Content is Still King: Here’s Why You Need a Content Team
While data has experienced a huge surge in business relevance and importance over the last few years, from the arrival and proliferation of the term “big data” and its industry and governmental usages, to the way with which small and large businesses alike can easily mine and contextualize data regarding customer behavior and website traffic, content has taken a backseat in the debates and discussions moving forward. Despite that, however, content is still king. You can be as data-driven as possible — but as per Discovery Channel’s EVP “if creative fails, then who cares?”
Content matters only insofar as its quality rings true. Bad content is bad for business — good content is excellent. And let’s explore a little more into why content will have to remain central to your company’s marketing strategy, big or small.
20 Years of “Content is King”
The year was 1996, and Bill Gates was going on about the evolution of the Internet into an eventual “marketplace of content”. What he meant here was fairly simple: the Internet was already beginning to show immense promise as a global communications platform — and as with other communications platforms, this meant it would change the business landscape as well. From a consumer’s perspective, the Internet would be a new way to get information instantaneously — for businesses, this meant creating and packaging that information, as content.
20 years later, content is still king. The Internet has changed — video and audio have arrived, creating a whole new world of content, while social and cloud have gotten big in a very big way, allowing businesses and people to communicate and collaborate like never before. But the meat and potatoes of everything online has always been content. And it will continue to be content. This highlights something a lot of businesses miss out on when building a marketing team — they get the marketer and the data analyst and the social media expert, but they’re missing a key team that needs to be in every business.
Content is Still King; a King Needs His Army
If you’re going to utilize content in your business, then you can’t do it half-heartedly. Anyone can write, sure — but there’s a difference between writing and writing well, and another difference if you want to make sure you know what you’re writing about. Good content is like good journalism — you need someone at the helm with talent, the ability to research, be proactive and come up with the questions and answers most people might not have thought of, but certainly want to hear.
You don’t need anyone with a degree in journalism or ten years with the local newspaper — but your hiring criteria have to correspond with the need for someone with both creativity and intelligence. And unless you know that your marketer also makes it a hobby writing short stories and was the head of the school paper back in his teen days, you shouldn’t but him behind a desk and ask him to start producing content for your brand.
Aside from your writer, you need an editor. There’s a big difference in both roles and necessary capabilities between a writer and an editor — the writer creates the content, producing the raw material, while the editor has control over what the final product will be by combining the content with the audience, upholding a consistent image of the brand, and being in charge of what content works and what content doesn’t work, curating ideas and concepts and ultimately heading the content operation. An editor will need confidence and a keen sense of story-telling — they’ll be in charge of keeping a brand’s story and image intact even if it means going against the wishes of the marketing department.
If you’re in a business with a budget capable of fitting more than text and audio into its budget, you’ll want a videographer. This is something where experience and talent are key, just as in writing — tasking someone to shoot a promotional video with an iPhone and After Effects is a disaster waiting to happen.
Find Your Strategist
Finally, you’ll need the marketing guy. Content strategy is about knowing and understanding the importance and roles of each team member, whilst being familiar enough with both your own situation and the industry landscape to know what content to invest more time into. In general, the content strategist will work with data specialists to take a look at what’s most popular with a brand’s audience, before moving onwards to that. If during the month of September you realize that articles and content in the “entertainment” category were doing better than others, and “marketing” content wasn’t doing too great while you were creating a ton of it. So, you cut down on one category and bump up the importance of the other in your strategy. That’s the basic gist of it, but it is a little bit more complicated.
While content is still king, without the right team, your content will fall flat. With the right team, you’ll have yourself a “mini” department of content guys and gals, not just producing the kind of stuff you can get from a content mill but creating insightful, interesting, quality pieces that attract readership and exude shareability — exactly what you want if you want your business to get into the media game.
The Different Kinds of Content
The purpose of content is simple. It’s to help initiate and facilitate the process by which a company can:
Generate traffic -> create leads -> sell their goods and services.
Content can do this through several different ways. The easiest way to categorize these methods is through their mediums: photo content, audio content, text content and video content. These are the basic forms of content you can dish up to your customers.
Photo content is most commonly shared in the form of infographics. These are relevant, interesting, entertaining and cost-effective — all the things you want in a piece of content. If you’re in the right industry, you can go and be a bit more humorous with an image macro, or just a general meme. You’ll want absolute confidence in your creative team’s ability to be funny in this case — give them free reign to decide what content is best, and when the timing for a joke is right.
Photo content goes further than that, though — posting images of your latest product, hosting an image contest, sharing images from a recent event and other such initiatives can both remind former customers to return to your brand in order to relive an old experience, or it can attract new customers. Heard of Instagram? Over the last few years, the network has grown faster than any of its larger cousins (Facebook, Twitter), and it continues to grow. There is a lot of potential in Instagram; the same can be said for other social networks, so use them.
Audio content is typically distributed in the form of a subscription-based podcast. For this, you’ll want a strong, industry-specific personality with enough creativity and drive to pitch ideas and execute them — just as a journalist or content writer might. This isn’t for everyone — not only will you have a hard time finding the right talent for your business, but it may not be appropriate in all cases. A real estate agency may very well use a monthly or weekly podcast to educate customers — but a restaurant will have a hard time coming up with relevant audio content, for example. If you’ve got a great idea, though, don’t let the norm discourage you from trying something new.
Text content is your most common and basic form of online content, and the kind you’ll be seeing a lot. Smaller businesses tend to have the bad habit of valuing quantity over quality — you don’t need an article or blog post every single day. In fact, if you plan to share your content through Facebook, having that many articles can put your customers off your brand — unless you’re specifically a multimedia company.
Two or three relevant, quality and researched blog posts a week is more than enough. Your creative team should emphasize on coming up with truly interesting, read-worthy content ideas, rather than just milling out content on a regular basis for the sake of a consistent (and repetitive) schedule.
Text content, however, expands beyond the basic blog and article. A tweet is a form of text content — and it should be published much more regularly than a fully-fledged article or blog post. Facebook page updates, announcements and more constitute as text content. You can delegate the management of your social media accounts as a joint task to your entire content team, giving reigns over Twitter and Instagram to the writers and multimedia guys.
It can be costly to produce, but if you’ve got it in your budget to hire a videographer, put them to good use. Video can do a lot for a company. Having a strong presence on social media means taking advantage of the power of video content, and its sheer shareability. But bad video, like all bad content, does not do your business any favors.
There you have it — while not all forms of content will help your own specific content plan, you’ll have to make the most of the content you can produce. Remember: content is still king, but it still needs its army and its peoples. Get your team together, have access to the right data, and off you go.