THE CURIOUS CASE OF CONTENT

THE CURIOUS CASE OF CONTENT

December 6, 2018

Content. A 7-letter word with hundreds of interpretations. With the advent of internet and social media, content has become the Holy Grail for every single marketer out there. Every marketing maverick has grasped its potential and the span of possibilities it offers for a brand’s storytelling. The ever popular phrase “Content is King” has become the key phrase for every established and aspiring marketer. However, the varying definition of the word “Content” has caused many of us walking around in a loop. So what exactly is Content? What are the several types of Content? How can a marketer utilize Content to increase sales and brand awareness? The questions are endless. Let’s take a look into what the magic word actually means and the benefits that it has for creative professionals.

In the simplest of all terms, content can be defined as any element that helps deliver your brand’s message – directly or indirectly. A content helps you to attract more customers, inform them and most importantly, gravitate them towards your brand. In terms of digital and social media marketing, a content helps you to get more visitors in your company website, to appear more in search engines and to keep your customers re-visiting your website on a regular basis. 

Content can come in a variety of forms – blogs, video, audio, photos, interviews, polls and so much more.

EXPLORING THE CONTENT CATEGORIES

Blogs – Blogs are the best possible examples of content created using words. It can prove to be a very effective tool if you insert search-engine friendly keywords in your blog posts. Often times, websites have a separate Blog section to help you navigate through their span of products and services and to also get to know more about the brand. Bangladesh-based e-commerce platform Bagdoom.com has a separate blog section in their website named “Bagdoom Lounge” where not only their product offerings are displayed, but tips and tricks for their target customers are also highlighted. Even Sheba.xyz, one of the largest online marketplaces of Bangladesh, has a blog where they not only talk about their service offerings, but also highlight the fact how their business model has helped hundreds of micro-entrepreneurs to economically thrive as well.

Video – This seems to be the most popular form of content in recent times. With the increase of internet diffusion in developing countries, consumption of video content has increased exponentially. Social media giants like Facebook and Instagram have also launched video-specific features to cater to this market – Facebook Video and IGTV. Brands have started to create video-based content to stimulate brand awareness as well. PRAN has a significant digital presence. Thanks to their PRAN spice channel on Youtube. Apart from the occasional TVCs and Online commercials, the entire channel is filled with cooking tips, original recipes and culinary instructions. Video content also seems to be working fine for apps. Instead of writing detailed instructions about their app, Pathao has uploaded an array of easy, understandable instruction videos on their Youtube channel. Thus, they are not only educating their customers on their app usage, but are also creating an interactive, two-way communication channel.

Audio – SoundCloud has been raising quite a storm globally.  However, the trend hasn’t caught up much in Bangladesh. Hence, most of the audio contents in Bangladesh are limited to advertisement and talk shows on radio stations. However, the scene is quite different in other countries. Brands have often resorted to explainer journalisms and reviews on SoundCloud. 

Photos – Visual content has always been at the forefront. Companies like MailChimp have flooded their Instagram account with images related to their company. In terms of Bangladesh, Madchef and Takeout have garnered quite a praise in terms of breathtaking and highly engaging photos used as Facebook posts. Quite often, photos including a whole lot of numbers take the form of infographics. Newspapers like Daily Star often use numerous infographics to visually portray a host of information.  

Interviews – Interviews, in the form of video and written words, seem to be quite effective in terms of content marketing. Renowned magazine Vogue has set a stir by uploading a video series named “73 questions” on their Youtube channel. The content series revolves around a host of celebrities who are each asked 73 questions catering to their own personality. Megastars like Zac Efron, Gigi Hadid, Priyanka Chopra and numerous others have participated in the series so far and have given readers an inside-view of their lives and their mindsets.

Polls – Online polls seem to be quite effective, especially a good content form for internet influencers. Instagram has recently included a survey option in their Stories section. Thus, influencers like Kylie Jenner can easily set up a poll involving a brand – therefore, promoting that particular brand in a very subtle tone.

MAKING A CONTENT STRATEGY

A content marketing strategy is a roadmap that not only tells you what you’re going to create, but how you’re going to create it, distribute it, and ultimately use it to attract, retain, and convert readers and viewers into customers. Each part of your content marketing has its own unique nuances and details that you won’t want to miss. So, let’s look at each part of the process:

  1. Define Your Goal

Creating every content starts with a goal. How are you going to measure the success of your campaign? Is it with traffic? New subscribers? App downloads? Conversions? Social shares and engagement? Video views? Podcast downloads? Sales?

Understanding your goal early on will guide other important decisions as you develop your content marketing strategy. Such as, what are we making? And where are we going to distribute our content? As renowned author Seth Godin emphasizes, “Matching what you build to where you put it is more important than what you build in the first place. That’s why we need to start by understanding what is this for?”

  1. Know your target audience from the inside out

Once you have a clear connection to why you’re making content, the next step in building out your content marketing is to understand exactly who is going to see, hear, or watch the content you create. Effective content is not produced in a vacuum from a list of topics you personally want to write or talk about, it’s made out in the open with the involvement, feedback, and direction of your audience. The best content marketing strategy is designed to answer the most pressing questions your target audience has – to educate and transform them. However, the only way that your content will connect enough with people to have them share it and help you reach your goals is for you to speak directly to them. You need to have empathy and understanding for their situation.

