If Brands Have Become Publishers, Then Marketers Are the Journalists

Andy Lambert

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“The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story.”

Content Marketing is nothing new – it’s been about since 1895 – but it’s taken until 2014 for adoption to really go mainstream in the business world. According to the 2017 Content Marketing trends report, content marketing is now used by 89% of B2B marketers, and 66% of marketers expected their organisation’s content marketing budget to increase in the next 12 months.

It’s little surprise. Just look what a clever use of content marketing has achieved for Red Bull. Through content that perfectly captures the imagination of their target audience their product is now, essentially, a sideline to their brand. But far from the preserve of those with big budgets, content marketing can be as diverse and low-budget as a simple re-brand of a shop.

Quality content levels the playing field

As demonstrated by the Iceland example above, relevance and creativity > budgets. Simply throwing cash at content and hoping that it will work isn’t a realistic strategy.

This is turning traditional marketing on its head

The rise of content marketing has turned traditional businesses into media publishing companies. Now, traditional marketers may need to ask themselves some uncomfortable questions:

  • How do I know what to write about?
  • Where will I find time to write it?
  • How do I come up with a strategy?
  • Who’s going to help me?
  • What if I make the list of high profile content marketing fails?

 The challenge is three-fold

According to the Content Marketing Trends report – the top 3 challenges faced by content marketers is a tie between:

  • Not enough time – 52%
  • Content Creation Challenges – 49%
  • Strategy Issues – 49%

“I’m so busy doing my job, I can’t get any work done”

If brands have become publishers, then marketers are the journalists. Content marketing is so diverse and far-reaching that the notion of it being the responsibility of one person, or even a small team, is laudable.

Bian Salins, Head of Social at TSB, put it nicely in a recent Campaign article, ‘Content and social live and breathe in everything we do and so they have a natural tendency to cross silos. Content creation and production is now a part of everyone’s job, from web editors to media teams cleverly crafting a strong corporate narrative to, of course, the social media teams who brave the opportunity of real-time marketing.’

Enter Localised Content

In mature content marketing environments, the flow of content ideas is often two-way. Content is developed in local markets and elevated onto global hubs to be shared more widely.

As Anne-Marie McConnon, BNY Mellon’s head of marketing, explains, the most important element in delivering locally relevant content are market-based teams with an ear to the ground.

The Whole Foods Model

Whole Foods is another brand with numerous location-specific Facebook Brand Pages. Michael Bepko, Global Online Community Manager for Whole Foods, manages the national Facebook Brand Page. In 2008, it became apparent to Bepko and his team that a national Brand Page couldn’t address the needs of the local communities or speak to the audience in a way that a store-specific one could – so local pages were born.

Each store has its own Brand Page with its own content. Location-specific Facebook Pages allow Whole Foods to connect with the immediate community in a more intimate way.

“This particular model works so well for us because we’re so hyperlocal in-store, which translates well to the social sphere and allows each store to interact in a way that benefits the community,” says Bepko. “It’s something we couldn’t do on a national scale.”

Need further evidence?

A recent study by Mind Jumpers provided numbers to back up the theory behind Whole Foods’ move:

  • 346% better engagement
  • 3-5 x more engaging

So, will crowd-sourcing and curating content ideas from across my business be the answer to all of my content marketing woes?

Well, yes and no.

The real challenge is one of scale and control

Opening the floodgates of content creation and managing numerous Facebook pages brings with it a new challenge. Control.

The importance of workflow

Social and content creation doesn’t neatly slot into a single functional silo. As such, organisations often struggle to define how it sits within the corporate set-up.

Cross-departmental collaboration is the most critical element of a successful content marketing strategy, so there needs to be clear processes and workflows in place that facilitate the flow of ideas, ensure smooth sign-off and approvals and help teams work at the pace required to succeed.

Local agility and global control

If your shift to localised content is underpinned with the right cultures, working practices and technologies, you can maintain control over brand standards, and compliance with regulations, whilst capturing the opportunity inherent in local content marketing

Personalisation and segmentation are becoming necessary to reach the right customers.

Getting noticed is becoming more difficult. With the number of businesses now jumping on content marketing, the noise is only going to get harder to cut through. Not to mention the continual shift of Facebook’s algorithms to de-prioritise organic brand content.

As such, more content marketers are starting to turn toward personalisation and segmentation strategies to create content that’s a better fit for their respective audiences. Rather than casting a wide net with a broad range of topics, content marketers are starting to opt for more specific niches.

These shifts in content marketing are forcing us all to become better marketers, but the opportunity is still there for those that value creativity, collaboration and quality content, along with setting up and developing a content calendar plan and add in content that needs to be developed and published over the coming 4-8+ weeks.

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