Content. It’s the buzzword that has been on all marketer’s lips for a good few years now... and with good reason. It is of course the informative, engaging and valuable stuff that populates websites, blogs and social posts - editorial copy, stats, images, videos - it’s what is consumed by an audience to turn them into true advocates of the company, project or brand. Side-stepping the growing aversion towards more traditional, interruption-based methods of marketing such as cold calls or direct mail, content marketing aims to provide helpful, informative content for customers, driving engagement, increasing brand loyalty and ultimately generating leads.
A 2017 study by the Content Marketing Institute found that 91% of those interviewed used content marketing in some way, yet only 46% had a documented strategy for managing content as a business asset. As we all know however, unfortunately, writing the strategy is often only half the battle. For a true content strategy to work in practice takes time, persistence and consistency, productive channels of source material and buy-in across the entire company.
Depending on your company or department, you may well be one of the 46% with a detailed content strategy - you may have even written it - and be part of an already effective creation process with multiple contributors, channels and platforms for promoting your message. Alternatively, you may be looking to make improvements, or indeed set up the entire process from scratch. No matter which of the above camps you fall into, like us, you have probably experienced that occasional alarm when the timeline veers off-course; a blog post becomes overdue from a contributor, a supplier has failed to deliver, or you’re running behind due to other priorities and are left staring at a blank screen thinking I need something to publish.
This blog post is therefore aimed at those who have watched the cogs in a previously well-performing content creation machine stall periodically and want to plan against it, those who know the machine is currently underperforming, or indeed those who are looking to construct a new content machine from scratch. We hope you find it useful.
Make IT everyone’s challenge
Many successful companies ensure they generate a regular, consistent supply of content by making content creation a responsibility for everyone, not just the marketing department. There is a wealth of specific knowledge and skill spread throughout every company, making for an ideal information-base to inform varied and insightful content. The silo-effect stemming from using just one or a handful of individuals to create all pieces (often designed to speak on behalf of an entire company) can ultimately lead to a broad collection of content but with narrow depth, lots of in-depth pieces about only a handful of topics or a blog or account skewed towards a certain sector of your audience that the small group of content authors understand best. Mining the knowledge-base of your entire workforce means you can cover a vast breadth of topics to a greater depth, ultimately delivering content that delivers real and valuable insight.
"Social media touches all areas of a business, and the person (or team) that manage the accounts can’t possibly know everything that is going on. Build a wider network with key teams around the organisation that can supply you with content, or that you can ask for input from. They’ll benefit, as they will have more exposure for their area, you’ll benefit as you’ll have more content and the audience will get a better picture of your brand with more diverse content being shared."
Jade Beckett, Digital Engagement Manager, Kew Gardens
Repurpose with purpose
Without doubt, you're already sitting on a goldmine of useful and engaging existing content. Resurfacing previous content such as blog posts, video, e-brochures and case studies, amending old and outdated sections and repurposing the piece is a great way to maximise bang for your buck. This is a great argument towards creating evergreen content where possible; content that remains relevant for a long time to come will maximise returns on your efforts.
In addition, updating old content could seriously increase your SEO rankings. According to Orbit Media, only 55% of bloggers update old posts, however those who do are 74% more likely to get strong results. SnapApp suggests ‘if your popular content starts slipping down the ranks, a simple update could increase organic traffic by up to 402%’.
Curate for victory
It’s easy to forget that not all content necessarily needs to be your own. Curating a list of websites, blogs or accounts that your audience might find useful is a tried-and-tested solution to content creation during those crunch-points, benefiting your audience and a time-pressured marketing team in one fail swoop. There are some great examples here and a simple how-to guide here.
"You can also look at user-generated content. Monitor location tags and hashtags for forms of user-generated content - especially if your business has a physical location or a product. Instagram is particularly good for this, but just make sure you’re getting permission before you use their image and credit the image as theirs when you share it on your profile."
Jade Beckett, Digital Engagement Manager, Kew Gardens
Plan for success
Ensuring your pages are populated with regular, fresh content can be tough. If you don't already have one, creating a dedicated social media and editorial calendar will help identify gaps in your schedule and ensure you’re not talking to your audience about one topic in excess, whilst neglecting others. A calendar can help flag those key crunch points early on - such as holidays or the lead-up to big events - meaning you are able to schedule content well in advance to cover for absences. This can also help free-up time, with marketers spending a dedicated chunk of time per week planning and scheduling content rather than trying to squeeze it in between other day-to-day tasks. There are multiple platforms available to help schedule content in advance and automatically publish - some great examples are here.
Finger on the pulse
As we all know – as consumers ourselves – we online content connoisseurs can be a fickle bunch! Quoted statistics of online attention spans vary and are often hotly debated (we all remember the backlash following Microsoft's research suggesting our attention spans are now less than that of a goldfish), but usually fall somewhere in the realms of low to very-low. With so much social noise, we know we only have a split-second to make an impression.
Aside from snappy titles and engaging visuals, keeping an eye on new developments in content and utilising them to promote your own message can pay dividends. Many websites are devoted to developments in this field, such as Wired, Product Hunt and The Information is Beautiful Awards, all featuring new ideas and insights into what other innovative companies around the globe are up to. 360° images and video, time lapse video, interactive infographics, online games, augmented reality, the list goes on, but there's no doubt that keeping content fresh and varied helps maintain engagement.
This said, as we all know, no amount of bells and whistles can mask if the content itself is not up to scratch, and there is a certain amount of user-fatigue that can occur if new types of content aren't immediately self-explanatory in use, or could be classed as 'style over substance', so the key is, as always, monitoring engagement and responding to your audience.
Remaining aware of current affairs in your field and responding to big announcements can also help form a subject and create relevancy to a piece of content, however this newsjacking-style content does require you to move with the speed of a bullet to ride in the slipstream of the story before the audience has moved onto the next.
Think about video
Video content is the number one preferred type of content for the average consumer.
With statistics like this, it's clear to see why video is likely to feature highly on many content creators wish-lists. Video gets your message across succinctly and in an immensely sharable format, proving especially popular on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. This medium is perfect for telling your brand story and going behind the scenes. "Social media is the perfect way to show the audience the personality behind the brand", says Jade Beckett, Digital Engagement Manager, "use tools like Facebook Live and Instagram Stories to share behind the scenes stories and the people behind your projects."
You may already have the ability to create video in-house, but for those who don’t, there are a variety of options available in terms of commissioning a supplier to help you deliver.
To further streamline the process, you could even…
COMMISSION A system that generates content for you
Certain systems – such as our very own Lobster Vision – can serve as a content generation platform for you. Setting up time lapse on your project will mean images are captured every 15 minutes (or at a set time period chosen by you). These high-resolution images are available for instant download, along with a weekly automatically-generated time lapse video, ready to share with your audience.
Join our many longstanding clients across the globe who describe Lobster Vision as a vital tool in their content creation toolkit.
Would you like to know more?
Check out our content creation page here, or download our time lapse and content creation infographic to find out how implementing monitored time lapse on your construction, broadcast or fine art project could ease your content creation pressures.