A little pro tip: you don’t want your ideal audience to be too broad and diverse, especially in the early days of your business (readers might get confused about who your solution is for). However, as long as you understand who your audience is and go through this step you can create great content for them.

  1. Decide on the type of content you want to make

Blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics – they all have their place in your content strategy and it’s up to you how you use them. What’s non-negotiable, however, is that they tell a story.

To hit that mark, Seth Godin says there are 4 qualities your content needs to have:

Emotion: What emotion do we want people to feel?

Change: How are you changing people with your product or content? Does that emotion change them in a way that helps your brand?

Alert: Once you’ve changed someone, how do you build the privilege of being able to tell them when you have something new?

Share: How can you get people to tell each other?

  1. Set up a content calendar

Great marketers set their own agenda. So you’ll need to create a content calendar that isn’t just a mere one. Rather, one filled with repeatable content that is directly tied to your business goals. Your pillar posts or content types will help tell you the kinds of posts you’re going to create.

  1. Leverage social media as much as you can

Social media has become an integral part of getting your content in front of the right people. But you need to do more than just post to Facebook and Instagram once or twice.  What this comes down to is not simply talking about your content and asking people to click a link or subscribe to your newsletter. Instead, you need to show that you’re a trustworthy source of educational resources and earn their attention for when you do ask for something in return. At the core of your content to be the belief that it’s a long-term investment in building your worth.

When you’re just starting out you simply can’t and shouldn’t be on every platform. Pick what makes the most sense for your brand and where your audience is more likely to hang out. Does that mean Facebook or Snapchat?

You can create original content both from your blog posts and other content, or curate other people’s content like relevant links or videos. Both have their place and should be a part of your strategy. Every platform has its own nuances and subtleties to how they get used and people share.

  1. Keep your content updated

There’s never a bad time to re-evaluate your content marketing and shift gears if something isn’t working.

With these pillars in place, you’ll want to make sure you’re hitting 3 key content types, which industry veterans often call the 3 E’s.

Engagement: Content that’s meant to start a conversation, like your own opinion on a popular topic.

Evergreen: Content that is based around key terms for your business and that you can refer back to and update for years to come.

Events: Content around a particular event or occurrence, like some big piece of news or industry event.

If you have content already published, go through it and see if it fits into your new content marketing direction. Does it speak to your audience and work towards your goals? If not, can you update it or change it or should you scrap it altogether?

  1. Create a blog

If you haven’t set up a blog or found a place to host the content you’re going to create, now is the time. The good news? You’ve got numerous options. Luckily, there are tons of great options for setting up your own website that go from ready-to-use platforms to fully customizable templates.

But before we start, we need to answer an age-old question for content producers. Do you want to build your own platform, or use someone else’s?

While building your own site gives you the flexibility and freedom to make it exactly how you want, it also means a more upfront and ongoing time investment and potential development costs. You’re also starting with no audience, which can make it tough to get your content noticed.

On the other hand, using a pre-existing platform like Medium or YouTube for publishing your content means less customization, but easier startup costs. This route also means instant access to an audience that’s already present, and actively looking for content.

  1. Fully utilize your email list

Whatever content you’re creating, you want to put it in front of the right people. But before we get into distribution, leveraging social media and all of that, we need to talk about the most important piece of your content distribution puzzle: Email. Email lets you communicate directly to your subscribers and gets you into their inboxes–where so many of us spend countless hours each week. Starting early with list-building is a great way to amplify the content you’re creating.

The content you’re creating for your blog is a great place to start with what you could send to your email subscriber list. Take that content and use parts of it to create email campaigns that’ll drive people back to your blog to read the rest of your post, watch the full video or listen to the entire podcast episode.

There are 3 main types of emails you can send to your list, in a way that supports your content marketing goals.

General campaigns and newsletters: These are sent to your full list. They’re great when you’re just starting out and your list isn’t really huge.

Communication that gets sent to targeted segments: As you grow, you’ll want to make sure you’re sending the right messages to the right groups of people on your list. Your ESP should let you select segments based on demographic information or what links they’ve clicked on in the past, so you can send more targeted campaigns.

Automated messaging: These are messages you’re going to send out to multiple people over time. Think of welcome emails, delivering an e-course, or lists of your top content.

  1. Use Paid Ads

These days, a lot of social media platforms are moving to a ‘pay to play’ model. Meaning, even if you have a huge following and great engagement, you’ve got to pony up some ad dollars to get your content seen by everyone.

ANALYZING THE RETURNS –  CONTENT ROI

At the end of the day, it’s not just making content, there has to be certain parameters using which you will assess the effectiveness of the content that you have made. This is where many marketers make a major mistake. They get inspired by content made by certain brand and try to imitate them; while completely ignoring the fact that the brand under his/her supervision might have a completely different goal.

The framework below analyses the 4 key goals of creating a content and also identifies the various ways through which you can measure the 4 content formation criteria.

Source: Jay Baer’s “The 4 Types of Content Metrics That Matter”

The marketing ‘industry’, as we know, is going through a complete transformational phase. Consumers’ eyes have shifted from Television screens to Smartphone screens, discount coupons have been replaced by promo codes. Similarly, brands today are not only about selling its products; rather they are engaging in meaningful conversations with their consumers in order to create more value for the long run. That is what content enables a marketer to do. To ensure that a brand is not just engaging in a revenue race; but is creating an ever-green bonding with the consumer it serves.

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