages.

Customer Journey v2.1

Attraction

In the attraction stage the content helps to get them know a little about your product or service.

Conversion

In conversion they either purchase or sign up to a list or subscribe for more information, the content enables them to undertake some kind of transaction not necessarily monetary with you.

Consumption

The consumption content on the other hand is designed to help them consume your product or service better.

Each of these 3 kinds of content is very different and serves a very definite purpose. One to enable awareness, the other to aid a transaction and the last to aid consumption.

You need to make sure that your content enables the customer journey.

Concept 2: Content Stickiness

Content Stickiness

We’re faced with a deluge of content each day. Most of it is boring, exhaustive and at times difficult to consume and remember. We typically forget 80% of a presentation in less than 24 hours.

Making content stick, memorable is critical. Without this even though your content might be good, it’s not really going to stick around in people’s minds. Creating sticky content is a planned activity.

Content stickiness can be achieved in a number of ways. One of the common ways is by creating a unique mascot which provides a distinct voice to your content and enables it to stick in people’s minds. The other is to provide content which directly address people’s problems. There are 7 different ways in which content can be created to make it more effective. By far visual content is the most effective in terms of making it easy to consume and remember.

Concept 3: Network Effect

The challenge with content production is that everyone is doing it, and standing out in the midst of all that content with your content is difficult. More so customer belief in corporate content tends to be low compared to recommendations by friends, family, colleagues, co-workers, others customers and even strangers (e.g. book reviews which one reads on sites like Amazon).

Moreover, you can’t do it alone, not all businesses are designed to be content production factories, and you’re never going to have enough budgets to produce the kind and volume of content you need.

Leverage Influencer and Partner Networks

Leveraging Social Media and Digital networks the right way – Brand Advocates, Partners (and their networks) – User Generated Content.

You need to leverage your brand advocates to create content. Brand Advocates, your most vocal customers and partners can not only create content for you also help you promote that content across their social networks. User generated content is by far the most powerful content. You truly leverage social networks when you leverage content created by corporate teams, employees, partners and brand advocates.

Leveraging other networks also means repurposing content in different formats (text, audio, images) and across different social networks.

Summary

In today’s landscape it’s necessary to create content which targets the different customer journey, is sticky and at the same time leverages user generated content with brand advocates, partners and employees and uses their networks to promote the content.

Like the 3 legs which are needed for a chair these 3 core concepts along with a clear business objective provide the solid base for a successful content strategy.