This is Part VI of a week-long series that explores the seven core attributes of successful brands in the Digital Age. Matt Wurst is Director of Digital Communities at 360i.
Brands have always been content creators, with output first taking the form of advertising content, like :30 spots, print ads and display creative. But the ever-changing digital landscape forces marketers to constantly re-think the creation, organization and distribution of content in order to better connect with consumers.
What it means to be a content creator
To be a content creator means to have the ability to manifest your brand essence through the development of assets that are inherently social and sharable. Content can take many forms – text, an image, a blog post, a video, an event, a game, an activity, a sweepstakes, or even products themselves. Strong brand content is developed as part of a holistic strategy within a uniquely identifiable brand voice. It will appeal to an engaged audience and fit its intended platforms.
Content, when done right, can become the center around which all activity revolves. As such, brands must find their own balanced mix of content that aligns with marketing strategy. This mix can include content that drives reach, engagement or both. Reach-oriented content includes the bigger ideas, tent pole promotions and campaigns that generate impressions, buzz and views. The creation of engaging content on websites and social communities like Facebook and Twitter will drive likes, comments, re-tweets and shares.
Why does this matter?
Branded content allows people to connect with brands in the same ways they are already connecting online with other people. Successful branded content initiatives leverage cultural relevance and open the door to conversations.
The challenge, though, is that the space is getting more crowded. Every company, brand and product has a Facebook page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel and the brands are competing for the same prominent, yet limited, real estate in users’ News Feed. Only the most compelling, captivating, engaging content can drive reach and interactions.
Moreover, since consumers have become a distribution model themselves as sharers of content to their network, it has become increasingly important that brands provide opportunities for co-creation. “Happiness Is,” Coca-Cola’s Tumblr community is a great example of this concept in action, as the brand often elevates community content as part of its overall content mix on the platform.
Three keys to successful content creation
1. Build with the right foundation. The first step is to get the right individuals or team in place. Content creators are people who understand the brand/product, are experts in publisher platforms and can actually bring the content to life. The second step is to consult social listening to better understand the target audience and their interests across the digital landscape.
2. Develop a content strategy and distribution plan. Content creators should identify meaningful topics and sources within a framework that will excite brand stakeholders and fans. This may include bigger, campaign-based content as well as ongoing “conversational” content. Planning must also include a publishing strategy that may involve paid media as a necessary boost in reach.
3. Monitor results and measure success. The digital content creation process is not over once the creative is published or shared. It is important to use real-time feedback and community management to monitor the conversations surrounding the brand and content. Ongoing monitoring and analysis can and should inform the content creation process. Aligning on key metrics in advance will help creators know which content is engaging users, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Cover photo via WikiHow