Please, no more references that content is king. I’ve lived in London long enough and have read my children’s school lessons to know that kings don’t last and the rule usually ends poorly. Yesterday, I spoke at the Financial Services Social Media conference organized by Haymarket Conferences in London and presented on the belief that content is an asset. And even assets are protected and valued by kings.
Content that is valued by the end user, organized well, made shareable and pulled together in multiple formats can shape opinions and drive conversations. But this isn’t an easy task. In fact, it’s one of the more difficult things to manage since so much content about your brand is published out of your control by the news media and on social media. And to add to this challenge you have to get through the never-ending sea of content that comes your way. Yet, done correctly, you can use content to drive the messages that you want to be discussed by others.
More and more we are seeing content take over as the key driver of branding and communication. With more ways to share information today it’s critical that communicators understand the value of content and why it needs to be constantly looked after. I ended my presentation with a list of lessons learned and here are some of those key points:
- Don’t separate your content from your brand: When I was growing up the warning was, “You are what you eat.” The same can be applied today to brands in terms of content, “You are what you publish.” If your content is not reflecting what you want your brand essence to be than you are not only wasting your investment in branding, you are actually confusing your stakeholders. If you want your company to be known as the greatest at “xyz” then your content needs to be about “xyz”. This will require you to think differently not only about what you publish, but what you read, how you write, what you retweet and how you think.
- This is not a one person job: No one person can manage all that is said by and about a brand. If you’re trying to do this, stop. Make sure you actively reach out to the people who can give you the most help, whether in HR, products, research or marketing. The bigger circle of influence you can create the better you will be at developing checks and balances for ideas.
- Repetition is not just okay but required: Social streams continue to grow with more content. More platforms are being developed. More brands and people continue to use social networks. All of this means that if you are posting your content once you are not grasping the power of social sharing. My suggestion is that you review your distribution strategy (if you don’t have one, develop one) and start to put it to use. You can accomplish this by staggering the times to post to networks, re-posting content with unique headlines and, most importantly, re-posting your content later when news happens (making sure it’s still relevant of course).
- Maintain a consistent presence: The Internet doesn’t sleep. News doesn’t sleep. You have to sleep — at some point. Think about how you can develop a plan where your content lives online every day of the week. If you are thinking in a “Monday through Friday” mentality that may be a very safe way to let your audience know when they can reach you. Just keep in mind your competition will take care of them on the weekends. I don’t mean you need to work 24/7 personally, but as an organization you need to think of ways to feed content around the clock.
- Leverage partners and vendors: Your company buys a lot of products and services from vendors (or you’re a vendor with lots of customers); are you leveraging them to help you share your stories? There is a clear win-win here for you both and if you have not built those bridges to your most relied upon external resources you are clearly sitting on the sidelines waiting to be put in the game.
- Measure your success (and failure): This is pretty easy to explain — you need to know what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t have a measurement dashboard in place you are just guessing, and guessing is not a strategy.
No matter what you do in the communications mix, you need to figure out how you can take control of your content management. If you can develop this asset for your brand and harness its power you too will become a valuable asset.